Have a home project coming up? Streamline the process with handy tools that will save you big bucks in the long run. Remember, before you try a new technique or formula, practice it on an area that won't be seen to avoid big mistakes. Keep reading for more must-read pointers and product picks.
Lock & Fold technology—in which flooring planks click into one another instead of being nailed down—is now available in an acrylic-infused hardwood (making it 2½ times harder than regular hardwood) from Bruce ( for retailers). You'll still have to cut the end pieces, but you can leave the hammer in the toolbox.
DIY $3.50 to $5 per square foot
PRO $8 and up per square foot for materials and installation
Give your home a sense of history, no masonry required. BrickWeb () offers sheets of ½"-thick bricks in 12 colors, prealigned on a webbed backing, allowing you to glue the sheets directly to the wall, then add grout. The pieces interlock for easy positioning and come folded to wrap around corners.
DIY $374 for a 40-square-foot wall
PRO $827 and up for labor and materials
Transform well-worn cabinets on a shoestring with Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations (). This paint-on de-glosser and bonder lets you skip the most labor-intensive steps—stripping and sanding. Choose from dozens of colors and special finishes for a durable custom look that stands up to everyday use.
DIY $79 for 100 square feet
NEW CABINETS $88 and up per cabinet
Cover skimpy trim with decorative mouldings by RapidFit (from $59; ). The pre-primed MDF (medium-density fiberboard) pieces install right over your existing frame—all you have to do is cut the lengths to fit and nail them into place.
DIY $59 and up for a doorframe
PRO $150 and up
Achieve the look of high-end appliances minus the cost: Removable adhesive sheets of Faux Steel Film () instantly make over your refrigerator or dishwasher with a satin or nickel finish. And unlike actual stainless, they won't show fingerprints or streaks after you wipe them down.
DIY The $19.95 sheet covers a 24" x 36" dishwasher (standard size)
NEW DISHWASHER $300 and up
To freshen a kitchen, try Bondera TileMatSet (), a water-repellent adhesive that you roll out, trim and apply directly to a clean wall or over old tiles. Then, just press your new tiles onto the mat (choose ones on a webbed backing for ease), add grout and you're done.
DIY $124 for 40 square feet, not including tile cost
PRO $1,000 and up
Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths
These rub-on polyurethane stain wipes are especially useful for intricate pieces. ($8.97 for 1 pack, enough for a large piece; at local hardware centers)
These small plastic pyramids act like risers for your projects—boosting items securely, which speeds painting time and lessens cleanup. ($7 for 10; )
3M Patch Plus Primer
From nail holes to chipped drywall, this goop fills gaps and includes quick-drying primer that's paintable in half an hour. ($6 for 8 oz; )