Step Away from the Glue Gun Until You Read This: The Do's and Don’ts of DIY

Step Away from the Glue Gun Until You Read This: The Do's and Don’ts of DIY

Dabney Frake
Feb 1, 2016

DIY projects are synonymous with frustration, and even seasoned makers get both physically and emotionally stymied by the things that go wrong. It's hard to remember this as a newbie, which is why it helps to start projects with a healthy set of expectations and understanding. In other words, the do's and don'ts of DIY.

DON’T confuse DIY myth with reality. Most weekend warriors watch television makeover shows, or read pretty blogs written by seasoned DIY bloggers, and everything looks so do-able and easy! It’s common to forget that watching is totally different from doing, and that the process will, inevitably, not be the same for you.

DO balance your eagerness with a healthy sense of your own capabilities. Start on smaller projects, and work your way up to larger endeavors. Retile a small backsplash before you tackle an entire bathroom, for example. Skills and confidence will build over time, and you’ll find yourself increasingly able to tackle future DIY work with aplomb.

DON’T underestimate the amount of time and money it takes to get a project done, especially with larger renovation-type jobs. Halfway through, either the budget gets blown on necessary tools and costly mistakes, or the scope of work becomes overwhelming. Things drag out and get behind schedule, or initial enthusiasm flags and efforts dwindle.

DO plan out the project in advance. Divide the larger job into smaller steps, map out a timelines, and create a list of everything you’ll need. Breaking it down shows what’s really involved, and gives you a clearer picture of all that the project entails. You’ll be able to anticipate problems, and have everything ready and at hand when you need it.

DON’T be too hard on yourself. Recognize that there’s a learning curve for every new skill and nobody is perfect. Kicking yourself for one crooked tile isn’t productive, and takes away from the larger accomplishment.

DO seek out help. Many people have attempted what you are stuck on right now. And they've created a wealth of digital resources available in the form of YouTube videos, tutorials, and forums. They are all your friends. Don’t hesitate to hop on the internet — Apartment Therapy or elsewhere — to look for general advice or help on a particular skill or project. Sometimes moral support helps too; invite a friend over to hand you tools, or talk you through a troubling issue. Take a breather, regroup, and try again to make it work.

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