How to avoid the 5 most common DIY fails
Spring is the perfect time to spruce up a space that needs a bit of a refresh. Whether it’s a lick of paint, an experiment with a feature wall or adding a bookshelf, the long Easter holiday and two May bank holidays are great opportunities to roll up your sleeves and do those odd jobs you’ve had on hold over winter.
If you are picking up a drill or a paintbrush, read on for some tips on how to avoid the most common pitfalls. From 12 April you can also get bonus Nectar points on everything you need – so even if your do-it-yourself skills are as wonky as the shelf you put up last year, this should help soften the blow.
Pick up bonus points in-store and online on included DIY and home products with a range of Nectar Partners from 12 April, including Sainsbury’s, Dulux Decorator Centre, Argos and eBay*. Until then, collect your usual points for every pound you spend.
*eBay offer runs from 18 - 23 April 2019
1. Wallpaper coming away at the seams
For even the most eager DIY enthusiasts, wallpapering is a challenge, but one that is hugely rewarding when you get it right…
Unless that is, you find the seams coming away from the wall. If you do find that happening, what went wrong and how can you avoid it happening again?
- The wallpaper is only as good as the surface it needs to be applied on so ensure the walls are sandpapered, clean and dry before you start applying wallpaper
- Make sure the wallpaper paste isn’t too thick or too thinly mixed
- If you are decorating a plaster wall, use a good primer
- Don’t stretch the wallpaper or force dry it using a heater or dehumidifier
Whether you’re choosing to paper an entire room or just one wall, you can have a lot of fun with wallpaper and it will add a dramatic effect to a room.
2. Hanging curtains poorly
Correctly hung curtains can make a room look bigger and brighter, and just a few small preparations before you hang your curtains can make a huge difference to the overall look and feel of your room.
Curtain poles might not be the most exciting of home improvement buys but are key to ensuring your curtains set the room off well. Ensure the pole is long enough so your curtains don’t block the light when they are open.
To get the correct curtain length, measure the window from just below the ceiling and avoid the ‘bedsheet look’ - when curtains are hung so tight they look stretched when closed. By multiplying the width of your window by 2 or 2.5 you’ll ensure the curtains have some give and meet in the middle when drawn.
3. Messy paintwork
Dripping paint and rough finishes are often down to having the wrong equipment, so before you start, make sure you have the basics from this checklist:
- A small angled paint brush for those tight spaces such as around light switches
- A roller and paint roller tray
- A sponge, sugar soap or warm soapy water to clean walls beforehand
- Masking tape to put around light switches, plug sockets and skirting boards to avoid getting paint on them
- Primer or an undercoat to help paint durability and hold
Despite your best efforts, drips and spills are invariably part of the joys of painting a room. If you are able to catch the drip while it’s still wet, you can smooth it over by using the paintbrush, using strokes in the same direction. If the drips have already dried, scrape it off carefully with a razor blade or scraper before sanding the area down and repainting.
Top Tip: Cover door handles in plastic bags to avoid splatters.
4. Drilling without investigating
If you need to drill a hole in a wall, it’s worth finding out what you’re dealing with first. Plasterboard walls can take less weight than concrete, and with water pipes and electrical cables potentially running behind them, getting it wrong can mean an expensive repair job.
A simple tap of the wall should reveal the material, as plasterboard will sound hollow while brick or concrete won’t. You can then choose the right wall plug for the job, which you can then screw into for maximum load bearing.
When it comes to finding out what’s lurking behind, grab a digital wall scanner and run it along where you want to drill, marking the danger spots with a pencil (you can rub out any marks using sugar soap afterwards). As a guide, it’s worth knowing that electrical cables normally run vertically up from powerpoints and light fittings. If you don’t have a wall scanner, or aren’t sure, always use a professional.
Top Tip: Fold a a piece of paper into a V and then stick it onto the wall under where you want to drill (using painter’s tape). It’ll collect the dust, so you’re not faced with a huge clear-up job when you’re done.
5. Wonky shelves
You can spend ages trying to get a shelf straight, only to find it crooked. Even a few millimetres can be noticeable.
Consider the weight of the shelf and the type of wall you are fixing it to before choosing screws - the heavier the load the heavier/longer a screw you will need. One of the best ways of ensuring the shelf goes up straight is to rope in another pair of hands (and eyes).
Once you have them in place:
- Hold the shelving up to the wall with a spirit level on top
- Mark the position of brackets on the wall
- Drill two holes for the first bracket before fixing the screws
- Repeat with the other bracket
- Check the shelf is straight with the spirit level before tightening the second bracket screws