During the pandemic, many are turning to DIY home projects

Posted 8/26/20

People have unearthed their tools to take on house projects during the pandemic. by April Lisante Talk a walk around the neighborhood and you can hear them before you can see them. The hacksaws, the …

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During the pandemic, many are turning to DIY home projects

Posted
People have unearthed their tools to take on house projects during the pandemic.

by April Lisante

Talk a walk around the neighborhood and you can hear them before you can see them. The hacksaws, the chainsaws, the mallets, the engines. Then you spy them from afar, lugging rocks, concentrating over the sawhorse, kneeling on the lawn.

This is the summer of the DIY renegades, hard at work tackling projects never before — and perhaps never again — attempted.

The quarantine-inspired DIY frenzy, which began in the spring, has reached a crescendo this month, as hardware and garden stores scramble to keep up with locals who have spent the last four months on a mission to spruce up their homes.

The amount of local do-it-yourself activity has made the term “Weekend Warrior” nearly obsolete, as people who are either at home or looking to save money are continuing to try their hand at everything from masonry to lawn aeration, painting and gardening.

While some businesses are still struggling because of the pandemic, hardware stores are doing well. And if homeowners discover during this time that they can successfully complete DIY projects and save money in the process, some hardware stores may just end up being the most secure businesses of them all.

Back in March, the paint sales at the Roxborough and the Stanley’s of Oreland True Value Hardware stores were skyrocketing, according to workers there. The trend never quit, with people stuck inside looking to refresh their walls and get something done.

“We’ve sold more paint during this time than in the four years we’ve been here,” Stanley’s of Oreland manager Dave Jaquot said this week at the Bruce Rd. store. “People had a lot of time on their hands.”

At Kilian Hardware on Germantown Ave., paint is big business, but so are hand tools, which are selling like hotcakes.

“It’s like there is nothing that’s not selling well right now,” said manager Russell Goudy. “We are selling all kinds of hand tools. Everybody is doing things at the house.”

Over on Ridge Pike in Lafayette Hill, the mega Holod’s True Value Hardware is also splattered in paint mania, but DIY lawn and garden has really been propagating. Mason jars are flying off shelves, as people who planted gardens in the spring are now stuck with the beginnings of some serious bumper crops.

“Everyone has planted so much stuff,” said owner Louis Holod.

But more interestingly, the large rental machinery has seen the greatest uptick at the garden supply store’s rental center.

Instead of paying landscapers, homeowners are powering up some serious machinery to aerate their own soil, rototill gardens and even level off hilly properties with big diggers.

“The machines have been going out. Aerators, tillers, all of them. Rototillers we can’t keep in stock,” Holod said. “Where they would normally pay landscapers, they are doing it themselves. With everyone home they are fertilizing their own lawns.”

Once the ground is leveled, people then seem to have other DIY ideas. Concrete patio pavers have been popular as well.

“You can tell first-time installers who watched a video,” said Holod. “Sometimes it turns out good, sometimes it doesn’t.”

While pavers may be a good first DIY project for some, there are other locals who are in full-on mason mode, opting for flagstone and tackling all kinds of outdoor spaces with the heavy, irregular stones.

“It’s one of those things where you tell your wife ‘I’ll do it when I get a chance,’ and this was the chance,” laughed Doug Fredericks, president of Robinson Flagstones on Bethlehem Pk. in Fort Washington. “I had more than a couple people tell me that.”

The flagstone dealer sells fieldstone by the pound and flagstone by the square foot, and has been delivering tons of it, literally, to Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill as of late. It is a marked increase from the norm.

“We deliver a lot in Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill,” Fredericks said. “Patios, walkways, even dry-stack walls, they are doing it all.”

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