Diy tips

Spruce up your home with our top DIY tips

Time to make some home improvements? DIY is a great way to freshen up your living space without spending a fortune; but for many, it can be a daunting prospect. From planning the project to assessing what you can do yourself, versus when to call in the experts, here's how to get your DIY ideas off on the right foot.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Before you even pick up a drill, it's essential that you do your research. Take the time to watch video tutorials and don't be afraid to question the staff at your local DIY store. Then, work out what you need to do the job – eg the right tools and materials – how you'll do it and, crucially, what could go wrong and how you can resolve things if it does.

Don't overlook the importance of project management and budgeting, too – particularly for larger home renovation tasks. Keep some cash aside for unforeseen costs and allow for extra time in case your project takes longer than planned.

If you don't have the savings to fund your DIY plans, a personal loan from M&S BankFootnote 1* could help cover your home improvements costs; so you can pay the amount back over a period that suits you.

Safety first

Figures from the Eyecare Trust show that around 30,000 eye injuries every year are a result of DIY. So, shield your peepers and invest in eye protection before you start any home improvements. Make sure you read the instructions for the tools and materials you'll use before you get started – and follow them.

Operating a drill? Be sure to use the correct drill bit or you could cause damage – both to yourself and your home. If you're not certain which bit to use, a good rule of thumb from the charity Electrical Safety First is to begin drilling by applying light, steady pressure to push the bit into the material. If you have to use force, chances are you're probably using the wrong bit. Finally, always check for any pipes or wires first, before you start drilling into a wall.

Paint like a pro – DIY painting tips

If you've grown tired of a once-loved dark wall colour and are craving a lighter, brighter update, save yourself the hassle – and cost – of painting several coats to cover up the deeper shade. Instead, neutralise dark primary colours by applying one coat of any shade of yellow – even a faint one will do. Once that's dry, just paint on your new wall colour and voila – the original colour will be a distant memory.

Avoid those annoying paint splashes on the ceiling by 'cutting in' properly. Use a 10cm brush to give you the precision you need to paint the edges, before moving onto a roller for the rest of the wall. You can also line the edge where the wall meets the ceiling with masking tape, for extra protection from paint splatters. If you get the odd paint mark, just wipe it off while it's still wet and paint over it straight away. Keep some ceiling paint and a brush to hand so you can do this quickly as you go.

Top tip: Reduce the hassle of cleaning your brushes and rollers between coats by wrapping them tightly in cling film – this will keep them moist and ready for the next coat.

Upcycle and repurpose

You might not realise it, but chances are you already have some of the materials you need to get going with your DIY ideas. Not only will this save you money, but you can also give some much-loved or forgotten items a second chance to shine.

Tired dining chairs can be revamped with some new upholstery, a polish and a fresh coat of paint. Raid your garage, loft or shed for wooden boxes or crates that you can turn into occasional or coffee tables. And get creative with old glassware and jars for unique lighting.

If you can't find any items around your home to reuse or recycle, visit a local second-hand furniture shop. With a bit of imagination and work, you can turn someone else's cast-offs into fresh personal pieces for your own home. Try turning wooden panels from a wardrobe into shelving or a bath tray or repurpose a CD rack into a one-of-a-kind planter for your windowsill.

Know when to call in an expert

An important part of successful DIY is knowing your own limits. Over a third of homeowners have been disappointed with the results of a project and wish they’d called in a professional instead, according to a survey by Plentific. So, if you start to feel like you’re in over your head, seek help from a qualified DIY or home renovation expert.

Some projects – for example if you’re working with gas or electricals – are covered by regulations which prohibit DIYers from carrying out the work; even in their own home. Not only is it against the law to do these jobs without the right qualifications, but you can endanger yourself and your family by trying to tackle them yourself.

Instead, find a local tradesman in your area, based on a personal recommendation if you can, or head to a website where customers have rated experts. Another option is TrustMark, a Government-endorsed scheme that signposts people to reputable local traders in the repair, maintenance and improvement sectors. All firms' technical skills have been independently checked through on-site inspections to ensure a high quality of workmanship and trading practices.

Find out more about our home improvement loans and how they could support your DIY plans here.

Footnote 1*Credit subject to status. UK residents only. To apply for an M&S Loan, you must have an annual income of at least £10,000 and be aged 18 or over.

Published: 28 September 2018