Handymen say you should have these cheap, clever things around your home to save yourself a lot of trouble

Simple DIY tricks FTW.

ByChristina X. Wood
Originally Published: 
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There’s a clog in the shower. Your kitchen looks dated, but a remodel isn’t in the cards. These are issues that tend to crop up when navigating home or apartment life. Do you know who can help solve them? The people you call to fix things. So I asked them, and they answered with lots of simple tricks and tips that are easy to employ.

It’s prudent to follow the advice of professionals, and handyworkers say you should have these cheap, clever things around your home to save yourself a lot of trouble.


This double-pack of flashlights that can save the day (or night)

“A flashlight is an essential tool for any handy person,” says Gray. “Whether you're working on a project in a dimly lit area or trying to find something in a dark corner of your home, a flashlight can make all the difference.”

These two LED tactical flashlights are bright enough to light the room and will survive any drop, weather, water, or hazard you throw at them. The batteries last a long time and they are small enough to tuck in a drawer or toolbox.


The bathroom-sealing fix you can do in a few minutes

Santos shares, “Your bathroom can be refreshed and protected against water damage and [mold] growth by putting down a fresh bead of bathroom caulk.” Use this waterproof caulk and seal from Gorilla for excellent results in either a white or clear silicone.

“Caulk tends to crack and [discolor] with time, leading to water seeping into your shower or bathtub,” he continues. When that happens, it’s a good idea to put down a fresh line. This helps “keep the bathroom looking and functioning at its best,” and — even better — is “an easy project [that] won’t break the bank.”


This 18-bit screwdriver to assist with many projects

“A multi-function screwdriver is an essential tool that can help you tackle a variety of tasks,” says Barry Gray, woodworker, contractor, tool expert, and founder of The Tool Square. “Look for a screwdriver that comes with interchangeable bits, so you can use it for different types of screws.”

This one fits the bill, with nine double-sided bits for a whopping total of 18 different tips. These range from Phillips and flathead screwdrivers to Allen keys and more. The tips are also magnetized, which Gray says “will help prevent you from losing screws while you work.”


The easy treatment to enhance your lawn

“I've been in the landscaping industry for 15 years,” says Bryan Clayton, CEO and co-founder of GreenPal. “One of the best and cheapest things you can do to improve the appearance of your home on the outside is to aerate and overseed your turf to make sure you'll have a great-looking lawn next year.”

Aerating is so easy — fun even — to do. Just walk around wearing these lawn aerator shoes and let the spikes break up the soil and bring air to your lawn’s roots. “Spring is the absolute best time of year to do this as the temperatures are cool enough for the seed to germinate and get established for the following year,” he advises.


These clog removers so you don’t have to call the plumber

“Investing in a few inexpensive items, like a plunger and drain snake, can save you a lot of money in the long run by allowing you to tackle minor plumbing issues on your own before they become major problems,” says Brian Jeffries, Lead Advisor of Building Product Advisor.

This clog remover comes with a 25-inch clog remover and six plastic, barbed hair removers so you can easily get just about anything out of your drains on your own. Durable and flexible, they’re designed to adeptly navigate the bends of strainers and pipes.


This caulking tool that can save you cash

While you are stocking your toolkit, pick up this drip-free caulking tool. “Caulking [is] useful for quickly sealing up cracks and crevices around windows or doors so that air isn't leaking in and out of your house (which could save you money on heating costs),” Lines advises.

The padded grip and handle on this one make it easy on your hands. And the rod retracts after you pull the trigger to prevent dripping.


The classic duct tape that can fix just about anything

“Duct tape is a classic tool that every handy person should have around the house,” says Gray. “It can be used to patch up leaks, fix broken items, and even temporarily hold things in place.”

This professional-grade duct tape is the high-quality tape you want. “[It] will stick to almost anything and hold up over time,” asserts Gray. And with this three-pack, you won’t run out of it anytime soon, since each contains 35 yards.


These sturdy zip ties that are surprisingly useful

“Zip ties are a handy tool that can be used for a variety of purposes,” says Gray. So stock up with this pack of 500 self-locking, nylon zip ties in various sizes. “They're great for securing cables and cords, organizing tools, and even fixing broken items around the home. Keep a pack of zip ties in your toolbox, and you'll be surprised at how often you reach for them,” he adds.


This doorway hack for lowering the power bill

“If you want to save even more money on your energy bills, consider adding weatherstripping around your doors and windows,” advises Jorge Santos, operations director at Fantastic Services.

This under-door draft stopper is super easy to install. Just cut the two foam pieces to fit, slip them into the sleeves, and slide it under your door. It insulates both sides of the door for extra protection and won’t impede the door’s movement. “This prevents drafts and keeps your home warmer without cramming your heat or air conditioning,” he adds.


This plumbers tape for helping stop leaks

“Plumbers tape, also known as Teflon tape, is a great tool to have in your home to prevent leaks in your pipes,” says Muhammad Waqar, founder & CEO of Build.com.pk. “It's easy to use, and all you have to do is wrap it around the threaded ends of pipes to create a waterproof seal.”

