hanging pictures

Quick Tip for Friday – hanging pictures

When hanging pictures, shelves or other items, use painters tape to mark measurements rather than pencil marks. Painters tape is meant to come off without damaging surfaces so it should remove easily.  You can put tape in the approximate area and mark the exact measurements onto the tape itself. Drill the pilot hole or tap a nail lightly to pierce it before removing.  No leftover pencil marks to hide behind your picture frames or peeking out from the edges of shelves!

Categories: decorating, hanging pictures, hanging shelves, helpful tips, Quick tip friday | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

How to properly fill a nail hole. | The Art of Doing Stuff

I know it has been a very long time since I have written my own blog post, it’s one of the few drawbacks to the wonderfulness of having business going really well and my customers keeping me busy fixing, building and improving stuff!
When I saw this post from The Art of Doing Stuff  (seriously, if you don’t follow her already, start now!) I knew it had to be my next post instead of my own original content.

How to properly fill a nail hole. | The Art of Doing Stuff.

It’s too good not to share and I have been wanting to write about NOT using things like toothpaste to fill nail holes. Honestly, who came up with that idea in the first place??

Thanks to Karen for always being so informative, witty and fun!


Categories: DIY tips, do it anyway, hanging pictures, hanging shelves, helpful tips, Home Improvement, home maintenance, home repairs, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Quick Tip for Friday – Using Extension Ladder

woman on extension ladder

When leaning an extension ladder against a wall you can put socks on the top first to avoid scuffing the wall (not pictured here, unfortunately, but it works!)
Just make sure the ladder still evenly and securely rests on the wall, better to mar wall than have an unsteady climb.

For more about ladder safety and usage click here.

Happy home improvements!

Cass The Fix It Lass

Categories: DIY tips, hanging pictures, helpful tips, Home Improvement, home maintenance, home repairs, painting, safety, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Picture hanging, made easier

I recently had the pleasure of adding a new tool to my arsenal thanks to and I am excited to tell everyone about it!

It’s called the Picture Perfect Level from Tomboy Tools and it is amazing how much it can simplify hanging pictures and other things.

Being very light weight as well as sturdy makes it so easy to use and allows one person to do things that normally would be best done by two.

The Fix-It Lass using Picture Perfect Level

The level is built in and can be slid along the entire length of the measuring ‘stick’ or removed completely.

Double sided measuring units allow for both metric and standard.

The BEST part of all are the sliding markers with points on the back to make dimples in the wall marking your location perfectly every time!

I was able to hang 8 different framed posters throughout a room in a customers house in about 2 hours (sorry forgot to take pictures of that job). My usual methods would have taken at least twice that time but with the Picture Perfect Level I was able to easily space each item perfectly by measuring from the center and of course every single one of them was leveled perfectly the very first time.

Hanging these four individual pieces that need to go together with perfect spacing and perfect leveling was much easier with this tool.

My real challenge on this job was that I should have brought a taller ladder.

Since I’ve had this lovely new device I was able to hang a new roman shade for a customer in record time also. Thanks Cathy for introducing me, I think I see more Tomboy Tools in my future!

Categories: decorating, DIY tips, hanging pictures, hanging shelves, helpful tips, home maintenance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contractor or Handyman (or handywoman)?

It’s been on my mental ‘to do’ list for a while now to write something to help potential customers understand when to call a contractor or when to call a handyperson such as myself.
I thought this was a decent write-up published on Angie’s List that explains most of it.
There has been feedback from some people in my line of work did not care for this article, mostly in other states. Personally I found it to be a decent overview, especially as it applies to me as handyperson in California who must adhere to the rules of not being a contractor.

Angie’s LIST Guide to Hiring a handyman

Not all home repair jobs require the help of a general contractor or specialized service provider. A handyman can be hired for a variety of small home improvement projects. The following guide explains how a handyman can fix your to-do list while saving time and money along the way.


