Chip Gaines' Best Advice for Fixing Up Your Favorite Space

Looking for some tips for your next project? We asked home improvement guru and contractor extraordinaire Chip Gaines to give us his best advice for anyone tackling a DIY project in their home. Whether it's painting, searching for new tools, or just adding some new tunes to your playlist, Chip's got a few ideas for you.

Chip Gaines sitting on a fence in the country
Chip Gaines working on a brick wall photo

Tips for Your Next Home Reno

Q: When searching for reliable tool brands, which is your go-to?

Chip: I've learned throughout my career that investing in high-quality products always makes the end results so much better. Otherwise, you might be redoing it all a few years down the road. Even if brand new products are out of your budget, do your research and choose quality goods you can restore and use again.

Q: Since you've been there done that, what are 3 things that DIYers are probably doing wrong?

Chip: 1. You have to build for the long-term, so I avoid projects that are centered on "trendy" materials or designs that might go out of style in just a few years. I tell homeowners to take some time to really think about what they'll still appreciate 10 or 15 years down the road and to use that as their inspiration. 2. Forgetting to prime. So many people want to skip this step in the painting process, but it's essential to start with a blank slate. I like to keep a few gallons of stain-blocking primer from KILZ and some well-constructed brushes on -hand to give spaces a fresh start. Your paint color is always going to look more beautiful when it's applied on top of a clean foundation. 3. It's important to be realistic and know how much you're willing to spend as you go into a project. If you have limited dollars, spend them where you'll get the biggest bang for your buck—like paint. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way.

Q: What's one DIY project you would encourage homeowners to steer clear of?

Chip: Even if you're a seasoned renovator, I recommend phoning a pro for more technical work—electrical, plumbing, HVAC, foundation, etc. Ask around for a good recommendation, because word-of-mouth is usually the best way to find a professional partner for a project in your area. And don't be afraid to shop around when selecting your subcontractors.

If you're looking to hire a pro for your next project, head over to Better Homes & Gardens Home Services to find fast quotes from professionals in your area!

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Chip Gaines spray painting a chair white photo

Conquering a Painting Project

Q: When it comes to painting, what's your favorite technique?

Chip: Joanna picks the paint colors in our family, but I'm in charge of the pre-work. That means a fresh coat of high-quality primer. Once a room has clean walls, its potential seems endless.

Q: How do you tackle painting those truly oddly-shaped spaces, like lofts or areas below the stairs?

Chip: Choosing colors that flow can really help these spaces. The paint color can make such a big impact by making spaces like this feel larger and more open or smaller and cozier—it really is one of the simplest yet most dramatic ways to transform a space, even an odd one.

Q: Painting trim can really be a pain—what tips do you have for our readers?

Chip: When painting trim, Jo and I always recommend a 2.5" angled sash brush. Start with a good coat of primer. Once that's dry, work in small sections, making sure your brush strokes go in the same direction for a smooth, even finish.

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Chip Gaines painting over walls with scribbles on it photo

All About Chip

Q: If you could only use one tool on "demo day" which would it be and why?

Chip: My hammer! Because it's bad to the bone and I like to break stuff.

Q: What's one tool topping your wish list?

Chip: To be honest, I don't know if I have one. I do think those Kreg Jigs are pretty neat, but if I bring home any more tools Jo is gonna make me live in the garage.

Q: Can you describe your most embarrassing moment on a job site to date?

Chip: I honestly don't think I have one. I don't get embarrassed easily, and especially not when I'm with my guys. They might laugh at me, but 10 times out of 10, I'm laughing right along with them.

Q: Do you have a go-to playlist for long work days?

Chip: Anything old school country. Any Highwaymen playlist is a favorite.

Q: Describe a project that turned out better than you ever expected. Describe a project that totally flopped.

Chip: Ha! We've had more blunders and flops than I can count in the past 14 years. The trick is to learn from them and move on. Now when Jo and I look back at some of those moments, we literally laugh at ourselves and just chalk them up to a learning experience. Of course, there have also been countless wins, which is exactly what makes what we do so fun and exciting. Jo knows to trust my instincts and I know to back off when it's her turn to take the reigns in design. We've pretty much got this thing down to a science. At this point, every project, whether it's a loss or a win, is worth doing if the family is happy at the end of it.

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