DIY Home Improvement Projects for Under $25



It doesn’t have to cost a lot to improve your home. A house is charming thanks to the little details – a fun paint color, quirky fixtures, and thoughtful décor throughout. Fortunately, it is completely affordable to start updating your home today. Skip your daily drive-through coffee or lunch out for a week and you will be able to complete one or more of the following projects:

Update Light Switch Covers

Sure, light switch covers are usually a basic white rectangle. But did you know that they also make ‘em in bronze, brass, nickel, and a variety of colors? Replacing your light switch covers is a quick and inexpensive way to bring instant personality to a room. Creative covers start at under $3.

Add a Light Dimmer Switch

While you are thinking about upgrading your light switch, consider adding a dimmer switch. For less than $10, you can add ambient lighting to any room. This is a particularly nice option for dining rooms or bedrooms, where you may want to control brightness.

Rescue Old Furniture

There are lots of ways to give old furniture new life. If you are an enthusiastic DIY-er, find a tutorial on stripping and recovering couches or chairs for the cost of fabric, or you can sand down and restain or repaint wooden furniture. If you like how your furniture looks already, you can still switch up how it looks with a new plush throw or some pillows. Or you can find a local thrift or consignment shop to search for budget-friendly treasures.

Get Organized

Storage systems can be as simple as installing a few shelves or purchasing nice-looking containers. For a child’s toy room, you can buy or repurpose a bookshelf and store collapsible canvas boxes. In the pantry, use a label maker to designate shelves for specific categories of items (i.e. “canned goods”) and hang a hook to store aprons in an easy-to-find spot. Clear your laundry room by putting up a rod and adding hangers – you can use this to air dry clothes or sort your ironing.

Add Mirrors

Mirrors are an excellent, cost-effective alternative to framed art. It can be functional – update your bathroom vanity’s mirror or hang a small one by the front door to check your reflection before leaving. Hanging one or two big ones in your living space can give the impression of a larger room, as well as reflect light so that the entire area seems brighter.

Weather Stripping Your Door

Feel that cold air blowing in through your front door, even when it’s locked shut? That’s your house begging for new weather stripping. Knock this project out in an afternoon to save money on your energy bill for the rest of the year.

Replace Your Outdoor Lighting

Most homes come equipped with the same generic porch light, but there are actually a variety of styles and finishes available. The same goes for walkway and path lights. Adding lighting to a patio or pool is a great decorative touch for people who spend a lot of time in their backyard.

Unexpected Paint

Yes, you can freshen up the white trim around your windows and repaint your door the same muted beige. Or, you can use turquoise blue, a sunny yellow, or a surprisingly neutral plum to highlight flower boxes or re-do your shutters. If not your house, you can always repaint a rocking chair and place it on your porch. Inside, you can highlight areas with lively paint colors, like the backsplash area in the kitchen, the wall above a chair rail, or even a room’s ceiling!


Need help expanding these DIY ideas into bigger remodeling projects? Check out Responsible Contractors for a comprehensive directory of the area’s most qualified contractors. It’s free to search and completely anonymous!

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At Your Service Plumbing – The Name Says it All!


At Your Service Plumbing, Inc. is the Tacoma area’s top-rated plumbing service. In addition to Responsible Contractors’ enthusiastic endorsement, they are recognized for their work on Yelp, ReviewBuzz, and by the city’s Chamber of Commerce. At Your Service’s popularity comes down to the team’s unwavering commitment to respect. They pledge to respect their clients’ schedules, budgets, and homes. Their attention to customer satisfaction is evident in how quickly they respond to service requests (phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by a live person), as well as the premium they place on keeping your house clean while servicing it. Ultimately, At Your Service respects the client’s peace of mind, and promises you the best home plumbing services in Tacoma.

