Unless you bought a new construction house from within the last five-ish years, the house you bought came complete with a sweet phone jack hookup for your land line telephone. Awesome! That’ll come in handy when you have some “Back to the Future” ordeal and need to call your Liz Frank ’90s loving self while twirling a phone cord around your finger. Home landlines are dead, but the ugly phone jack is still there. Luckily, they are easy enough to patch drywall over and you’ll never know it was there!
The first thing I did was remove the plate on the front of the jack, which exposes the wiring. I cut off the power to the jack and popped out the power cords that were connecting it.
Then I used electrical tape to wrap up each of the two cords just to make sure they didn’t touch anything and pushed them into the electrical box in the wall. Out of sight, out of mind.
Next came patching the wall. Lowe’s sells an awesome drywall patch kit that comes with a 4″x4″ steel mesh patch, lightweight spackle and a putty knife. It’s perfect for this type of job. The patch sticks to the wall with a built-in adhesive.
Next, lather up your spackle on the wall and smooth it out over the edges and let dry.
This kit even came with a nice sanding block to smooth everything out once dry.
Finally, paint over the newly spackled area and voila you can’t even tell that the ’90s existed.
Patching drywall over an old phone jack is simple and easy and can be done quickly. It’s a quick and easy upgrade that makes your home look much more up to the times.
One of the biggest questions that we get from readers is how do we decide when to do something ourselves and when to hire out a project or job. That is a complicated question – we love to save money and doing things ourselves can be done on our timeline and for a lot less cash. However, we aren’t contractors or professionals at all. There are some things that we don’t know how to do but we can learn – and some things that we know are better left to the pros.
Here are some questions that you might want to ask yourself when you are trying to decide if you should attempt to DIY a project or hire it out:
If this goes wrong, how wrong could it go?
This is the biggest question for me! For example, if wiring goes wrong, your whole house could burn down. That is very bad. If a paint job goes wrong, you might have to re-do it. Less bad. You need to weigh the possibilities and be able to honestly answer the next two questions to determine the likelihood that something could go wrong. If a project is building something, it’s not likely to go that irreparably wrong or do any long-term damage. If you’re doing physically doing something to your house, that could be a different story.
Do I have any experience in doing this or do I feel comfortable learning it from a YouTube video?
If something seems too complicated or difficult to learn from a video, and we have zero relative experience, our house might not be the best place to experiment. That being said, doing projects yourself is the only way to gain experience that you can put forward toward other projects, so work your way up and build your personal portfolio.
Does this require expensive tools that I don’t have, can’t borrow, and that I probably won’t use again?
Some projects are a good excuse to buy tools that we know we will want to have long term, like a miter saw for cutting wood on every project. Some tools we know we will only need for one project. We were lucky that a neighbor let us borrow his air compressor to hang crown molding, but if we had to buy one then the cost of that project might have been more than what it would have cost to hire a professional. That was a case too where we realized that that project wasn’t actually that hard, so we’re glad we didn’t have someone else do it.
What value do you put on your time?
A lot of projects can be DIY, but doing a project yourself means you have less time for other things. After scraping ceilings in our bedroom and bathroom, we realized it takes basically two full days from start to finish for a room that size. When thinking about doing it downstairs in four huge rooms, we knew that we were looking at a minimum of four full weekends. We put a value on our time and determined a cost that we would feel comfortable paying for that service. When someone agreed to do it for us below that cost, we decided it was worth our time to have someone else do it.
So we want to know – how do you decide if you should DIY or hire it out?
I am so excited to start our kitchen makeover this month! I have tried to break up the DIY to-do list into one major task per month, along with some hired-out tasks in between. The major task for January was removing the wallpaper and painting the walls.
Funny story about this wallpaper that I love telling. Our house was a rental prior to us buying it and the previous owners made a lot of great updates like replacing 90% of the flooring (everything but the kitchen actually) and having all the walls painted a neutral color. We met them randomly before the house even went on the market and they let us tour it. On that tour they showed us the wall colors and floor samples and told us what they planned to have done. Sean pointed at the kitchen walls and said “and remove this wall paper, right?”
And the owner said “Oh no, this is really nice wallpaper!”
I don’t know why I think this is so funny. On one hand, Sean’s not really usually the one to suggest doing anything that will cost extra or take more time, so for him to say to remove the wall paper tells you that it was bad. But the owner really really loved this wall paper. I imagine that she picked it out and convinced her husband to buy it and we know they spent a lot having it hung (we got their invoice in a packet of house-related papers at the closing).
It just screams 1995 to me. If wallpaper is your jam, good for you, but I change my mind too often to handle anything as permanent as wallpaper. This particular specimen was way too beige (warm colors while I prefer cool colors) and honestly just looked like a crap ton of palm trees to me. Like, I get it, we live at the beach. No need for the constant reminder. If only they had planted an actual palm tree in the yard….
