how to hang a picture

Home Repair: Become Your Own Handyman

Kelly Spors

Home Makeover Guides, Weekend DIY Projects & More

The weekend is the perfect time to tackle that long-awaited home makeover or home repair that you’ve had sitting on your to-do list. If you’re not careful, though, weekend DIY projects can turn into more trouble than they’re worth.

How can you make sure those “simple” DIY upgrades don’t become aggravating, messy chores? From learning how to hang a picture properly to full home repairs, Extra Mile is here to help you become your very own handyman. Check out a few of our quick guides—as well as tips—for a cleaner and easier weekend home makeover:

Home Repair Guide: Drilling Walls with Minimal Dust and Damage

Need to hang a mirror in the bedroom or picture frames above the sofa? This is one of the easiest ways to do a home makeover. You’ll likely need to drill at least a few holes in your wall. Here are some tips for reducing the dust, damage, and frustration:

Find the stud. You’ll typically want to hang heavy items by drilling the screws into the wooden beams (“studs”) behind your walls; otherwise, those items may not have enough support and could damage your walls. A stud finder, which you can pick up at any hardware store, allows you to easily locate the studs behind your walls.

Start with a hammerBefore you drill, consider using a nail and hammer to create a small hole in the wall. It will help to guide and support the drill as it goes in. This means less error and less mess when drilling.

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Use the right type of drill bit. Your drill may accommodate several types of bits. Make sure to use one designed to drill into wood and other light-weight materials—called a Brad Point or Dowel—rather than a bit used to drill into masonry and other heavy-duty materials. This will minimize the risk of damage to your walls and reduce the amount of dust produced.

Use anchors to strengthen the hold. If you can’t drill directly into the studs–perhaps because there are no studs located where you want to hang your décor–you can use screw anchors. These are small plastic tubes that are inserted into drill holes in order to strengthen the holes before inserting screws. Screw anchors are an especially good option when you’re hanging heavy pictures or large frames, mirrors, or shelves.

Use a dustbin to trap the dustYou might want to lay a tarp or other cloth over your floors and furniture to protect them from dust or debris while drilling your walls. Another quick solution is holding a dustbin beneath the site where you’re drilling to collect the dust as you go.

Use tape to trap the dust. Tear off a piece of painter’s tape that’s five to six inches long. Fold the tape in half, lengthwise, sticky side facing out. Stick the bottom half of the tape directly below where you’ll be drilling. The top half should face up toward the drill site and once you start drilling, the dust should stick to the top half.

Home Repair Guide: How To Hang a Picture Straight

Hanging picture frames and other types of wall decor can be frustrating—stepping back and forth from your picture hanging hooks, tilting your head to make sure it’s eye level, aligning the top of the frame over-and-over again trying to get it just right… it’s enough to make you want to hire a handyman.

To avoid all that, here are a few tips on how to hang a picture straight.

Photocopy the back of your frame. What better way to visualize your picture’s positioning on the wall than to hang a life-size replica? Photocopy the back of your picture frame. Be sure to capture the holes in the frames that are meant for hanging. Make sure to turn off the “auto-scale” feature so that your photocopies reflect the true size of the frame.

Tape the photocopy to the wallTo determine where you want to hang your frame, use tape to stick the photocopy (or photocopies if yours is a larger frame) on the wall.

Adjust as neededBefore you start drilling or nailing, make sure your photocopies are in the perfect, eye-pleasing position.

Use a laser levelNot sure if you’ve hung the photocopies as straight as possible? Use a level or laser level to ensure that your photos are right where you want them to be.

Drill through your copiesUse the holes shown on the photocopies to determine where to drill or hammer. Insert the screws or nails directly through the paper to ensure that you’re in the right spot. Once you’re done, you can remove the paper.

Use tape to mark drill holes. Another method for hanging frames involves placing a continuous piece of masking tape, or painter’s tape, cover the holes on the back of the frame. Use a pen or pencil to mark where the holes are beneath the tape. Remove the tape from the back of the frame and position it on the wall where you want the frame to go. You can then drill directly through the tape.

Go the old-fashioned route. Don’t forget about the old standby methods for hanging frames, either (check out the video above), which is as simple as using a pencil and tape measure or a wire hanger.

Home Repair Guide: Removing Old Screws and Nails

As you perform various home repairs and weekend projects around the house, you may encounter old screws and nails that need to be removed. The tricky part is getting them out of your walls without causing unnecessary damage to your wood and framing.

Remove old paint firstBefore attempting to extract an old nail or screw, scrape away any old paint from around the head—especially the outer perimeter and any slot meant to hold a screwdriver tip.

Try the basic methods. Once you have a clean surface, try using the right type of screwdriver—whether a Phillips-head or a flat-head—to remove the old screw from its hole. The back of a hammer (the “claw”) can be used to remove old nails, too.