The company is rooted in a legacy of excellent service and workmanship. In 1984 Mr. Rod Thaut, the “wizard of plumbing,” established K & M Plumbing Service, Inc.  to serve residential new construction. A family-owned business, Rod personally trained many of the company’s current technicians. After Rod passed away in 2010, the business relaunched as At Your Service Plumbing, expanding their services and areas served, while preserving Rod’s core values of customer care and professionalism. Today the team is still a family enterprise, adding talented new techs to their service panel and sending management personnel to workshops and trainings. At Your Service continues to connect consumers with the best new products and up-to-date expertise of all things plumbing.

At Your Service provides emergency and scheduled drain cleaning, clogged drain services, and remodeling for kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. The best part is, every appointment includes an inspection so that technicians can offer you critical feedback on your home’s plumbing system and quote a straightforward fee on their proposed services. You can be assured that At Your Service is giving you the best price and equipment up front, without hidden costs or haggling. Happy customers become repeat clients, impressed by the technicians’ honesty, friendliness, and proficiency with handling a range of plumbing issues.

At Your Service Plumbing addresses dripping faucets, leaking or running toilets, leaking water pipes, clogged drains, and water heater services. In addition to educating homeowners about how to resolve plumbing problems on their own and improve the efficiency of their house’s plumbing system, At Your Service has troubleshooting advice on their website. Checking this information first helps you assess if you can tackle your plumbing problem yourself, or if it’s time to pick up the phone and let a pro handle it.

Beyond traditional drain-related plumbing services, At Your Service also performs installations. For your kitchen, techs can put in a new garbage disposal and instruct you on the unit’s proper use and care. If yours is a historic home (or you simply are ready to update your fixtures), consider letting At Your Service Plumbing help you with your bathroom remodel. They offer low flow toilets, pedestal sinks, stand-shower systems, soaking tubs, tile and grout work, and flooring options.

Responsible Contractors knows plumbing issues usually require finding outside help and is happy to recommend At Your Service Plumbing. Find their complete profile and contact information at:

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CertaPro Painters – The Most Referred House Painters in the Area!

certapro_paintersCertaPro Painters know that an excellent house paint job is all about the details. Their goal is to provide certainty for customers. To that end, CertaPro creates a working relationship with the client so that you know exactly what to expect about the outcome of your project and have the opportunity to ask questions along the way. CertaPro is “delighted to serve, certain to satisfy” and is proud to be the Most Referred House Painter in Tacoma and surrounding areas.

Gary House designed CertaPro Painters to operate based on a foundation of certainty. With over three decades of leadership experience – including 27 years in the corporate world – Gary has a demonstrated ability to identify clients’ expectations, and then devise original strategies to meet  (and often exceed!) them. His goal is to educate homeowners and commercial property owners about how painting helps them preserve a beautiful home or effective work place. Interior and exterior painting goes beyond fresh color for walls; CertaPro’s additional services are certain to add lasting value and function to your home or office.

What’s the easiest way to protect your investment in your home, enhance your curb appeal, or makeover an interior space? An excellent paint job. CertaPro is proud to offer exterior and interior residential services that go beyond the wall. In addition to painting your home, they also offer detail work including cabinets, crown molding, drywall repair, popcorn ceiling removal, and wallpaper removal. Outside they can provide power washing and deck staining to complement your home’s new paint job.


For commercial properties, CertaPro helps you manage everything from touch-ups to complete facelifts. The team will attend to everything involved in repainting a property. For example in, a condo or apartment complex, CertaPro’s professionals will coordinate with residents directly about painting their units’ doors. They can do whole facility repaints (interior and exterior), along with a little light carpentry where there is wood that needs to be replaced.

In office settings, CertaPro knows you are trying to conduct business even as they do theirs – that means no loud radios or noise while they work. Additionally, they are uniformed, discrete, and stay on schedule. If your business needs refurbishing, CertaPro’s associates are experts in brand adherence, and will ensure that new painting schemes align with your business’ existing colors and designs.

CertaPro is also the most referred painter for the Tacoma area’s medical, educational, and faith based buildings. Here’s why: they understand the important of using paints and coatings with the lowest possible VOCs and odor. Additionally, they work with the facility’s management to determine a work schedule that interferes the least with the daily routine of the building’s occupants. CertaPro stands out among its competitors for providing an experience that is hassle-free, environmentally-responsible, and maintains a clean workplace, and uses materials and practices that adhere to EPA and OSHA standards.