I digress. Removing the wallpaper was a job. It wasn’t particularly difficult. I think that our popcorn ceiling removal has put everything into perspective. It took portions of 3 days but we could have done it in two if we wanted to, but we spaced it out and didn’t try to do steps before the previous step was dry.
Day one was the actual removal. We made a video explaining how to do it, but here are the steps:
use a scoring tool to score the wall, using small circles over the entirety of the paper
spray a mixture of *HOT* water + fabric softener all over the walls
let it sit
let it sit longer
peel off large pieces using your fingers
use a flat edge scraper to get any remaining bits
go back through and spritz a little more water on parts of the wallpaper backing that didn’t come off and lightly scrape those off with the scraper
Our biggest problem was, shocker, being patient. At one point early on, I think Sean really decided that this wasn’t coming off and was trying to figure out how to repair the scoring. It came off, it just needed to sit ~ 30 minutes.
We let the walls dry over night before moving on to the next step. Day 2 was really a half day and Sean spackled any messed up bits of drywall and also sanded the whole wall gently. I painted the edges and everything that needed to be hand-brushed, like trip and small areas, with one coat.
Day 3 we sanded the spackle and then rolled paint and did painting touch ups and final touches. This was actually really easy at this point. Everything was already taped, edges were done and it was clear. We discovered a few more pieces of wallpaper backing that were still stuck to the wall when we painted it. It was pretty obvious that something wasn’t right, so we just grabbed the scraper again, scraped it off, and painted over it before it dried. You could tell right away.
In the end, it looks great. Just like with a bunch of the other projects in our house, like the scraped ceilings, torn down walls and extended fireplace, we found ourselves immediately saying, “Wait, what did this look like before?” It’s just one of those things that seems like it was supposed to be that way, so we can’t believe we had to spend three days making it happen, but we’re very happy we did.
We love our wonderful pooch CiCi. However, she can be a little rambunctious sometimes when she gets excited. Well, we had a baby shower a couple of weeks ago and put CiCi outside. She didn’t like that, so she decided to claw her way through our screen door. That meant we learned how to replace a screen door screen. It’s really actually quite easy and you can do it too!
First, take the door off the hinges and lay it down flat. Then, remove the handle for the door as it will be in the way.
If you’ve never done this before, you’re about to learn a new term- spline. Spline is the rubber line that runs through the grooves in your screen door that holds down your screen. So next, grab hold of the end of the spline and pull it out all the way around the door.
Now just pull off your old screen.
Next, roll out your new screen and cut it so that there is about an inch around each edge on each side.
Now it’s time to grab your old spline if it’s still in good shape or a new line of spline if it isn’t Also time to grab a rolling tool that will get the spline back in the groove. Line the spline up with the groove and use short, repetitive movements around the entire door with the rolling tool, jamming the spline down into the groove. This will tighten the screen on itself, so no need to really pull it and tighten on your own. You will need a flathead screwdriver or something similar to press the corners down.
Now that the spline is in place, use an Xacto knife or something similar and cut off the excess screen from around the edges.
Finally, put your handle back on and re-hang your door.
It all takes about 15 minutes and was super easy for first timers like us. So it shouldn’t be too hard for anyone else. Now you can enjoy great evenings out your screen porch with no bugs to bother you!
When we took the original door off it’s hinges, it left the cut out indentations from each of the 3 hinges as well as where the ball catch was. So, the doorway had 4 spots to patch. I wanted to make it look like one smooth doorway without any indication that there was ever a hinged door here. While I was at it, I also did this on the adjacent closet door. It opened into the closet and made the space very tight and the area behind the door non-accessible. Long term, we’d love to add a pocket door here, but since that involves cutting open the drywall, we are holding off for now until we decide if we are going to redo the layout of this room completely, late 2017-2018.
Use the knife to apply spackle to each cut out area. Apply it liberally and use the knife to flatten it as best as you can. Allow to dry according to the directions on the spackle – for me it was about 2 hours.
Use sand paper or a sanding block to sand the area smooth.
You may want to repeat this process for a second time to get a smooth look. Since some of the areas (especially where the ball catch was) were pretty deep, it took me 3 layers of spackle-smooth-dry-sand to get it to the flatness that I wanted.
Once it is sanded and smooth, paint right over it. We have a can of paint that we got color matched to our doors and trim, but I painted the entire door frame to get a perfectly consistent look. Differences in color, sheen, and even the overall age and condition of the paint can make touch up spots stand out. In an area as small as this, it gave me more peace of mind to just paint the whole thing.
Ta-da! Now you would never know that there was a door hinged here!