Let’s face it, if home improvement and DIY were always easy, we all wouldn’t have much to talk (or laugh. . . or cry) about. Somehow houses have a way of taking seemingly simple and mundane tasks like basic maintenance and contorting them into complex, interlinked projects that eventually result in a home repair to-do list that dwarfs War and Peace. Thankfully, there is help. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “the reports of the death of printing are exaggerated.” Yes, it seems not only are there several great how-to, home improvement and DIY magazines on the market, but they all still appear to be surviving in this digital age. Of course all of them have a web presence as well. As tech oriented as I am, I still find a good old magazine to be a great way to get home improvement inspiration, tips, tool reviews and expert opinion. Here’s our top six list of magazines every HomeFixated homeowner should subscribe to.
With a name like Extreme How-To, how can you not like this magazine? When I first heard the name, I imagined base jumping off a cliff with a tool belt on, and then doing a fly-by roof repair while lining up for my parachute landing in the front yard. Turns out most of their articles don’t involve things like sky-diving, bungee jumping or skateboard aerials. Instead, they’re a treasure trove of how-to projects (go figure), tips, detailed tool reviews and advertising. When I say advertising, I mean they’ve got a lot of ads in the magazine. Unlike tons of ads on TV or radio, I actually like them. I’ve found some very unique products advertised on the pages of Extreme how-to. Note to all Extreme How-To advertisers, you should advertise on HomeFixated.com too. Subscribe to Extreme How-To for about $19 (9 issues, 1 year)
This Old House:
If you’re not familiar with the This Old House brand, I suggest putting down your Unabomber Manifesto and stepping outside. This Old House magazine is loaded with useful information. As part of the Time-Warner empire, it seems they can actually afford to pay their writers decently, which results in very readable content (unlike questionable HomeFixated content). Plus the Editor (Scott Emelianuk), usually has some hilarious commentary to kick off every edition. I can always count on learning something new and picking up some great advice, whether its related to home design, landscaping or construction materials. I do miss Bob Vila though. Subscribe to This Old House for $16 (10 issues, 1 year).
The Taunton Press puts out about eight issues of Fine Homebuilding a year, and those issues go to over a quarter million paid subscribers. That’s about how many people visit HomeFixated each day (not really, but we’re shooting for that eventually). Fine Homebuilding is loaded with detailed how-to content, but they’re also not afraid to delve into design related topics. The crew at Fine Homebuilding take their tools seriously, so their tool guide is definitely not one to miss. And I like Chuck Miller’s tips, partly because they’re really useful, and partly because he’s man enough to wear a tool vest in his “There’s a Better Way” videos. Subscribe to Fine Homebuilding for about $38 (8 issues, 1 year).
We didn’t want to leave you woodworkers out in the cold, so of course we had to mention Fine Woodworking, also run by The Taunton Press. This magazine far exceeds my skill level working with wood (which isn’t saying all that much), but it’s a great read for pro’s and aspiring woodworkers alike. Part of the fun in a magazine like Fine Woodworking is simply to admire the craftsmanship that’s produced by people who actually know what they’re doing. Subscribe to Fine Woodworking for about $35 (7 issues, 1 year).
Hey, what’s a magazine with “mechanics” in its name doing in this list? Turns out Popular Mechanics has a solid interest in tools, home improvement and DIY. Don’t believe me? Just check out this detailed round-up review of four grinders Doug Mahoney of ToolSnob fame recently put through their paces. Chances are if you like tinkering on your house, you’ll probably like a lot of the fun technology and how-to content, even for stuff that’s not specifically home related. Subscribe to Popular Mechanics for a paltry $12 (12 issues, 1 year).
Rounding out our list is Family Handyman. Sure, the magazine name sounds a little cheesy, but it’s probably reality for a lot of us. Family Handyman compiles some fun how-to projects, along with the typical assortment of tool reviews and tips. If you’re the family handyman in your own house, it’s worth checking out. Subscribe to Family Handyman for $20 (10 issues, 1 year).
18 thoughts on “Six Magazines Every HomeFixated Homeowner Should Subscribe To”
The Family Handyman and Popular Mechanics are fantastic. I’m not as familiar with Fine Woodworking, but may need to check it out. Thanks!
TOH had to be one of my favorites. Full of tips and great ideas for a wide variety of homes.
TOH franchise is going the way of HGTV – more glam for a response and less hands on ‘how to’. Prefer the old days of Bob Vila and Norm Abram actually showing you how to build or repair something.
Disappointed–I guess because I make a distinction between home improvement and DIY mags. (I was hoping for the former.) Agree with the contrarian comments re This Old House: the magazine like the show has long since been devoted mainly to those whose sweat equity is writing increasingly large checks.
You are right about This Old House. I began subscribing to the magazine after picking up two issues at the beginning of this year. Me and my wife have been doing some home renovation projects in our home to prepare it for sale. We have also consulted TOH for a kitchen renovation project in our Florida condo. We find the information very helpful and have successfully completed several large and small projects using advice found in issues.
I’d add Popular Woodworking, but like FWW, the skill level required to build some of their projects is light-years away from my skill set!
Great review! Having read all these at one point or another I really enjoy getting Extreme How To. Must helpful with the projects I end up doing.
Is print NOT dead or what? Pretty decent string of comments. And your list is spot-on. Thanks for the great piece!
Great mags – love them all but can’t afford them all. I get FHB and handyman is usually given to me. I’m going to look into the How-To….. I’m intrigued.
Thanks for checking out the article Rob. You gotta start working that media angle. . . the mags would likely be happy to get some additional exposure through your site. : )
Catch up with you again soon.
Extreme How-To is a fantastic magazine, my wife and I both look forward to this each month. “Extremely” well written and I also agree that within this publication you will see so many different products that you do not see in most other magazines. Every issue is fresh and we love it.
I agree whole heartedly (well about everything but missing Bob Vila), the internet is great for research and I love my home improvement blogs – but for sheer reading pleasure I need the feel of glossy paper and a good chaise lounge *grins*.
Heh…it’s funny I just happened to pick up copies of Fine Woodworking and Fine Homebuilding on my last trip through the airport a couple weeks ago – I was very impressed with their content, clear explanations and excellent diagramming. I was already thinking I should subscribe. And as a geek, my love affair with Popular Mechanics goes way back.
Alas, I can neither afford the cash OR the library space for all the magazines and books I’d love to have (I’m not sure there is such a thing as ‘enough’ books or magazines)… so I guess I’m gonna have to limit myself to only these 2 new ones.
We subscribed to This Old House for a year or two after we bought our 1889 Victorian. We stopped mainly because we felt it should be named “This Really Rich Person’s Old House”. There were more articles about people sinking 10s-100s of thousands of dollars into huge renovation projects than there were useful articles about dealing with your own old house. In the regard I think “Old House Journal” (http://www.oldhousejournal.com/) is a better choice.
Agreed! I like Old House Journal much better!! (your reasoning is a LOT of the reason I don’t miss Bob Vila), I happened to pick that up at the same time I picked up Fine Woodworking and Fine Homebuilding.
Out of that list I’ve found Family Handyman the best in terms of content. Fine Homebuilding is a close second but I consume them (as well as Chuck’s “There’s a better way” tips) in the online realm.