The do's and don'ts of successful DIY projects

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Whether it’s fashion or home decor, DIY is a buzzword that seems to be trending everywhere. Inspiration is available at the click of a mouse along with instructions, pictorial guides, and even videos. However, very often the finished product of a DIY project looks nothing like what it is supposed to, proving that it isn’t as easy as it looks. When it comes to home décor, some projects you thought of as DIY projects are best left to the experts. For example, tiling a kitchen backsplash with porcelain tiles.

Before taking on a DIY project it is crucial to be able to differentiate between projects that can be done by yourself and projects that need expert help. Your answers to two key questions will solve this dilemma for you. Firstly, “Is this the best way to get it done?” If you feel you will be able to get the finished look you desire on your own, then DIY is the route to take. But if you feel unsure of the end product, it is better to call in a trained professional at the beginning of the project than calling them to undo your work and redo the project. The second question you must ask yourself is ‘’Is this the best use of my time?” There are always a million things left pending on a To Do list. If your time would be better spent tackling another point on your to do list than this project, it is better not to start it as a DIY project.

When you do take on a DIY project, here are six Dos and Don’ts to make it easier to achieve the finished product as shown in the instructions.

DO: Plan out the project in advance

Planning is the first step to every successful project, both big and small. Read through the complete set of instructions and understand the process before you begin. Next, whether you are making string art or reupholstering a sofa, put together everything the project needs, even if you will not be using them all at once. When buying materials, always buy a little extra than what is required. Along with materials, time is also an essential factor that needs to be planned. Starting a DIY project and having to leave it midway is no fun. Not only does this dampen your enthusiasm, it also breaks the flow of whatever you were doing, making the project take longer to finish.

DO: Balance your eagerness with a healthy sense of your own capabilities

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You are the best judge of your strengths and weaknesses. Each project, however big or small, requires a certain skill set. Some projects, like painting a wall, are easy, while others, like installing floor tiles, require precise measurements and an understanding of how to work with tiles and grout. Along with skills, also consider the amount of manual labour required for a project. Understand your own capabilities and choose DIY projects that match them. When it comes to DIY projects that help you acquire a new skill, try working on a sample or sample area first, before deciding on taking over the entire project yourself.

DON’T: Confuse DIY myth with reality

Just because the video of painting a wall took 15 minutes, it doesn’t mean you will have a painted room in less than an hour. DIY projects are often longer than the instructions make them sound and long periods of time will be spent waiting for things to set, dry etc. Be wary of tutorials that have titles beginning with ‘5 minutes to… .’, ‘15 quick and easy… ’, ‘5 easy steps to… ’ etc. When it comes to DIY house cleaning tips, try and read up a little about the materials used and how they react with each other, etc. before using it.

DON’T: Underestimate the amount of time and money it takes to get a project done

DIY is not synonymous with FREE. Every projects needs materials to begin with and even the materials that you find at home have a certain cost associated with them. Above these material costs is the cost of your time and effort going into the project. A DIY project may not come out perfectly in the first try, resulting in you having to redo it with a fresh set of materials. In some cases, when you take into account the cost of your time and effort, DIY may actually work out more expensive than hiring someone to work on your project.

DO: Seek out help

At the beginning of a DIY project you should be able to assess whether you can complete the project alone or if you need to ask someone to help you. Painting a room is a fun project, but doing it alone could take you quite a while. Other projects, like building a tree house, are simply impossible to do alone. In a project like this, you might also need technical guidance. At the planning stage of your DIY project, assess the amount and type of help you will need to complete the project. Above all, DIY projects are always more fun to do when you have company.

Like in this picture, Fototapete, paint and wall covering specialists from Samerberg, Germany, have made the wall paper application a fun activity.

DON’T: Be too hard on yourself

Lastly, don’t feel bad if a project doesn’t go your way. You may not know it but in most cases, even the person in the tutorial video didn’t get it right in one go. If you’re not satisfied at the end of a project, leave it aside for a while and take an impartial look at it after a day or two. Figure out where you went wrong and how to correct it. Understand that the core of DIY isn’t about boasting about the thing you made, but about learning how to make things. Most importantly, never stop a DIY project midway. If at some point you do realize that you will not be able to finish it in time, don’t hesitate before calling in a professional for help. A DIY project is never meant to be stressful but should be satisfying and fun-filled. 

Read more about DIY projects by clicking 6 Fun Christmas DIY Projects.

Which idea from here inspired you the most? Let us know in the comments!

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