When you realize all the things you can do to improve your home you will be amazed.
Sometimes all it takes is to invest some time, a bit of money, and an amount of effort.
And you know what? Summertime is a great time to invest improving your home!
If you’re looking for some guidance on which home improvement projects could be great choices for this summer, you’ve come to the right place.
Read on and get some inspiration with these 13 awesome and practical projects
Embellish your deck and fences by re-staining them
Your deck, fences – or any wood structure as a fact – look gorgeous when recently installed.
However, if you don’t take proper care of them, they’ll decay and look nothing like their glory days.
This is why re-staining is so important to keep them pretty and protected for a longer time.
No matter which kind of material you used to build your deck or fences – except if used manufactured materials just as composite wood – you need to sand and stain them.
Here are some pro tips to take good care of your outdoor wood structures:
- Pressure washing
Be careful when you pressure wash a softer wood like cedar, pine or spruce because if you hold the source of water too close to it you may end up damaging it. Test first on a spot that is not so visible and check if the wood fibres start to lift. If so, get further and try again.
- Check the weather report before you start to sand, you don’t want rain on this process. If by any chance the wood gets wet after being sanded but before it’s stained, you’ll have to start all over.
- Don’t go necessarily for a floor sander to do a large wooden surface because they may not reach the whole surface of it, overdoing it in some parts and doing not enough in others.
- A belt sander, palm sander and sanding sponge is the other way to work it, however, if you don’t feel comfortable enough, you can hire someone else to do it.
- The thicker is the better! Clear coats are not so protective, so better stay with thick ones.
- To maximize the protection, use a solid stain or even paint on the most prone-to-wear-out surfaces.
Hands on videos such as this cool one and this other one by The Home Depot come handy.
Landscaping, making your garden prettier
Photo by melystu
Who doesn’t love a pretty layout and decoration in the garden?
Sure you do, and what better way to improve your garden than by landscaping.
Since it is the process of making your yard more attractive by incorporating ornaments and planting trees and flowers, sounds like an awesome project for the summer because you can do it yourself.
If it is your very first time doing this, the following tips will be extremely useful
- Make a list
This goes for a material list as well as for a needs list. A needs list will be based on what do you want to do with your garden and what purpose it will fulfill (do you want it for a play space, to grow plants or veggies, as a social space?). From there, you can also set a list of materials that you’ll need to accomplish your vision.
- Start small
Don’t try to go full “Extreme Makeover” on your first landscaping; they have a staff of dozens of people and in your case, it is very likely that’s just you. Go slowly and enjoy the process, some improved ideas may come even while you’re at it.
- Find the main point of your garden
There’s always a certain feature in your yard, such as a huge tree or a sculpture. You can start to make your landscaping around that element and create a coherent and cohesive experience that will enhance the beauty of it.
There are great ideas for your landscaping processes that you can find here and here.
Don’t let go the heat! Re-insulate your home
Did you know that up to 35% of heat loss occurs due to un-insulated walls?
After a fact like that one it is obvious why insulating your house is a very good project to work on this summer.
If you feel that there are issues with the energy efficiency at home or your know for a fact that your house has never had insulation, follow these steps and get your project done:
- Check the doors and the windows
Go and review in detail every door and window at home. Even the smaller cracks or spaces allow heat to escape. Get sealant strips and draught excluders for your doors and sealer for your windows and work on them to eliminate the weak points where the heat escapes.
- Look for floor gaps
It’s almost inevitable to have gaps on the floor, but it is not a hard job for a silicone sealer to fix it. If you want to go further you could consult an expert, but these are issues that can be resolved even by placing a rug upon your floor.
- Insulate your attic and walls
Your roof and your walls are the parts of the house that most of the heat escapes through, so it makes sense to have the most efficient options for each one of them. For the attic, it’s just matter of getting fiberglass wool and put it on all accessible places under your roof. For your walls, you have to build a “cold wall”, which is no more than building a wall with ytong wall or plasterboard wall materials.
You can find a video about this process and more tips here.
Get Comfortable and Build a Tree Bench
Remember what we talked previously about finding the main point in your garden? This is a project that goes along with it.
Getting comfy and have a rest while appreciating your garden, all this under the shadow of a leafy tree is something anyone would wish.
That’s why, if the main feature of your garden is a beautiful big tree, building a tree bench is a great choice.
Your tree doesn’t need to be huge, a small or medium-sized tree is enough to build it and give your garden a place to take a break from playing outdoors.
There are several ways to build it and resources such as this thorough tutorial from This Old House that helps you building it step by step or this other guide to build a tree bench will help you in the process.
House your Gardening Items with a Potting Bench
Photo by Mathesont
Now, let’s talk about another bench. This one, for your gardening tasks and related stuff.
