12 Items You Should Repair Instead of Replace

Photo: Aaron Dyer

Wait! Before you deem something destined for the trash, consider extending its use in your home. Fix up any cracks, tears, and stains from accidental spills with our best tips.

01 of 14
Matthew Septimus

No matter how well we take care of our homes and belongings, they are subject to the wear and tear of everyday use, and accidents are bound to happen. That said, you don't have to run out and buy it brand new in the event that you find a ripped seam or a scuff mark. As general rule of thumb, ask yourself: Can the item first be repaired before replacing it? You might be surprised to learn what can be revived, if you have the time, tools, and patience make it happen.

There are benefits that come with this "fix-it first" mentality: Learning more about how things work, gaining a sense of accomplishment, bonding over the task with children and family members, and preserving unique family heirlooms and keepsakes. For one, there are just some things that can't be truly replaced. Secondly, repairing helps the environment. Why throw out something that can be fixed or refurbished? Upkeep on items ensures that they will last longer. Lastly, if the repair costs are less than 50 percent of the original purchase price, then you may want to consider handling the repair yourself, only hiring someone else if truly needed. You can also buy better quality things, since you'll have more confidence to know that you can repair them and get more value from them.

And as much as we have forgotten how to fix things, there is a resurgence DIY mentality afoot: People often go beyond a traditional repair job and turn it into an upcycling project. For example, chairs with ripped cushions could be reupholstered with new materials, or have adorable patches sewn onto them for a whole new look. Stuffed animals can get a second life with patches, buttons, and other decals. Your clothes can also get a makeover by tweaking some details or seams. This increases their fashion and functionality combined. So why not pull out that toolbox, and take on a mending project today?

02 of 14

Window Screens

Aaron Dyer

A perfect screen is made up of thousands of holes, but add one more and it's ruined. Luckily, you can easily fashion a patch for an unwanted perforation. Begin by trimming around the tear to create a small, clean-edged rectangular hole. Now cut a piece of screen about a half-inch larger on each side than the hole. Unravel a couple strands of screen away from the piece's four sides, and then fold the resulting "fingers" away from you. Cover the hole with the patch, carefully weaving the fingers, under and over, into the surrounding screen.

To help disguise the patchwork, try stitching the house number in colorful nylon twine (such as Everbilt's Mason Twine) directly into the mesh, using its existing grid and one of our templates as a guide.

03 of 14


painted pottery ceramics decor
Addie Juell

Ceramics like plates and mugs can be repaired if you act quickly. First, find out if the ceramic is porous or not. Porous ceramic should be moistened on the broken edges before applying the glue. This helps the glue to bond stronger to the ceramic. Then, very gently put the pieces together and allow to dry.

You'll only have a couple of minutes to set a broken piece once you apply the glue, so clean the vessel with denatured alcohol, have all your materials ready, and work quickly. Apply the epoxy using a paper clip or pin. Hold the broken piece in place with small pieces of modeling clay; let it cure at least an hour. Scrape off any excess epoxy carefully with a razor blade and it should flake right off (such as PC Products' PC-Clear Epoxy Adhesive Liquid). With regular repairs, you may not have to replace your ceramic dishes, but if the damage is severe and you'd rather replace it, you could recycle the ceramic in other crafts and art projects for the house.

04 of 14


brass lamp
Marcus Smith

Got a favorite lamp? You might be able to repair it instead of having to replace it. Using a wire stripper, you can prepare a new wire to go into the lamp when installing a new plug, socket, or wires within the lamp. Of course, you'll need to be very careful when dealing with the electrical repairs of a lamp, but this accent piece can easily get a second chance on your nightstand or in your living room.

In general, you can repair the body of a lamp the same way you would repair other items made of the materials the lamp is made of. Electrical parts that have become frayed or damaged should be replaced as needed.

05 of 14

Stuffed Animals and Toys

Johnny Miller

Little Bunny Foo-Foo doesn't have to mysteriously disappear. Sometimes all it takes is some time to re-stuff the toy, repair its seams, patch up any holes and give it a good washing. Your little one will appreciate the TLC you've given her plush friend, and it will bring a smile to her face when her toy returns home from the "hospital."