  • What is a handyman?
  • Benefits of hiring a handyman
  • Handyman-ready jobs
  • Handyman hiring tips

What is a handyman?

A handyman or handywoman is a skilled “jack of all trades” who can be hired by the hour to complete a wide range of small home improvement work and repair.

A handyman, or handyman company, typically charges the client by the hour plus material costs, regardless of the task at hand. Many homeowners will compile a list of repairs and hire a handyman to complete the list in a single visit.

The term “handyman” is loosely defined. Some are self-trained, while others have more formal training in various aspects of construction and home repair. Some specialize in a few types of home maintenance, such as painting and carpentry, while others specialize in several areas of home repair.

There is no national standard or regulation for handymen. Licensing and regulation vary by state. New Jersey, for example, requires handymen who work for a profit to register with the state and carry insurance. California requires handymen to carry a license from the State Contractors License Board to work on any project that exceeds $500 in labor and material costs.

How do I know if I need a handyman or contractor?

The scope of the job and level of skill required to complete it should determine whether you hire a handyman or contractor.

“When trying to determine who you should hire for a particular job, consider the task,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. If it’s a specialized trade, be sure you hire that tradesperson like a plumber or electrician, for example. If it’s little things that you can do yourself, a handyman is probably the right way to go.”

A handyman is not the best option for a large or complicated project that could take a long time to complete and require the help of multiple workers. A contractor or specialist should be utilized for remodeling work, room additions, projects that require heavy-duty equipment or licensed professionals like electricians.

Benefits of hiring a handyman

You’ve got an ever-increasing to-do list of home improvements like changing out a bathroom faucet, replacing missing shingles on the roof and painting a kitchen wall. You could hire a plumber, roofer and painter who all would have conflicting schedules of availability and their own service charges, or you could hire a handyman to complete all three projects in one day for a single hourly rate.

A homeowner can save money on home improvement projects by hiring a handyman because it eliminates the need for multiple service providers and contractors. Many handymen charge by the hour so a homeowner only pays for one worker who can complete a wide range of projects. A service charge from a plumber or roofer to come to your home could equal or even surpass the price to hire a handyman for a few hours.

Hiring a handyman also prevents waste and overcharging, as the handyman will only charge you for hours worked. A contractor or specialist is more likely to price a job based on the estimated amount of time it will take to complete it. Handymen are able to keep their rates low because they don’t have to pay additional workers and have lower overhead costs than contractors or large companies.

Many homeowners turn to handymen when they have a job but don’t know who to call. Handymen have been known to do all types of work from setting up playground equipment and gas grills to hanging holiday lights and decorations.

Handyman-ready jobs

Handymen are best utilized for small, “honey-do” types of home repair work. The following projects are ideal for most handymen.

  • Minor plumbing work

Many handymen are capable of completing minor plumbing work like installing new fixtures or repairing a leaky faucet. However, complex projects or jobs that require plumbing to be moved within the home should be left to a licensed plumber.

  • Caulking

Adding a fresh application of caulk to gaps between windows, doors and siding is a great way to improve energy efficiency and lower utility costs.

  • Decks and porches

Over time, weather can take its toll on wooden decks and porches. A handyman can replace broken boards, apply a finish or sealant and make general improvements or repairs to upgrade your deck or porch’s safety and appearance.

  • Gutter cleaning and maintenance

Although it’s a simple enough task, cleaning gutters is messy and involves climbing on the roof. Avoid the risk of injury by hiring a professional handyman with the right equipment and experience for the task. A handyman can also install gutter guards to prevent seasonal clogging.

  • Home exterior repairs

If you have minor damage to your home’s exterior, such as a loose piece of siding or a missing shingle, hiring a handyman to repair those items may prove to be more cost-effective than hiring a specialist.

  • Painting and touch-ups

A handyman can be hired to repaint a wall or garage door, touch up trim and scoff marks and repair small holes with spackle. Remember, a handyman typically charges by the hour, so larger jobs are better suited for a professional painting crew.

