Top tips for DIY enthusiasts

DIY is booming and this is due to a number of factors: because of the downturn in the housing market a growing number of people are opting to stay put and do up their existing home, rather than sell in a difficult market. Some are making home improvements in a bid to boost the value of their property, and others are doing jobs themselves rather than paying someone else to do them in a bid to save money.

Whatever the reason, DIY is proving to be increasingly popular with research from Sainsbury’s estimating that 30million British adults have performed tasks such as painting, plumbing or tiling in the past year.

With that in mind we’ve put together our top tips to help your DIY efforts whether you’re planning a home makeover or just a quick spruce up.

Tip one: Be inspired

If you have a living area that looks dated but don’t know how to rejuvenate it then seek out inspiration. You don’t have to splash out on home and decorating magazines; just do a little web surfing or wander around a furniture or DIY store. You could even ask to take some paint samples home with you and try out a few splashes in your room to see what looks best.

Tip two: Shop around

Don’t pay over the odds for any items you may need to assist your DIY efforts. Our shopping channel compares garden and DIY items covering everything from painting, decorating and wallpaper supplies to power tools and building materials. Make sure you’re buying from the cheapest retailer and don’t go overboard by buying an ultra-expensive tool that you may only use once or twice. For example, a top-of-the-range cordless screwdriver can cost as much £205 but the cheapest through our shopping channel costs just over £34 and is probably perfectly effective for most jobs.

Tip three: Grab a discount

As well as shopping around, make the most of discount vouchers – there could be further savings to be made. For example, you could get 20% off home items at Debenhams; get 7.5% off at World of Baths for bathroom remodelling; and 20% off all Autograph home items at Marks & Spencer. Visit our vouchers section for more deals.

Tip four: Pick up a brush

It’s amazing what a lick of paint can do – it’s a way of totally transforming a room cheaply and quickly. However, avoid the ultra cheap budget paints though as they tend to be really thin and require numerous coats. That doesn’t mean your paint needs to cost you a fortune though – look out for discount or buy-one-get-one-free offers.

Tip five: Revamp rather than rip-out

Your kitchen cupboards may look way past their best, but as long as the units are still in good nick, you could totally overhaul the room simply by replacing doors and worktops. It’s much cheaper than fitting an entire new kitchen.

Tip six: Bring back the shine

Making old tiles shine can be a laborious task but satisfying once you get the job done. Some window cleaner spray or fabric softener rubbed on to a rag can do the trick – but if that doesn’t work try a high grit sand paper.

Tip seven: Make things bigger

Small rooms can be stylish as long as you use the space efficiently. For example leather storage trunks, which cost around £100, can double up as a side or coffee table. Well-placed mirrors can also add depth to a room.


Tip eight: Go eco-friendly with appliances

If you are replacing appliances in a home make sure you pick up an eco-friendly choice to do your bit for the environment and save cash on your utility bills. For example, the Hotpoint WML 520P washing machine, which has an Energy Efficiency ‘A’ rating, can be bought for as little as £245 through our shopping channel. The Indesit TFA 1 Fridge Freezer also has an Energy Efficiency ‘A’ ranking and can be bought for less than £150. Use our shopping channel to compare more prices on household appliances.

Tip nine: Plan ahead

Note the position of existing power points, windows and doors in areas such as the kitchen and bathroom because the cost of displacing them could be high. 

Tip 10: Set a day aside for undesirable jobs

Set one Sunday a month aside to complete all those niggling chores that drag the mood of your house down if they’re left undone. These can include weeding and planting in the garden; clearing leaves and debris away; and even checking the smoke alarms in your house.

Tip 11: Give your house a good spring clean

Certain jobs only need to be addressed once a year but if you leave them, it will just create more work and greater expense further down the line. Invest in a wire brush and scrub any moss from brick and stonework; clean the filter in the cooker hood; and check the seals around the sides of baths and showers for discolouration. You can buy silicon sealant from most DIY stores to prevent water causing damage.

Tip 12: Create your own allotment

Allotments have enjoyed a revival over the last few years but you don’t have to pay for council-owned land to enjoy home grown fruit and vegetables. A small balcony, patio or even a hanging basket can be used to grow fresh produce.

Tip 13: Insulate to accumulate

One of the most valuable DIY jobs you can do is to insulate your loft. Though installing it will set you back a few hundred pounds, the Energy Saving Trust estimates you can save £205 on your heating bills in just one year if you install the recommended 270mm of insulation. Eco-Wool insulation is ideal for topping up existing insulation and is available in 150mm and 200mm – it is made from 85% recycled plastic bottles. Fitting insulation doesn’t require any special skills either and should only take around a day to complete.

Tip 14: Be energy efficient on a budget

There are a number of ways to make your home more energy efficient without splashing too much cash. For example, for less than £20 at most leading DIY stores you could pick up: a letterbox cover to cut out draughts; a brush draught excluder strip for the base of a door; foam door and window draught seals; or radiator heat reflective foil to stop heat disappearing through walls. All of these items are easy to fit and will save you a bundle in the long run.

Tip 15: Don’t forget insurance

Just in case the worst happens, make sure you have home insurance in place. Before you start your project ensure the policy is up to date and covers any items you’ve recently added to your home. You’ll need a policy with extended accidental damage cover to cover paint spillages and other mishaps. Make sure you have liability cover too if you ask a friend to help in case they suffer an injury.  

Disclaimer: Please note that any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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