10 top tips for DIY success - from choosing tools to tackling big projects

The trick with DIY is to start small and make sure you have the right tools.The trick with DIY is to start small and make sure you have the right tools.
The trick with DIY is to start small and make sure you have the right tools.

Home improvements are high on the nation’s agenda for the year ahead.

In fact, a survey by trade and DIY supplier, SGS Engineering revealed that four fifths (79%) of homeowners have at least one property improvement project on their ‘to do’ list for 2021.

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Inspired by social media, TV, and simply spending more time around our homes, people are getting set to paint, wallpaper, tile, hang pictures and much more. But while enthusiasm may be running high, if you’ve never tackled a DIY project before where do you start?

“It’s incredibly satisfying to fix something up or make something from scratch, but doing it well isn’t easy,” explains Dave Gordon, general manager at SGS Engineering.

“The trick with DIY is to start small, make sure you have the right tools – and know how to use them, and ask for help if you need it. Practice makes perfect too, so keep trying things and you’ll see that your confidence and skills do improve.”

Ten Steps to DIY Success 

1. Keep a list of all the DIY projects you want to do. Try to order these by complexity if you can.

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2. Get yourself some DIY books - such as the Collins Complete DIY Manual - and bookmark pages or sections that correspond with your projects.

3. Start small - change a light bulb, tighten door hinges, put together some basic flat pack furniture etc. Don’t be tempted to go too ambitious at first!

4. Look at YouTube for DIY guides - people with at least 50,000 subscribers tend to have the most useful content. A few good YouTubers to check out include, The Carpenter’s DaughterThe Restoration Couple, and Homedit.

5. Get comfortable with key tools – screws, hammers, spirit levels etc. Practice hammering in nails, drilling in screws etc. using a piece of scrap wood. It’ll help you feel less nervous when it comes to doing it for real on your wall.

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6. As you move down your DIY to-do list, choose projects that are a bit more of a challenge but are still relatively low risk. For example, hanging a picture or painting a wall - if they don’t work out as you’d hoped, it’s fairly quick and easy to fix.

7. For any more complex projects, make sure you do a project plan before you start. List each part of the job, what you need to practice, what you need to buy etc.

8. If you know someone who is good at DIY, ask them to supervise you (even if it is via a video call) as you tackle a new skill or an unfamiliar job. It’s reassuring to have someone experienced offering a bit of advice when you need it most.

9. For bigger jobs, have a backup plan and know your limits. Contact a recommended plumber, electrician, or a builder before you start. If you don’t know anyone, sites like Chekatrade can be useful at finding people with good reviews. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting professional help when you need it, and it’s better to call in the experts before you knock down a wall or create a lot of mess that could be costly to fix.

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10. As with anything, to get better at being handy, you’ll need to keep practising! Keep updating your to-do list, ticking off jobs and adding useful notes or tips for the future.

“Being ‘handy’ can feel like something that other people are just naturally good at, but the truth is that even the most avid DIYers had to start somewhere, and they’ve built up their skills over time," added Dave Gordon. “Remember to plan ahead and be patient. Good luck!”

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