3 Easy Home Improvements You Can Do in a Weekend

Judging by the speed with which our weekends pass us by, they don’t often seem like a good time to tackle a home improvement project. Luckily, there are plenty of quick projects that can be completed with just one weekend—projects that will make any room feel very different. So set your alarm this Saturday—you’ve got to use all the time you’ve got!

1. Tiling a Kitchen Backsplash

Besides just being a great way to draw attention to your kitchen, a tile backsplash can be a matter of safety. Tile is much less flammable than something like painted drywall that could serve as an alternative. This can be done in a weekend for small to medium backsplashes.

First, pick a tile that compliments your cabinetry and appliances and measure the space to determine how much tile you will need. If you plan to make a design, be sure to measure the exact space you will want to center it in with a level and measuring tape. Collect all of the tools necessary for tiling before you begin—you want to be able to move through the process smoothly. You won’t need a backerboard if you are beginning with drywall, but instead of the typical thinset mortar you’ll use a mastic to hold tile to a vertical surface. Lightly sand the wall with sandpaper without removing the paint and wipe off the dust with a damp rag.

Be sure to get a notched trowel with notches the right size for your mastic—ask your tile dealer about this. Use the trowel and smooth on enough mastic for eight tiles at the bottom of your backsplash. Start setting the tiles parallel to the edge of the counter, leaving just enough room for a line of caulk. Continue from the edges out, setting and pressing the tile into the mastic, until it is time to add a decorative tile.

When you need to cut a tile, place a whole one in the space and mark it where it will need to be cut. You can use a score-and-snap tile cutter to score and then snap the tile into a piece that will fit.

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Set your decorative tiles only when you are sure that they are all cut to fit perfectly. Match them to a plumb line that you established when you planned the decorative center. Set aside the tiles that will fit around cabinet corners and electrical sockets, cutting them with a wet saw and using tile nippers to remove pieces of tile left in the notch. Finish tiling the backsplash, leaving room for caulk and matching up the tiles with the edges of the adjoining walls. If there are no cabinets to meet the tile at the top, finish with bullnose tile to round the edges.

After allowing the mastic to dry overnight, mix some unsanded grout (unless the width between your tiles is more than 1/8 inch) in a clean bucket and use a rubber grout float to smooth it on to the tile diagonally. Work the grout into the creases between the tile, making sure not to get it where you will put caulk. Wipe down the tile with a wet sponge, wiping diagonally to the grout lines so as not to pull any out. Allow the grout to dry for 30 to 45 minutes and then buff the tile until they shine.

Use tub-and-tile caulk in the same color as the grout into the joint at the bottom of the backsplash. Smooth with a wet finger.

2. Hanging Exterior Shutters

Up the ante on your home’s privacy by adding functional exterior shutters in a striking color that will compliment your home’s color. In addition to cooling the home in the summer months, exterior shutters will provide protection from storm winds. They should attach to the outside of the window trim, fitting neatly inside when shut. They will hook together when closed, and hook to the house when open. Take careful measurements of your window trim and order custom made shutters.

The first day, paint the shutters your chosen color and remove any old shutters and storm windows in your way before you hang them. Make sure you have the right amount of hardware for each shutter, and you are ready to hang them.

Get some help, and place one shutter in the window frame while your helper shims the shutter in place. Wedge in the other shutter and do the same, so both shutters are shimmed tightly in place, with ¼ inch gap on all sides.

Hook the hinge together position it at the top of one shutter. Center the strap on the shutter and the peg on the window trim. Use a level to check the centering, and then mark the locations of the screws to hold the hinge on the shutter and window trim. Attach the peg first by drilling pilot holes to fit your screws and then screw the peg to the trim. Repeat for the other upper peg. Using a level, draw a straight line down from the top peg to the approximate location of the bottom peg and mark the spot. Screw the two lower pegs to the window trim.

Take the shutters off the windows and put them on sawhorses. Bore pilot holes through the strap where you originally marked them and then screw on the straps. Then, position the pull and bolt for one shutter just below its middle. Hang the shutters and make sure they swing comfortably.

Assemble the latch that holds the shutter against the house and its catch. Put the latch on the open shutter approximately four inches from the outer edge and one inch from the bottom edge. Check that the latch will hold the shutter open and move it sideways to be sure the shutter will clear it. Drill a pilot hole at your mark and screw the hook into the side of your house. Do the same for the other shutter.

3. One Hour Projects

If you are really short on time, you can do one or three of these super quick projects to see a quick change in your home.

  • Paint your front door: sand the door smooth and then paint it with a semigloss outdoor paint (45 minutes).
  • Change your furnace filter (5 minutes)
  • Power-wash your entry (30 minutes)
  • Change the hardware on your front door (45 minutes).

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