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10 DIY projects you can wrap up in an hour

Even experienced DIY-ers don't want to sacrifice a whole weekend. How about an hour?

Scott Gamm
by Scott Gamm, MainStreet contributor (@ScottGamm)

When tackling any home improvement or decoration project, timing and costs are among the most important factors.

Even for the experienced DIY-ers, taking an entire weekend to complete a project can be stressful. We polled the design pros for project ideas that take less than one hour to complete, while still keeping costs and curb appeal in mind.

READ: Your perfect home needs a little work

1. Window treatments

Adding stylish window treatments – especially curtains – is a fast and cost effective project. We turned to Michelle Baxter of Michelle Baxter Interiors for some tips on installing window treatments for basic windows:

  • Measure your wall and window. This will tell you what size rod you need. They are also pretty standard sizes. One standard window will need a 4-foot pole with two brackets. A double window will need an 8-foot pole with three brackets (one on either end and one supporting the middle).
  • Use an anchor when installing the brackets. The brackets need to be installed on the stud right above the frame of the window, however high up you go. Measure your drapes. If they are 96 inches, the top of the bracket should be at the 96-inch mark. Measure from the floor up on both sides; you might be surprised to discover your window is uneven.
  • When your hardware is installed, slip the rod through the pocket of the drape and hang.

2. Nail-head trims

“Nailhead trim is all the rage on tables, seating, headboards or just about any piece that can use a little more style and pizzaz,” says Philadelphia area interior designer Ani Semerjian.

Here are Semerjian’s steps for the project:

  • Determine what area of the chair, table, sofa, ottoman or headboard to accent with the nailhead trim. Sometimes just adding nail heads to the base area of a chair is enough. You must select an area that has a wood foundation underneath the fabric to secure the nails to.
  • Attach the nailhead trim at the start of the line to be covered with the nail heads. Position and secure the first nail by lightly pushing it into the frame. I suggest using a tape measure as a guide to help position the nail-head trim at even intervals and mark off the spaces with a pencil dot.
  • Place about half an inch to 5/8th of inch apart from nail center to center, depending on the size of the nail head.
  • Secure the nail-head trim to the chair frame by lightly hammering the nails. Keep following around the line until the line is complete.

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Semerjian offers one final piece of advice: “I highly suggest doing a ‘trial run’ on a piece of plywood to get a feel of the nail heads and to see how much spacing you would like in between them.”

3. Decorative cork boards

If your home office suffers from clutter, consider creating a decorative cork board to get some of those papers off the desk and onto the wall. Semerjian shares these steps for a trendy cork board:

  • Take your cork board and place it over fabric (pattern side down) and trace around the cork board, leaving about a one-inch area around the perimeter.
  • Glue a line around the edges of the cork board with the glue gun.
  • Wrap the fabric around the board tightly, pressing the fabric onto the glue. Let this dry.
  • Hang with the adhesive hooks

4. Painting doors

Repainting your home is a lengthy task that at times requires the help of a professional. Adding a coat of paint to a door, with the proper materials, can be completed in under an hour, though.

Baxter shares these door-painting tips:

  • First, you need to clean your door.
  • Then you will need to add a coat of primer to the door. If you are choosing a red color, for example, you must use a gray primer. Experts at your local home improvement or paint store should be able to steer you in the right direction when it comes to color.
  • Remove your hardware if possible. Tape over areas that shouldn’t be painted, like the inside of the door where the lock is.
  • Paint the door panels first going in the direction of the grain; go horizontal if it’s horizontal and vertical if vertical.
  • Next, use a roller for the sides. Let dry and add another coat if necessary.

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Painting window boxes

You may have planters or window boxes as a decorative addition to your windows. Even if you have the most vibrant plants and flowers, the aesthetics suffer if the box isn’t neatly painted.

Joe Kowalski, Glidden’s training manager and paint expert, has some recommendations:

Window boxes are most attractive when painted with a high-gloss product in a color that complements the window trim colors.

Using mini-rollers will leave a smoother finish than paintbrushes.

6. Painting a doghouse

If you have a doghouse in your yard, listen up, because Kowalski shared a few techniques to make sure your dog is satisfied with its turf outside:

For a more attractive look, paint or stain the doghouse the same as the house.  The roof shingles should be the same. The color for the doghouse siding can either be a trim color from the house or the siding color.

Be sure to paint the floor of the doghouse. Paint the underside of the house before the rest. Even if flooring is going to cover this, a high-quality porch and floor paint can keep out moisture, minimizing the chances for mildew and wood rot.

7. Decorative light medallion

If you have a dining room, chances are you have a light fixture above the table. But you may not have a decorative ceiling medallion around the light.

Home improvement expert Danny Lipford uncovers these steps for adding a medallion on your own

READ: What couples should consider before buying a house

Find the circuit breaker and turn it off.

Carefully remove the fixture. You can then install the ceiling medallion by using a standard construction adhesive (available in a tube).

Since the room fixture is down, take this opportunity to clean it thoroughly with a glass or multipurpose cleaner.

You can now reinstall the fixture and turn the circuit breaker back on.

Additionally, Lipford says ceiling medallions are a great way to enhance the look of a ceiling fan in any room.

8. Doorknobs and accessories

Replacing or even resurfacing cabinetry in the kitchen or bathroom is a costly home improvement project. For the DIY-ers, Lipford shared these tips for a simple project: replacing the knobs, pulls and hinges on your cabinets.

First, remove one hinge, knob and pull and take it with you to the home center to buy new ones. How many will you need of each? Be sure to count your total twice.

At the home center, try to match the “footprint” of the hardware so no paint touch-ups are necessary.

A cordless screwdriver or cordless drill is an invaluable tool to speed up the process considerably when changing the hardware.

READ: What to do if you're moving but haven't sold your home

9. Mulch

Sprucing up the yard, even for the fall months, is a DIY project bound to make a difference.

We turned to home improvement expert Lipford for some advice:

The shrubs and plants around your home can get neglected. You can make a big difference by taking some time to trim and shape the plants.

Next, remove all weeds and plant several flowering plants to balance the look of the landscaping with a dash of color.

Once completed, finish off with a nice fresh layer of mulch. There are all types of mulch available, from pine straw to variety of decorative mulch available by the bag at your local home center.

10. Power washing

To get your deck looking new, it’s time to start power washing. Here’s what home improvement expert and host of the MyFixItUpLife radio show Mark Clement suggests when it comes to the perfect power wash:

  • Decks have two kinds of “dirt” on them: regular and mold or algae, and you often can’t tell the difference just by looking. For the pressure washer to work most effectively, pre-clean the deck with the proper detergents, widely available at home centers.
  • When using the pressure washer, keep the wand moving at all times and keep it moving straight; remove it gently from the deck to avoid “bambooing,” and keep it a certain distance from the deck itself to avoid damaging the wood fibers. Too much pressure will make the wood “fuzzy.” When in doubt, test your technique in an inconspicuous area.
  • Use the right nozzle for the work. There are different nozzles for different kinds of work and stains. While a “pencil-jet” is tempting for tough stains, it can destroy wood.
  • The exterior of tall decks can be dangerous to pressure wash from a ladder, and you risk getting wet doing it. Privacy fences, pergolas and other structures can prove equally vexing. One solution is a pressure washer nozzle that pivots (most just shoot straight). Among other things, they enable you to wash the outside of a deck while standing inside the guardrail.
  • When pre-cleaning and pressure washing a vertical surface (deck rail, privacy fence, pergola), start from the bottom and work my way up. This minimizes streaking from detergents cleaning unevenly as they run down the surface.