DIY Projects for Your New Home

By Scott Gamm

NEW YORK -- If you have moved recently, preparing the home to suit your tastes and fixing minor damages is undoubtedly a stressful and expensive process. And after shelling out money for a down payment, you may not have enough cash left for a major gut-renovation.

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However, a few DIY projects here and there can certainly tailor your home to fit your style and frugally take care of small home repairs. From painting to flooring to installing lighting fixtures and kitchen faucets, we asked experts to share step-by-step tips on completing some fast and easy DIY projects.

1. Fixing Broken Floor Tiles

"If the floor below has a structural problem, there is no easy fix, and the floor should be properly repaired by a professional company," says Frank Foti, business management adviser for Mr. Handyman.

But if we're talking about a minor chip or scratch in the tile, Foti tells us that repairing the crack may be the best solution for a homeowner in a bind.

"For this you'll need paint that matches your broken tile and tile filler (which can be purchased at any home center). Mix the two together, fill the crack and gently wipe the area with a damp sponge or cloth. The crack may not completely disappear, but if done correctly it should be virtually unnoticeable from a distance," he says.

2. Sprucing Up Kitchen Appliances

Unless you're moving into a new construction, chances are the appliances have been used before. But if they're still working properly, there's no need to replace them -- you can clean them and fix the scratches or dents. Steve Ash, senior repairman at, shares these tips on getting those kitchen appliances into shape:

  • Replace your refrigerator's water dispenser and ice maker filters as soon as you move in. You never know how old the current filter is. For most models, this is as easy as turning the filter one quarter inch and popping it out or locking it in place.

  • Cover scratches and dings on your appliances with manufacturer-recommended touch-up paint, but pay attention to colors! There's a surprising difference between "Bisque" and "Almond."

  • Look for areas on your dishwasher racks where the vinyl coating is worn, exposing the metal wire underneath, as this can cause the racks to rust. Use a vinyl repair kit to re-coat the damaged areas before they become full of rust. Dishwasher racks are typically expensive, so maintaining the coating can help save money.

  • Clean your range hood with dish soap. Vinegar and baking soda can also make a great abrasive cleaner.

3. Cabinet Scratches

Even though kitchen cabinets are subject to wear and tear, you can still extend the life of the cabinets with some quick maintenance.

"At home improvement stores, you'll notice a few products available to cover chips and scratches in cabinets. These products are basically 'crayons' that allow you to 'color in' the problematic areas in your cabinets," advises Foti.

He suggests using the 'crayon' by simply filling in the chip or scratch. "It won't make the problem go away, but it will make the chip or scratch much less noticeable."

4. Cabinet Knobs

Who knew cabinet knobs could be this complex, but here's Foti's explanation: "There are two types of cabinet knobs: A knob with a screw attached to it and a knob with a hole attached. Repairing a broken knob with a screw attached to it is relatively simple."

He says the cause of the problem is that the hole has become too big for the screw and the threads have nothing to grip to. Foti says the solution to repair the hole is simple:

  • Take the ends of a matchstick or two and cut them to size

  • Glue them into the hole

  • Once the glue is dry, screw the knob back into the cabinet.

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