When it comes to picking colors, CertaPro is happy to provide you with guidance. For the exterior, their pros recommend highlighting your home’s most interesting architectural details with a vibrant or contrasting accent color. Consider the entry point to your home as a possible place for color as a sort of “welcome” sign to your guests. Ensure balance and coordination between your new paint scheme and the colors on your house that you will not be repainting, such as shingles or brick. Inside, think about what kind of ambiance you want for a room. You can widen spaces by using light colors or painting the same color in connecting spaces. The walls can be a statement in and of themselves, but if you are more interested in highlighting your furniture or artwork, pick a paint color that serves as a neutral backdrop. CertaPro can help you choose the best paint for “wet rooms” like kitchens and baths that are best for absorbing moisture and easily cleaned.


CertaPro Painters are excellent at what they do for Tacoma and the surrounding area’s residential, commercial, educational, and faith based buildings. The reason they are the region’s most referred painters comes down to their commitment to providing clients with certainty. Customers know, from design to implementation, what to expect in terms of the final result, budget, and schedule.

Responsible Contractors enthusiastically recommends CertaPro Painters for your interior and exterior painting needs. Learn more about this verified, qualified contractor at:


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Transform Your Home into Art With Mosaics



What are Mosaics?

Part of the joy of owning a house is finding ways to make it your own. Lighting, flooring, landscaping, and color are all ways to individualize your space. A mosaic can incorporate any one of these, while also standing on its own as a piece of art.

Mosaics, an arrangement of materials to produce a pattern, motif, or picture, are an ancient craft. Interestingly, decorating with mosaics is now considered a modern look for homes, as well as a form of self-expression for homeowners. Designs can be laid on walls, ceilings, or floors, as well as used in hardscaping elements like pools and fountains.

Why Use Mosaics in Your Home? 

Among several compelling reasons to choose to use mosaics in your home, the first is that they are one of the best ways to create a unique space. Playing around with color and scale allows you to set a certain ambiance for a room. It is art that envelops the people looking at it.

Another reason is that certain types of materials let you capture and control light to your advantage. Marble, granite, stone, and glass can all reflect and refract natural light to produce a shimmering, lively space. They also have various textures that convey slightly different styles in a space.

You can also use mosaics to highlight your home’s best features. A sweeping tile inlay in the entry, a motif framing the fireplace, or as a surround for vanity mirrors all serve to draw attention to those places in your home you are most excited to show off.

Finally, mosaics are one way to repurpose and recycle materials. If you collect seashells, stones, glass, or have leftover tile from a tear-down project, they can find new life in a mosaic design. And although you are saving money by reusing existing materials, a well-designed mosaic can increase your home’s overall value.

Project and Design Ideas

Designs can be patterns, pictures, or freestyle. A geometric pattern would include a series of repeated shapes and colors. A picture or motif would be formed from an array of pieces that may or may not be similar in size, color, or material. A freestyle mosaic can be particularly whimsical if you include a number of seemingly different elements that, when put together, are meant to be a cohesive piece. In other words, mosaics are customizable to your style preferences.

There are some obvious places for mosaics: a kitchen backsplash, the bottom of a pool, or in bathroom floors. But you can get even more creative by doing a customized tiled sink basin, patio furniture, or including a large mosaic at the top of an entry-way staircase.


Fortunately, there are a number of excellent quality materials for mosaics that are both beautiful and functional. Glass tiles are available in a number of price and quality points and are typically durable enough for outdoor projects as well. You can use household tiles, but be aware that if you are repurposing secondhand tiles, you might have to work a little harder to remove the adhesive off the tiles’ back. Granite, stone, marble, and composite tiles are also hardy and elegant materials, although they may be more expensive. You can always make a mosaic out of what you have on hand: buttons, coins, bottle caps.  Shells are a fun and easy alternative to tile and readily available, as are crockery pieces (broken or intact).

DIY or Call the Contractor?

