Top 10 Hammerless Renovations

By: Sara Elliott

Sit back and enjoy your handiwork -- no tools needed!
Sit back and enjoy your handiwork -- no tools needed!

So, you want to update your home but don't want to raid the dreaded tool chest to do it? We get it. The garage full of tools can be a scary place that leaves you feeling anxious. But there are plenty of things you can do to refresh and renovate your nest without the aid of a tool belt and all the daunting hardware it contains. These 10 home beautification and renovation projects may require the odd screwdriver or bit of sandpaper, but they're pretty easy and relatively disaster-proof.


10: Paint

The hardest part just may be picking the color.
The hardest part just may be picking the color.

Paint tops almost any DIY list of easy projects because it's relatively fast and inexpensive. It can also have a pretty good return on investment -- almost 250 percent on your $30 can of paint. That's something to think about.

The secret to painting like a pro is in the prep work. Taping off the woodwork and windows, cleaning the walls and taking a slow approach that employs long, even strokes is the key. It also pays to buy quality brushes and paint, too. And remember, if you're painting in anticipation of a sale, lean toward neutral colors and leave the bold, bright hues for your next home.


9: Put in Weather Stripping

Adding weather stripping to your doors and windows will help control pesky drafts and save you energy dollars. Peel and stick options are simple to install and are more kid- and wear-resistant than they look. Weather stripping is only one of a number of easy energy updates you can install in your home that will keep heat in and make you feel more comfortable and cozy. Caulking your door molding and putting shrink film window insulation on older windows helps, too. These are all easy fixes you can finish in a couple of hours.


8: Update the Caulk in Your Bathroom

Deteriorated and discolored caulk can look awful. When the water-repellent seal is broken, it can also lead to water damage and mold growth behind your walls. Recaulking kitchen or bathroom fixtures can be almost as easy as squeezing a tube of toothpaste. All you need is a tube of caulk and a caulking gun. The manual applicator gun has a simple trigger in the handle that makes it super simple to lay an even bead of caulk around your toilet or along your shower enclosure.

After you have the necessary supplies, remove the old caulk completely. This may sound a little easier than it actually is. The process will require scraping and some scrubbing. The new caulk won't adhere unless the old stuff is completely gone. If you don't mind using a little elbow grease, updating the caulk around your fixtures is a quick renovation that will make a world of difference in the appearance of your bathroom.


7: Put in a Low-flow Showerhead

Showerheads have changed a lot over the years. If yours looks like a metal monster out of a slasher movie, it's pretty likely that some of the spray holes are clogged and the fixture itself is a big water hog.

Installing a new showerhead doesn't have to be a horror, though. It can be as easy as unscrewing the old fixture and screwing on the new one. Well, it's usually a little more challenging in practice, but a quick turn with a wrench to loosen the old fitting and snug the new one in place should take care of the hardest part of the process.


6: Install Press-apply Vinyl Tile or Carpeting

If you think your mud room needs a facelift, installing vinyl floor tile is almost as easy as putting a stamp on an envelope: peel and stick. Putting in new carpet tile is almost as simple -- after you've removed the old stuff. You can even buy stair tiles that will coordinate with your carpet for a professionally installed look at a DIY price. You'll save money and have the satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself.



5: Paint the Kitchen Countertops

If your laminate countertops are in relatively good shape but the color looks dated, you don't have to raid your retirement fund to update your kitchen. Kitchen countertop paint (sometimes sold as countertop coating) is attractive and inexpensive. Just be sure to take some time with the project, and follow the directions carefully. After you apply a coat of paint, it may take as long as three days for it to set completely, so be prepared to perform kitchen prep on other surfaces for the duration.


4: Install Gutter Covers

This is the one entry on our list that requires some special tools and a little fortitude. You'll need to use a ladder to get up close and personal with your existing gutters, but we like this project because it makes maintaining your gutters easier in the future. It's a task that will save you time, effort and worry later. If you've never had the experience of cleaning a roof gutter before, excavating your way through a season's worth of dead leaves, desiccated bugs, dirt and bird droppings is no fun.

Gutter covers are protective caps that snap or clip onto your existing gutter system and keep most of the debris out. They're available in aluminum and vinyl. You can find a cover style to fit most gutters, but some can be more difficult to install than others. Typically, vinyl installations are the easiest. It'll take a day to complete the project, and this one's by far the toughest on our list. When you're done, though, you won't have to worry about standing water ruining your roof, and getting your house winter-ready next year will be less of a hassle.


3: Add Solar Landscape Lighting

Solar yard lights can light up your life -- or at least your walkway.
Solar yard lights can light up your life -- or at least your walkway.

Adding outdoor illumination improves the look of your property and discourages break-ins and vandalism. Solar landscape lights look good on your lawn, and you can't beat the energy cost -- they're free to use. Installation is amazingly easy, too, usually done in an hour or less. Just insert the stake end of the light into the ground at a location that gets good sunlight during the day, and voila, you're done. There are no wires or plugs to deal with. A fully charged solar light fixture can provide illumination from dusk till dawn, keeping you safe and your landscape stylish.


2: Replace Your Aluminum Window Screens

Are you keeping your windows closed in spring and summer because the screens have holes in them that let bugs in? We're here to tell you that replacing the mesh material on your aluminum window screens is so simple that you'll kick yourself for not having done it before. Just remove the aluminum frame from the window, and take out the old screening. It will be held in place with a strip of rubber cord called spline that fits into a groove around the frame. You can find replacement screening fabric at your home improvement store.

The only special equipment you'll need is a spline tool. This plastic tool is a small roller that looks like a pizza cutter. It pushes the spline back into the groove over the mesh fabric, holding the mesh taut in the frame. If the spline is old and cracked, you can buy a new roll for a few dollars and cut it to length with a utility knife.


1: Repair Drywall

Raising a family can be hard on your home, and your walls may be showing the telltale signs of roughhousing, bumps and a few unintended knocks. Luckily, drywall is easy to repair. With a tub of spackle paste and a putty knife, you can fill nail holes and fix the nicks in exterior corners in minutes. For a large job, use a drywall repair kit that includes a mesh or metal patch. Just spackle the patch in place, wait for it to dry and sand it smooth. Most patch kits will accommodate holes up to around 6 inches. (Larger jobs will require drywall inserts attached to wooden support pieces.) Spackling compound is available pre-mixed or in powder form. There's also a pre-mixed, tinted variety that starts out pink and turns white as it dries, making your job even easier.

Lots More Information

Related Articles


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