Ask the Readers: What DIY Projects Do You Do?

By Ashley Jacobs on 19 February 2013 (Updated 26 February 2013) 62 comments
Photo: star5112

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Kelli, Lynda, and Louly for winning this week's contest!

From car maintenance to home decor to pantry staples, DIY can be a great way to save money on services and products that you use in your everyday life. While some projects are easy for beginners to pick up, other projects are better left to professionals if you don't have the equipment, skills, or time to make it work.

What DIY projects do you do? Do you DIY to save money or simply because you enjoy the activity, or both? Has a project ever gone terribly wrong or surprisingly right? If you don't DIY, is there a project you'd like to learn?

Tell us about your DIY projects and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For extra entries:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:
  • a Rafflecopter giveaway

    If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

    Giveaway Rules:

    • Contest ends Monday, February 25th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after February 25th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
    • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
    • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
    • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Tina in NJ

I make holiday presents for my kids, nieces, and sometimes nephews. It both saves $ and isn't cookie cutter junk. I also try to make most dinners. My tween daughter would prefer to buy lunch each day, but I make lunch about half the time. DH is very handy around the house, fixing stuff and maintaining things. Tried gardening but the critters got to the food first.

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Mary Happymommy

We've painted, put in a backsplash, and installed pergo flooring. Hiring someone to do those things is just too expensive.

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KF

DIY peanut butter, sandwich bread, hummus, laundry detergent, deodorant, and the list goes on...

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Jamie DeAngelis

I recently learned to make my own chicken stock on the crockpot amd will never biy stock again. Its free! From my food scraps!

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Stephanie

We do pretty much everything around the house ourselves, painting, remodeling, etc. We are definitely DIY people!

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Happy Love

My DH is building our new 3-car garage. He started it last summer because the builder said it would take him a few months to get to us (just a couple of months after he'd told us that he had nothing on his plate yet for the summer). The garage isn't sided or attached to the house yet, but my husband and his helpers have saved us thousands of dollars in labor costs so far.

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Guest

We have no prepared foods in our house, which can be time consuming but is a g
reat way to save money. Cooking from scratch is my biggest DIY project!

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Christie

I have painted my entire house (12 rooms, 11 colors -- I do love color!), fixing my dishwasher, and decorating my entire house. I have also learned how to do simple repairs and fixes around the house to save money and time.

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Sarah

I don't do very much DIY stuff, but have made/modified a few pieces of clothing. Once I get a bigger place, I'm very much looking forward to modifying my Ikea furniture.

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Kristin

I recently bought a house; the first thing we did was rip out the carpet and install new hardwood floors. Neither of us had done that before, and there were certainly a lot of surprises, but overall we saved thousands so it was worth it. We also ripped out a lowered ceiling and put new sheetrock up on the original one--but we had that done. No way am I installing sheetrock on a ceiling. Sounds like a literal pain in the neck to me!

Guest's picture

Hi Ashley!

Since becoming a homeowner I’ve learned to do quite a few projects at home. I’ve done a lot of minor drywall repair and tons of painting, installed a new screen door, learned to snake drains and repair toilets, installed a peephole and dead bolt in a solid wood door, put down new vinyl tile in the kitchen, swapped out light switches and fixtures, etc.

Most of my projects have come out pretty well as I try to take the time to learn what I’m doing before just jumping in. One project I wasn’t proud of was my attempted cement repair on a step in the backyard. Trying to get it level and smooth was a lot harder than I anticipated!

Learning to do things for yourself can save a lot of money, but of course you have to know when to call in the professionals too.

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Ana G.F.

Hi,
I've only recently found Wise Bread, but it is already one of my personal finance favourite sites! And now you're even organising giveaways, how great!
I do several DIY projects at home. The main ones are simple sewing projects, like embellishing or adapting clothes for my growing kids and darning (mainly socks but occasionally also kids clothes that get holes in them – we have 4 playful dogs...). I also make and can tomato sauce and several sorts of fruit jams and jellies. I've done a few simple plumbing fixture works, although that's mainly my husband's domain... And I've restored and hand-painted a few pieces of old furniture – this is something I'd like to do more often, but as it takes more time, demands a lot of space and makes a bit of a mess, I don't do it as often as I'd like to...
cheers,
Ana G.F.

