BYO Contractor: Seal Windows, Change Light Bulbs, Scrub Tubs

We all need a little help once in a while, but this pesky pandemic is making it awfully hard to access individuals and organizations that make our lives easier. And when there’s not much to do besides stare at the wall (you’ll learn as much from that as you will from Tiger King), you start to notice that your walls are a little…boring. Or drafty. Or poorly lit.

We asked Kenny Wong, co-director of Vancouver’s PHW Homes, for some tips on making our living spaces more livable. Here are some simple projects you can tackle yourself.

1. Seal your windows and doors

Keep the draft out (and the sourdough bread smell in). For windows, Wong recommends using weather stripping. Depending on the type of window and size of gap you have, you’ll have to choose between V-channel, felt and foam stripping. “Most are cut to size and peel-and-stick, so they are a quick and cost-effective way to prevent unnecessary drafts,” Wong says. You’ll need scissors to cut the strips and a cloth to clean the area before sticking. Sealing a window with weather stripping should only take five to 10 minutes. “The application and stick time is immediate, so there’s no wait time to be able to open and close your window,” Wong explains. He recommends checking out this link for details.

For doors, Wong suggests adding a door sweep. “There are some sweeps that are peel-and-stick,” he says, “but those often don’t last as long as the ones that screw into your door.” You may require a small hand saw or a very strong pair of scissors to cut the sweep to size. Wong, who prefers a drill for mounting, says you can also get away with a screwdriver. “If you’re using a screwdriver, try making a small divot where your screw will go first,” he advises. “This will help prevent your screw from moving around too much before you try to get it into the door.” For full instructions, Wong offers this blog post.

2. Update your light bulbs to LEDs

“I know this sounds pretty simple—like, Hey, I know how to change a bulb, buddy!” Wong says. “But often people don’t realize how complex bulbs can be.” LED bulbs are better for the Earth and for your wallet (gotta save up for that post-corona shopping spree), but select them carefully: a bulb’s type, size, colour and brightness all play a major role in its overall effect. Wong shared some resources for choosing the size and colour of your bulbs, as well as an LED cost-saving calculator.

If you’re feeling extra fancy, consider smart bulbs. “Smart bulbs connect to your wifi and sync with your Google Home or Alexa,” Wong says, “so you can yell at your smart home system to turn off your lights!” Sweet dreams, you tech wiz.

3. Refresh your shower and bathtub

Because your bathroom has probably become one of your top three travel destinations this month (right behind No. 1, the fridge and No. 2, the balcony—oh, wanderlust!), you may want to treat your tub to a little spa day of its own. “If you’re not one of the lucky ones with a dark-coloured grout, you’re probably suffering with some pretty settled staining,” Wong says. He suggests using water and baking soda to create a thick paste to cover the grout lines, then scrubbing it away with a 1:1 water and vinegar solution.

Once the grime is gone, Wong recommends a grout sealer. “After you realize how much effort it took you to clean, you’ll most likely want one,” he says. “It helps close up the cracks and makes your cleaning effort last longer.”