Handy Home Products for Quick-Fix Repairs

Screw-in drywall anchors

Screw-in anchors go in fast and hold tight

The first time you use one of these, you may just throw away all your other anchors. They drive in easily without predrilling and they hold firmly, just as they’re supposed to. And you only need a screwdriver to put them in. The light-duty type shown is perfect for hanging lighter shelving and artwork. Use the toggle bolt–type for heavier shelving, towel bars and curtain rods.

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Incredibly versatile screws

Drywall screws are right for almost any job

No matter what you have to fasten, inside or out, there’s almost always a drywall-style screw that can handle it. With thin, hardened shanks, aggressive coarse threads (fine threads are just for metal studs), and deep Phillips or square-drive heads, these screws are tough enough to drive into most woods without stripping or breaking, and usually without predrilling. Most pros keep a selection of coated exterior deck screws on hand for dependable fastening even in treated wood, and black, coarse-thread interior screws for everything indoors—along with a few stainless steel and gold-colored screws for special repairs like replacing stripped-out brass hinge screws.

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Stick-on bumpers

Use bumpers for many repair jobs

Bumpers do lots more than just stop cabinet doors from banging. Stick them under ceramic pots or hot plates to keep them from scratching tabletops; silence a rattling toilet tank lid by placing them at the corners of the tank; even stick them on a doorstop if you have a door that rattles because it’s too loose. Note: Use felt bumpers on varnished wood surfaces. The plastic types can eventually leave marks.

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Appliance touch-up paint

Fix scratches and chips with appliance paint

A single scratch or chip can make a beautiful new appliance look like something you found out in the alley. Fortunately, you can make those eyesores, even up to 1/4-in. diameter, almost completely vanish with color-matched epoxy touch-up paint.

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Use multiple coats for best results

The trick is to fill the chip with multiple thin coats instead of trying to cover it all at once. Use the porcelain-type version for stovetops and sinks.

Thread-locking compound

Tighten loose handles and knobs permanently

For mysterious, quantum-mechanical reasons, the screws that hold handles and doorknobs always eventually work loose. A few drops of thread-locking compound will permanently fix the problem, yet still allow you to remove the screw with ordinary tools if you need to later. A heavier duty variety is also available for large bolts and machinery.

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Two-part filler

Good for repairing larger holes outside

Two-part filler has to be mixed and it doesn’t rinse off with water, so it’s not as user friendly as other fillers. However, it’s much tougher and a much better choice for any hole bigger than a nail head, especially outdoors. And it’s not just for wood—you can patch metal, fiberglass—even concrete.

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Epoxy glue

Use two-part epoxy for tough glue repairs

Two-part epoxy glue is rock-hard, fills huge gaps, bonds to almost anything and dries very quickly. Some brands now come with an applicator tip that automatically mixes the two parts so you can spread it like a regular glue, without mixing. It’s perfect for gluing irregular shapes and dissimilar materials to each other. Most epoxies set in five minutes, but you can buy quicker-setting types that allow you to just hold pieces in place for a minute, without any clamping.

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Fingertip and knuckle bandages

Specialized bandages stay put

Sometimes the fixer needs a fix too. These specialized bandages stay in place and protect hands better than standard, one-size-fits-everything bandages.

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Bandages protect you and your project

Fingertip and knuckle bandages allow you to finish your project without bleeding all over it.

Fender washers

Fender washers have many uses

Keep a package of assorted fender washers in your toolbox and pretty soon you’ll wonder how you got by without them.

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Use fender washers for shims and more

They’re great for increasing the holding power of a small screw, but they also make indestructible shims for furniture, woodworking, and interior and exterior building projects.

Cleaning solvents

Cleaning solvents remove almost anything

Remove stickers, tar, gum, dried paint drops, grease and a host of other unwanted substances quickly and without a lot of frustrating scrubbing by using a general-purpose cleaning solvent. They’re a little stinky, but they make short work of nasty, gummy messes like price tag adhesive residue.

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Fast-setting drywall compound

Make small drywall repairs fast

Quick-setting drywall compound lets you finish small repairs and fill deep holes in minutes instead of waiting days for premixed joint compound to dry. The small boxes—available in most home centers and paint stores—are also easier to store and more likely to get used up than large bags or buckets.

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Two lubricants that you need in your house

Silicone and lithium grease come in handy

Silicone dries quickly and invisibly and doesn’t attract dirt, making it a good lubricant for drawer rollers, window tracks, door locks, bike parts, and other plastic, metal and rubber surfaces. It also helps protect metal against rust. Lithium grease is a long-lasting, weather-resistant (though somewhat messy) lubricant for garage door tracks, car doors and latches, and other metal parts that get heavy use outside.

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Stain markers

Stain markers make scratches disappear

Natural or stained woodwork is beautiful, but scratches can really stand out—especially with darker stains. You can make these scratches disappear by touching them up with a stain marker. It’s simple to use, and much cheaper than buying whole cans of stain.

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Start with a lighter color

Start with a lighter color, and if the scratch still shows, go over it with a darker shade. Unless the varnish is in bad shape and needs to be recoated, that’s usually all you have to do to make older woodwork look almost new again.

Texture spray cans

Spray texture makes ceiling repairs easier

Sooner or later, every sprayed ceiling is going to get a water stain or a scrape. Spray texture in a can won’t perfectly match every ceiling texture, but it’s usually close, and a lot easier than respraying a whole ceiling. Before spraying, seal the patch with a stain-blocking primer, cover the floor and furniture, and practice your technique on scrap plywood or cardboard.

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Stain-blocking primer

Use stain-blocking primer for toughest stains

Water-based sealers do a good job most of the time, but for really tough problems like wood knots, yellowed water stains, heavy smoke damage, and other stains that bleed through paint, pigmented solvent-based sealers (BIN and KILZ are two brands) are unbeatable.

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Apply it and cover with latex or oil paint

Just brush or roll the sealer over the problem spot, let it dry for an hour, then paint over it with either latex or oil paint.

Self-sticking hole patch

Hole patches fix wall holes and cracks fast

Available up to 8 in. square, these stiff metal patches eliminate the time-consuming process of squaring a hole, putting in wood backer boards, and buying, cutting and taping the drywall. They’re a great fast fix for holes and big cracks in walls before painting.

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