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Varun Narula

DIY project for me is - car wash,wax and detailing, battery and oil change.

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Vanessa Padua-Evans

I create my own canvas art work to display on our walls - Just to give our rented walls some creative personality. We also paint furniture we find at thrift or flea markets.

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Guest

I build my own bookcases.

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Natalie

Anything that I can! Basically, in my family the idea was only to call in a professional if there was no way you could fix something fine on your own.

I live in an apartment now, but my latest DIY was to ask the maintenance guy for some paint so I could do some touch-up painting myself!

And before that I did all the decor for my wedding.

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Betty

I paint rooms myself, and on occasion I've hung shelves. Apartment dweller, so no really big DIY projects.

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Aaron

I have taken up canning, making my own pnut butter, & baking own breads. Hoping to start brewing beer soon and would love my own chickens

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Jamie

Cooking mostly, I make my own hummus and cook in bulk to pack up my own 'tv dinners.' I also do very small sewing projects - no sewing machine limits that for sure, but I have fun with crafty headbands and other small projects.

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lostAnnfound

We do DIY to just about everything in (and sometimes out of) our house. We have gutted and redone a bathroom, kitchen (including cabinets and sink), 3 bedrooms & a dining room, installed a 1/2 bath in a walk-in closet, painted all these rooms, installed wood floors (salvaged wood) and sanded & refinished them, installed windows, built two new decks (one from the back door and one for the pool), put in a chain link for the backyard and added storage on to our one car detached garage. The only things we do not do are electrical work and heating & air conditioning (first done by brother-in-law who is licensed electrician and the second by a very good friend who is in HVAC field). We have done most of this ourselves out of necessity because the cost to hire someone to do it would have prohibited us from getting a lot of these things done.

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Elena

When we moved to our house we painted the walls and installed the wood floors. It was much cheaper than hiring someone.

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Natalie

Hummus, chicken stock, bread, household repairs, sewing repairs, and all lunches for work :)

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Guest

I don't have a favourite DIY project, but whenever I am faced with a project, before I go out and buy what I need, or phone someone to do it, I think about what I have at home that I can re-purpose for that project. I will also search the internet for DIY instructions - lots of inspiration there! I also learned to sew while in elementary school so any sewing projects I can usually handle-repairing clothes, re-heming pants or skirts, sewing on buttons, etc. I am incredibly cheap (pardon, FRUGAL) so I will source out what I need first and buy if I absolutely have to and that is after I have checked out all prices online first. There are some things that I always leave to experts, and that is major electrical work and plumbing work because if I did it, or my husband or sons, it always costs more money to have someone else fix it. ( I speak from experience). My sons made me some incredible raised vegetable beds using used patio stones someone was giving away so I grow alot of our own vegetables and can, freeze and/or dry them for storage. I cook alot from scratch and use homemade DIY mixes as I am on a limited diet. Also rather than buy commercial household cleaners, I make my own from recipes gleaned from the internet. There's lots of interesting DIY projects on the internet that other people with more imagination than myself have done and posted - some of them right here on Wise Bread!

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Debra K

My husband does oil changes sometimes. We paint ourselves, do minor household repairs, garden, cook and bake, care for our yard, and occasionally do craft projects.

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Olivia

Besides cooking at home, I garden and can. I do small repairs, like rewire lamps and replace wall sockets and ceiling fixtures. I do scrap quilts. Mend. We paint walls and do small furniture fixes. We replaced a dryer belt and an overflow bulb on the washer. As we don't own our home, the bigger projects are covered by others. Part of it is the bottom line, but part of it is conquering a skill set and knowing the final product is better than you could have paid the same price for.

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Shari Czerwinski

Thankfully I am married to a carpenter, so we do all our own home improvements. Recently, we have found out how to save money on car repairs by watching youtube videos. You can find out how to do anything on youtube!