If you are up for learning how to grout and lay tile, there are plenty of tutorials, books, and classes available. You may want to design the piece and then have someone else lay it for you if it’s a particularly complex arrangement. Or, if you are stumped on mosaic motif ideas, call a contractor from the beginning. Responsible Contractors has a directory of professionals who can help you accomplish your mosaic project from design to laying the last tile.

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Solid Surface Countertops – Advantages and Care

There are alternatives to paying high prices for granite or quartz countertops, or pinching pennies and going with laminate. The world of countertops is vast and there are options suitable for most budgets and needs. Solid surface countertops were created in 1967 by DuPont, and sold under the name “Corian.” A revolutionary product, Corian was engineered to look like natural stone and granite but was non-porous. By eliminating the particle configurations in naturally occurring materials, DuPont’s man-made countertop was the same composition throughout, from the top to the bottom layer. Today solid surface is available from several manufacturers in a variety of acrylic and polyester combinations.

Accordingly, the advantage of solid surface countertops remains, above all else, their durability. While an expensive natural stone counter looks lovely, its porous structure makes it susceptible to cracks and breaking. Similarly, a wood counter is attractive but hard to clean and inclined to develop a slimy film over time. Ceramic and comparable tile options are non-porous but are held in place with grout, so that the countertop is not one smooth plane. And laminate, the least expensive option, is usually just a thin top layer adhered to a piece of wood.

Additionally, solid surface countertops are seamless. That is, they have no discernable section marks when they are cut and installed properly. They are typically customizable to almost any shape, size, or color and are available in different thicknesses. Polyester options are usually more brilliant in color, but acrylic products hold up better to thermoforming. Since the plastic runs all the way through, solid surface is strong, difficult to stain, and damage-resistant. And even if you do manage to scratch or burn it (it is recommended you do not place a hot pot on solid surface counters), it is generally easy to fix with a little sandpaper.

Be advised this is one project that is not DIY for most people. But this can be considered another advantage to choosing solid surface – select your preferences and leave the rest to a pro installer!

A couple of tips for when you reach the installation step: you can ask for an integral sink to match the counter if you like the look of a truly homogenous countertop, and most installers will also accommodate a request for a cutting board from the leftover material.

Fortunately, caring for solid surface is relatively simple. You can remove dirt, hard water marks, and food prep residue with either soapy water or an ammonia-based cleaner. If there is a stain, buff it out with denatured alcohol or a mild abrasive on a scouring pad. For sinks, run cold water simultaneously if you are pouring boiling water down the drain. Do not place hot pans or pots on your countertop, since they are not heat resistant. Additionally, do not let paint removers, nail polish, or oven cleaning solutions come in contact with the surface. Use a cutting board for preparing food; knives can nick the material.

Solid surface countertops have a deserved reputation for being cost-effective, attractive, and long-lasting. If you are looking for a seamless, easy-to-maintain countertop for your home, consider going solid surface. Responsible Contractors has a number of qualified, verified professionals ready to assist you with installing the right countertop for your home.

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Tile First Installations Puts Customers First


One of the best and easiest ways to update your home’s look and increase its value is by redoing the tiling. Tile First Installations specializes in elegant, functional, and long-lasting tile, stone, quartz, and marble. Tile First’s design and installation techniques are grounded in a 6,000 year old tradition of using mosaic tilework to add color, texture, and artistic touches to their living spaces. Although traditionally tile was limited to the wealthiest, today people with a range of budgets can afford to add this luxurious detail to their homes. The business services entry-level and high end custom homes, and knows how to tailor a project to fit a client’s budget.

Originally in Renton, Tile First has been operating out of Lacey since 2014. The owner, Darren, approaches installation and remodeling as the business’s foundational services. In addition to pledging a timely, clean, and quality installation, Tile First also understands that remodeling projects need to be cost-effective. Darren notes that unlike other contractors, who try to dictate and often override clients’ design and installation preferences, Tile First always honors customers’ vision for their homes.


Give your home its own personality with original tile designs and layouts.

