The young adult’s guide to DIY

Whether you’re moving into student digs for college, renting your first apartment or leaving the nest for good, learning a few basic DIY tricks can help you feel empowered and save you a bundle of much-needed cash in the process. Here are some great projects for beginners, top tips from the experts, and super cheap ways to get results that look great!

Save yourself money by heating and cooling efficiently

A well-insulated home is a no-brainer, but as a young adult you probably think this is well beyond your financial reach. However, there are some surprisingly simple and cost-effective ways to make your home a more energy efficient place.

Simply resealing windows where air is leaking and fixing pesky drafts can make a big difference. Caulk is one easy way to do this, or you can simply purchase some inexpensive self-adhesive foam weather stripping, which you literally just peel and stick in the problem areas. Add up the electricity savings over a whole winter and this easy solution pays for itself several times over.

Also make sure to do a quick visual inspection of your furnace and HVAC filters, as these can get clogged up and inefficient over time. Simply turn off the system, remove the filters, and replace them if they’re looking dirty and grimy.

Splash test wooden decks and surfaces

Wooden decks and floors can be intimidating for new home owners, but there’s an easy way to check if they’re in need of maintenance. Simply splash a little water on the surface and take a look to see what happens. If the water forms little droplets on the surface of the wood, then the seal is still good. If not, you’ll want to deal with the issue now before rot sets in and you have a much bigger problem on your hands.

Check your gutters every autumn

If you’ve never owned your own place before then this is one of those chores that’s all too easy to forget. When gutters get clogged up with fallen leaves and debris, rain water ends up staying in places it shouldn’t be and can even get through into the roof itself. If the weather turns very cold, then there’s a risk of this trapped water freezing and doing even more damage. Use a sturdy ladder, and simply swipe the debris out with gloved hands (or with a small trowel or spade if you prefer) and then give them a thorough rinsing with the hose pipe. Sorted! If you live in a very tree-dense neighborhood, then make sure to at least check the gutters every few months.

Paint like a pro

The biggest mistake eager young adults make when attempting their first big paint job is neglecting to prep the walls properly beforehand. Remember that any flaking, peeling or cracked areas are simply going to give way under the weight of a new coat of paint, so you can end up wasting a lot of time and money – not to mention suffering a blow to your confidence! Get it right the first time by lightly sanding and scraping any areas that need it and washing any greasy areas with soap and then rinsing with clean water. Even if the walls look to be in great condition and all you’re after is a color change, give them a wipe with a damp cloth so the paint has a dust-free surface to adhere to.

Make sure to remove light switch and power outlet covers before you begin, apply painter’s tape so you get neat edges, and spend time making sure the floor and any furniture that can’t be moved out are well protected.

Know when to call in the professionals

There are dozens of DIY projects that complete beginners can take on with confidence, and then there are those jobs that really are best left to the professionals. Getting your furnace serviced, dealing with clogged chimneys, any tricky appliance repairs, asbestos removal, roofing repairs, gas line and electrical work that requires a permit should definitely be left to the experts.

Keep an eye on the grout in your kitchen and bathrooms

Not only is it an incredibly easy DIY project, keeping the grout in the bathroom and kitchen looking good and doing repairs when needed will also prolong the life of your tiled surfaces. While you’re at it, it can also be a good idea to remove your showerhead and clean out any sediment that’s built up.

Of course, the very best way to become better at DIY is to keep your eyes open for new projects, helpful articles, YouTube videos, whatever floats your boat – and then just give it a go!

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