Many DIY jobs are easy to complete yourself in your home, when you have the right equipment and materials. Trying to find the right tools and methods can be overwhelming or confusing, often resulting in errors. Major mistakes can cause injuries, property damage or cost a lot of time and money. Experts have identified the most common DIY mistakes you may be making, in the hope that these can be avoided in the future:
Not preparing surfaces
You should always remember to prepare surfaces before beginning work. Wooden surfaces should be sanded down appropriately, so that they are smooth and any paint or other materials applied will stick much better. Time should be taken to fill in gaps, cracks and dents with the appropriate sealant or filler prior to sanding. Neglecting sanding a surface can lead to uneven coats of paint, just as not buying the right sandpaper can result in marks and scratches.
It is essential to clean surfaces before many DIY jobs. For example, surfaces that have been sanded should be wiped down with a damp cloth to remove dust, and walls should be washed prior to painting. Additionally, make sure that your work surface is sufficiently protected to limit damage and lessen the cleaning time once you are finished.
Using the wrong tools
Homeowners who have attempted various DIY projects have often admitted to using the wrong tools, which not only makes a job much more difficult, but unsafe. Tools are designed for specific uses or materials, which means that incorrect usage can have poor results and add much more time onto completing a job. This can be particularly disastrous if what you are trying to do requires speciality tools, such as power saws. If being able to access the right tools is a problem for you, there are many places that will allow you to rent them for short periods if you do not want to invest a lot of money in buying them. Alternatively, you can also ask around family and friends to see if they have tools that you can borrow.
Around half of DIYers who admit to making a mistake claim that it also caused them a serious injury, started a fire or led to them falling off a roof or a ladder. It is crucially important that you are always wearing the correct safety equipment before beginning a task, such as a dust mask, goggles, hearing protection, long sleeved clothing or gloves. Long hair should be tied back, and try to ask for expert advice if you are unsure. For more dangerous and difficult jobs that involve electrical wiring or plumbing, it is always better to hire a qualified professional instead of attempting this yourself.
When sanding surfaces, this should be done outside or in a well ventilated area as a precaution. If you are sanding indoors, you should ensure that you are using an electric sander that has some type of dust collector or a hose that can be attached to your vacuum cleaner to prevent breathing in and cleaning up a lot of dust.
Not testing tools and materials
Before proceeding with painting anything, you should firstly buy small samples of the paint colours that you wish to use. Occasionally, paint can look different when on your wall compared to the colour on the tin, so this step can eliminate having to repaint large areas or wasting money on unwanted paint. Test several different shades of your chosen colour, as this will enable you to see the undertones of each to determine which is best. Try to also paint test patches on each wall in the room or onto a piece of paper so that you can see how the colour looks in different lights, especially if the sunlight in the room changes throughout the day and you have artificial lighting in the room.
Similarly, if you have invested in new tools, you should try to test these out on leftover scrap pieces of material. This will help you get used to new tools if you have not used them before, as well as preventing the materials you have purchased from being ruined.
Not buying enough material
When shopping for everything you will need, it is better to buy more than you think you will actually use. You can easily return any excess materials, and it will prevent you from running out. This is especially important for wallpaper, as you will likely need spare rolls to help with lining things up accurately if the pattern repeat (how far down the design goes until it repeats again) is long.
Sealing in pipes or wires
Even though you may want a clean finish and a way to hide anything unsightly, it is not a good idea to box in any wires or pipes. In the future, you will need to access these at some point for repairs or leaks, and if they are sealed away behind panelling you will have to tear all of this out. A good alternative is a removable panel or a disguised door, as things will still be hidden away but can be easily accessed.
Drilling in the wrong place
When drilling into a wall, it can be difficult to determine where any pipes, wiring and studs are behind the surface of the wall. This mistake can be avoided by purchasing a stud finder. Stud finders are easy to use and cost-effective devices that will test the material behind a surface to identify the placement of pipes and wiring before starting to drill.
When preparing to undertake a DIY project, your biggest concerns should be your own safety, and if you are sufficiently prepared with the right tools to prevent damage to yourself or your materials. If something feels more advanced than what you are capable of or involves live wires and essential pipes (e.g. water pipes), you should always hire a professional to carry out this task for you.