Nine Tips for Saving on DIY Projects

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iStockphoto.com/Phillip Spears
Some simple tips will help you save money on your DIY projects.

 As the snow
starts to melt and most of us see what’s underneath, we realize there’s some
serious work to be done around the house.

Spring is the
time to begin working on home improvement projects. If you’re thinking about
stocking up on supplies for your most pressing project, consider the ways you
can save when you do-it-yourself:

1. Big Box vs.
Small Stores

For the frugal
consumer, shopping smart is always a logical first step. When you’re shopping
at the big-box home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes, there are
always deals going down.

The two
heavyweight retailers are highly competitive and both stores offer price
matching with an additional 10-percent discount on identical products
advertised at a lower price at any competing store. Both stores also post
weekly sales, discounts and rebates on their websites so you can be prepared
before you hit the store. Not to mention, you can always find coupons for these
home and garden giants.

On the other
hand, locally owned home-supply stores, like Ace Hardware, often provide email
sign-ups that allow you to receive special deals on the same items you would
find at the big-box stores. While you may not be able to purchase sheet rock,
the smaller places may carry everything from plumbing supplies to finishing
notes for your home.

2. Tester Cans
and Used Paint

Next to buying a
nice area rug, painting is probably the easiest way to change the look of a
room. Unfortunately, home improvement stores are aware of this and they like to
make you pay for it. There are definitely ways to get around the high prices
though.

If you only have
a small space to paint, there’s no need to invest in a whole gallon of paint
that’ll inevitably take up space in the garage or closet. Ask about small
tester cans that can often be found for $5 or less in a variety of colors.

The word is
starting to get out on used paint, too. When people order large amounts of
custom paint, they often order too much. This paint gets returned to the
stores, but the merchant can’t put such cans back on the shelf with the rest of
the paint. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you might be able to
get gallons of paint for around $5. Not all stores will have used paint, but it
doesn’t hurt to ask.

3. Buy Lumber in
Bulk

Working with
lumber can be intimidating. It requires precise measurements and cuts, or
you’ll end up wasting money and materials. Prices vary by lumber grade and wood
type, so be aware of what materials are required to get the job done.

4. Generic vs.
Name Brand

There’s an
incredible variety of nails and screws available, but how much of a difference
is there really? Generic brand nails and screws are often up to par with the
name brands, but cost significantly less. In some cases, the only difference
between a generic and the brand name is the box!

The same can be
said for pipes and plumbing fixtures. Unpackaged fixtures in a bulk bin can
have the same quality as their packaged counterparts on the shelf, but cost
much less. Longevity is also something to consider when working on a plumbing
project. Copper pipes and PVC pipes typically give you the most bang for your
buck, lasting up to 60 years.

5. Caulk Singles

Caulk certainly
won’t be the most expensive item on your home improvement list, but it’s useful
for patching up holes and sealing cracks. Often when people buy a tube of caulk
for a small project, they end up making a mess of it and throwing half the tube
away.

If you want to
keep some caulk around for projects that spring up, try out some caulk singles
from General Electric. Much like the fast food ketchup packet, they’re enough
for one project and cut back on waste and mess. Watch for coupons to home
centers like the Home Depot that offer General Electric’s caulk singles.

6. Government
Rebates

Now that warm
weather is finally on the way, you can replace your old windows and doors with
more energy efficient ones. While it’s a big project, it may be worth it when
you save on heating costs next winter.

In an effort to
reduce energy consumption, the federal government is continuing to offer tax
credits when you install Energy Star certified windows, doors and skylights.
The credits aren’t as generous as last year, but you can still get 10 percent off
for $200 worth of windows and skylights and a rebate of up to $500 for doors.

7. Buy
Reconditioned or Rent Power Tools

It’s hard to
justify buying an expensive power tool, especially when you know you’ll never
use it again. If you live the DIY credo, Home Depot rents such power tools as
power washers, paint sprayers, chainsaws and buff sander. By renting, you’ll
get the professional finish you want without having to cut corners on expensive
equipment.

Many power tool
manufacturers have online outlets where they sell reconditioned tools at a
discount. These tools are certified by the manufacturer, so you have a
guarantee they’ll work. You can save even more when you use a Bosch Outlet
coupon or a Bostitch Outlet free shipping code for discount power tools.

8. Used Hand
Tools

The garage sale
may still be king for finding good deals on hand tools. Many people don’t enjoy
inherited tools and are willing to part with them for next to nothing, compared
to new tools. Wrench sets, hammers and screwdrivers made by quality toolmakers
like Craftsman and Stanley can stand the test of time and are as good today as
they were 30 years ago.

9. Working
Together

No one escapes a
little home maintenance from time to time. If you and a neighbors are working
on similar projects, sharing the cost of renting a wood chipper or cement mixer
can save both of you time and money.

While skilled
friends and family don’t necessarily enjoy manual labor, they can be coaxed
into it with the promise of good food, drink or a labor exchange to be named
later. Working with friends gets the job done faster and is usually much more
fun.

Consumer savings
expert Andrea Woroch has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC,
ABC News NOW and many more. Follow @AndreaWoroch on Twitter to receive daily
savings tips.