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20 Insanely Easy 60-Minute Home Improvements

By Cynthia Ramnarace, Bob Vila

Freshen Up an Old Room With Paint


Pick a bold paint color, then use it to paint just one wall in a room. Covering only one wall will cost less and won’t take as much time as painting the whole room.


Switch Out Your Faucet


Sick of your drab, leaky faucet? If you can wield a wrench, you can easily install a new faucet. Before you start the job, turn off the water supply. Then just unscrew the connections from your old faucet and screw in your new faucet. Add an aerator, and you'll lower your water bill at the same time.


Clean Your Dryer Ducts


If your dryer doesn’t work as quickly as it used to, lint could be the culprit. Buildup not only affects efficiency, it also increases your risk of fire. To clean your ducts, first you’ll need some muscle to move your dryer away from the wall. Then you just need a vacuum. Unplug the dryer, disconnect the ductwork, and vacuum out the ducts as well as you can.


Inspect Your Electrical


Conduct an audit of your electrical outlets. For childproofing purposes, insert outlet covers into unused wall and power strip outlets, and secure any loose wires. For general safety, look for overloaded circuits and power cords, and adjust as necessary. Frayed cords should be replaced as should any light switch that is hot to the touch.


Build Raised Flowerbeds


You can build an 8-foot-square garden bed in less than an hour, using eight 8-foot-long sections of pressure-treated lumber, screws, construction adhesive, and landscape adhesive. Using a saw and a drill, cut pieces to size and secure them together. 


Scrub Your Pathways


Sidewalks, walkways, and driveways can become stained by wet leaves, mildew, and automotive leaks.


Update Your Hardware


Once you select new doorknobs or cabinet pulls, installation often requires nothing more than a screwdriver. To mount pulls on doors that never had them before, create a template to ensure that you drill your holes in the same spot each time.


De-Grime Your House


With a pressure washer, there’s no need to crawl on the roof to clean your gutters—just aim and spray. A pressure washer also cleans grime off your gutters and your vinyl siding as well. It can even be used to clean your second floor windows. Just be sure that all your windows are securely closed before you start.


Install Weatherstripping


Weatherstripping will make your home more comfortable while ensuring that your furnace won’t have to work so hard to warm your house. Permanent weatherstripping, which has adhesive, is recommended around doors and windows that are opened throughout the season. For windows that will stay shut until spring, consider temporary weather seals or sealant that peels off when it’s no longer needed.


Replace Your Furnace Filter


To improve air quality as well as furnace efficiency, check your furnace filters for dirt monthly and change them at least every three months. A new filter will substantially reduce the number of airborne dust particles. If you have allergies, you might want to invest in a better filter. Replacement is a cinch. Just swap the old one for a new one, and you’re done.


Drain Your Water Heater


Water contains sediment that can collect at the bottom of your water heater. These particles create insulation over time that forces your heater to work harder when it's generating hot water for your shower. The extra temperature stresses the metal, causing leaks. To counteract the sediment buildup, simply drain a quart of water from your hot water heater once every three months. Check your owner’s manual for instructions.


Install a Programmable Thermostat


If your home is one of the millions in America that still has an old-fashioned dial thermostat, it’s time to switch. Programmable thermostats allow you to automatically vary the temperature in your home throughout the day. They're easy to install and relatively affordable. To experience the joy of waking up to a warm bedroom while still saving money on your heating bill, all you need is a screwdriver, drill, and (possibly) touch-up paint.


Switch Your Switch Plate Covers


Replace boring beige switch covers with something more decorative. There are lots of options that can be purchased online ranging from antique brass to modern plastic colors imprinted with vibrant graphics. Or, you can let your creativity run wild (and save money) by covering your existing switch plates with decorative wallpaper, duct tape or fabric, by using decoupage, or by simply spray painting them a striking color.


Shampoo Your Rugs


Enlist a few family members to move the stuff out of the way, then rent a home shampooer to bring your carpets back to life. Most industrial machines take less than 20 minutes to do a room so in an hour, you could have three rooms of freshly shampooed carpets. You're going to be surprised how much brighter your carpets will look… and how dirty that water will be!


Install Lamp Dimmers


Nothing says “designer home” like soft and warm ambient lighting. But you don’t have to spend a fortune on track or recessed lighting. Instead, turn any lamp into your home into mood lighting by installing a dimmer cord. Simply plug the cord into the wall, then the lamp into the other side of the plug. Use the slide switch to get the lighting just right, every time.


Start a Compost Pile


Just because you don’t eat it doesn’t mean your garden won’t! Turn your left over food into a rich and nutritious meal for your plants with very little effort by starting a compost pile. You'll save money on mulch, avoid scary gardening chemicals, and end up with a heap of rich soil. Don’t have a yard? Look into a plastic kitchen composter to give houseplants fertile dirt.


Create a Chalkboard


Thanks to chalkboard paint and chalkboard contact paper, you can pretty much create a write-on surface anywhere your imagination takes you. Consider painting the inset panels on doors to leave notes for the kids, or transform the insides of your cabinet doors into message central. Cut contact paper into unique shapes, apply to fridge and you won’t need post-it notes anymore!


Apply Window Film


Do you have a window that has an unattractive view or one that needs to give you a little more privacy? If so, consider covering them with window film. Window films come in a variety of opacities and patterns that mimic everything from etched glass to rice paper. The work requires precision, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be zipping along in no time!


Transform a Floor With Vinyl Tiles


If you’ve got an unattractive concrete or old wooden floor in your home, you can give it a new lease on life with peel-and-stick vinyl tiles. Today’s vinyl has come a long way from the ancient linoleum in your grandparents’ house. Now it’s available in patterns that resemble stone, wood or even metal. You’ll be amazed at how good it looks and how fast it goes down!


Stop the Squeaks!


If you live in an older home, chances are good that you have doors and floors that squeak. You can restore your peace and quiet quickly and cheaply in under an hour. For squeaky door hinges, all it should take is a short squirt of WD-40. To stop the floors from creaking, simply sprinkle some talcum powder on them and sweep it into the cracks. There—the sweet sound of silence!

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News: 20 Insanely Easy 60-Minute Home Improvements
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