If you have a computer and an internet connection, taking on DIY projects has never been easier. Deceptively easy, perhaps. The problem isn’t that there aren’t enough resources for a beginner, it’s that there are too many. It can be difficult to sift through all the clickbait and SEO-based content to find the quality advice that will actually help you with your project.
Here are some sound sources: The Best DIY Home Improvement Sites, Courses, and Channels for Beginner DIYers, plus some general guidelines for finding the kind of advice you need.
It might sound old-fashioned, but if you’re a complete beginner, taking a class or DIY workshop might really be the best way to start. You will learn which tools to use and what to have on hand. Despite new technologies and new materials, every beginner is prone to such basic errors as unscrewing screws. Get practical advice in a class if you want to avoid running at 2 a.m. when trying to finish that new headboard you saw on Pinterest.
More importantly, you will have the chance to build things. Most in-person DIY classes have a small fee to cover materials, but don’t let that deter you. If this is your first time using a hammer, you’ll want to practice on an inexpensive birdhouse in a classroom with instructors and not on your deck, where you’ll end up stumbling your toes on nails that aren’t on the ground. ras.
National home improvement retailers usually offer regular classes on a variety of DIY topics, but be sure to check your local hardware stores as well. A community college may also offer affordable group classes that can help you avoid DIY failures.
DIY online learning
During the pandemic, Home Depot and Lowe’s quickly expanded their virtual class offerings, cashing in on the home improvement shutdown mania. Even as people venture out again, live learning seems here to stay. Both retailers are streaming workshops, dubbed “Homeowner 101” and DIY-U by Lowe’s respectively, to complement their live tutorials.
An online course can be more convenient, of course, and almost as good as being onsite. Be sure to check if there are fees and if pre-registration is required. Also, be sure to set up a good workspace and follow up ahead of time.
DIY sites to follow
A number of DIY websites exist. But some are more beginner-friendly – better at explaining the basics, avoiding overly technical jargon and emphasizing safety and best practices.
- Bobvila.com is a great resource for beginners with articles covering everything from large-scale DIY issues (like when to hire a contractor) to more technical projects (installing shiplap, anyone?). Its namesake and guiding light, Bob Vila, has hosted a plethora of TV shows and starred in Tim Allen’s vintage sitcom Home Improvement.
- Familyhandyman has thousands of articles, including how-to guides for almost any home improvement project and product reviews. They’re a great resource for the beginner DIYer who already has a vision for their home, but needs to know how to get there.
- DIY / Magnolia Network The DIY Network is now called The Magnolia Network. Its extremely comprehensive website features episodes of the TV shows, as well as multi-chapter workshops focused on building home and garden skills (“Learn to Landscape”).
Realtor.com’s “DIY 101” section doesn’t have as many how-to guides as others on this list, but it’s a great resource for the DIYer who is specifically looking for projects that will add value to their home by as efficiently as possible. The content of the site is driven by feedback from realtors across the country.
YouTube channels to follow
YouTube is a must-have resource for any DIYer. When you’re just getting started, check out these channels for great general advice and specific how-to guides.
- This Old House has been creating content for do-it-yourselfers since 1973 – first as a magazine, then as a TV show, and now via YouTube. Despite the name, it’s not just about historic homes, but offers journalist-like videos on every home improvement topic you can think of.
- Home RenoVision DIY was started by a general contractor with over 25 years of experience, who rates jobs on a scale of difficulty. Its hundreds of low-key but very specific tutorials include videos like “How to Clean Your Brush” (no job too small!).
- Lowe’s Home Improvement also offers hundreds of professionally hosted videos. Sure, there’s a bit of in-store promotion, but also a lot of solid stuff – look for clips titled “DIY Basics”.
- The Home Depot Channel has fewer views and subscribers than the Lowe’s Channel, but its library of tips, troubleshooting, and how-to guides for indoor and outdoor projects is worth perusing. Especially fun: their series of tips (“How to Un-Carpet Your Floor.”)
Resource Finding Tips for Beginner DIYers
While good information can be anywhere, set your sights on sites and channels that label projects for beginners, or at least rate or rank their level of difficulty. And focus thematically too. DIY can cover a wide range of topics. If you want to fix your roof and a site seems focused on craft-type projects, it probably won’t be as helpful to you, even if it has articles or courses on construction work.
When looking for resources on how to complete a project, don’t be afraid to be specific. Very precise. For example, it is better to search “how to install a Kwikset 909 deadbolt” than “how to install a deadbolt”. Searching for the exact model name of the thing you’re working on can usually give you a specific step-by-step guide that’s more helpful than a general search.
Ignore production quality
DIY content isn’t always pretty or professionally displayed. Don’t be afraid of outdated-looking websites or videos with poor production quality. While videos with perfect transitions, sleek editing, and great lighting might be more enjoyable to watch, they might not be the most useful. Someone who’s spent 40 years fixing faucets might not have the 4K streaming option, but they still have the best approach or information to share.
The Basics of DIY Sites for Beginners
While the range of resources can sometimes seem overwhelming, there’s never been a better time to be a beginner DIYer. In addition to the good old in-person courses (more plentiful than ever), there are high-quality websites and easy-to-access YouTube channels that offer live, in-depth demonstrations – far better than you could ever find in books or instruction manuals. No matter how murky your project may be, there’s a resource to help you learn exactly how to make it happen.