  • Hanging window treatments, pictures and mirrors and installing light fixtures

These small tasks can be easily accomplished by a homeowner, but a hiring a handyman with the right tools and experience can help ensure these wall-mounted items are hung correctly without damage.

Handyman hiring tips

Homeowners should take the time to interview several candidates before making a hiring decision. A handyman will be working closely with you in your home so you want to pick one that you feel comfortable around. The following handyman hiring tips can help ensure you pick the right candidate.

1. Define the project. Start by compiling a list of the home repairs you would like completed. Remember, a handyman is best utilized for small jobs such as installing light fixtures, patching drywall and interior painting. If the job requires pulling a permit, or moving plumbing or electrical wiring, you should consider hiring a contractor.

2. Shop around. Check Angie’s List reviews and interview a minimum of three handymen. Ask about years of experience and areas of specialization, and request references from homeowners who worked with the handyman in the past. Make sure the potential handyman has the skills and experience to complete your project.

3. Watch out for scams. You want to avoid handymen who contact you with unsolicited phone calls or visits to your home. You should also avoid any handyman who refuses to guarantee the price of the job or asks for payment upfront. Reputable handymen don’t expect to get paid before the project is completed.

4. Get it in writing. Insist on a written agreement laying out the job details, costs and a payment schedule. Be clear about the times you expect the work to be started and completed. It’s extremely important to get all guarantees in writing.

5. Ask for a guarantee. Many handymen will guarantee their work for up to one year. Ask about guarantees before you make a hiring decision, and of course, make sure the guarantee is in writing.

6. Inspect the work. Inspect the completed work before making payment. Make sure that everything has been done to your satisfaction and at the agreed upon price. Most handymen will be happy to explain the finished work because they want you to be satisfied.

Categories: Checklist, custom work, hanging pictures, hanging shelves, helpful tips, home maintenance, lights, organizing, painting, plumbing, repurposing, safety, work I do | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paint storage tips

There was a time when we didn’t have the amazing array of colors and brands of paint to choose from. A few standard palettes were what most everyone used and paint stores could probably even tell you what color you had by your description.

Now we have color matching computers with software that can match your preferred brand of paint to your favorite fabric if you bring them a good enough sample!

Most people have learned (some of us the hard way) the importance of over buying to insure there are leftovers of our custom colors when we pick out paints today. Whether it’s is from a paint chip in the store or your own blend you had created to match a color you loved from a favorite poster, having more is crucial to touch ups or if you decide to expand or re-use that color.

Yet, that extra paint won’t help if you aren’t positive exactly where it was used or there isn’t enough of it left to use again when you need it.

Here are some tricks I have developed that help me keep the paint area organized, stress free and help get the best results when needing to buy more of a color previously used:

  • Do your best to keep the outside of paint cans somewhat clean, those drips may help you see what color is in the can, it’s best if you can still read the label, at least the brand, paint type, finish etc. The difference between semi-gloss and satin can be VERY important!
  • Use a marker or a label maker to provide a description on the can of what exactly that paint was used for. “Backyard fence”, “Kitchen molding”, “Guest bathroom cabinets”- be as descriptive as you need to be for you to recognize exactly where it was used. And it’s not a bad idea to date it.
  • Make sure you can still see the formula or ‘recipe’ for that color they put on the top of the can.
  • If you need to buy more paint, especially for a touch up or patch work it will always match best if you get the exact same brand, finish, etc.

Paint brands may change formulas over time or disappear completely (remember Dulux?, gone now), so in addition to labeling cans clearly it can be most valuable to keep a file in the house.

