Mobile devices have changed almost every aspect of how and where we work, and home improvement is no exception.
In 2011, whether you’re in the hardware store or elbows-deep in a project around the house, your iPhone, iPad, Android – whatever your fingers are tapping – can solve problems that used to take hard work and specialized knowledge.
From paint-matching to protractors, from finding a stud in the wall to planning and pricing a whole endeavor, you might be amazed at what your smart device can do.
Here’s a guide to 10 of the handiest apps for handhelds (with some help from ActiveRain.com, ConsumerReports.org, and Freshome.com). Some of these are free, and some cost a few bucks, but all of them are valuable additions to your home-improvement toolbox.
Take a picture of the color you like best, then run it through this app by Sherwin-Williams and get a bead on the paint that comes closest to matching your wanted hue.
Hardwood Floor Design:
Check out what different kinds of wood and finishes will look like in your space before buying costly materials. Using photos of your floor, this app just adds the wood.
A nuts-and-bolts utility, multiple tools are packed into this one app – ruler, level, plumb bob, protractor and more.
A home-improvement calculator pack, this app features tools to help figure out how much paint or wallpaper you’ll need to cover a room, or how much mulch will go how far in your garden.
Taking into account all the doorways, windows, and other cut-around complexities of a room, here’s an app to calculate how many square feet of drywall will do the trick.
Crown Molding Angle Finder:
Burning through crown molding because the bevel and miter angles are tough to calculate correctly – that’s an expensive way to make a room look great. Instead, take your measurements to this app, get real numbers and save a lot of time and money on materials.
Run your fractions on the fly with this calculator that allows you to skip the step of converting measurements to decimals and back.
No, it’s not a naughty name, and your hardware-store staff is going to love this one as much as you do. Compare a screw to the on-app schematics and you’ll know just what type you need from all those bins in the store aisle. You can also ask for info about what screws work best with the wood, or whatever material, with which you’re working.
Did you know that most mobile devices are able to detect magnetic fields? That means finding in-wall studs is a breeze with this app.
Mark On Call:
Interior designer Mark Lewison injects this app with an experienced pro’s wisdom and know-how. Guiding you through the design process from top to bottom, the tools help homeowners keep track of materials, prices, and budgets, as well as preview products via photos of your living space. It’ll even help prevent sudden unhappy discoveries such as furniture that won’t fit through doorways.
Now tells us what you know: We want your discoveries, those super-useful home improvement apps that help you get your projects done faster, more easily, and maybe with a dollar or two of savings along the way. Share your ideas and tell us what you’re tapping!
By James O’Brien