Never make a home hiccup again by reading our
do-it-yourself guide to success
Scenario: You’re putting up new shelves, so you drill straight into a wall – and straight into an electric cable.
Tools needed: A drill and a stud-wall detector with pipe and cable checking application.
Do it right: Always assume there are gas, electricity or water utilities running where you want to drill. Make sure you miss any pipes and cables by using a stud-wall detector to do a thorough check of the area.
www.diydoctor.org.uk says: Drilling into concrete lintels is difficult and can lead to large holes that mess up the plasterwork. The trick is to start with a small drill bit and work up. If you’re fitting a 7mm wall plug, then drill a hole with a 3mm bit first and then enlarge it by drilling a second time with the correct size bit..
Scenario: You’re about to finish putting up a new wardrobe from a major retailer, but there’s a problem or two. There are bits missing and you seem to have skipped a step.
Tools needed: Normally supplied with furniture.
Do it right: Despite what you may think about dodgy instructions and missing bits, failing to put up flat-pack furniture correctly is normally your fault. Doing a good job means taking your time, working methodically and keeping track of all the screws and bolts.
Scenario: You’re really focused, putting all of your concentration into getting this right. But somehow you still manage to ruin your finish by painting a wiggly line.
Tools needed: Paint and a two-inch angled sash brush.
Do it right: Hold your brush with a pencil grip, dip the end third in the paint and get rid of the excess by tapping the brush on the pot. About two inches from where the surfaces join, make a broad stroke with the fat side of the brush. Next, with the narrow-angled edge of the brush pointing up, make up to a 12-inch stroke along the corner. Now gently brush out the stroke marks. Repeat this process until the area is covered.
The trick here is keeping a steady hand. This requires you to feel physically fresh and to breathe out while making the stroke: your body moves less as you exhale.
Scenario: You’ve finished wallpapering your room and then notice there are bubbles – everywhere.
Tools needed: A utility knife, a syringe filled with glue and a wallpaper roller.
Do it right: Fixing this is straightforward. Use the knife to make a small incision in the bubble. Fill the syringe with glue and inject it into the bubble. Gently go over the bubble with the roller; the wallpaper should stick flat.
Scenario: You make a measurement and cut the wood needed for your new shelf. Once you’ve finished, your timber is too short making it only good for the fire.
Tools needed: A quality saw and a tape measure.
Do it right: More than likely, you’ve not done too much wrong. It’s just that you should have checked your measurement before cutting. You should always measure twice and cut once. Not only will this statement help minimise your sawing mistakes it could easily become the watchword that safeguards your whole DIY project – from fitting Vertical blinds to laying floor tiles – and may even be turned into a motto for life!
www.diyfixit.co.uk says: If you’re taking several measurements for a project involving an awkward shape, such as shelves to fit an out-of-square alcove, make a cardboard template first. This way you can check everything fits before cutting any expensive materials.
Scenario: There are loads of different paint pots in your cellar, so you pick one and paint the skirting board. Only the finish is rubbish because you’ve used the wrong paint.
Tools: The right paint
Do it right: There are lots of different types of paint – and they are all best suited to specific surfaces. As a general rule of thumb, choose paint according to the following:
• Matt paint is the most common for interior walls, because there’s no glossy shine to the finish and it’s easy to apply with a brush or roller. Unfortunately, it marks easily and may come off when wiped clean.
• Matt-enamel paint is much like normal matt, only it’s harder wearing. It’s easy to clean, so choose it for high-traffic rooms and spaces that need regularly wiping.
• Satin paint sits between matt and gloss, so it has a soft sheen finish. Be careful not to use this type on a wall with many imperfections as it will make them stand out.
• Eggshell paint has a very subtle shine. It is great wall paint as it doesn’t highlight imperfections and can often be applied in one coat.
• Semi-gloss paint has a shiny look and a hard finish, making it easy to clean and the ideal coating for trim.
• Gloss paint is commonly used for trim. It has the most high sheen finish and will bring out any imperfections, so several coats of paint are often needed.
Scenario: The shelves you’ve put up looked dead straight, until you took a step back.
Tools: A spirit level.
Do it right: It’s not just shelves. Anything that needs to be fixed straight calls for the use of a spirit level. Use it to pinpoint where to drill and then use it to check your work throughout the job.
Scenario: You’ve used the right paint and taken your time, but the end result is deflating.
Tools: A duster, a sponge, a bucket of soapy water, a paint roller and a pot of primer.
Do it right: The problem here is the failure to prepare properly. Before you even pick up a paint brush, your walls should be dusted and then washed clean using a sponge and soapy water, before giving them a rinse. Now apply a primer basecoat with the roller. You’ll be amazed at the difference this makes.
www.diyonthecheap.com says: Properly educate yourself before taking on any type of project for the first time. There are many great tutorials available online – study them before trying a new tool or technique. This will save you time in the long run as it will help you do the job right at the initial attempt.
Scenario: You’re hammering a nail into a piece of wood and it bends – for the umpteenth time.
Tools: A hammer, a pair of pliers and a few nails.
Do it right: Use pliers to hold the nail in place, this way you can concentrate your efforts on hitting the nail rather than avoiding your finger and thumb. Now work slowly and gently, tapping the nail in with several knocks of the hammer instead of trying to smash it in one go.