We all have grand plans when it comes to summer home projects. Build a treehouse for the kids. Turn the basement into a rec room. Put a gazebo in the backyard. We all want to challenge ourselves and learn new crafts, but sometimes our eyes are too big for our skills, and we bite off more than we can hammer. Instead of spending the end of summer basking in a newly completed project, we’re watching YouTube tutorials and making daily trips to the hardware store.
Here are 10 right-sized summer projects that will make a difference for your home and give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.
1. Throw on a fresh coat.
Painting the house is perhaps the ultimate summer project. A new coat of paint not only brightens your exterior, but it also protects the house against UV light and moisture. Check out this video for an overview on the basics of house painting. Then, pull out your ladder and radio and get to work!
Tip: Stretch your back, shoulders, neck and arms before and after each painting session.
2. Spruce up those plant beds.
Mulching your garden beds and around your trees gives your yard that professionally landscaped look. And it’s more than aesthetics—mulch is rich with nutrients for soil and helps deprive pesky weeds of light and moisture. If you’re new to the task, brush up on some mulching basics before you begin.
Tip: Find a spot where the mulch can be delivered, and first, lay down a tarp.
3. Seal wood decks.
The deck is a warm-weather haven for lively outdoor barbecues or easygoing mornings. To keep decks looking and functioning great, they should be sealed at a minimum of every three years. If your deck is looking especially worse for the wear, drop some water on the wood. If it beads, you’re in good shape. If it soaks into the grain, it’s time for a sealing. Use this deck-sealing guide to get start.
Tip: If you spray-clean your deck, cover any surrounding bushes with plastic first.
4. Clean gutters.
Ideally, your gutters should be cleaned twice a year, but one good annual cleaning should keep your runoff moving smoothly during the heavy rain season and prevent sagging or cracking over time. For a quick clean, use a ladder and garden hose and give a good flush. For a more thorough job, check the slope of the gutter and if there are any leaks. You can repair uneven gutters by readjusting the brackets, and leaks can be patched with gutter sealant. Check out this step-by-step gutter cleaning tutorial for help.
Tip: Give your gutters a follow-up appointment after the leaves fall to avoid winter ice dams.
5. Make your windows shine.
Washing windows is one of the most procrastinated jobs, but once you tackle it, the difference is, well, clear as day. Not only does it improve the view from inside, but it also adds a sparkle that is noticeable from your front walk, dialing up that curb appeal. Check out this window-washing article for more expert advice.
Tip: Before you buy window cleaner, consider some homemade solutions.
6. Seal those cracks.
Now that you’ve buffed up your home’s glass, consider making those areas more efficient. Window and door cracks can account for a 25% annual increase in energy usage. Get a $5 tube of caulking and a $3 caulking gun, and make your way around the house, sealing up window and door frames as well as any other out-of-the-way nooks where drafts might be hiding. Watch this video to caulk like a pro.
Tip: Less is more. Start with a small bead, and apply the caulk with your fingertip.
7. Respect the furnace.
A healthy furnace is a happy furnace, and a happy furnace is the heartbeat of your home. Start by checking the furnace’s filter; if it’s dark and dirty, get a replacement. While you’re at it, vacuum out any accessible openings throughout the system. This won’t substitute for a professional inspection, but it will minimize the chances of a breakdown at those inopportune times. Before you start, learn the basics of DIY furnace cleaning.
Tip: Pay attention to power sources, and make sure all power is off before attempting to clean.
8. Inspect and clean the dryer vent.
Here’s a simple project that will help you sleep at night. Lint buildup is a serious hazard that can lead to fires. Get a long-handled vent brush, remove the lint trap and clean the cavity as much as you can. Clean around the machine too, but be careful not to disturb the gas line. Go outside to the vent, and clean from that angle as well. When finished, run the dryer for a few minutes and make sure exhaust is getting out. To go a step further and get really thorough, watch this instructional video on giving your dryer vent a deep clean.
Tip: Vacuum attachments are available for deep cleans.
9. Insulate water pipes.
If you have exposed water pipes in your basement, you’re losing heat and running up the water bill, and you’re at risk for pipes freezing and potentially bursting. Fortunately, insulating your pipes is easy. Foam pipe sleeves, made of polyethylene or neoprene foam, come pre-slit in multiple sizes and are available at most hardware stores. They slide right on for quick installation.
Tip: Measure your pipe’s diameter first!
10. Smooth out the driveway.
Driveways and walkways crack and buckle with time due to freezing, thawing, roots and soil movement. It’s great if you’re going for the old haunted house look, but for curb appeal, nothing says “well kept” like smooth and even concrete. DIY resurfacing can be intimidating (something about cement is so permanent!), but in practice, all that mixing, pouring, leveling and troweling is straightforward and doable if you take your time. Check out these pro concrete tips to learn what tools you’ll need.
Tip: Aim for a dry weather day!
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.