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Monica

I DIY almost everything I can, but mainly bags and other items I would otherwise buy. When my husband is home he does all of the fixing stuff around the house as well.

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Lori Pettyjohn

My husband and I love DIY. From painting the walls to creating kitchen cupboard worktops. Our most recent DIY was purchasing some floor style cabinets for our kitchen, lining them up in a bank of 3 and creating a tiled counter top. It really enhanced the useable space and created a better work area for the cooking area of kitchen; providing a separate area for the eat in area. We also bought flooring on sale and put in a floating kitchen floor, which really made a WOW! factor. So no more ugly old white linoleum but a look of warm wood. :)

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Rebecca B. A. R.

We try to do all our own home improvement and car repairs, as long as they are not too complicated, to save money. We've hired plumbers, electricians and mechanics when we know we're in over our heads.

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David

I always paint and I re-finish old beat up furniture (preferably picked up on the street). I also make homemade greeting and business cards, pickle, and occasionally make jam.

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Melissa Hansson

I cook and bake as much as possible, do a lot of craft projects and mend our clothes at home.

For all of this, Pinterest has been an amazing way for me to keep track of projects I want to try, home keeping tips that make things easier, recipes that worked for me and recipes that I want to try. I love it!

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I love making my own homemade facial scrubs for exfoliating!

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Rita

I DIY gifts...might not always turn out exactly how I wanted but I try.

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Cliff Wrangler

I took an old and junky night stand and made it slightly better, I sanded it all down, primed it, and painted it. I only used leftover paint from our house walls so I didn't have to buy any extra paint. Of course, I changed my mind four times on the color so I had to repeat the process. Then I found three used knobs from Craigslist and I glued stoppers so the drawers wouldn't go all the way in the stand.

I also tried to stencil it, but...that didn't work, so I had to repaint over that.

I learned a lot and in the end, we have a better piece of furniture.

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Lori P

We have painted rooms, furniture, recovered chairs, other upgrades and repairs in our home. Some we do because we enjoy it, but most is because it is cheaper if we do it ourselves.

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Therese

I DIY for both fun and to save money. I like to make much of my own nut butters and other foods as well as knit and sew many of my own and my family's clothes.

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Dr. G

Since buying the house: replaced exterior door and locks, put new screen in the screen door, replaced exterior lights, remodeled the shower, painting, isulated under the house. Refurbished 3 bicycles with mostly used parts! (2 road bikes and a classic Schwinn tandem) Refinishing the hardwood floors this spring.

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KathC

In my family, we do it all! I am crafty, I also garden, cook and sew. Almost every curtain, pillow, blanket and slipcover in this house was made by me. I make jam and preserve some of what we grow in our small garden. My husband is a general contractor who has literally rebuilt our home, and our son is awesome with machines and gadgets. He has saved us countless hundreds of dollars by repairing our appliances, computers, and cars. These days, every penny counts, and when you're self employed like my husband is, you can't afford to be wasteful. Our Depression-era parents taught us that!

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DeeDee

My husband is the DIY person. You name it he can do it wood working, building, painting, almost any home repair, some electric, some plumbing, laying stone, brick or pavers......god I love this man. Almost forgot....good hunter too, we have a freezer full of venison. So he is a DIY'er on the food.

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Tabathia B

We have painted my mothers main two rooms her living room and family room and replaced the floor in the kitchen because it developed a sink hole and will be redoing the floor in the bathroom because it has done the same thing. At home we bought the chalkboard paint and put it inside one of the cabinets and my daughter loves it

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C.j.

I don't know if it counts as a DIY per se but I I try to reuse and recycle what I can. For example, I make my own car fresheners A little felt, cardboard, essential oil and creativity and I'm good to go. I also try to reuse and repurpose what I can to save money like putting furniture covers over the furniture instead of buying new furniture

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Brenda Faulkner

I do all the house painting!

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Carmen

We did a lot of the work on our house ourselves and saved a ton of money. We also make a lot of our own foods.

