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Art & Home

Understanding the difference between Do-It-Yourself and Don't-Even-Think-About-It-Yourself

Posted by Paul Stainton on

Do It Yourself (or DIY) projects can be great fun and a real money-saver. But choosing wisely and planning carefully are the keys to avoiding a DIY disaster.

According to a recent article by the Associated Press, interior designers and contractors often get calls to fix home improvement projects gone wrong.

"A lot of people say, 'I've tried something myself and it didn't work.' So I'm coming in and fixing someone else's mistakes," Interior designer Mallory Mathison is quoted in the article. "It definitely can cost more to try and do it yourself and then have someone come in and do damage control."

Step one is research: surfing online for free, step-by-step videos for a particular project, attending how-to seminars provided by local home improvement stores, even the occasional how-to book might be worth the investment.

Step two is determining if you have the time, skills, tools and patience to handle the do-it-yourself project, or if you're better off finding a skilled expert.

Some basic guidelines, on a scale of Do to Don't...

PAINTING - is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to improve a home yourself, and something practically any do-it-yourselfer can tackle. Don't try to rush the job… tape off or edge corners, wash surfaces before painting and using a primer when recommended are all steps to creating a professional-looking paint job.

WALLPAPER AND UPHOLSTERY - is a lot easier to do than many people think, but it's finicky work and requires extra patience and more strength than some people would imagine.

Some wallpapers are precut and pre-pasted, and can turn out beautifully if you're doing a small space. But take your time and work carefully.

Similar rules apply to upholstery: Covering a chair cushion with new fabric and attaching it with a staple gun is relatively easy. But real reupholstering takes knowledge and expertise.

LIGHTING - Although replacing an existing light fixture is relatively easily, if your project involves adding or moving electrical outlets, don't even think about a DIY.

FLOORING - Although some economic flooring choices, such as vinyl tyles or "click-it" type laminate flooring, are fairly easy to install, hardwood or tile floors are probably best left to the pros. Stripping old tile is more complicated than it sounds. Plus, specialized cutting and application tools are often required to do the job properly. Finally, a poorly installed hardwood or tile surface can be both detrimental to your home's appeal and a costly project to fix.