With a showroom now open, you are invited to come on in and examine tile and stone options firsthand. The showroom includes tile, tools, setting materials, grout options, and design ideas. Dedicated to educating customers interested in learning more about choosing and installing their own tile, Tile First also offers classes. In their free ebooks (available online through Tile First) you can learn more about decorating with tile and granite.

If you are not someone who is confident in your DIY abilities, leave it to the pros and receive assistance with your project from any one of Tile First’s installation experts. A trip to the showroom isn’t necessary, but it does give you a full scope of your options in terms of materials available, optimal techniques, and choosing the right person to install your design.

Additionally, Tile First encourages creative tiling approaches and designs in its customers. When presented with new and unorthodox ideas, they embrace the opportunity to help customers realize their vision. For example, one client wanted to incorporate a smaller, winding tile path on top of a larger-tile floor in the bathroom. Tile First obliged with this creative and beautiful design:


Tile First helps clients realize their unique visions for their homes.

In addition to bathrooms, Tile First can also transform your backsplashes, countertops, and floors into works of art. The products they use are water-tight, easy to clean, and durable – a good alternative to hardwood floors. Every one of Tile First’s sales and installation experts know the products and can make strong recommendations for clients who want more direction in terms of choosing the best items for their home. After installation, the techs will also show you how to care for and clean your tile.


Responsible Contractors is pleased to recommend Tile First Installations to consumers looking for a qualified, experienced, and reliable contractor to help them with their tiling remodeling projects. Learn more about Tile First and how to connect with them at:



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RCW Construction Transforming Houses Into Homes


Most houses are not designed with any one person in mind, but any house is customizable for you. Kitchens can be opened up to give you more space and storage. Outdated bathrooms can be brought into the 21st century. Increase your living space by building on additions. RCW Construction has been transforming houses into homes by offering remodeling and renovating services in the Gig Harbor area for over 25 years.

In 1990 RCW Construction began offering custom whole house and specific room remodeling services. Today they are local leaders in the custom homes industry, with a talented team comprised of designers, craftsmen, and project managers.  They are a BBB accredited business, as well as members of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Master Builders Association of Pierce County, and the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW). RCW is also the winner of the BIAW’s 2015 Remodeling Excellence Award. For every client, RCW guarantees meticulously detailed, customized designs and flawlessly executed construction. Their general contractors are responsive, friendly, knowledgeable, and know how to coordinate the proper resources for your project in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Remodeling and renovation services include whole house remodels, kitchen, and bathrooms. If your goal is to increase overall living space, they can suggest ways to enlarge your home’s square footage while preserving the structural and style integrity of the house. RCW recognizes how the kitchen often plays a central role in your home, operating as a place for family to congregate and spend time together. Accordingly, they can show you how to revitalize the space by modernizing its design, optimizing appliance and storage placement, and upgrading cabinetry, fixtures, or furnishings. In addition to increasing your kitchen’s beauty, RCW’s remodel can make the space more convenient to cook and dine in. They can also give your bathrooms a much-needed facelift, replacing old or malfunctioning parts while making over the room’s style and layout. Your bathroom needs to be convenient and visually appealing so that you can enjoy the space as a personal sanctuary.


Gleaming floors, well-placed appliances, thoughtful storage, and plenty of counter space!


RCW also loves the opportunity to work with client on fun projects such as “man caves” and media rooms, installing full bars and entertainment systems that will truly make your home unique. Let their general contractor help you carve out a space that is entirely your own.


Choose whether to share your man cave with friends or use as a private retreat.

In addition to completing remodels and renovations for existing homes, RCW also provides full-service custom home building. These are exciting projects where RCW’s team works with the client from the design stage to final construction. When you approach RCW with a list of preferences, the crew works with you to create an innovative and functional floor plan with personalized details to make the house feel like your home. Despite being a massive undertaking, RCW inspires confidence in customers in getting the job done on time and without hidden costs or hassles.


Responsible Contractors wants everyone to have the house of their dreams and confidently recommends RCW Construction to help you obtain yours. Find RCW’s full profile here:

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