Essential DIY Tips to Follow on Your Next Project

Deb Foglia
Written by Deb Foglia
Updated August 19, 2016
If you're doing a DIY project, make sure you follow these essential tips before getting started. (Photo by Steve Mitchell)

I think there's no secret that DIYing is my obsession.

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It has become a way of life for my home, and my hubby and I try to find ways to DIY just about everything. Of course, there are some things we won't touch, but when we know we can handle it we try to find a way to make it work.

DIY is always about saving money, and honestly I find it to be tons of fun. Alright, maybe the hubby isn't on the same page as me with the "fun" aspect of it all, but there for sure is definitely a satisfying feeling to knowing that you created something, it saved you money and got your butt off the couch.

So the question is what should you know before starting a DIY project?

Do you have the right tools?

Tools can be expensive, and of course it sometimes takes time to gain quite the collection (we're still working on ours). Honestly, I think if I knew we would be such DIYers one day, I probably would have included some tools on my bridal registry. Hint, hint, engaged couples!

Do you have the right space?

Space is also very important when DIYing. We have a two-car garage, which is where most of our projects are completed, but there are the occasional projects that we do in the house or the backyard. Make sure to pick the right space when creating each project, especially when it involves paint or stains. I've made that mistake too many times (since I'm also an impulsive DIYer) and spray-painted something inside. Next thing you know, the entire house smells - or even worse- your ice cubes. (Sometimes the vapors from paints and stains, if used in the house, can be picked up in your ice machine. Then it takes forever to get that nasty taste out. I promise it will eventually go away but it happens.) 

Is it cheaper to DIY?

Now I am sure we have all made the mistake once or twice of creating something because it seems fun to recreate, but then it ends up being just as expensive as the product you could have bought. Don't over spend on products and think smarter; if it's cheaper to buy an item, just buy it. But if your products and time spent are a fraction of the price, then go for it.

Would it be better to hire a professional?

Hiring a professional is sometimes a hard pill to swallow, especially with some of our macho husbands that swear they’ve “got this." Do not invest time in something that you know is outside your skill level or is safest if handled by a professional.

Be sure to do your research first and look up all the blog posts and videos you can. But if it really comes down to it, get the right professional or assistance when in need. We have had a few projects in our home that we have skipped on for the moment because we truly need a professional, and sometimes it can be costly…so wait until the time is right.

Don't forget about the cleanup

Cleaning up after a project sometimes takes team effort. Cleanup involves sweeping the dust, re-organizing all the wood in the garage, finding a special storage spot for all of the extra paint cans and then putting away all the tools and loose screws.

When creating a timeline to work on the project, don't forget to include the cleanup. We are guilty for doing late night projects since we have young kids, so we'll finish a project just in time for our own bedtime, and then we're two grumpy people, exhausted and washing paintbrushes and moving furniture back into place past midnight. It's always "You do this, and I'll do that" and "You're so much better at rinsing paint brushes than I am, honey."

Find the time for DIY

If you are a young couple and just married or do not have children, this is a great time to strengthen your relationship and find a hobby to do together while creating a beautiful home.

However, for those that have children or demanding jobs that take up weeknights or weekends, it may take a little bit more effort to squeeze these projects in. For us, since I work weekends and (as I mentioned) we have two young children, we choose weeknights to work on our projects. Sometimes they will take multiple days, so I'll do what I can during the day. Sometimes the hubby will work on a few projects during the weekend, and what we can handle together we will save for our weeknights.

Have a backup plan

Lastly, always have a plan B! Unless you are some magical carpenter who has been building tables since you were 12, you're going to make mistakes. Do your research, plan it out, take photos, draw sketches, and double check your measurements. But remember, things go wrong. We are the king and queen of messing up our projects. We are just a couple with little patience and impulsive judgment, so we always have a plan B. Sometimes it takes a few days for them to come to me, like the hole we created in our wall and we covered it up with our built-in-picture frame. Either way, don't give up – sometimes our mistakes have turned into our best projects. Don't be too hard on yourself, and don't expect perfection.

DIY is fun, exciting and it will almost certainly save you tons of money. Be prepared and do all the research you can. Trust your instincts and know your boundaries and you'll do great! Happy DIYing!

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