Beat DIY Deja Vu: Solutions for “Groundhog Day” Home Improvement Problems


How to Beat DIY Deja Vu: Solutions for Feeling like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day? With some home improvement projects, it can seem like you’re stuck in a twilight zone where you have to fix the same problem over and over and over again. There’s a reason for this, and it’s also the way out of the cycle: you have to address the root cause and do the job properly—once and for all—if you want to escape DIY déjà vu.

paint, painting

Paint it right, or paint it again:  It’s the classic Groundhog Day project: you notice some peeling paint, so you slap on another coat to cover it up, but before long the new layer starts flaking off as well! So you reach for your paintbrush again, and, well, you get the idea. Stop the madness! The solution to bad paint is not more paint; it’s getting down to a clean slate so you can start fresh. So strip away all of the old stuff with a paint scraper or chemical product, and then do the most important, can’t-skip step: apply primer to ensure that your topcoat will stick.

leaking, basement

Fix floods forever:  A wet basement is another common, perpetual problem you might be running into. Whenever it rains, your basement leaks, like clockwork. Many people will blame it on a “high water table” or fall prey to contractors who pledge to “waterproof” your basement. But if you point the finger at the wrong culprit or pin your hopes on a bogus solution, the leaks will continue to taunt you. The only thing that reliably works is to improve the drainage conditions around your foundation walls so the water doesn’t pool there after a heavy rain.

caulk, window, drafts,

Let’s talk caulk:  If you’ve caulked your tub several times now, but the caulk keeps falling out, follow a trick of the trade to conquer the problem. It’s simple: fill the tub with water before caulking. Because the weight of the water expands the gaps you’ll need to caulk, then contracts them after the caulk dries, you will get a more permanent seal.

drywall, crack, seam

Permanent fix for nail pops:  Nail pops are perfectly harmless cosmetic flaws and do not indicate a structural problem, but if you try to fix them the wrong way they will keep rearing their ugly heads. The solution is to hammer another nail next to the first that has popped and overlap the head to hold it in place. And an even better solution for installing drywall is a drywall screw, which will stay in place for decades.

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