It’s Time to Break Up with Your Handyman

updated Apr 14, 2020
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(Image credit: Creative Studio)

Listen, it’s not them; it’s you. You and your handyman had a good run, but you’re thinking of going it alone and doing it yourself for a while. You used to think that a project like upgrading your bathroom fixtures took a pro, but then find out that if you can operate an adjustable wrench then you’ve totally got this.

So put your handyman’s old band T-shirts in a box and be confident that yes, you can actually do this yourself. If you do need some help — hey, breakups are hard even for the breaker — we’ll always be there for you…in the form of self-installation FAQs.

(Image credit: Creative Studio)

Is this truly a DIY, or is this one of those DIY posts I read and a wasted weekend later my home is in even worse shape than when I started?
This is honestly, truly, 100 percent a Do! It! Yourself! project. The only skill you need is basic wrench operation, plus a few tips you might not, but probably have, already thought through. Still don’t believe us? Here are the specific steps for installing a shower head, faucet, and towel rack. Read them and tell us if you still think you need a pro.

Fine. What tools do I need to change a shower head?
Pliers and an adjustable wrench.

That’s it? No specialty tools?
Actually, yes. You’ll also need an old rag (to protect the heads while you’re screwing them in or out); an old toothbrush (to clean the threads of the pipe before installing the new head); and pipe thread or teflon tape (it forms a waterproof seal and costs less than $2 at The Home Depot). So yeah, you do need some fancy equipment.

What about the faucet?
For this one you’ll need a basin wrench and an adjustable wrench, a tiny bit of silicone caulk, a bucket to catch water, and some rags.

(Image credit: Creative Studio)

What kind of faucet do I need?
One shouldn’t answer a question with a question, but what kind of openings do you have? Most likely, your sink will be three-hole or single-hole. If you have three holes, you want a widespread faucet or center set which consists of two handles and one spout. Note the holes, though: They will either be 4″ or 8″ apart, which each require their own model. If you have a single hole, you’re looking for a…wait for it…single-hole faucet (though sometimes called a “vessel“) where the handle is attached to the spout.

Won’t water go everywhere when I take my old sink faucet off?
No, because you’ll shut off your water valve first. It’s the oval valve under the sink. If it’s older you might need some oil or lubricant, and if you don’t have one (mostly for older homes) you’ll need to shut off the main valve outside. Then, you’ll turn the faucet on for a minute to release any pressure.

What about shower heads? What kind do I want?
We can’t tell you that. What we can tell you is that your main choices are fixed and handheld. Handhelds will make life easier for anyone with mobility issues or people who bathe pets or children in their tub. If you’re not ready to commit so soon post-breakup, you can get a standard with handheld that has two heads. And if you’re looking to treat yourself, you can get a fixed head (with or without the handheld) with a luxe rainshower head. From there, it’s just a matter of style and finish, which we can help you think about here.

(Image credit: Creative Studio)

OK fine. You’ve sold me on changing my shower head and faucet, but I still want my handyman to install accessories like my towel bar. I will never get them straight!
Yes you will! Moen has new brilliant but simple Press & Mark technology that will install the pieces straight. Those pieces that have this have a Press & Mark logo on the packaging. What you do is put the piece where you want it, level it, then press the piece against the wall. It will stamp the spots where you need to drill with washable ink. Then you drill it, hang it, and boom: straight towel bar. (The towel bars, and a few other products, even come with their own little one-time-use adhesive level.)

(Image credit: Creative Studio)

Do I have to tell my landlord?
Umm. No comment. But changing the fixtures is a simple project that won’t involve your super, let alone your handyman. Your rental is probably outfitted builder grade shower heads whose job is just to get water on your body. For less than $50, you can upgrade to a tricked out Magnetix handheld head by Moen that offers six settings for the spa-like treatment of your choice. Then when it’s time to move you can take it with you. Just keep the standard issue in a cabinet!

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot and was created by Apartment Therapy’s Creative Studio.
Thank you for supporting the brands that make Apartment Therapy possible.

(Image credit: Creative Studio)