We know you’re a devoted gardener and sometimes even the task of repotting plants can get difficult when a big chunk of time will be dedicated to looking for the tools you need to do it.
You may have tried to have them in a more reachable place, but, why not build a special place for them?
A potting bench is the best option for it because it gives you a dedicated location for all gardening stuff while also serving as a workstation for any related task.
Building one of these not difficult at all if you have the correct and complete information
Let’s start with a suggested cut list for all the pieces you need for your potting bench:
- 2×4 back legs: 2 of 60 inches
- 2×4 front legs: 2 of 33 inches
- 2×4 lower support blocks: 4 of 6 inches
- 2×4 middle support blocks: 4 of 23½ inches
- 2×4 upper support blocks: 2 of 16 inches
- 2×4 bottom shelf sides: 2 of 18½ inches
- 2×4 bottom shelf front and back: 2 of 33 inches
- 2×2 work-surface cleats: 3 of 17 inches
- 2×2 bottom shelf cleats: 3 of 15½ inches
- 5/4×6 work-surface sides: 2 of 20 inches
- 2×6 work-surface back: 1 of 34 inches
- 2×4 work-surface front: 1 of 34 inches
- 2×6 work surface boards: 3 of 34 inches
- 2×6 bottom shelf boards: 3 of 33 inches (rip 1½ inches from the width of one board)
- 2×4 filler strip: 1 of 29 inches
- 2×6 top shelf (back): 1 of 29 inches
- 5/4×6 top shelf: 1 of 34 inches
- 5/4×6 top shelf (sides): 2 of 5½ inches
- 5/4×4 top back board: 1 of 36 inches
- Wire mesh: 1 of 22 by 34 inches
You can find the full detailed step by step tutorial for this cut list in the following link.
Also, if you want more designs to get you inspired and creative, you can find them here and here.
Add a Simple Deck to Have Great Times
Photo by Penny Blankenship
Decks are just a great addition to your home and you can build them in a way they blend with it.
They’re perfect for summer since you can go out and have many activities on it, such as a BBQ, a family or friends gathering or just staying outdoors.
The first step to building it is thinking about where you will build it and how big will it be.
For this, make sure you keep in mind what kind of activities you want to have in there because this will give you a clearer (and more exciting) idea of your deck.
If you don’t want to complicate yourself too much, you can always build a basic on-grade deck.
This is a deck that rests pretty much on the ground which is why it does not need railings, stairs or posts at all, making it more simple than any other option.
This kind of deck is the right one for single-story homes or ones that have a low profile because they will not overwhelm the current architecture or make it look out of place.
If you want to check other kinds of decks, you can find an in-depth analysis of them in this Popular Mechanics’ article and a more hands-on perspective of building a deck thanks to this video.
Pretty Arbor for a Magnificent Entrance
Photo by Linda Yvonne
The way others see your garden starts from the entrance, so it is a great idea to embellish it.
The preferred option for achieving this is an arbor, which is a practical and easy summer project.
Arbors are the most basic option in regards to wooden structures to build on your garden, and it can provide a small shade for your entrance, allowing you to enjoy a view covered from the Sun and also with a bit of privacy.
After deciding the right material for your project and finding the appropriate place at home to build it, these are the basic steps on how to build one:
- Dig Holes and Cut Pieces
Take measurements and cut the cross pieces accordingly. You can use a handsaw or a circular one, pick the one that works better for you. At the moment of cutting you can make any decorative cuts you like.
In regards of the holes, you can use a post hole digger that makes easier the process. Just make sure you follow their instructions and, depending on the depth, use concrete on the footings.
- Attach Basic Structure
Put together the pieces you’ve cut making sure they’re at level. Use a plumb line for this purpose. Attach the front crossed pieces to the outer side of the vertical posts and then do the same for the left and right cross pieces to set the structure.
- Attach Top Structure
Once the basic structure is set, you can mount on top the top trellis, which can be just simple balusters crossing it. This should be attached to the front and back of the base structure and is up to you to make some additions to it, like plants or hanging elements.
- Add lattices on the sides as you please
You can also add latices/trellises on the sides to the side and decorate them as you please, with special plants or a certain kind of design.
Get Creative building a Branch Trellis
Speaking of trellises, why don’t you give a twist to them and get them in a trendy mood?
Nowadays, the trend of using materials that are as natural and even rustic as possible is on the rise, and the home improvement is no exception to this.
A way you can jump on this rustic trend is by creating branch trellis!
This is a perfect way to do something creative, friendly with the environment and with an awesome look.
This is what you need to do:
- Know your branches
Not all branches will be good enough for this project. Their diameter needs to be from ½ to 1 inch and, depending on what is the look or shape you want to have, you’ll decide on their length and if you need more or less flexible branches.
