Avoid Common 'Do-It-Yourself' Downfalls

Not everyone who buys a home has experience doing their own repairs and small renovation projects. Yet homeowners quickly discover that by tackling some of these projects on their own, they can save money. Before you start work, be aware of common do-it-yourself downfalls, some of which can result in larger, more expensive problems, or even injury.

DIY Woodworking

Eventually, most homeowners end up doing repairs or renovation projects which require some woodworking. It may be when a new puppy gnaws through the molding or when an odd-sized closet requires custom-designed shelves. Before you begin any woodworking project, consider the following tips:

  1. Make sure there is no water on the floor where you will be working and relocate the dog's dish, plant watering can, etc. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. In the event that electrical current from a power tool comes in contact with a wet surface, it can deliver a dangerous, even deadly, jolt of electricity. If you are using power tools outdoors, move inside at the first sign of rain.
  2. Due to the possibility of sparks when using power tools, it is important to ensure that the room has adequate ventilation, particularly if you are working in a garage where combustible gas or propane vapours may accumulate. Remove rags used for paint thinner or gasoline. Position your work area well away from vehicles and gas-powered lawnmowers.
  3. Choose an area where children and pets will not be underfoot.
  4. If you only need to do woodworking projects occasionally, you may wish to rent equipment rather than purchasing it. Doing so may save you money and there are other benefits as well. Stores that rent equipment carry a wide selection of tools, the equipment is typically well maintained, and if you require instruction on how to use a certain tool, the store clerk can provide a quick demonstration including safety tips.
  5. The following are some inexpensive do-it-yourself essentials: a carpenter's square, a tape measure, a laser pointer for a straight edge, a 'stud-finder' (to locate studs behind drywall), work gloves, and safety goggles.

Replacing a Broken, Single-Glazed Window

An old adage says that there will be a broken window to mark every decade in a home. If you happen to live near a baseball diamond, you can expect a broken window even more often!

If you wish to avoid the expense of having a window repair company make a house call, you have two choices: 1) remove the sash (the frame that holds the glass) from the window and take it in for a repair or 2) buy a new pane and have it cut to size and make the repair yourself. Option 2 is usually the easiest choice. If you've never had to replace a windowpane on your own, here are a few pointers that can make the repair job a bit easier:

Start by removing all the broken glass. Spread and tape down a large plastic sheet to cover indoor carpet, counters, etc. Wearing heavy work gloves, carefully remove the broken glass from the frame.

Next, scrape away the old putty down to the bare wood or metal. As you remove the putty, you should notice small triangular pieces of metal sticking into the frame. These are called glazier's points, and they hold the glass in place. Remove the glazier's points with a set of pliers and note their location on the frame with a pencil.

Repaint the inside of the frame to seal the surface. This will help prevent the glazing compound from drying out too quickly. Once the paint has dried, measure the space for the glass from the inside edges. Measure the distance horizontally and vertically at several locations along the frame; the frame may not be perfectly straight. From these dimensions, subtract 1/3 of a centimetre (1/8 of an inch) to make the installation easier and to allow room for the frame to expand and contract with the weather.

When it comes to cutting the replacement glass, it's usually best to leave it to the experts. Most people who try to cut their own glass end up buying more than one pane!

Once your glass has been cut, apply a thin layer of glazing compound to the inside edges of the frame. Insert the glass and replace the glazier's points near their original holes. Next, you'll want to cover up the glazier's points and seal the glass to the frame with glazing compound. Take a look at your other windows to see how they were finished and do the same on this window. Once the compound has dried completely in a day or two, you can paint the frame and the putty.

Repairing a Large Hole In Drywall

Accidents happen and when they happen to be a hole in the wall, it can be disconcerting. If you've never had such an accident, you may imagine that the entire wall would need to be replaced at significant expense and inconvenience. Fortunately, drywall is one of the least expensive and most forgiving types of wall material. Brick, wood, and panelling are much more complicated to repair.

Visit your local home renovation store with the following shopping list: a piece of drywall twice the size of the hole (ask the store clerk if they have any scraps in good condition), thin wooden board twice the size of the hole, drywall screws and joint compound.

Measure the maximum vertical and horizontal size of the hole in your wall then add a few centimetres to the measurements. Use these measurements to calculate the size of the patch. Cut out the patch then place it over the hole. Using a pencil, lightly trace the patch. Cut along the exact outline of the patch. Now you're ready to work on the supporting board.

Cut out a piece of wooden board that is several centimetres longer than the patch. The overlap will allow you to screw the board into place behind the drywall. Drill a hole in the middle of the board wide enough for you to slip your index finger inside. Tilt the board and slide it through the hole then position it directly behind the drywall. Holding onto the board tightly with your finger, screw it into place with the drywall screws. Now you have a support for the drywall patch.

Next slide the drywall patch into place. Apply the joint compound to fill in the cracks. When the compound is dry, sand and paint the patched area to match the rest of the wall.

While at times, doing home repairs can be challenging, they can also be rewarding in terms of personal satisfaction and money saved!

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