Whether you're painting a wall or building a piece of furniture, it always helps to have an assistant. But an assistant who fits in your pocket and can go anywhere? Now that's a DIYer's dream.
With that desire in mind, we scoured Apple's iTunes App Store for the handiest and most innovative iPhone applications. Below are our eight favorite apps, each under $5. Think of each one as your very own pocket-sized assistant.
Dimensions by pocketDEMO
iTunes App Store
This heavyweight app boasts 13 three-dimensional tools, including a caliper
that measures with several hundredths of an inch precision, a ruler, a spirit level
for vertical and horizontal surfaces, three different tape measures that "stretch" to lengths of 8, 16, and 82 feet, and an ingenious mechanism that computes distance, volume, and surface area.
ID Wood by Double Dog Studios
Contains full-screen samples and detailed info on nearly 160 different types of lumber
, from the basic to the exotic. Get pointers on durability, sustainability, and color variations, as well as advice on proper cutting techniques and nail-size requirements
. Botanical names and thickness indicators aid the selection process while a comparison screen shows how a specimen looks both finished and unfinished.
PICK PAINT COLORS
iTunes App Store
Ben Color Capture by Benjamin Moore
Having trouble finding that gorgeous aubergine tone you spotted on the walls of your favorite boutique? Just snap photos of shades you love, upload images, and get their closest matches. The company's extensive (3,300-plus!) color library enables you to create and save a virtual paint chip that can be recreated in-store. A "Harmony" toggle creates four complementary colors
-- just like finding opposites on an actual color wheel
-- while "Strip" creates six similar colors to one you've chosen.
FIX A LEAKING TOILET
Cal's Plumbing Video Tutorial – Minor Toilet Rebuild by Dennis Nederlof
One in a series of seven plumbing repair step-by-steps by veteran San Diego plumber Cal Campbell. This one, a comprehensive video tutorial featuring Campbell fixing a real-life busted throne. Cal swears his know-how will help you succeed in repairing a toilet
yourself-and will save you up to $150 on costs and labor. You'll download a list of necessary supplies and a comprehensive manual to consult along the way. Email support is even offered by Cal himself.
PLAN AND EXECUTE A REMODEL
App Tools 16 in 1. Photo: iTunes App Store.
App Tools 16 in 1
Talk about a multitasker! This super app is perfect for a DIY remodel. It packs 16 useful applications, addressing a slew of home improvement needs. Features include a bubble level, ruler, protractor, talking calculator, plumb bob, unit converter, height calculator, and personalized invoicing tool. But what really makes this app standout is its eye-catching graphics: some of the best iPhone eye candy we've seen.
Home Improvement Calculator by PunkStar Studios
This handy app does a whole lot more than your average calculator. It's designed to help you determine how much paint, wallpaper
, mulch, tiling, wood deck
, gravel, concrete, or fencing you'll need for your project -- and how much it's all going to cost you. The app's tiling segment even allows you to enter the width of grout and offsets that value by number of tiles needed, preventing over-ordering for larger projects: a common DIY blunder.
ILLUMINATE DARK PLACES
Flashlight by ExactMagic. Photo: iTunes App Store
Flashlight by ExactMagic
Maybe you're burning the midnight oil -- or you're simply working in a dark boiler room. This DIY favorite transforms your iPhone into an ultra-bright flashlight
. Its intensity makes it useful in even the lowest light, but its versatility is what really makes this app shine. It features a variety of light colors, bulb styles, and brightness levels, all of which can be controlled by tapping the screen. And the different colors aren't just there to look pretty; they actually serve different functions. Red is recommended for night vision; blue is best for early dawn; and yellow is a softer alternative to white light for daytime.
FIND A CONTRACTOR
ServiceMagic by IAC Mobile
Need to call in a pro? This app gives you access to the ServiceMagic
's roster of home improvement professionals, including contractors
, plumbers, electricians, and landscapers. Request quotes, browse thousands of photos of other people's projects, and share your own DIY experiences. Each of the site's 60,000-plus registered members is trade-license and insurance-verified. Pre-screening has ruled out those with criminal or civil judgments placed against them.
Allegra Muzzillo is the author of the home-centric blog Design Bite.
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