- Plan and layout
You have a vision in mind for it, so put it on paper and once you have gathered the branches you need, place them on the floor or on any flat surface in the way you have sketched so you can make sure it will be true to your vision or make any arrangements before actually building it.
- Get it together
You can either nail, screw or tie the branches to shape the trellis as you want and attach it to the wall or structure you’ll use it on.
Make a Rocking Pebble Mosaic
Photo by Colin Campbell
This project may not be the regular pick for many people, but it certainly is a beautiful one.
At first making one of these may seem a daunting task but hopefully the tips and instructions provided here will help you in this task.
Choose a spot where your design will shine and, if you haven’t had any experience at all, go for a circular design which usually is one of the less problematic ones.
The pebbles to use can be as rustic as possible (pebbles you find on your way, at a park, etc) or you can purchase ones specially made for this purpose.
Now, the actual building process:
- Check on the depth of the place you’ll build the mosaic because you need enough depth to accommodate the pebbles and below this, you’ll need around 12 cm of coarse stone as a hardcore.
- Set an edging, which is where the pebbles will lean against. This could be made of concrete, stones or even can be made with metal, just like a container for the pebbles
- In the edging, place the coarse stone layer and fill any gaps with sand. Upon it, place a dry mix of sand and cement (a relation of 4-1, mostly sand) leaving space to place the pebbles.
- When placing the pebbles make sure that most of each of them are below the surface and to have them contacting with each other, serving as support.
- Increase the level of the sand-cement mix as you are placing more of the pebbles
- Once you reach to the desired design, make a mix of fine sand and cement (relation of 3-1, mostly fine sand) and add it to the mosaic making sure it fills any gap.
- Soak it with water and cover it. It must be like that for approximately 3 weeks for optimal results.
Fight the Summer Heat and Install a Ceiling Fan
Photo by Steve Johnson
Summer equals hot days and hot days require ways to fight the heat. A ceiling fan then is a must as a home improvement project for the summer.
Installing a ceiling fan is not that difficult and it can really help to cool your house at a lower energy consumption than any other cooling process and thus making it cheaper.
With the guidance of in-depth tutorials and guides such as the ones from doityourself and Dummies, you can be certain that the process will go smoother than do it on your own.
Just keep in mind the tips and pieces of advice that the experts have for you:
- If the fan you purchased comes with lights make sure that your circuit has enough capacity to handle the combined need of energy
- If the room does not have an overhead box or if the circuit is not able to handle a fan with lights, check with a qualified electrician for any measures to take to make it happen
Enjoy the Outdoors with a Picnic Table
Photo by tbarbs
Summertime is the best time to spend an afternoon outdoors, having a good time with food and friends.
Let’s go back to the garden and let’s build a picnic table to make those moments even better.
A picnic table will definitely enhance the experience of going outside and enjoy a gathering with delicious food and great company.
Here is some advice to build one:
- If possible, go for composite decking as the material for the tabletop and benches, because it is easier to clean and good resisting insects that damage regular wood
- Rust-proof fasteners help with the durability of the table
- Don’t forget to round the ends of your table for a more stylized finish and to prevent any minor injury
Find more detailed steps on these very useful posts from PM and WikiHow, and also you can explore more attractive designs for picnic tables in this link.
Create Everlasting Memories on a Tree Swing
Do you remember those simpler times when you enjoyed feeling the breeze on a tree swing?
If you do, or you always dreamed of doing it, you can certainly make this part of your summer home improvement projects!
A tree swing is a fairly easy DIY project, but with some very specific requirements to be done.
For starters, there has to be a tree big enough to have a branch to support the swing. This branch must not be dead wood to avoid a major accident with a broken branch.
The chosen branch also should be growing as parallel to the ground as possible and with a diameter of no less than 10 inches in order to have a perfect swing.
If you happen to have one of these golden branches, the building process will be easier.
Choose the right kind of rope for it. It needs to be a braided rope with large diameter because it is is thinner or twisted instead of braided it will be too slippery, messing up the stability of the swing.
The size of the seat is up to you, but usually is around 20 and 40 inches long and the holes for the rope must be drilled on the extremes of it. Go for a pressure treated wood for it. If you have issues passing the rope through the holes, putting tape on the extremes of the rope may help.
You can check more information on how to build yours on these great blogs.
Build a Pergola and Improve Greatly your Yard
Photo by Field Outdoor Spaces
A pergola is one of the most rewarding structures you can build in your garden. It is very simple to do while being cost and time effective.
Pergolas are quite varied and you can choose from the many designs that exist such as attached pergolas, freestanding ones, curved ones or any other kind.
Building pergolas is our main strength, so we have already an awesome article to guide you in your journey to build yours.
Any project you end up choosing (or more than one, hopefully) to build for this summer will be a great improvement at home and certainly will be an opportunity to feel accomplished and join your family and friends for a great cause.
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