The Three DIY Hacks That Will Change Your Life
House maintenance – a job they say is never done.
Having been a homeowner for around four years now I can attest to this. There is always something to fix, to improve or to create.
However, isn’t that one of the greatest joys of owning your own home – the ability to make it ‘your own?’
That said, we are not all born with the knowledge of how to do basic home decor and DIY. It is a skill we often learn on the job and improve as we go (hence the need to re-do the first room you decorated, once you’ve finished the last one)!
The most frustrating thing, once you notice a problem area or damage at home, is finding the right person to sort it or to have the confidence to tackle it yourself.
So pulling together my experience as a moderate DIY’er myself and cashing in on my work experience with my Dad, whom until retiring was a professional builder, I would like to share with you how to tackle two of the most common DIY headaches and one little bonus!
Filling a hole in the wall, smoothly
Real basic, but necessary.
From changing up your gallery wall to a dent made by furniture moving, marked walls happen. It is easy really easy to judge a marked wall and to misinterpret this as the need to totally redecorate.
First up it can be fixed. Secondly, if you really do want to redecorate you’ll have to tackle these marks first to ensure your new paint job is on point.
What you need:
Firstly, wash the walls. Lay down some dust sheets, grab a bucket, a sponge and some sugar soap. Lightly soak your sponge and run it over the wall or area you are looking to repair. This will remove any surface level marks and residue.
Then grab some fine-grit sandpaper and lightly brush this over the wall. Note you don’t need to fully sand it, just rub off any nibs and soften any edges made from paint chips. Look for a sandpaper graded between 150 and 240 (that’s fine to very fine in terms of roughness).
Next is where the PVA comes in. If you are filling a hole or just wanted to secure some flaky plaster, you’ll want to mix up a solution of 75% water with 25% PVA.
Paint on a couple of coats as it will dry quickly (another reason to make sure you thoroughly wash your brush in-between and afterwards!)
Then, check the area is dust free and sealed after it has dried. To do this, just run your fingers over it, if they come away dust free (channel your inner Kim & Aggie), then it is sealed and ready for paint!
To fill a hole or dent, you’ll then want to add your filler. You should be able to find a quality brand at your local DIY store. Whilst you’re there, pick up a finish filling knife to apply the filler.
A note here – be generous when you apply it! Speaking from experience, this stuff literally sinks in, and the last thing you want is to be left with a concave dent in your wall. It doesn’t matter how smooth you get it at this stage – once it’s dry you can pick up that sandpaper and get that slick finish you desire.
You’re then ready to paint.
Work-wise, this’ll take 30mins – an hour total. Note, this doesn’t include drying time.
Painting a straight line
It seems simple, but it can be a proper headache.
Whether it’s getting it straight where two walls join or, you’re switching it up and painting part of a wall to inject a flash of colour or an accent (something I’m a big advocate for!) getting it right is harder than it looks.
A straight line doesn’t get noticed. However, a less than straight line does and it will immediately take your fresh new look from classy to looking a little cheap.
What you need:
– Low tack masking tape (no, standard masking tape won’t do the job)
– A pencil
– A 30cm ruler and tape measure.
– A patient approach!
So when you’re embarking on a bit of much-needed updating here’s some advice from my friend Sharon, a homeowner with a keen sense of style who has done just this recently!
“I wanted to paint the bottom section of my stairs a darker colour and add a bit of interest through adding a thin gold border. So – just draw a line, add some tape and paint away, right?” Actually, it wasn’t that straightforward.
First hurdle, getting the nuances of the measurements right. “The hardest bit was working out that the width of the lower half of the wall is not the same on the landing as it is on the stairs.”
In fact, there was a whopping 20cm difference that Sharon had to tackle. “Lots and lots of faint pencil lines were drawn to work out the heights I was happy with.” Don’t be afraid to make use of a pencil – this can easily be rubbed off, or cleaned with a magic eraser or sugar soap. Get it right in pencil before getting out the paint brush.
So what happens when you’re trying to get a straight line that parallels the diagonal rise of the stairs?
For this Sharon had a super nifty trick; “ I found a picture frame which happened to be 60cm tall (you could use a piece of thick card or plywood cut to size), placed it on the skirting board and used the top of the frame as a ruler for my pencil line.”
Once all your straight lines have been marked accurately, it’s time to whip out the low tack masking tape. After you’ve taped your lines, leave it a few hours before you commence painting. Your eye will notice if it’s not quite right, and it’s better to notice that before the paint has left the tin!
Now for the showstopper – adding the gold border. “Creating the gold line above was actually less challenging but more tedious! Once the green paint for the lower section was dry, I placed a normal 30cm ruler along the top of the green paint and drew a faint pencil line across the top of the ruler, this marked the top line for the gold.”
Her top tip for making straight pencil lines – especially those at a specific gradient? “Make a pencil mark every 20cm or so and then draw a pencil line joining the dots. Very tedious or therapeutic however you want to view it!”
Here’s the finished result:
Wilko Statement Walls Dark Ivy Matt Emulsion Paint 1.25L | Wilko
Wilko Outdoor Masking Tape 48mm x 50m | Wilko
Dulux Polished Pebble Matt Emulsion Paint 5L | Wilko
Tamiya 81512 Acrylic Mini X-12 Gold Leaf | Amazon.co.uk: Toys & Games
Build your own planter
Self sufficiency at it’s best.
Growing your own wasn’t just limited to 2020! How blissful did it feel to walk out of your back door to harvest fresh leaves for your salad or potatoes for your roast? It’s time to build on what you’ve learnt and no doubt, to do that, you need a little more space.
A planter is a great way to do that. Yes, planters are widely available from most garden centres, however – they are not cheap and the bonus of making your own means that you can make it to specifically fit your space and requirements.
After building three last summer to grow our own salad and food for our two house rabbits, here’s how my other half and I did it…
What you’ll need:
– To assess the space you have and the size you need it to be
– Some 3 x 2” wood and a saw
– Screws and a screwdriver
– To finish it off you’ll need a semi-permeable liner or often a bin liner with a few small holes will do.
– And wood stain / paint to finish it to your taste. Cuprinol Garden Shades has a great selection.
The strongest method to use when building your own planter is similar to that which you would use when building a wall. Alternate the lengths so that they form a crosshatch pattern on the corners.
For the bottom, leave gaps so that the water has somewhere to go.
Use a staple gun to line it, in order to securely hold the soil, but again allowing the water to escape.
Finally, make sure you add feet. By having the planter off of the ground (a minimum of a couple of inches) it again helps with ventilation and to prevent frost damage in winter.
Add a lick of paint to protect the wood and bring it in line with the aesthetics of your outdoor space. Lastly, before you fill it with soil, drop some gravel in the bottom to aid drainage.
You’re good to go! The good life awaits…
Any other nifty DIY tips? Let us know!
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