If you’re buying a house that needs some fixing up, your wish list of updates is most likely getting longer each day. To some, this list is energizing and exciting. To others, it may cause anxiety.
Whichever side of the fence you’re on, you’ll appreciate the fact that some fixer-upper problems are actually quick fixes. Here are five problems common to previously owned homes. along with quick solutions that will help your fixer-upper house feel more like a home in no time!
While these DIY’s may take more than 60 minutes, you might be surprised to learn that even the inexperienced homeowners can handle these easy fixes.
Not All Old Windows Needs to Be Replaced
Old windows get a bad rap for being inefficient and drafty, and you might be experiencing that firsthand with your fixer-upper project. There is no doubt new windows are naturally more energy efficient because they haven’t experienced the shrinking that happens over years of exposure to temperature changes. However, it’s easy to update older windows to make them more energy efficient. Before getting quotes on new windows, try these methods first.
Solutions for Drafty Windows:
Update the weather stripping (the adhesive foam strip across the exposed edge of an open window pane). Weatherstripping comes in all textures and materials, so it may involve a little trial and error for different window types. Luckily, it is budget friendly, coming in at about $8 to $25 a roll, and takes mere minutes to apply.
Seal openings between the window trim and the siding of your home from the outside with caulk. This is another easy-on-the-budget solution that will take minimal time depending on how many windows you have.
Is the wood around your windows rotted? That can be fixed, too! Most older windows can be taken apart piece-by-piece for easy updates.
Solutions for Rotting Trim:
Problem spot: A rotting wood board in a window frame.
Solution: Remove the problem board. Investigate a way to pry it from the wall without damaging the surrounding trim and replace it with a new one. Stain it to match or paint the whole window frame.
Problem spot: A rotting section on a wood window that cannot be removed.
Solution: Epoxies formulated just for wood can make a sill look good as new and add decades to the window’s lifespan. You’ll want to chip away all the rotted wood from the area first and then use the epoxy to fill in the missing pieces, shaping it like the rest of the trim. Finish with a fresh coat of paint to blend the faux wood into the original wood pieces.
How to Silence Squeaky Floors and Hinges
Nothing screams “fixer-upper” like the creak-creak-creak of those old floors underneath, and the squeak-squeak-squeak of old hinges on kitchen cabinets or bedroom doors. It’s a sensory experience that is not easy to ignore. But squeaky floors should not be a deal breaker in the purchase of a home, since they, too, are an easy fix.
Solutions for Squeaky Floorboards:
Problem: Floorboards rubbing together.
Solution: Some moaning floorboards can be abated with a little lubrication.
Problem: A gap between the subfloor (the bottom-most surface of your floor) and the joist (the support beam that runs perpendicular to the subfloor).
Solution: This fix is as easy as filling the gap with a piece of wood, secured by wood glue. If the gap runs long, it may be easier to fill with an epoxy adhesive.
Problem: A warped joist.
Solution: Add an additional piece of wood alongside the joist to level the subfloor’s support against the joist.
Problem: Creaking between joists, which is most likely the subfloor rubbing up against the top floor (or floors).
Solution: Screw the floors together. Obviously the goal would be to do this in the most inconspicuous way possible, and one way to do so is by coming up from the ceiling below, making sure the screws used aren’t long enough to extend through the top floor. Another option is breakaway screws, which generally come in kits for just the purpose of reducing floor creaks.
For more details on these solutions for creaky floors, check out Popular Mechanics.
As you can see, there are a plethora of issues that could be creating the noise in your floors, and that plethora is arranged on a spectrum–some issues are more serious than others. Make sure to have an inspector (or two) confirm that the issue isn’t foundational, or that the subfloor or joists aren’t rotting, which can be a much bigger undertaking to resolve.
Solutions for Squeaky Hinges:
This one is the easiest yet. All it takes is a good cleaning and oiling to make those joints sing (or STOP singing)! WD-40 is a must-have.
Dealing With Broken or Cracked Tiles
Did you know it takes less than an hour (besides dry time) to replace a broken or loose tile? Guess how long it takes to strip the entire floor and replace it with a laminate. You guessed it—a lot longer than one hour.
So when you peek into that bathroom or over the kitchen sink and notice a few cracked or missing tiles, keep in mind that this is a relatively inexpensive and certainly an easy fix. If you’re into the pattern, you can’t beat the value and easy upkeep of a beautiful tile floor! Consider fixing and keeping it.
Replacing a Missing or Broken Tile:
Once you’ve found a matching tile:
- Remove the broken tile. Start by scraping away the grout around it with an exacto knife or another scoring tool. Drilling directly into the tile can help loosen it. From there, pry it out with a hammer. Some pros recommend running a hot iron over the tile first to relax the bond of the adhesive.
- Chisel away the old adhesive and clean the area.
- Apply tile adhesive to the open area and on the back of the tile for good measure.
- Place the tile, making sure the spacing on all sides is even.
- Give it two hours and then fill the spaces around the tile with grout, sponging away the excess once the grout has a chance to solidify.
An important note: some old vinyl tiles and adhesives contain asbestos. Don’t go chipping away at old tiles if there is any chance they contain this dangerous substance. Asbestos is known to cause cancer and can often be found in homes built before 1980. Based on the age of your home and any other knowledge you may have regarding its construction, be sure to scrutinize your tiles before removing loose pieces or risk aggravating surrounding tiles.
Easy Options for Wood Paneling
You might be thinking: tearing down wood paneling is NOT a small project. And you’d be correct in thinking that. Anything that involves ample amounts of sanding is never a small project.
But there are other options for tackling that 70s wood paneling that will save you from a stressful renovation.
Solutions for Wood Paneling:
Problem: The grain is distracting.
Solution: Paint! Conceal the problem completely
and maintain a bit of texture from the lines between panels.
Problem: Too dark.
Solution: Whitewashing will allow more light to be reflected off wood panels while at the same time preserving the grain and texture.
Problem: The look is too masculine.
Solution: Add feminine touches with light decorations such as wall length sheers and bright art.
Problem: Too much texture.
Solution: A dark coat of paint over wood paneling concealed by bright, open shelving is a great way to subdue texture.
A few of these solutions involve paint, so, here is just about everything you need to know about painting different surfaces. After a little TLC, you just might fall in love with the look of your uniquely paneled walls!
Wipe out Weird Smells
Odd odors come with the territory of fixing up an older house. Smells left behind by previous owners, combined with the aromas of renovations and painting can make your space seem far from homey. It may seem like such a silly thing, but it’s sensory experiences like these that subconsciously affect our feelings toward people, places and things.
Making your fixer-upper house smell like home is the easiest checkbox on your to-do list. In fact, here are 10 natural deodorizing recipes to DIY, skipping the chemical packed treatments.
What other updates to fixer-uppers have you found to be surprisingly quick fixes? Share your experiences in the comment section below to help out other first-time home buyers.