  • Color matching software requires a sample to be no less than the size of quarter, or think of the smallest size paint chip sample you see in the paint departments.
  • As soon as you start using your new paint make your own ‘sample’ to save for future reference, and all the information you need with it.
  • I like to create file folder right away to keep everything; Label the folder by project or where the paint was used, some folders may contain more than one; “Faux finish in master bath” , or be very simple; “Accent wall – family room”, “Backyard fence”
  • Create a color swatch to save about the size of a deck of cards, and make another on a smaller paper, along with the paint chip from the store if you have it.
  • On the same paper as the sample write all the specs: brand, finish, where purchased, date purchased, formula from the can, and again where you used this paint.
  • When you need more paint in the future you can take the entire folder with you or just your smaller samples.
  • These steps are just as important to ‘standard’ colors as they are to specialty colors. Trust me you can be surprised how much one white looks like another until using the wrong one to touch up a trim and it does not match perfectly!

Since we can’t always get the exact same product again these samples created from what you actually applied can be a life saver. Computer color matching from a sample can provide far better results than the formula itself, especially if you buy another brand, base formulas can vary enough to turn out quite different.

Having your own samples are useful in other ways too. Being able to take your home colors with you to look at accent colors, trim colors, furniture, window treatments, flooring, appliances, bedding and so on can be a huge help and time saver!

If you have a professional do painting for you ask them to create a sample for you to keep in your files of each color and make sure you label them. I had a customer recently in need of touch up paint on an outer wall after someone had patched a crack. It was very hard to get a close match to look fairly decent because I couldn’t take a sample to the paint store.

Don’t forget the basics of paint storage:

Seal cans tightly, store in cool dark place, and some suggest you store paint upside down (I am undecided on that concept).

I hope this helps your home painting projects!

Categories: Checklist, decorating, DIY tips, hanging pictures, hanging shelves, helpful tips, home maintenance, home repairs, organizing, painting, storage, Uncategorized, work I do | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers: Creative Uses For These Household Cleaning Blocks That Truly Work Magic!

Mr Clean Magic Eraser

It’s been a long time since I put up a new blog post and I was going to write something this weekend when I came across this on Pinterest and had to re post!

I LOVE these Magic Erasers and I try to always make sure I have them with me on jobs.  When I make marks on walls for measurements to hang pictures, curtain rods or install just about anything I need to mark the spot first Magic Erasers come to the rescue. A gentle rub and everything is beautiful again.

Oh, and you know how sometimes you might ‘scuff’ the wall with a picture frame while getting it on the hook? Magic Eraser works great on those too.

But please, follow the link below to see an amazing list of uses!

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers: Creative Uses For These Household Cleaning Blocks That Truly Work Magic!.

Categories: cleaning, decorating, DIY tips, hanging pictures, hanging shelves, helpful tips, home maintenance, home repairs, organizing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Drywall anchors with no drilling first? hmmm

While on vacation last week I was asked to help a family member hang a shelf in her apartment. Since I don’t take my toolbox on vacation with me, of course, we had to rely on what she had available.

I will likely do a whole other posting on the poorly matched items in the ‘handy drawer’ she and her room mates have, but for now I will stick to this.

Lacking a drill to make starter holes and we were discussing our options when I noticed this package of drywall anchors that claim you can just tap right into the wall. I am skeptical at best but we are low on options and I must admit to being curious. If I saw these in the hardware store I would likely pass them up, easily thinking they will not work. But here they are in front of me and we have limited choices at this point so I give them a shot.

They actually worked! Time will tell if they hold well and I will update my blog if I hear any negative feedback but they do seem to be a viable solution to the drill challenged.

With one important tip about the tip: I strongly suggest the use of a ‘starter’ a hole anyway.

You don’t need to drill, just tap a nail or screw in the spot you need. Basically you need to pierce the surface of the wall, because trying to tap in without doing so merely resulted in the plastic anchor bending and becoming worthless. Second attempt after providing a decent puncture spot to start with; worked great!

I looked them up to provide my readers with a link:

Now maybe I’ll  go look for places to review these so I can share my suggestion before less experienced home project users give up thinking it’s a bad product. It’s a decent product that could use one little addition to the instructions!

Happy hanging!

The Fix -It Lass

Categories: decorating, DIY tips, drywall anchor, hanging pictures, hanging shelves, helpful tips, organizing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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