Review: Black & Decker - The Complete Photo Guide to Home Improvement

Construction Worker
Construction Worker. Getty Images/TommL

The Bottom Line

Yes, a "heavy" purchase, in more ways than one. But this Complete Photo Guide to Home Improvement is as much of a long-term investment in your house as purchasing top-quality tools or high-grade building materials.

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  • When they say "complete," they really mean complete.
  • Heavy on graphics with a judicious amount of text.
  • High-quality, expensively photographed examples of remodeling projects.
  • Well organized. You could almost read it front-to-back, if you wanted.
  • Covers some topics in more depth than you might expect from a "complete" guide.


  • If you already own Black & Decker guides, there will be overlap.
  • If you're looking for ultra heavy-duty projects (e.g., foundation), you won't find it here.
  • Only Black & Decker tools are featured--though this should be obvious.


  • A giant book - heavy, 560 pages.
  • Unbeatable photos of home remodeling projects, from electrical to plumbing to laying glass blocks, and everything else.
  • Possibly replaces purchase of individual Black & Decker home improvement guides.
  • Pricey, but a worthwhile investment.
  • Though a Black & Decker guide, it's not biased towards that company other than by using their tools in the photos.
  • Excellent summaries of building, plumbing, and electrical codes.

Guide Review - Black & Decker - The Complete Photo Guide to Home Improvement

Holy mackerel.

When I received the review copy of Black & Decker's The Complete Photo Guide to Home Improvement at the post office, it reminded me of the time that a manufacturer sent me a box of finishing plaster to review. I mean, wet finishing plaster. This book is heavy, and for good reason:

With 2,000 photos, 560 pages, thick glossy pages, and heavy binding, the Photo Guide feels a lot a college economics textbook in your hand. Except a lot more interesting.

The Complete Photo Guide to Home Improvement pulls together a number of other Black & Decker "Complete" guides into a cohesive, cost-effective package. So, if you already own a stack of these guides, which are put out by Creative Publishing, you may want to first look over the Photo Guide in a bookstore before purchasing: you may find overlap.

One problem with most remodeling websites and print guides is that their photos are drawn from real-life remodeling projects. You might think: Well, what could be better than photos of real projects? Answer: lavishly produced photos taken on studio sets, not the job site.

Most images of remodeling projects have so much visual noise, it's hard to see what's going on. For instance, most job-site photographers cannot get electrical work right. By contrast, carefully orchestrated studio shots are designed to cut out visual noise you don't need, and help you pinpoint the important stuff.

Yes, a pricey purchase but no worse than a night out at the movies. And unlike the temporary pleasure of a movie, the Photo Guide will benefit you for a long time--as long as you own your house.