March: Products We’re Loving This Month
These are our favorite DIY tools, materials and gear for this month. Find out why we can't get enough of these go-to products.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.
Right from the start, the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi dead bolt is as simple to use as an ordinary dead bolt. Even the installation is easy! But its tech smarts make it far more convenient.
My wife and I love the backlit touch keypad — we no longer need a key to unlock the door. It’s easy to change and monitor codes when you have visitors, check the status of the lock, and lock/unlock your door remotely from your smartphone. We also like the auto-lock setting that will lock the door after a predetermined amount of time, and the simple lock button so you don’t have to enter your code each time you lock your door. This has become a lifesaver for getting the kids to preschool and day care when we’re crunched for time and have our hands full. My wife is wary of relying on WiFi and batteries for the lock to operate, but there is a keyhole in case you ignore the low battery warning. – Mike Berner, Associate Editor
These Matte Finish Protectant Wipes by Armor All have found a home under the seat of my truck. Unlike other wipes I’ve used, they don’t leave a greasy sheen on my dash. Besides providing a clean matte finish, they help keep plastic, vinyl and rubber from fading. I’m not too worried about that with my 15-year-old truck, but you might care more about yours! Plus, check out these expert car detailing tips. – Brad Holden, Senior Editor
If you use expanding foam often, a dispensing gun is a good investment. Controlling the foam is a whole lot easier with a gun than with a bendable straw applicator. The gun comes with a few fine-point disposable tips that let you get into crevices.
The best part: If you finish a job before the can runs out, the rest of the foam won’t be ruined. You can remove the can and clean the gun, or leave it in the gun without cleaning it and the foam will be usable up to 30 days. A dispensing gun will save you time, mess and money.
ConnecTite push fittings for plumbing don’t require gluing, but they cost at least three times as much as standard fittings that do. Sure, gluing PVC and ABS is easy enough. But I’m prone to mistakes when it comes to plumbing, and being able to twist off a fitting or two is sometimes worth the higher price. And when I’m in a rush or don’t want to make a mess, no-glue convenience matters more than cost. – Jay Cork, Associate Editor
If you have a paver patio or any grooved surface like a sidewalk or a truck bed, you know how debris sticks in the crevices. The 18-in. Renegade broom is made for this job. Its arched bristles reach into crevices to scoop out the debris, and it can move heavy piles of wet leaves and dirt. This broom may seem a bit pricey, but it’s a great tool for outdoor cleanup. – Kevin Espiritu, Epic Gardening
I recently tried Boral Building Products’ TruExterior trim, a composite trim made from fly ash, a byproduct of coal burning. It won’t swell and rot from water exposure, and it’s approved for ground contact and contact with masonry and brick. It cuts with a standard saw blade and shapes easily with a router. (I suggest dedicating a blade to this stuff; mine went through lots of TruExterior trim but wouldn’t cut anything else cleanly afterward.) The trim comes pre-primed and ready for paint. I even stained a piece out of curiosity, and it took gel stain great! It expands and contracts much less than wood or vinyl, has the best simulated wood grain texture I’ve seen, and resists splitting even when you drive a screw without a pilot hole close to the edge. This is my new favorite engineered trim product. The 5/4 in. x 4 in. x 16-ft. sticks cost $39 each at my local lumberyard. – Mike Berner, Associate Editor
Rockler is making it easy to break away from using traditional miter keys and splines to reinforce miter joints. Its corner-key doweling jig is a breeze to set up and allows you to drill three different size holes (1/8 in., 1/4 in. and 3/8 in.) through the joint, adding strength and a unique design feature. The jig adjusts to let you drill closer or farther from the mitered corner, which helps match material thickness and gives you more freedom with your dowel placement. Check out these 13 dirt-simple woodworking jigs you need.
These Armstrong WoodHaven Ceiling Planks easily install right over a suspended ceiling system. The clever Easy Up clips make it a snap. The only nails you need are for any trim against the wall. You can go from bland acoustical tiles to a beautiful planked ceiling in a weekend without breaking the bank.
WoodHaven Ceiling Planks are available in several styles and colors and start at about $2.50 to $4 per sq. ft. Here are 14 other ceiling coverup ideas to consider.
Remove the drop ceiling tiles and snap the Easy Up clips onto the grid frame. The clips fit into the groove and hold the plank in place. Push the tongue of the next board into the groove and repeat.
A rafter square is standard cargo in most tool belts, and until now you actually needed a tool belt to carry one around. Enter the Milwaukee 4-1/2-in. Trim Square. This is a precision-milled aluminum rafter square that will fit in your back pocket. The anodized red finish and laser etched markings make it easy to read, even in low light.
With Birdies Raised Beds you can have raised garden beds in about half an hour. The kits include several panels that are ready to assemble in six configurations to suit your space. Just bolt the panels together and fill with soil. The panels, made from powder-coated steel, are available in three colors. Check out these tips to help you grow a great raised bed garden.
Unlike rubber air hoses, Ridgid’s Lay Flat hose is lightweight and non-marring. And unlike polyurethane hoses, it doesn’t form curly tangles; you won’t feel like you’re wrestling with an enormous Slinky toy. To avoid kinks it has swivel fittings on both ends. But as usual, superiority carries a high price tag: A 50-ft. Lay Flat hose costs about $45 at The Home Depot. Plus, keep your air hose and fittings in one place and out of the way with this DIY air hose station.
The Wooster Sherlock GT Convertible extension pole has a few pro features that make it a great option for DIYers. Many pro painters use longer poles, but the two-foot to four-foot version is the perfect length for painting rooms with eight-foot ceilings. The pole extends long enough that you can paint up to the ceiling without using a ladder, but not so long that you’ll knock over paint pails. The hexagonal pole uses a locking system that requires no twisting. When it’s paired with a Wooster roller frame, the bayonet tip will lock the frame in place securely. And you can quickly change out your painting tool with the press of a lever.
There’s a lot to like about Lufkin’s Shockforce tape measures. What I like best are the markings: big, bold numbers on both sides of the blade and increments of 1/16-in. (To me, 1/32-in. marks are just clutter.) The Nite Eye version — neon green on black — takes getting used to. But it’s easier to read in dim basements, and the matte coating prevents glare in bright conditions. I have a stack of tape measures, but this is the one that stays in my tool belt and gets used. – Gary Wentz, Editor-In-Chief
When you’re working with loud equipment, hearing protection is a necessity. But why work in silence? WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protectors from 3M connects wirelessly to your smartphone via Bluetooth so you can listen to your favorite songs and podcasts. I found them comfortable and easy to pair, and I was pleased with the high sound quality. They also have a backup 3.5mm audio jack for non-Bluetooth connectivity and a microphone for phone calls. Their noise reduction rating is 24 decibels, which is more than adequate for most situations but lower than some other earmuffs. They cost about $50 online. – Jason Ingolfsland, Associate Editor