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Diane

I do lots of DIY home improvement projects, including gardening, interior & exterior painting, caulking, taping, floating & texturing drywall, tiling kitchen backsplash. I also give everyone haircuts and do our taxes on TurboTax. My sons & boyfriend do plumbing & electrical work~ repairing & replacing toilets, sinks, garbage disposal, fans, light fixtures & outlets. My younger son replaced the back wall of our house with Hardi-plank. My sons also do minor car repairs. My boyfriend does most of the cooking from scratch. For non-professionals, I think we accomplish quite a bit & save a lot of money!

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Nicholas

Anything and everything that I think I can do on my own I give it a try. You would be surprised how much you can do yourself and save money at the same time.

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Bethany

I make my own laundry detergent. Works great!

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Lynda

i make my own greeting cards

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I'm an artist, so anything remotely creative is a DIY project first...and if it goes wrong, then we'll call in reinforcements. ;) I take my own portraits of my littlest ones, since they're not in school -- saves a LOT of money that way.

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Sonja

I do almost everything DIY if I can. I've built a 2 level deck with my brother, a shed, a ground level deck, painted 3 houses, tiled a bathroom floor and tiled the shower, tiled a foyer. Power wash my decks and stain, fix lawnmowers and tractors, repair fencing, installed lights, landscaped my properties, sanded and painted a horse trailer, built a driveway... how's that for a single female??

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Guest

My husband does minor electrical and plumbing repairs. We've done some of our own painting and fixture replacement. I take care of the landscaping even though our clay soil is terrible. I create a lot of gifts by sewing and crocheting. I also cook from scratch a lot.

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Michelle

Anything that Youtube will teach me.

We live in a great time period. Things that you used to need an expert for, you can learn to do yourself by watching a few youtube videos.

My latest accomplishment? Changed my own headlight bulb. You can youtube or google your year/make/model and "change headlight" and viola, a plethora of tutorials.

Up next, replacing the kitchen sink!

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Abby B.

I like to do DIY art decorations for our home.

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BRB

House painting, landscaping & gardening, sewing for clothing and around the house.

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Guest

I cook instead of going out to eat.

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Margaret

I sew all my husband's work shirts, repair and alter our clothes and made all our window coverings. My husband made the majority of our furniture. We work together on any plumbing projects (me with the reference/repair book or manual and to hand tools and equipment and with him providing the mechanically minded labor). Also, we work together on a weekly basis to meal plan and do batch/freezer cooking.

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prathee chandar

I love to alter my clothes and re-fashion them. I have a $25 sewing machine that i've been using for a while.

Another DYI is to making my own beans instead inf buying canned beans

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Alissa A

I do my own home painting and make my own jewelry!

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Kristine E.

My sister is having a baby shower so I just got done making about 6 or 7 handmade purses to raffle off in exchange when someone brings a pack of diapers! Much cheaper than buying prizes but omg it took a while :)

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Kelli

I have to be honest. I don't really DIY. Except for cooking. I have started preparing meals at home much more often. But I'm not all that handy and prefer to have experts fix my car.

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Laura Jacobson

Our current DIY project is making a playhouse for little Carter for spring/summer. We are just getting started...so fun!

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Kristy

For my family, I've learned how to make bread, yogurt (including Greek yogurt), and cheese (not great at it yet though). One day when we can live on our property, I will also be planting a garden. And I am reading up and trying to learn as best as a person can without cabinetry experience how to build various furniture. One book shelf down- a future house of furniture to go!

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Meredith

I can, garden, bake, mend, and cook basics from scratch like stocks, tortillas, breads, and baked goods. We live in an apt, but we painted everything, spackle holes from pictures, etc. We do minor car replacement stuff like filters, wipers, and waxing. I want to do more like soaps, laundry detergent, and cleaning solutions, but hubs is resistant bc of smells. I did recently make my own chlorine hair remover--vitamin c crystals + distilled water in a spray bottle--sooooooo much cheaper than the marketed swimming sprays and it's the exact same thing! FTW!