Whether or not the toy ultimately needs to be replaced really depends on the extent of the damage. Severe damage from a fire or from chemicals would not be safe to give back to your child. If that's the case, find a replacement stuffed animal in cases like that. Otherwise, it is generally possible to repair the stuffed animal.

06 of 14

Your Favorite Sweater


Remember that sweater you that you'd worn on your first date with your current spouse? Or, maybe it's your power sweater. Repair holes and unraveled seams to make the garment look like new again. And if you're so inclined, you can also give it a brand-new look for a twist on your old favorite.

Unless the garment is truly beyond repair, you only really need to replace it if you're cleaning out your closet and feel like the sweater no longer speaks to you.

07 of 14

Handbags and Purses

Johnny Miller

Worn or frayed straps can be replaced and reinforced with new hardware. Stains on leather can be treated and buffed out with white vinegar. And if the leather is untreated, a neutral shoe polish will work. Boost your tote's functionality by adding a grommet and a carabiner for keys, side pockets for stashing items on-the-go, or lining the interior for added practicality and style.

As with all cloth items, something that has become moldy, stained from pest infestations, or is damaged beyond repair should be disposed of. But don't let something with holes, rips, or damaged fabric become an excuse to discard it to the trash. Thankfully, most used textiles can be recycled or repurposed so consider taking it to your local center.

08 of 14

Jewelry and Watches

Watches design 1
Victor Prado

The workmanship of your grandfather's Swiss timepiece or your mother's diamond earrings is what makes these family pieces heirloom–worthy. And while some things are best left to a jeweller's detailed hand—luxe 18-karat gold and steel, state-of-the-art mechanics, and scratch-resistant crystal—there are some adjustments you can make at home with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

09 of 14


applique shoes
Marcus Smith

When your day is spent pounding the pavement, it's inevitable that your shoes begin to show signs of wear and tear. Whether it's a pair of casual kick-around sneakers or Italian leather loafers, you can fix worn soles or damaged heels. Even better, coat shoes to prevent premature wear and sealing galoshes, waders, or rubber boots.

10 of 14

Planting Pots


Your clay planting pots will inevitably experience a few cracks in their lifetime. So try this: Thread a piece of straight copper wire through the cracks and twist the ends of it together inside of the pot. You won't need glue or pliers for this repair. It will look like a small staple on the outside of the pot. Other cracks may need a resin epoxy.

Completely shattered clay pots could be pieced back together, so it would be up to you on whether you want to do that. Use an epoxy adhesive to rebuild the pot, filler bonding to strengthen the areas that were cracked, and finish it off with gentle sanding and color glazes.

11 of 14

Scuffed Furniture

wooden dresser with painted sides
Raymond Hom

Never let a few scuffs on your furniture scare you away. Scuffs and water rings on furniture can easily be remedied with the right tools and some patience. Put together a furniture first aid kit so that you have everything you need on hand. The repair techniques depend on the type of damage. For example, you can remove water rings by putting salt over the ring and using some heat to draw out the water. Lining your dresser drawers can cover minor damages to the interior, as well.

However, if the damage is truly bad—like from termites—you may want to consider replacing the entire piece of furniture.

12 of 14

Outdoor Furniture

canvas umbrella
Pernille Loof

Outdoor furniture is bound to get some rust on it after being battered on a regular basis from the weather. Start by getting rid of loose rust by using a wire brush or a surface abraser. A superstripper helps to remove rust from delicate metal. Finish cleaning the rust off the item. When it's ready, you can apply a rust-proof primer and some paint to restore its original look.

That said,if it's gotten so rusty and filled with holes that repairing it is out of the question, you can certainly replace it.

13 of 14

Rugs and Carpets

Christopher Baker

Your rugs and carpets are an investment, so you probably want to get the most out of them as you can. While it depends on the damage, you may be able to patch a rug with similar pieces of other rugs and dying the fabric to match the original pattern. Liquid restoration makes your rug look practically like new.

While restoration is the best idea, you may want to replace a rug that is so severely damaged it's no longer cost effective. Consult with an expert on what options are available to you. Even rugs that appear badly damaged to the untrained eye may be able to be restored.

14 of 14

5 Items You Should Repair Instead of Replace

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles