Best DIY sites, courses and other resources for beginners

If you have a computer and an internet connection, tackling DIY projects has never been easier. Deceptively simple maybe. The problem isn’t that there aren’t enough resources for a beginner – there are too many. It can be difficult to sift through all the click-bait and SEO-driven content to find the quality advice that will actually help you with your project.

Here are some sources of sound: The best home improvement websites, courses and channels for beginner home improvement along with some general rules of thumb to find the kind of guide you need.

DIY courses

It may seem dated, but if you’re a true novice, attending a DIY class or workshop really can be the best way to get started. You will learn what tools to use and what to have on hand. Despite new technologies and materials, every beginner is prone to making basic mistakes like stripping screws. Get hands-on instruction in a class if you want to avoid running at 2am for an escape attempt when you’re trying to finish that new headboard you saw on Pinterest.

Most importantly, you have the ability to actually construct things. Most in-person DIY courses have some small fees to cover the materials, but don’t let that put you off. If you’re new to using a hammer, take a class with an instructor to practice in a cheap bird house, not on your patio where you’ll end up banging your toes on nails that don’t sit flush.

National DIY retailers usually offer regular classes on a variety of DIY topics, but don’t forget to check out your local hardware stores too. A community college may also offer group classes at an affordable price that can help you avoid DIY mistakes.

DIY online learning

During the pandemic, both Home Depot and Lowe’s quickly expanded their virtual class offerings, capitalizing on the mania of home improvement shut-ins. Even as people head out again, livestream learning seems to be here to stay. The two retailers are streaming workshops called “Homeowner 101” and DIY-U by Lowe’s, respectively, to complement their live tutorials.

Of course, online lessons can be more convenient and almost as good as face-to-face. Be sure to check if there are any fees and if pre-registration is required. Also, make sure you set up a good place to work and join in advance.

DIY websites follow

There are a number of DIY websites. However, some are more geared towards beginners – better at explaining the basics, avoiding overly technical jargon, and emphasizing security and best practices.

  • Bobvila.com is an excellent resource for beginners with articles covering everything from big DIY topics (like when to hire a contractor) to more technical projects (bulkhead installation, anyone?). His namesake and role model, Bob Vila, has hosted a plethora of TV shows and played himself on the vintage Tim Allen sitcom, Home Improvement.
  • Familyhandyman has thousands of articles including how-to guides for almost every home improvement project and product reviews. They’re a great resource for the beginning DIY enthusiast 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. The extremely comprehensive site features episodes from the television programs as well as multi-chapter workshops focused on building skills around the home and garden (“Learn to Landscape”).

Realtor.com’s DIY 101 section doesn’t have as many guides as others on this list, but it’s an excellent resource for the DIY enthusiast specifically looking for projects that will add value to their home in the most efficient way possible. The content of the site is based on contributions from real estate agents across the country.

follow YouTube channels

YouTube is a must for any DIY enthusiast. When you’re starting out, check out these channels for some great general tips and specific guides.

  • This Old House has been creating content for home improvement since 1973 – first as a magazine, then as a TV show and now via YouTube. Despite the name, it’s not just about historic houses, but also about videos with a journalistic feel about every imaginable renovation topic.
  • Home RenoVision DIY was founded by a general contractor with over 25 years of experience who rates jobs on a difficulty scale. His hundreds of low-key but very specific how-to guides include videos like “How to Clean Your Brush” (no job too small!).
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement also has hundreds of professionally hosted videos. Sure, there’s a bit of in-store advertising, but there’s also loads of solid stuff – look for clips labeled “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’s for indoor and outdoor projects is worth browsing. Especially funny: Her how-to-undo series (“How to Un-Carpet Your Floor.”)

Resource-hunting tips for budding DIYers

focus

While good information can be anywhere, consider sites and channels that flag projects for newbies, or at least rate or rank their difficulty. And also focus thematically. DIY can cover a wide range of topics. If you’re looking to fix your roof and a website seems geared toward craft projects, it probably won’t be that useful to you, even if it offers the odd article or course on construction work.

Be precise

When looking for resources to complete a project, don’t be afraid to be specific. Very precise. For example, it’s better to search “How to install a Kwikset 909 Deadbolt” than “How to install a Deadbolt”. If you look up the exact model name of the object you are working on, you will usually get a specific step-by-step guide that is more helpful than a general search.

Ignore production quality

DIY content isn’t always presented pretty or professionally. Don’t be afraid of outdated looking websites or videos with poor production quality. While videos with perfect transitions, slick editing, and great lighting are more enjoyable to watch, they may not be the most helpful. Someone who’s spent 40 years fixing faucets might not have a 4K streaming option, but they still have the best approach or information to share.

The bottom line on DIY sites for beginners

Although the range of resources can seem overwhelming at times, there has never been a better time to be a beginner DIYer. As well as good old face-to-face classes (more so than ever), there are easily accessible, high-quality websites and YouTube channels that provide live and detailed demonstrations – far better than you could ever find in books or instruction manuals. No matter how obscure your project, there’s a resource to help you learn exactly how to get it done.

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