There is a community on TikTok and other popular social media platforms showing average homeowners how to do everything from fix a leaky faucet to paint a two-story foyer.

Juan Torres of Schenectady — better known as the DIY Home Improvement Guy on his social media channels —  is one such content creator. Through TikTok, YouTube, Clapper and other platforms, Torres offers home renovation tutorials, racks up tens of thousands of views and sparks confidence in do-it-yourselfers.

In his long- and short-form videos, Torres, 42, touches on everything from exterior painting (his bread and butter in the region after starting 518 Painters years back) and refinishing hardwood floors, to cleaning wooden desks and removing mildew from shower walls. He highlights before, during and after photos of projects, shares product information, offers viewers a chance to peer behind-the-scenes of his projects and wades through DIY challenges. While he does receive sponsorship offers, he wouldn’t say he’s an influencer.

“I consider myself more of a problem solver, someone you can reach out to if you’re uncertain of what product or process would work best for you,”  he said. 

In just a few years, his audience has ballooned to 58,000 followers on TikTok and 16,000 on YouTube. His step-by-step guides to painting kitchen cabinets are his most popular posts, racking up hundreds of thousands of views. The number of followers doesn’t excite him as much as the relationship building. The content has allowed him to create a community that’s anchored in the Capital Region but extends worldwide, which is rather fitting.

Torres was born in Frankfurt, Germany, the son of a military service member stationed overseas.  He was raised by his mother and attended trade school, where he studied plumbing and commercial painting. Plumbing was something that just didn’t stick, Torres said, but painting offered him the He took a job with a professional interior painting subcontractor, but business would ebb and flow. As an employee, he felt he had no control over sales, marketing, research or customer solicitation. He had a family, including three children. To strike out on his own, he took a different approach to launching a business: Torres produced painting tutorials on YouTube, linked them to his website and relentlessly researched how to improve traffic to his channel to garner customers.

“By making content videos and putting them on my website, I was getting traction, which then Google was showing to people locally, saying ‘hey thing guy is getting a lot of eyes on him, maybe this is what you’re looking for’,” Torres said.

The calls started coming and that’s when Torres opened 518 Painters. Now, the solo entrepreneur serves residential homeowners throughout the Capital Region. On a typical day, he will show up at a client’s house early in the morning, set up his staging area, cover surfaces, mask each space to achieve crisp, clean lines and systematically work his way from one room to another. The average job takes five to seven days. When Torres needs a hand, he calls on a few subcontractor friends or family members. 

“I love painting because when I’m by myself, I’ve got my headphones and I can concentrate,” he said. “I’m very particular with things. I’m very organized and have my routine.”


YouTube: @DIYhomeimprovementguy



Painting is transformative. It can also be tedious and time consuming. It’s in those subdued stretches that Torres can paint on autopilot and ponder his audience.

“While I’m working, I’m thinking about what content I can write,” he said. 

Like 518 Painters, creating content is a solo effort for Torres, although sometimes he collaborates on videos with his 7-year-old son and sidekick, Edin. If something strikes him while on a job site — like how to properly remove wallpaper or prime kitchen cabinets — he will pull out his camera and make a quick short-form video for TikTok. He will then post that video to YouTube and it to his website.

Torres is as comfortable behind a keyboard as he is in front of a camera. In addition to his social media content, Torres also pens a blog on his company’s site, offering more in-depth, easy-to-follow guides than what a minute-long video may offer.

As the global pandemic forced people to stay home, many content creators who focus on home improvement, including Torres, saw their audience increase. 

“My following almost doubled during the pandemic, so did my inquiries for the painting business.” 

Torres spent a significant amount of time learning how to manage, monetize and promote his online brand. He learned all about search engine optimization, deciphering analytics and more mainly through other content creators and the “University of YouTube,” he laughed. 

“It’s very confusing if you’re coming into it new. But once you know you get it, you’re like ‘oh wow, this makes sense,’ and it becomes like a puzzle that you piece together.”

It paid off, but the ballooning number of followers didn’t excite Torres as much as the abundance of comments and questions he received. 

“I take time to answer all of the questions and build a relationship with my community.” Torres recently partnered with his wife to launch a second business, Party Rentals of Albany, a full-service company. 

This latest venture has provided Torres with even more fodder for his social media outlets. Torres is offering followers advice on how to launch a successful business. One of his main tips: Keep investing in what’s important. For Torres, that’s family. He travels to Germany several times a year to care for his mother. He tried to convince her to move to the U.S., but at 60 she’s rooted and content overseas.  

Everything I do is to financially support my family,” he said. “Plus, I want to give them options.”

His son Edin is super engaged with content creation. He organizes deliveries, sets the scene, serves as videographer and offers his talents in front of the camera too with the confidence of a seasoned talk show host. Torres sees it as a possible career path for his youngest. 

In the meantime, Torres continues to build a foundation and is focused on expanding the painting and party rental businesses. He hopes to pass the paint roller on to employees so he can focus on managing the endeavors and growing his online presence. That is what drives him. 

“I don’t see myself stopping,” he said. “I just see myself going. My ultimate goal is to just keep creating content while overseeing the other businesses.”