Thursday, January 24, 2013

Four in 48: DIY Renovations You Can Finish in a Weekend

Looking for more than a mini makeover for your bedroom, backyard, or kitchen -- something beyond new throw pillows and furniture? Get that wow-factor in just a weekend by renovating the more enduring fixtures in your home. With the right tools and a bit of basic knowledge, you don't even have to hire a professional. Do it yourself can be doable. Below, I've outlined four DIY transformations perfect for the weekend warrior.

 Living Room
Stand up to scuffed floors by refinishing your room's hardwood base. With the right sanders, you won't have to give a carpenter a cut of the work.
MISSION: Refinish the hardwood floor.

TOOLS: Pry bar, drum sander (rentable), hand sander, hammer, sealer/stain

PLAN: First, confirm that the floor is at least three-quarters of an inch thick (so you don't sand down to the subfloor).
  • ·         After you've removed all furniture, curtains, and artwork from the room, cover light fixtures with trash bags; tape over outlets, switches, and vents; seal any doors with a plastic sheet and masking tape; and vacuum the floor.
  • ·         Using a pry bar, remove the shoe molding, taking care not to damage the baseboard.
  • ·         Beginning in the room's center with a drum sander, move from one end of the room and back, overlapping with each pass; repeat on the other side.
  • ·         Use a hand sander in corners and around edges. Repeat multiple times using smaller grit sandpaper, working down to 120-grit and vacuuming between each pass.
  • ·         Wipe the floor with a dry cloth before applying sealer or stain to the newly refinished floor, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  • ·         Reinstall the shoe molding and buff the floor, if desired.


Create a patio and grow your yard's appeal without throwing green at a landscaper.
MISSION: Lay a stone patio.

TOOLS: Shovel, steel rake, plate compactor (rentable), level and leveling rod, rubber mallet, polymeric sand, push broom, pavers or stones of your choice

PLAN: Use marking paint to designate your patio outline, then excavate the area six inches and smooth with a rake.
    • ·         With a plate compactor, tamp down the surface.
    • ·         Working in batches, add and tamp gravel to a final depth of three inches. Use a level and leveling rod to guide you in grading the area at a rate of half an inch per yard.
    • ·         Beginning nearest the house, arrange pavers across the base, hitting each with a rubber mallet to secure it into the gravel. Maintain a consistent gap between stones.
    • ·         Spread polymeric sand over the pavers and use a push broom to sweep it into the joints, taking care to fill them completely.
    • ·         Lightly water the sand to permanently lock the pavers in place.


    Cook up an open kitchen by adding glass panes to your existing panel cabinets.

    MISSION: Replace cabinet doors with glass fronts.

    TOOLS: Screwdriver, jig saw or router, clear silicone caulk, glass clips

    PLAN: Unscrew the cabinet doors you plan to change.
    • ·         If you have a router, use it to cut away the back edges of the grooves holding the center panel in place. Otherwise, use a jig saw to carefully cut out the center panel of each door; apply thin molding to cover your rough cuts and paint to match.
    • ·         Take your frames to a local glass shop or hardware store, where they can measure the openings and cut the glass to size.
    • ·        On the backside of the doors, run a very thin bead of clear silicone caulk into the grooves, then press each pane into place and allow it to set overnight. For added security, anchor the pane with glass clips set no more than 12 inches apart.
    • ·         Screw the doors in place.


    Spark new life in the bedroom by swapping a run-of-the-mill fan for a beautiful chandelier.
    MISSION: Replace the ceiling fan with an elegant light fixture.

    TOOLS: A-frame ladder, screwdriver, wire cutters and electrical tape (for installing wire nuts)

    PLAN: No need to feel wiry about working with wires -- switching out old fixtures for new ones is safe as long as you remember to cut the power in the main electrical panel.
    • ·         Detach the existing fan by unscrewing the blades and canopy; removing the wire nuts, noting which wires connect to which; unhooking the down rod; and unscrewing the bracket.
    • ·         To install a chandelier, attach it to the ceiling fan junction box using screws provided. The ceiling fan box can hold at least 35 pounds.
    • ·         Match the white (return), black (hot), and green (ground) wires, and then twist and cover each pair with a wire nut.
    • ·         Slide the canopy into place and screw it on. (If your fan included a light operated by a separate switch, you may see an additional red wire -- cap it with a wire nut, then replace the double light switch cover with one made for a switch and a blank.)
    • Before diving into any of these projects, be sure to do your homework by asking questions of reliable sources (like the experts at your local home improvement or hardware store), take safety precautions, spend time prepping and measuring carefully, and, of course, anticipate at least a little chaos.

    What are some other weekend projects you've done yourself? Any tips newbies should keep in mind, or things to otherwise avoid?

    Chris Long is a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago area, and writes online about truck rental tips, carpet cleaner rental tips, and other equipment tool rentals. To view Home Depot’s truck rentals, click here. Their carpet cleaner rentals can be found here.

    1 comment:

    Steven said...

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