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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Best Home Improvement Fixes
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DIY Projects for Your New Home

HomeGain surveyed almost 500 real estate agents nationwide to figure out which home improvements, under $5,000, will give you the highest return on investment. Make sure to take a look at all of our related guides.

What each slide means:
Cost: How much this will cost you to do.
Benefit: How much value it adds to your home’s retail value
ROI: Return on investment.
Recommended: Percent of realtors surveyed who recommend this home improvement.

Cost: $1,407
Benefit: $2,176
ROI: 55%
Recommended: 79%

An attractive home exterior can give buyers a great first impression. Check out our handy guide to figure out what color will best sell your home:

Painting to Sell

Cost: $1,958
Benefit: $3,255
ROI: 66%
Recommended: 70%

While it’s the most expensive item on the list, investment in your bathrooms and kitchens yields the biggest increase to your home’s retail value. Even little things like replacing small appliances and fixing up doorknobs and cabinet handles can have a noticeable impact.

Check out these tips for fixing up your bathroom and kitchen.

Minor kitchen renovations that help sell your home.
Even more kitchen renovation help.
Making your bathroom more luxurious.

Cost: $968
Benefit: $2,002
ROI: 107%
Recommended: 94%

Check out our guide with greats tips on what colors to paint each room in your house. A fresh coat of paint is essential for helping the house feel clean, and with the right colors, it can add serious value to your property.

Interior paint colors that help you sell your home.

Cost: $902
Benefit: $1,898
ROI: 110%
Recommended: 93%

The part of the house that you spend the most time on is probably the floor, so it’s no wonder that it can affect the value of your home. Make sure all of your hardwood, tile, and linoleum floors are clean and defect free.

Flooring for your home: what are your options?

Cost: $671
Benefit: $1,747
ROI: %160
Recommended: %99

Fresh carpets give your entire home a cleaner, more inviting atmosphere. Steam your carpets thoroughly, replace carpets that look worn, and fix creaky areas of your floor.

Cost: $724
Benefit: $2,145
ROI: 196%
Recommended: 76%

Lights, camera, action! Make sure your home is ready for the limelight. Hang some artwork, get some flowers, rearrange furniture, and do anything else to make the inside of your house look perfect. Here are some great guides to making your house stage-ready.

Step by step guide to staging your home.

Home staging tips for every season.

Avoid these home staging mistakes.

Staging tips for a quick sale.

Cost: $564
Benefit: $1,777
ROI: 215%
Recommended: 97%

What’s the first thing potential buyers see when looking at a house? The outside! Fix up your front and back yards, add some hanging plants, and do any yard work that make the house look good from a distance. Here are some handy guides to get you going:

Best landscaping design options

Quick tips to improve curb appeal

Low-maintenance lawn landscaping

Cost: $808
Benefit: $3,175
ROI: 293%
Recommended: 93%

No one likes a leaky faucet or a broken outlet. Make sure your pipes are in good shape (and fix the bad ones), and update your wiring to accommodate modern appliances, Internet, and other popular audio/visual equipment.

Cost: $424
Benefit: $1,690
ROI: 299%
Recommended: 96%

Would you want to buy a dark, dreary home? I didn’t think so. Make sure you have clean windows and skylights, attractive looking curtains, working lights, and more.

Check out these guides for making your house shine:

Guide to Home Lighting: The Kitchen
Creative solutions for lighting small areas.

Cost: $402
Benefit: $2,042
ROI: 403%
Recommended: 99%

This one seems like a no-brainer. Cleaning and de-cluttering your home is cheap, and makes it much more appealing to potential buyers. Check out some of our guides for tips and tricks.

Decluttering your home

Cleaning your home before staging


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