An illustration of a person laying new flooring as an easy home upgrade.
Illustration: Rodrigo Damati

If you, like a lot of Americans, have been spending more time at home lately, you probably can't help but notice all the little projects around the house you've been putting off. 

The good news is that these and many other home maintenance matters are quick and simple to tackle on your own; many don’t even require a tool. “You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to make many improvements,” says John Galeotafiore, associate director of product testing at Consumer Reports. 

Here are three easy projects with big payoffs that you can do on your own. For more DIY jobs, see our articles on how to declutter fast, perform necessary home maintenance, and get some outdoor home fixes done. For ideas on upgrading your outdoor space, read our easy tips to grow your garden and follow our advice on creating a backyard oasis.

Silence Your Toilet Seat

Time required: Up to 30 minutes

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Installing a toilet seat with a soft-close hinge so that it no longer “bangs” down is an investment in serenity. It costs around $25 to $50 at home improvement stores and takes about 10 minutes to install. “Look for one with a quick-release feature,” says Galeotafiore, who oversees Consumer Reports’ toilets tests. “These allow you to pull off the seat and lid when cleaning without removing the bolts.”

Modernize Your Faucet

Time required: Up to 1/2 day

Installing a touchless faucet in your kitchen can “eliminate the need to touch the kitchen faucet, reducing the risk of cross-contamination by germs,” says James E. Rogers, Consumer Reports’ director of food safety research and testing. Touchless faucets look like regular faucets, but they also have motion sensors that turn the water on and off with the wave of a hand (you set the default water temperature with the manual handle of the faucet). They come in a variety of styles and finishes, and cost around $200 more than a regular faucet. Buy one that’s battery powered, unless you have an outlet under the sink.

Give Floors a Facelift

Time required: Up to a full day

Vinyl floor planks give the look of wood but resist stains and moisture, and can go directly over concrete, tile, hardwood, or other old flooring. Just put the planks down and snap them into place. They come in a variety of sizes and wood looks, such as Consumer Reports’ recommended pick Armstrong Pryzm Elements of Heritage Vintage Multi, which resembles weathered barnwood, or our CR Best Buy option, the Armstrong Vivero D10 Homespun Harmony Rugged Brown, which is a wide plank. Get the thickest product you can, advises Joan Muratore, who tests flooring for CR. “Thin vinyl could show indentations if the surface it’s installed on isn’t perfectly level,” she says.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article also appeared in the August 2020 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.