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16 Tips for Using Your Smartphone for DIY Projects

Homeowners already tend to have a smartphone within reach so why not put it to use in your next home DIY projects? Here are the surprising ways that your smartphone can be one of the best tools for DIYers no matter what you have planned.

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Snap Photos of Parts and SocketsThomasDeco/shutterstock

Snap Photos of Parts and Sockets

Need to buy a new part for your repair DIY projects? Take pictures of the old part, its serial numbers and any fixture that the part will be used in. It's a lot easier than taking the old component with you to check dimensions and compatibility. This works well with piping, electrical sockets, wiring and much more.

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Calculate Measurements

Calculate Measurements

Find an app that allows you to take photos and tag their dimensions in the photo. So you'll know exactly what measurements you're working with before making major purchase decisions. And his is particularly valuable during any renovation where you will be buying new furniture or appliances.

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Enable the Flashlight Modeolegator/Shutterstock

Enable the Flashlight Mode

All modern smartphones have a flashlight mode you can switch on from settings. Use this to inspect dark spaces, scout out your crawlspaces, look for attic insulation issues, or for a variety of other DIY projects. And it's a lot easier than taking a flashlight with you, especially since you can snap a photo whenever you want.

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Analyze Materials and WeightGeorgejmclittle/Shutterstock

Analyze Materials and Weight

For more complex DIY projects, you may want to know the weight of metal components, how much concrete you need to fill a space, and other construction calculations that your phone can help with.

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Use Your Phone as a LevelFamily Handyman

Use Your Phone as a Level

Smartphones are equipped with useful gyrometers, which means they can replace traditional levels in many smaller leveling tasks. And all you need is the right app to start with.

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Find all the Woodworking Specifications You Needgoodluz/Shutterstock

Find all the Woodworking Specifications You Need

For the perfect result, woodworking requires in-depth knowledge about the type of wood you are using, board volume, miter cut adjustments and more. Today's advanced woodworking apps can help you make key decisions and measurements as you work.

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Find Landscape AdviceFamily Handyman

Find Landscape Advice

Are you looking for the right soil or shade for a particular seedling? Do you need help adjusting irrigation times or planning for future growth? And do you want to find plants that are resistant to disease and unappetizing to hungry animals? Powerful landscape apps can help you find exactly what you need.

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Snap Before and After PhotosCapturePB/Shutterstock

Snap Before and After Photos

Before and after photos serve two important purposes. First, if you are taking a complex appliance apart (gas heater, fridge, pool pump, etc.) it helps to have a visual guide of where components went when you are reassembling. Second, you have evidence of just how much has changed to show your friends and potentially inspectors or home evaluators.

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Design Your Space with a 3D AppFamily Handyman

Design Your Space with a 3D App

Home renovation apps are advanced 3D simulations these days. You can use your phone to remodel and redesign your home as you walk around, making changes or choose furniture as you need. And it's more useful than scribbling floor plans down on a sketch pad, and may even give you a few new ideas for future DIY projects.

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Match Paint ColorsFamily Handyman

Match Paint Colors

Trying to match paint colors can be a struggle if you don't have any of the original paint left, or if the paint has faded over time. And your smartphone can help with color capture apps that help you pinpoint your current colors for later reference at the store.

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Use Apps for More Careful MeasurementsStock-Asso/Shutterstock

Use Apps for More Careful Measurements

If your DIY projects need to go beyond basic tools, your phone can still help with careful measurements. Today's apps include plumb bobs, protractors and even expandable rulers to help calculate with greater precision and nuance when required.

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Watch for Studs and PlumbingFamily Handyman

Watch for Studs and Plumbing

Instead of bringing out an extra device for your stud detector, pull out your smartphone. Stud detector apps (there are many versions available for various platforms) help you locate studs, pipes and wire when working on your walls.

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Identify Types of WoodFamily Handyman

Identify Types of Wood

Not sure what type of wood you are dealing with? Your phone can help. And use wood apps to help identify wood types, decide whether to keep the wood, and find the best stains for that species.

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Find What's Wrong With Your Paint Ermak Oksana/Shutterstock

Find What's Wrong With Your Paint

If you are running into interior or exterior paint issues and want to find the source to prevent future issues, apps can help out with that. Use them to compare types of damage and narrow down causes.

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Plan Out Your Furniture PurchasesSyda Productions/Shutterstock

Plan Out Your Furniture Purchases

If you are planning on buying new furniture from places like Ikea, try out a shopping app that helps you plan your purchases, stay in budget and find what you need. And don't forget to get help moving furniture if you need it.

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Find New IdeasAndy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

Find New Ideas

Everyone needs a little inspiration from time to time. Apps from sites like Houzz or Pinterest are ideal for scanning through themes and layouts to pick up ideas for your new project.