Use lubricant for stubborn jobs. Applying a lubricant, such as WD-40, around the head of an old screw or nail may make it easier to remove.

Use rubber bands on stripped screwsTrying to remove a screw that’s partially or completely stripped? Put a rubber band over the top of the screw head and then use the screwdriver to try to unscrew it. The rubber provides much-needed traction to help you extract the screw.

Home Repair Guide: Painting with Less Mess

Painting a room doesn’t have to be a huge, time-consuming mess. It can honestly be fun. There’s nothing quite like seeing a room come to life because of your own hard work—not too hard, though. That’s what we’re trying to avoid.

Choose the right style of brush or rollerUse a large, flat brush or roller when painting a large area. Use an angled paintbrush and paint with caution when attention to detail is required, such as when painting the top of a wall next to a ceiling.

Buy a quality brushThis means buying a high-quality brush. A high-quality paintbrush can range from $15 to $25, but you’ll quickly notice the difference between a more expensive brush and vs. cheaper brushes. Natural bristle brushes are good for oil paints, whereas synthetic brushes are good for latex paints. Brushes made with polyester are well-suited for exterior work, whereas brushes made with nylon are a better fit for interior and detailing work.

Put a rubber band over the paint can opening. After you open your paint can place a rubber band around it so that the band goes over the can’s opening. You can use that band to wipe off excess paint every time you dip your brush. This is crucial because a brush loaded with too much paint will drip and splatter.

Use a large bucket instead of a roller pan. If you’re painting a large area and plan to use a roller, five-gallon buckets with roller grids are easier to work with than roller pans. And as an added bonus, they’re much less likely to tip over.

Consider ditching the tapeMany people automatically whip out the masking tape before they paint. Not only does taping take time, but when removed, it can leave behind a jagged line as it tears away some of the “skin” of the dried latex paint. Instead of taping, practice cutting in with an angled brush. Once you get the hang of the technique, you’ll save time and get better results.

If you feel more comfortable with tape, it’s best to use actual painter’s tape. This kind of tape is specifically designed to prevent the problems typically associated with generic masking tape. It will not peel or rip paint from your walls, it will not leave a residue, and some can even be applied on wet paint.

Put down a drop clothCovering the floor with plastic or heavy cloth provides extra protection in case there are any drips or spills. Consider taping your drop cloth to the baseboard to prevent it from moving and exposing the floor while you paint.

Move anything of valueDon’t risk paint dripping on your sofa. Remove anything from the room that you wouldn’t want the paint to fall on. If something’s too hard to move, put a drop cloth over it. No matter how careful you are, it’s important to cover all your bases. You’ll be happier in the long run.

Remove drips quickly and carefullyEven after taking these preventive measures, you may still experience drips. By using a cloth and white vinegar or nail polish remover, you can clean up paint on a variety of different surfaces before it dries. Be sure to test your quick-fix paint remover on an area that won’t show, just in case it causes damage to your furniture or other materials in your painting area.

Before you start your next home improvement project, all you have to do is plan ahead. From learning how to hang a picture the right way to a complete home makeover, a home repair can be both exciting and rewarding. Handyman themed weekend DIY projects are a great way to add value to your home. And can be a fun weekend project for you, you and your partner, or the whole family!

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9 Responses to "Home Repair: Become Your Own Handyman"
  • John | January 19, 2018 at 8:16 am

    I've been a DIY'er since I was 10 following my dad around (65+ years ago). I'm always very carful to not leave tracks around the brim of the can when wiping the brush. Dad said a clean rim will always seal better even on the third or forth re-sealing. A real pain, but it's worked over the years. But I never heard of the rubber band trick to wipe off a brush. I'd bet that takes at least a third off my time for any paint job that needs a brush. Thanx!

  • Patricia C Swann | January 19, 2018 at 4:44 am

    Does this include mobile home flooring an plumbing?

  • Edith B. | January 18, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    If you need to purchase an expensive specialty tool, consider hiring a professional.

  • Antonio Torres | January 17, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Great !!! thank you.

  • Joan Bean | January 17, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks for the great tips.

  • Karen L | January 17, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for the great tips!

  • Dan Byrd | January 16, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    What do you recommend for popcorn ceilings that have a dirt/dust buildup over the last 27 years. It's not disgusting but obvious. I don't want to damage the popcorn on my white cathedral ceiling by the a/c and heater vents? Thank you in advance. This is a nice Hartford service.

  • Bonnie Hearn | January 16, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Wonderful, helpful ideas. Thanks.

  • Adrian at ninjaDIY | January 4, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Hey there, thanks for sharing this awesome tips. Excellent post !

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