Embarking on a new DIY project is so exciting. You’ve decided to create a statement wall, revamp a tired-looking piece of furniture or overhaul an entire room, and now you’re raring to go.
But soon, you find yourself scratching your head, staring at the half-finished job and wondering what on earth went wrong.
From catastrophic colour schemes to overly ambitious ideas, it’s easy to run into trouble when you do it yourself – and half the time you wish you’d called in the pros after all.
Here are nine DIY mistakes everyone makes.
1. Measuring incorrectly
Everyone knows that meticulous measuring is essential to ensure a DIY project runs smoothly, but just because you’ve got a tape measure in your hand, doesn’t mean you’ll get it right every time.
From cutting strips of wallpaper or wood, to buying enough cans of paint, it’s best to overestimate, or you can be sure you’ll come up short at the crucial moment.
Similarly, you’ll know what we’re talking about if you’ve ever spent days – or weeks – carefully constructing a table or chest of drawers in the garage or garden, only to discover it’s too big to fit through the living room door…
2. Not prepping properly
Experienced decorators know that the preparation stage takes much longer than the actual decorating – this is particularly true when it comes to painting rooms.
You may be tempted to grab a roller and start slathering on paint like there’s no tomorrow, but if you don’t sand, sugar wash and outline your walls first, you’re in danger of ending up with a streaky, uneven mess.
3. Not using a spirit level
‘It looks straight to me’ – many an amateur has whispered these words as they’ve hammered the final nail into a shelf bracket, only to stand back and realise said shelf is wonkier than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
No matter how confident you are in your abilities, no DIY enthusiast should ever be without a spirit level.
4. Using too many colours
You’ve pored over the last dozen issues of Architectural Digest, created a stunning mood board and decided that yes, emerald green, fuchsia and midnight blue can coexist in harmony in your bedroom.
Cut to three weeks later, when you’re adding the soft furnishings to your boudoir and realising you’ve gone overboard with the colour scheme. Why oh why didn’t you just listen to your instincts and stick with the Scandi chic look you know and love?
5. Not testing colours
There’s a reason experts advise using tester pots of paint to see what different shades look like in situ, rather than trusting the colour on the side of the tin.
Who hasn’t experienced that sinking feeling when a paint billed as ‘mushroom grey’ turns muddy brown once it’s on the wall, or what you envisioned as a rich, warm mustard hue might appear McDonalds yellow once it dries. Yikes.
6. Buying the wrong paint
We’ve all been there: you lug a tin of paint back from the hardware shop, only to discover it’s bathroom paint when you’re working with wood, or gloss finish when you wanted matte.
Oh well, you say to yourself, how different can it be? Very – it turns out – when, a few hours later, you come face to face with a shiny sideboard that looks just plain wrong. So, it’s back to square one with the sandpaper and back to the hardware shop.
7. Not asking for help
So many DIY mistakes could be prevented if only we weren’t too proud to ask for help – and no, watching a YouTube video doesn’t count.
Some jobs don’t need a whole lot of expertise, they just require an extra pair of hands, which you’ll know about if you’ve ever found yourself balancing precariously on a stepladder with a wallpaper paste brush between your teeth, as you strain to position another strip of printed paper without falling off – and failing.
8. Buying cheap materials
Hmm, you think, while scrolling through the DIY section on Amazon, this drill is half the price of that one, but it’s probably just as good, isn’t it?
Three snapped drill bits later, and you realise that it pays to invest in good quality materials if you want your handiwork to match.
9. Not giving yourself enough time
Ask any long-suffering spouse of a DIY weekend warrior and they’ll tell you that even the most confident home improver never leaves enough time to complete their latest masterpiece.
That’s why you end up toiling into the small hours on a job you thought would be over by teatime, or abandoning that upcycling project and leaving it languishing in the spare room for months, if not years. You’ll finish it one day, you tell yourself, knowing deep down you never will …
– With PA
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