Stock up on plumbers tape so you have some on hand if you want to change a showerhead or fix a leak. This pack of four rolls gives you one to toss in every toolbag and odds-and-ends drawer in the house.


This blanket that insulates the water heater

There are countless places you could invest $30. But this water heater insulation blanket is poised to reap instant rewards. “Insulating your hot water heater can help reduce heat loss and save energy,” says Ollie Creevy, managing director of Free Insulation Scheme. “You can buy an insulating blanket for your water heater for around $20-30.”

It’s easy to use and helps keep your hot water heater from — wastefully — losing heat, thus increasing its efficiency. This blanket will cover a water heater up to 60 gallons in size and it comes with plastic tape.


A rainfall shower head that saves water & boosts water pressure

One way to save money is to switch to a low-flow showerhead and use less water. “Low-flow showerheads and faucets can help you save water and reduce your water bill,” confirms Creevy. “You can find low-flow showerheads for around $10-20 and low-flow faucet aerators for under $5,” he says.

In the case of this rainfall shower head, though, the low flow does not mean you have to make do with less water. It has an air-intake system that helps boost the water pressure — to a soft deluge that feels like rain — while using less water in the process.


This dimmer switch that helps conserve power

“Installing dimmer switches can help you save energy and extend the life of your light bulbs,” says Creevy. “You can find basic dimmer switches for around $10-20.”

This sleek and easy-to-install dimmer switch is an ideal option. You can switch the light on with the toggle and set the brightness with the slider underneath so it’s the best of both light-switching worlds.


These smart LED bulbs that are energy efficient & modernize your home

According to Creevy, “replacing incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs can help you save energy and reduce your energy bill.” These smart light bulbs are LED and also connect to your phone, Amazon Alexa, or Google Home so you can control them with a phone tap or your voice.

Turn them on and off, change the colors, adjust the brightness, and set up schedules and routines to customize your home — all while saving on your power bill.


The MVP substance that dries moisture, inhibits corrosion, & lubricates parts

“After finishing a home remodel, I give my clients a small gift basket of home DIY things that I know they’ll need,” says Ben Kuhl, home remodeler & CEO of Shelf Expression. “The one thing I make sure always gets in the basket is a can of WD-40.”

In addition to its most notable use for lubricating squeaks, Kuhl likes it for “[removing] crayon marks” as well as the “adhesive gunk that stickers leave behind.” This is a three-pack to help keep your home running smoothly for a while. Oh, and Kuhl also likes it as a rust protectant for metal furniture you keep outdoors.


This trick for hiding the kitchen trash

“If you want a small but noticeable upgrade in the kitchen,” offers Glenn Wiseman, RASDT, RHDT, and sales manager at Top Hat Home Comfort Services, “consider converting a drawer or cabinet to hold the trash and compost bins.”

This pull-out trash can installs into a standard cabinet and holds many receptacle sizes. Once installed, close the cabinet door with the trash and its bin inside. “That way, your trash is hidden away, making your kitchen appear much cleaner,” he says.


A fast & effective upgrade for your doors & wood surfaces

Looking for an easy and inexpensive home improvement project? “You can refinish your home's wood doors,” suggests Santos. “This will not only save your door but will also add value to your home. All you need is a little elbow grease, sandpaper, and a can of stain or paint.”

This wood stain is a solid choice. There are 47 color options and it takes only one coat to get gorgeous color. “This renovation will take you up to just a few hours,” says Santos. “You will strip away years of wear and tear and bring your door back to its original beauty.” Wood is a material made to last, and after this project, Santos asserts “you will enjoy the newly-refinished door for years to come.”


A quick kitchen cabinet update for less than $30

“Another way to improve the look of your home without risking your budget is to replace any old and worn-out hardware,” suggests Santos. “These can be the ones on your doors, cabinets, or drawers.”

These matte black, stainless steel drawer pulls will give your space a modern edge that can totally transform your cabinets. A pack of 30 is probably enough to take on the whole kitchen. “The slight change can make a big difference in the overall appearance of your home,” says Santos.


This snazzy backsplash you can quickly & easily install yourself

“A backsplash is a practical and affordable way to protect your kitchen or bathroom walls from spills, splatters, and other messes,” says Santos. And you can do it without hiring a contractor or living in a construction zone. Opting for peel-and-stick backsplash tiles doesn’t require you to be a master renovator. The hardest part of working with this marble-like solution from Art3d is choosing a color. Then simply apply them to a clean surface.

He adds, “It will not only completely change the look of the walls and the room but also make cleaning up easier.” And, with a whole host of varieties available, you can find a version “to fit your home decor and personality the best.”


This must-have wrench set that ensures you have all the sizes on hand

“Having a few pairs of adjustable wrenches on hand is invaluable when it comes to tightening loose screws or bolts without having to go out and buy the correct size wrench,” says Nick Lines, Director of Internal Doors & UK Oak Doors.

This handy three-piece set adjusts easily and has large markings on the side so you can quickly read their positions. They have a polished chrome finish that also resists corroding.


