Little outdoor home maintenance issues are all too easy to put off fixing, but you don’t want to wait until they turn into major headaches. Take advantage of the nice weather to tackle some of them now.
To help you get started, we’ve come up with four weekend projects with big payoffs that you can do on your own. “You’d be surprised how just putting a fresh coat of paint on your front door can help you enjoy your home more,” says John Galeotafiore, associate director of product testing at Consumer Reports.
Use our advice to save time and ensure that you do these jobs right. For more easy home projects you can tackle, see our articles on how to declutter fast, make easy home upgrades, and perform necessary home maintenance. For ideas on upgrading your outdoor space, read our easy tips to grow your garden and follow our advice on creating a backyard oasis.
Salvage Your Deck
Time required: Up to a full day
It’s easier than you might think to replace a rotten or broken board in a deck. Purchase a new wood board that matches the one you’re replacing at a home improvement store or lumberyard (most decks are made with pressure-treated pine, cedar, or a hardwood like mahogany). Ask for your new board to be cut to the length of your old one. If the boards in your deck are attached with screws through the top of the board, unscrew the old board and save the screws to attach your new board. If your board is attached using hidden fasteners that grip onto the edge, you may need to remove the two or three boards adjacent to the one you’re replacing to get at the fastener, says Joseph Pacella, who tests decking at CR. Put the new board in place, and secure it by screwing the fastener.
Freshen Up the Front Door
Time required: Up to a full day
Few painting projects pack the punch of a freshly coated front door. Remove the hardware but leave the door on its hinges (it can be difficult to put a door back on properly if you take it off entirely). Wipe the door with a mild detergent to remove grime and dirt, then dry it with a rag.
Whether your door is made of wood, metal, or fiberglass, use sandpaper that’s between 80 and 120 grit to sand down the door. Go over it again with sandpaper that’s between 240 and 320 grit to remove any of the first round’s scratch marks and level off the surface. Vacuum and wipe the door with a damp rag to get rid of any dust. Using a 2½-inch-wide synthetic brush, prime the door with an acrylic primer, then paint it with 100 percent acrylic latex paint.
Smooth Your Path
Time required: Up to 1⁄2 day
For small cracks in walkways, use a hammer and a masonry chisel (sold at home improvement stores) to make the crack a small V-shaped trench so that the filler has more surface area to grab onto (be sure to wear safety glasses and gloves). Brush the crack clean and fill it with a gray, sanded acrylic latex caulk, like Quikrete Concrete Repair sealant, then smooth it out with a putty knife or trowel. Let it dry for at least 24 hours.
Mend a Leaking Hose
Time required: Up to 30 minutes
A leaking garden hose is easy to fix with a $5 hose repair kit from your home improvement store or online. “I prefer the two-piece plastic versions, because they don’t have the sharp metal ends of traditional hose clamps,” says Bernie Deitrick, who tests hoses at Consumer Reports. Choose a kit for the diameter hose you’re repairing (most hoses are 1⁄2 or 5⁄8 inch wide). Cut out the leaky section of hose, insert the repair kit’s inner tube into the cut ends, then tighten a clamp over each end of the inner tube using the supplied screws.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article also appeared in the August 2020 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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