While there’s no iPhone app that can help you avoid hitting your thumb with a hammer, falling off a ladder or stepping in a tray of paint, certain apps can be a useful addition to your tool kit when attempting some DIY projects.
Here are five great apps that will assist you in illumination, estimation, decoration, organization and for those green-thumbed folk among you, even propagation. So grab your safety goggles and strap on the tool belt — handyman help awaits.
iPhone owners are privy to a large number of fantastic color-related apps, but this is our top choice for the DIYer as it offers some practical features. Say you’re out just living your life and suddenly you spot the exact shade (or shades) you’d love to decorate your kitchen with. Just snap a picture of the hue and this app will help you match it to the nearest Sherwin-Williams paint color.
You can also take the selected color and create a custom palette either based on your own choices, or from auto-generated suggestions. If you want a second opinion on your selected palette, you can share it via e-mail or Facebook, and then once you’ve made your final choice, the app offers map-based store locations and directions so you can go and purchase the Vogue Green and Java Brown you have your heart set on.
It goes without saying that the color representations (or matches) on the iPhone will depend on the quality of the light, and the paint may not be exactly the same as you’ve been seeing on your phone’s display. But it’s a free, high-tech alternative to endless sample strips, and a great way to record a favored shade on the go and match it to real-life products.
If you’re the type who can look at a wall, squint convincingly and suck in a breath before stating, with absolute confidence, “we’ll need 267 six by six tiles,” then skip these apps. But for anyone else who’s not a born guesstimator or mathlete, stay right here, as KAD Software’s apps might be of great help.
The company offers a bunch of estimation apps for all aspects of home improvement. Whether you need to know how many rolls of wallpaper you need, or how many cans of paint, or how much lumber, acoustic ceiling, sheathing, asphalt, and so on, these $0.99 apps are great.
There are free online tools that can help you with estimation needs, but if you’re in middle of Home Depot staring blankly at your room dimensions scribbled on a scrap of paper, you might want a slightly more portable solution that’s going to give you an accurate estimate.
Cost: $0.99 per app
First, we are not suggesting that “Real Tools” can replace your 18-inch Waterloo steel split-lid cantilever tool box with its precious cargo, but it could help you out in a fix.
With 18 “tools” in total, (16 of which work with later models of the iPod touch) the most useful are a ruler, the spirit level, flashlight, various digital angle gauges, a virtual tape measure and a plumb bob.
The claim from the developers is that if you wanted to buy all the tools included in this app in the real world it would set you back $1,200.00. We’re not sure about that, but what we can say is that the app looks, feels, and sounds good. Also, the tools we did test as per the list above, worked perfectly.
Keeping a project on track can be half the battle for those of us that are less than motivated to really do it ourselves. So a project management app that can send you timely reminders to get to it, might be just what you need to turn your project from in-progress to ticked off the to-do list.
Task This is a really good place to start because its design and categories works really well for a DIY project.
There’s more to this app than we’re going to cover here (especially when you take into account the web sync options with www.task-this.com) but as far as home improvement planning goes, we’re interested in the app’s “projects,” shopping” and “reminders” functionality.
As you’d imagine, “shopping” lets you create lists of items associated to your projects, or standalone lists as well. Projects can be created with time parameters, status indicators and priority settings, and reminders can be set via push notifications (which will appear in the app’s calendar) to alert you at key points throughout.
As a free app, it’s rather good-looking and as comprehensive as many paid options out there.
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, then this app will help you make the most of it by providing detailed info and advice on planting and care for over 800 varieties of herbs, flowers and vegetables.
For novice gardeners, this handy app will keep you from planting some kind of flimsy fern suited to more tropical climates if you happen to reside in Chicago, by taking your geographical area’s climate into account and letting you know what will grow best.
Once you’ve narrowed down what you want to plant, you can read up on advice, set yourself a to-do list and then create your own garden profile by picking plants from the searchable database. It’s a great at-a-glance look at what’s growing, basic care info, and your own notes.
In addition, a colorful interface offers great photography, while the by-the-month advice section (e.g., August: It’s easy to get distracted by the long summer days, but the garden still needs attention…) will provide new gardeners with time-tailored suggestions on what needs doing in the manner of a kindly, green-thumbed aunt.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Spiderstock