A helpful power drill you need in your kit

A basic cordless drill and driver such as this one from Black+Decker is another heavy-hitting tool to have, according to Lines. “Cordless drills are great for quickly drilling holes into various materials such as wood and plastic, as well as driving screws into place, all without having to plug in each time you need to use it!”

The keyless chuck in this lightweight drill makes it easy to switch out the drill or screwdriver bit and the built-in light helps when you are working in a dim area.


These reusable cloths that are better than paper towels

“The first low-cost tip I have,” says Leo Watts, an expert in CNC (computer-controlled cutting) and Head of Content at CNCSourced, “is to use dish towels and cloths instead of paper towels to clean up messes.”

These Swedish dishcloths are an easy solution. They are made from cellulose and cotton so they are somewhere between a sponge and a cotton rag and are super durable. And they have a 3-D pattern that boosts their scrubbing ability. “This is a great way to save money on paper towels while being gentler on the environment. Not to mention that [they] can be reused and washed multiple times, reducing waste,” adds Watts.


A programmable thermostat to help lower power costs

“I would also suggest investing in a programmable thermostat,” says Watts. This one lets you program the whole week at once, with four periods such as evening, morning, and weekends and it’s easy to install. It even reminds you when it needs new batteries.

Installing one like this will “help consistently keep your home at an energy-efficient temperature, saving energy costs,” Watts shares. He especially touts the benefits “during the summer and winter months when air conditioning and heating bills can add up quickly.”


This giant surge protector that also helps you manage power use

“I suggest using a powerstrip and surge protector to maintain and power multiple appliances at once,” says Watts. This affordable offering from ALESTOR has plenty of standard plugs as well as four USB ports. One switch lets you control the power to them all.

“This is great if you want to save energy,” he says, “as many appliances draw power even when they’re not in use. A powerstrip also serves as a great way to organize multiple appliances and easily move them around if necessary.”


A big set of tools so you have what you need

“For almost all of the services I provide for my clients, I need various tools,” says Shlomo Cherniak, owner of Cherniak Handyman. “Here is a simple list that every homeowner should have in their toolbox: Tape measure, hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, channel locks, needle-nose pliers, awl, electrical tape, [and] duct tape.”

This complete, basic tool set in a handy case has almost everything on that list as well as a pair of scissors. With a solid set of tools (and savvy DIY video search skills), Cherniak advises that “homeowners can do many basic repairs without needing to call a professional,” which saves money — along with cultivating “a sense of pride in maintaining [your] own home.”


The indoor/outdoor paint that will update your home

“One of the easiest ways to upgrade the appearance of your home is simply by repainting it,” says Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy Painters of Riverview. “Walls, especially with white or light colors, can get dirty over time, so you can instantly refresh them by adding a fresh layer.”

This eco-friendly, interior/exterior paint has a low sheen, is easy to clean, goes on smoothly, and delivers a lot of coverage. There are lots of great colors to choose from, too. Kazimierski suggests either refreshing walls with the same color or changing things up to “make your rooms appear instantly upgraded.” To that end, he suggests you can “paint an accent wall/ceiling to enhance the dimensions and totally change up the visual appeal.”


A set of solar string lights to beautify outdoor space

“One way you can light up an outdoor space and make it look nice without rewiring the house is to install string lights,” suggests Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home. These solar-powered string lights don’t require that you have power outdoors and they come on automatically at sunset, making them super low maintenance, too. They are powered by the sun so they won’t affect your power bill.

“They're cheap, cost-effective, and you can string them up however you like,” she adds. “You can also choose from traditional or wild colors, and they come in a huge range of designs and lengths that match your space.”


This easy chalk paint to spruce up the details

“Next, you can paint your doorknobs to make them look like new or match your new design scheme if you don't want to install new ones,” says Stark. “Doorknobs tend to look very worn and faded due to the amount of use they get, so they can easily age a room if you're not careful. Painting and sealing them is a nice way to add a pop of fresh color to the room.”

This chalk-style paint gives a super matte finish to your painting project for a very modern look. And it has a built-in primer and top coat so you don’t have to fuss with those extra steps.


The vinyl electrical tape you can use for so many things

Thomas Hawkins, an electrician at Electrician Apprentice HQ, suggests utilizing electric tape for certain repairs. More specifically, he says, “It's great for electronic repairs plus plenty of other [tasks] because it's incredibly strong.” This electrical tape from 3M is flame retardant and can handle up to 600 volts. You can use it indoors or outdoors.


A fast way to upgrade your home décor

“One of the simplest and most economical upgrades you can make is to replace old fixtures and fittings around the home,” says Kamil Kowalski, President of LimakWay Remodeling. “This is a great way to freshen up your home décor.” He continues, “Replacing items such as taps, door handles, or even light switches can be done relatively easily and inexpensively and can instantly give your home a fresh look and feel.”

These wall plates with a charming, vintage frame, for example, make a terrific visual upgrade to the builder-level plates in most homes and it takes only five minutes with a screwdriver to make the change. They come in three colors.