Top tips:

7 worst DIY mistakes

Considering having a go? Keep yourself out of trouble by finding out what not to do…

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1 Stay away from sparks

Thinking about fiddling with the electrics in your house? Change a lightbulb, fine, maybe even a socket front, assuming you’ve switched off the power at the circuit board first. But never, ever feel the urge to tinker with electrics unless you know what you’re doing – many jobs have to be done and checked by a qualified professional by law anyway – and others might just give you a nasty shock.

2 Use the right filler

Large crack in the wall outside? Only got an interior filler to hand? ‘Don’t be tempted to use it – it will just disintegrate over time, leaving you to do the job again,’ advises professional decorator Fran Wilson. Equally, if there’s a crack indoors that keeps opening up, using a flexible filler that moves with the house will make it less likely to need constant refilling. And don’t think you can get away with just filling and repainting – most cracks should be over-filled then sanded back flush for a neat finish.

3 Find a suitable finish

Don’t be tempted to choose paint based on its colour alone – paints need to be used in the appropriate environment to stand the test of time. So, if you’re painting a bathroom, use a bathroom and kitchen paint; if you’re painting over a damp stain, use a damp seal paint first, then apply your colour, and if you’re painting woodwork – perhaps panelling in a bathroom – make sure you prime it first then use a water-resistant finish. Ignore this, and you’ll be doing the job all
over again in a month or so…

4 Get a level

Putting up a shelf? Hanging a large mirror? Maybe even having a go at tiling your bathroom? Don’t start without a spirit level to ensure your shelf/mirror/tiles are smart and straight rather than wonky for ever after.

5 Measure twice, cut once

Whether you’ve bought yourself some smart new wall or floor tiles or are building a garden pergola, always check your measurements carefully before you cut your materials – once cut, they can’t be, er… uncut.

6 Climb carefully

Around 10,000 people a year end up injured after falling from ladders, so if you’re going to climb one, get someone to support it from below – and don’t go up there at all if it’s even vaguely wobbly.

7 Step away from the sledgehammer

You might be fooled by DIY shows on TV into thinking that it’s okay to take a sledgehammer to the walls in your home to knock rooms through. It isn’t – and even if you’re pretty sure they’re not supporting walls, you still need to create a
sturdy supporting frame that your local council’s building control officer would be more than keen to check out.

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