Leaner bank accounts have many property owners looking for ways to save a few dollars and forgo calling in professional help.
Suddenly, do-it-yourself projects are a national pastime and a source of pride as people stay longer in their houses, said Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware’s national DIY expert.
“One of the major trends we’re seeing (for 2013) is the rebirth of DIY,” Manfredini said. “We’ve been flooded by more people wanting advice.”
There’s one difference with this latest group of do-it-yourselfers: “Homeowners are looking for easier ways to do things,” he said. “It’s a trend – not a fad.”
Home improvement stores are responding with new products and services that make home upgrades manageable for consumers who need to make the most of their time. There’s probably a project here that you can tackle.
A fresh start
One of the easiest and most popular home upgrades is to smooth over age and wear with paint. Expect to see two-in-one products such as paint with built-in primer. Services that make choosing colors simpler also are easier to find.
“Paint stores and websites offer ‘interactive color visualizers’ that upload pictures of your room,” said Debbie Zimmer of the Paint Quality Institute. “With a few keystrokes and mouse clicks, you can apply different color schemes to your virtual walls until you find the one you like best.”
Don’t be afraid of combining colors, she added. “This season’s hottest makeover trend calls for multicolor paint schemes using three, four or even five accent colors in a single room.”
In fabrics, bright and stripes are hot. Neon pinks, greens and blues scream summer – especially outdoors.
Indoors, summery whites and beach-blue hues bring in coolness.
“Darker colors retain more heat no matter the fabric,” said Carie Doll of Anna’s Linens. “Light colors will keep you cooler and will give your room an overall lighter look.”
For summer decorating, Doll suggests dual-purpose makeovers such as curtains or blinds that help save energy.
“Energy-efficient window treatments block out 99.9 percent of sunlight and insulate against heat, keeping your home cool,” she said. “A cooler home means lower summer energy costs. They also block the cold in the winter, making them ideal all year.”
Warm weather also brings a chance to finally scratch off long-awaited landscaping chores from your to-do list. New products are available for decks, walkways and small retaining walls.
Advanced lighting and electronics
Lighting upgrades are also popular projects.
“The phase-out of the incandescent bulb has forced manufacturers to double up efforts to make more acceptable alternatives,” Manfredini said. “You’ll see more and more options as prices keep coming down.”
Also hot this year is do-it-yourself installation of home automation. This includes Wi-Fi-enabled programmable thermostats, home security cameras and other systems that allow long-distance monitoring via the Internet.
“You just plug in the cameras – no wiring,” Manfredini said. “A lot of this stuff used to be only for professionals. More and more is coming for consumers. (Home improvement centers) are adding to it every day.”
Here’s a little tech-minded upgrade: an electrical outlet that also has USB receptacles for charging portable devices.
“Leviton makes one for under $25,” Manfredini said. “It’s a wonderful addition to the kitchen. It’s another way the industry is adapting to how we’re living our lives.”
Don’t skimp on protective gear
Fear of injury keeps many would-be DIYers from doing repairs and upgrades. Almost 60 percent of DIYers are concerned about getting injured while working on a home-improvement project, according to a survey by safety-equipment maker 3M TEKK Protection.
Whether indoors or out, the job will go more smoothly with some preparation. That includes thinking about safety and taking steps to protect yourself.
“Smart preparation can make all the difference when you’re taking on outdoor projects this season,” Manfredini said. “Whether you’re doing routine tasks like mowing the lawn and using a weed trimmer or spreading fertilizer, it’s important to protect yourself with the proper safety gear.”
Just when you think you’ve done everything on your list, something else is likely to come up.
“A good house is never done,” Manfredini said. “You’re always trying to make it better.
“It’s a lifelong process.”
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