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21 Nifty Tricks for Big DIY Savings Around the House

Kevin Johnston
21 Nifty Tricks for Big DIY Savings Around the House

When you choose to DIY a home renovation, you're probably doing it to save money. But even when you do the work yourself, costs for small and large items can add up faster than you'd guess.

Here are 21 winning tactics that will help you cut the costs of a home remodel, whether you're trying to handle it entirely on your own or if you've hired someone to help you.

1. Create a temporary kitchen

A portable electric stove (hot plate) is inexpensive and can be plugged in anywhere.

When you're making substantial upgrades to your kitchen, you're also making the kitchen temporarily unusable. With no space to cook or even make coffee, you'll probably end up ordering take-out food, buying coffee at Starbucks or just dining out. These costs add up quickly.

That's why setting up a simple temporary kitchen where you can prepare basic foods is an important part of saving money on your DIY remodel.

You'll need a coffee maker, a microwave, a refrigerator and a table. And maybe a hot plate. You may also want a shelf to store condiments and canned goods. Get your utensils out of the kitchen drawer, and there you have it: a temporary kitchen!

2. Rent tools

Keith Homan/Shutterstock
Every tool is avaialble for rent in many casess at a fraction of a cost of purchasing.

Tools are expensive. You may use some of them just once and then leave them to gather dust in the garage.

Instead, consider renting tools from a home improvement store, or from a rental business. You can rent power tools, moving equipment and landscaping tools.

When you're done using them, you won't have to worry about making space to store them.

3. Buy used tools

If you need to purchase a tool, consider buying used.

When you can't rent a tool, buy it used. You can find bargains on power tools, work tables, storage units and more on websites such as Craigslist or even at local garage sales.

If you plan ahead for your needs, you'll be giving yourself plenty of time to find the used tools you need. The cost savings can be enormous, and if the tool is in good shape, it will do the job just as well as a new one.

4. Save on paint

Hugh Adams/Shutterstock
Paint all of your trim the same colour.

One clever trick you can use when painting is to make all of your trim the same color throughout your house.

One color means less waste, and when touch-up time comes, you won't have to order a custom color. You'll have exactly the color you need on hand.

When you're choosing your paint, ask for a sample to try it out. A small, inexpensive sample pot will allow you to paint a patch on a wall to see how you like it. It might very well look different than it did on the color card at the store.

This tactic will save you big because you won't be ordering gallons of a paint that the family might end up hating.

5. Drill holes in paint can rims

TheMuskokaPainter via YouTube
This trick can stretch a single can of paint a lot longer than you expect.

You'd be surprised at the amount of paint you waste as you wipe your brush on the rim. You risk dripping paint on the floor, and dried paint from the rim can work its way into the paint bucket, causing lumps.

Drill holes along the rim so that excess paint can run back into the can.

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6. Ask for a contractor discount 

Ask for the contractor discount.

If you decide to hire help for part of your repair or remodeling job, tell the store you are buying supplies for a contractor. You can save up to 15% this way.

When you consider all the purchases you have to make for your project, you'll save hundreds of dollars. Plus, the store may continue giving you the discount when you return, after the reno is done.

7. Learn to bargain

Stocked House Studio/Shutterstock
Don't be afraid to negotiate, especially if you're buying large quantities of something.

If you can't get a contractor discount, don't be afraid to ask for a lower price on items. Many people don't realize that even home supply chain stores may cut your price, especially if you are making a big purchase.

If that doesn't work, go to your local lumber supply, hardware or lawn supply store. Individual owners may have more leeway in discounting your purchase than employees working at big chains.

8. Use carpet remnants

Measuring precisely can help you save a lot of money.

When you are replacing carpet, consider picking up remnants and samples from a carpet store that is changing its offerings. Carpet leftovers can be inexpensive or free.

Sew the remnants together to make a larger rug, and don't worry about the different colors. A kaleidoscope of mismatched shades can be fun and work perfectly in a child's room or rec room.

You can save hundreds of dollars over buying a new carpet or a rug.

9. Buy discounted lumber

Steven Belanger/Shutterstock
Many lumber yards have discounted lumber bins.

Many lumber yards have discount bins where they put wood they couldn't sell. These can be remnants and boards that have cracks, and these pieces are usually very cheap or free. You may find wood that will fit your project.

Cutting off the unusable parts could leave enough wood to do what you want to do, and depending on what you're using it for, cracks and unique features can add character to your project.

10. Remove dents from wood

Finally. A real use for a clothes iron!

