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6 Home Improvement Project Skills You Need


New homeowners can save themselves a lot of money over the years if they develop just a few home maintenance skills. Let's face it, when calling a plumber or a handy man, most of what you are paying for is labor.

Thankfully, you only need to master a few basic skills to allow you to do many different types home improvement projects. Here are the project areas that you should concentrate on learning -- they don't require much specialized knowledge, and they're skills you'll probably repeat often.

'Treating' Your Windows:
Learn how to hang a curtain rod level, or install a set of blinds. Trust me, over the years you will have to replace your window coverings several times. The first time your kid's soccer ball flies across the room and tears the blinds to the floor, you'll be thankful you know what to do. It just requires a little skill with a drill, and knowledge of wall anchors and screws.

Wall Wisdom:
Hanging pictures is a bit of an art, but the better you become at it, the fewer holes in your walls! Learn when you need to use wall anchors and how to find wall studs. Laying out your all art on the floor before you hang will help you to create a pattern and a spacing that you like without putting unnecessary holes in the walls. The same skills you get from hanging blinds will be utilized here.

Get Current on Electrical:
The first thing I suggest do it yourselfers learn about electrical is that if you plan on doing simple things such as installing a light dimmer, make sure you always, always, always turn off the electricity first. Leave bigger jobs to the professionals. (And if you don't know how to turn off the electricity, just call an electrician, better safe than sorry.)

Plumbing Prowess:
OK, we all have those plumbing nightmares. A wedding ring fell down the drain, or your kid dropped three rolls of toilet paper down the toilet and then flushed. It IS going to happen.

So learn some basic plumbing skills. Know how to shut off the water to stop that overflowing toilet. Learn to use a pipe snake to clear the kitchen drain of the potato peels from Sunday night's dinner and even how to install a toliet yourself. (You do NOT want to pay a plumber to come out on Sunday night, I promise.) 
Your kitchen, your bath and the windows of your home will need to be caulked from time to time. It's an easy skill to learn, but practice makes for a smooth bead of caulk. Learn to use a caulking gun to keep your bathroom tub tight and your windows leak-free. Learn about the different types of caulk, and learn about exterior caulking, too.

Painting Pizzazz:
Nothing brightens a home faster than a good coat of paint. Painting skills can help you improve your interior, but is also a must for maintaining the exterior of most homes. Invest in the proper tools, learn about proper paint prep, and keep your home looking great without investing a fortune.

The Tool Tips You Need:
All of the project areas above require just basic tool skills that you usually find yourself using over and over. Knowing how to use a drill safely can save you a lot of time, and make almost any installation project easier. You can use a hand saw for most do it yourself projects.

However, knowing how to use an electrical saw will make adding crown molding to every room in your home a weekend job, instead of one you won't finish until after the mortgage is paid off. A portable circular saw is one of the most popular choices.

Where to Find the Skills:
Home improvement skills that are appropriate for do-it-yourselfers are taught at home warehouse stores across the nation, usually for free.

The Internet can also be a great resource for learning these skills, but keep in mind that many sites online are run by amateurs. So be careful about who you accept advice from. Home forums can be a great place to get feedback form other experienced home owners as well. 

Finally, don't overlook getting instruction from friends, family and neighbors. Chances are good you know someone who would love the opportunity to share their knowledge with you.

All these home improvement skills are easily learned by any new homeowner. Taking the time now to invest yourself into your home will prevent you from having to invest your life savings later. So pull out that tool belt and brandish that paint brush; you're a homeowner now!

Your Next Move:

Kathy Wilson is a home and garden author and is a home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com. Visit her for more home and garden ideas at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com or http://www.DecoratingYourSmallSpace.com.

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