Books on Shelf / ACIDmit

Comprehensive home improvement and repair books help you save money, increase your safety and security, and gather inspiration, not to mention giving you the satisfaction of doing the job yourself. While thousands of home improvement books crowd the market, some stand out for their easy-to-follow guides, detailed illustrations, and user-friendly approach.

Renovation 5th Edition: Completely Revised and Updated

Michael Litchfield and Chip Harley
May 7, 2019

Author Mike Litchfield, founding editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, interviewed hundreds of tradespeople, contractors, and architects to gather the insight and trade secrets found in this book. Each renovation project is detailed from start to finish, including some less common projects many books overlook, such as rebuilding a brick chimney and installing skylights. Whether you’re planning to renovate your older home or build a new house, you’ll find an extensive collection of ideas to inspire you.

Home Improvement for Dummies

Gene Hamilton and Katie Hamilton
December 19, 2016

From the publishers of the renowned Dummies series comes a home improvement book based on the belief that with the right guidance, anyone can do basic home repairs and upgrades. Walkthrough guides that are simple enough for novices, yet detailed enough for seasoned DIY enthusiasts have made this one of the most highly rated home improvement books out there.

You’ll learn how to take care of minor tasks, such as putting up a smoke detector and fixing squeaky stairs, as well as how to handle more advanced jobs, such as building shelves and installing insulation. Tiling, plumbing, electrical, outdoor repairs, and even decorating are also covered. Tool-buying and cost-calculation guides are included, too. On the downside, some readers find the illustrations somewhat lacking.

Beginner’s Guide to DIY & Home Repair

Jo Behari and Alison Winfield-Chislett
June 10, 2019

For those new to home maintenance, this book offers step-by-step guides on basic home repairs and maintenance jobs presented in a way that assumes very little prior knowledge. Find out how to clear a drain trap, seal drafty windows, quiet squeaky floorboards, and take care of numerous other small jobs. Don’t know what window sealants are? No problem, this book explains.

It also covers some more advanced home improvement jobs, such as painting walls, removing tile, and hanging shelves. Tips on choosing, using, and maintaining tools as well as choosing materials make the book even more beginner friendly.

Ultimate Guide to Home Repair and Improvement, Updated Edition

Creative Homeowner
August 31, 2016

While this book covers a variety of topics, it focuses primarily on home upgrades, rather than basic maintenance and repairs. Among the 325 project guides included, you’ll find instructions for building a deck and reinforcing your doors, but not for how to flush a hot water heater. That said, many repair tasks for plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling systems are included. The sections on wiring and plumbing are particularly thorough.

Each guide is accompanied by detailed illustrations, including cutaway figures, along with lists of required tools and materials. If you’re planning on hiring professionals, you’ll appreciate the section on working with contractors, understanding contracts, and managing complex remodeling projects.

How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding and Maintaining Your Home

Charlie Wing
July 18, 2018

If you’re a new homeowner, this richly illustrated guide will help you build a good foundation in understanding how the systems in your home do their jobs. You’ll learn how electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning systems work, as well as how to care for them and what can go wrong with them. Even your home’s framing and foundation are covered.

If you want to know why faucets leak, why furnaces start making funny noises or why circuit breakers trip, this is the reference for you. While the book’s focus is on preventing and diagnosing problems, not on repairs or upgrades, it does offer guidance on how to learn repair techniques.

The Complete Do-it-Yourself Manual Newly Updated

Family Handyman
October 7, 2014

This classic home improvement manual debuted in 1973 and remains a favorite for its comprehensive coverage of almost every home improvement job imaginable. It covers the essentials in plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling, but also walks you through a number of exterior upgrades and landscaping jobs. There’s even a section on making your home healthier by reducing toxins.

Each section includes professional tips even experienced DIY-ers can learn from. It’s dense with information, but if you’re looking for a thorough education in home improvement, this manual is a good place to start.

Big Book of Home How-To by Better Homes & Gardens

Better Homes & Gardens
October 11, 2011

This book’s claim to fame is its exceptionally easy-to-follow layout based on thousands of highly detailed, exploded view illustrations for each step of the more than 200 projects covered. The layout is designed to walk beginners through each job while allowing more advanced home improvement buffs to look up specific, alternative techniques.

Marketed as one of the largest home improvement books available, it provides expert tips on buying tools, choosing and using the right tool for each job, selecting building materials, and improving worksite safety. It also lets you know when hiring a pro could save you money.

100 Things Every Homeowner Must Know: How to Save Money, Solve Problems and Improve Your Home

Family Handyman
April 7, 2015

More than just a basic home improvement and repair book, this guide arms you with the fundamental knowledge you need to make smart decisions on the care of your home. It offers guides to basic repairs for plumbing, appliances, flooring, and even furniture. Some more advanced maintenance problems, such as dealing with a damp basement, are also covered. Beyond this, you’ll get tips on protecting your home from burglary, removing fire hazards, and preparing for natural disasters.

Collins Complete DIY Manual

Albert Jackson and David Day
March 1, 2011

Billing itself as “the most comprehensive and authoritative DIY manual ever produced,” this guide has one of the highest reputations in its field. Designed to be equally useful to DIY novices and remodeling professionals alike, it covers a wide variety of topics, including decorating, tiling, wiring, and plumbing.

Despite this, some readers find that while the book provides solid background information on how things work, it’s lacking in step-by-step details on how to actually do each job. Given the book’s age, its guidelines on building permits might no longer be accurate for some locations.

Black & Decker The Book of Home How-To: The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair & Improvement

Cool Springs Press
May 15, 2014

This book aims to be an encyclopedic reference for every home improvement and repair project a homeowner can dream  up. It covers a broad selection of tasks ranging from common maintenance jobs, such as how to clear a clogged toilet, to more involved renovation projects, such as putting in new flooring. With clear how-to instructions and detailed photos, it’s ideal for visual learners.

The wide range of projects included means the guides are broad but not particularly deep. While the book provides a thorough overview of how to perform each task covered, you might need to look elsewhere to learn how to choose your material or use a particular tool.

Whatever your skill level, keeping a thorough home improvement and repair book on hand can help you maintain and upgrade your home without spending a lot on outside help.

Editorial Contributors
Henry Parker

Henry Parker

Henry Parker is a home improvement enthusiast who loves to share his passion and expertise with others. He writes on a variety of topics, such as painting, flooring, windows, and lawn care, to help homeowners make informed decisions and achieve their desired results. Henry strives to write high quality guides and reviews that are easy to understand and practical to follow. Whether you are looking for the best electric riding lawn mower, the easiest way to remove paint from flooring, or the signs of a bad tile job, Henry has you covered with his insightful and honest articles. Henry lives in Florida with his wife and two kids, and enjoys spending his free time on DIY projects around the house. You can find some of his work on Today’s Homeowner, where he is a regular contributor.

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