When you have a piece of wood you want to use but it has a dent in it, you can fix it.

Place a wet paper bag over the dent, then iron it. The heat will cause the water in the bag to make steam, which will expand the wood and fill in the dent.

11. Shop a resale website

Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock
Shop online and save.

Everything from tile to flooring, cabinets, doors and windows gets recycled, often through resale companies and their websites.

If you see something you like online, you can go to a brick-and-mortar location to make your purchases.

You'll need to be willing to sort through piles and stacks of items to find what you want, and you'll probably need to alter your plans to fit the materials you find. But all of this can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

12. Install cabinets yourself

A little help and a laser level can help you save a lot of money.

You might think kitchen cabinets are too difficult to install yourself, but here are some tips to do it easily:

  • Mark up the walls, to show where the cabinets are going to go.
  • Screw a long, pressure-treated board to the wall that will guide you for placing your upper cabinets.
  • Make sure the walls don't have deep bows, and if they do, then add shims where you will drill the cabinets into the walls.
  • Take off all the doors, remove the shelves, and set drawers aside. Hanging the cabinets will be much more manageable this way.

13. Buy supplies at the dollar store

Consider purchasing DIY tools and accessories at a dollar store instead of a hardware store.

When it comes to things like brushes, tape, paint pans, plastic sheets for drips, and similar items, you can get better deals at a dollar store or other discount store than at a home improvement store.

For the sorts of items that don't matter as much, you might save more than half the purchase price.

14. Buy drywall from a dealer

Stocked House Studio/Shutterstock
Find specialty stores and save.

Some sellers specialize in only one product. When you buy drywall, for example, the price has been marked up from what the dealer sold it to the store for.

You can go directly to the source and avoid the markup. Even then, the dealer may offer you an additional discount. The savings here can amount to several hundred dollars.

15. Buy discontinued items

Discontinued items can help you save, but consider buying a little extra where necessary, as you won't find replacements in the future!

Stores change their products all the time. This often leaves leftovers the store is no longer offering on its retail floor.

Watch for clearance items online and change your remodeling plans to fit the bargain materials.

This requires you to not only be flexible about your plans but also to start shopping well before beginning your project.

16. Make your own tool belt

Carlos andre Santos/Shutterstock
A handy idea to consider.

You can use an old leather glove as a tool belt.

Simply cut holes in the fingers and attach a loop of leather or even twine to hold the tool belt around your waist.

The savings aren't huge, but every little bit counts.

17. Take advantage of rebates and coupons  

Watch for discounts on supplies for your project.

Watch for discounts on supplies for your project. For large items, such as appliances, you often can find discount offers. For smaller purchases, there might be coupons available.

You might also save money at seasonal store sales, or by choosing clearance items or floor models. If you see a home supply store having a storewide sale, that could be the time to stock up on what you might need in the future.

Sometimes gift cards offer a discount as well, so think about buying one to cut your costs. Create a list of what you want for your project, and you'll be ready to act when prices drop.

18. Make brushes last longer

Photo by William Felker on Unsplash
Don't bother washing your brushes. Instead, wrap them in a plastic bag (and try placing your plastic bag in the fridge).

When you know you're returning to a paint job the next day, don't bother washing brushes.

No matter how thorough you are, paint can dry and make the brush stiff.

Instead, wrap each brush in a plastic bag. The paint will stay moist and your brush will be ready to use in the morning.  

19. Don't buy turpentine

279photo Studio/Shutterstock
Baby oil works just as well on your skin as harsh and expensive chemicals.

Getting paint off your skin can be tough, but turpentine only works so well. Plus, there are fumes to deal with, and the cost of turpentine can be high. 

Try affordable baby oil instead, and you can remove paint from skin without all the chemicals.

20. Use everyday products to hide scratches

Nor Gal/Shutterstock
An easy fix for little scratches in your hardwood floors and furniture.

Moving furniture and machinery around in your house can cause scratches in wood furniture, floors and walls. Luckily, these are fairly simple to fix.

Mix coffee with a bit of water to make a paste. Rub the paste into the scratch and let it dry. Apply furniture polish on top, and your scratch will hardly show.

21. Replace insulation instead of your A/C

Insulation can help you save on cooling and heating in both the short term and long term.

Before you go shopping for a new air conditioner, ask yourself why you're not getting the cooling you want.

The problem may be that cool air is leaking out.

You can easily add to your existing insulation. Not only will you save the money you were going to pay for a new cooling unit, but the insulation also will save you money on your heating bills in the winter.