By Lance McCarthy
Home Depot’s commercial always says, “Let’s do this!” over some really awesome music, and let’s face it.
Those ads aren’t for me, they are for you. The goal is to get homeowners to come to their store and buy stuff. Buy stuff, then do stuff.
So what’s my problem? They don’t ever show you the DIY projects gone wrong. The grout popping up on the bathroom floor a month later. The concrete countertop that looks like a sidewalk. The…you know what I mean.
Here are my top 5 DIY projects, followed by my bottom 5 DIY projects (meaning don’t mess with these):
Paint walls. This can be done wrong, but as long as you don’t cheap out on the roller pads and watch a youtube video of a guy in white pants, you’ll be fine. Just cut in the edges before you roll the main parts. The smaller or more cut up a room is (bathrooms or kitchens), the more you will hate it, but bedrooms and living rooms will be fine.
Paint trim or cabinets. These should be painted with an enamel, which is finicky and shows imperfections easily. If you are going for the Phillips 66 bathroom look, go for it. If you want that Houzz look, you are going to need equipment that you just don’t have.
Install tile on a floor. This is still not for a beginner, but as long as you make sure that the stuff under the tile is really sturdy (any bounce or movement can cause cracking in the grout), a floor is pretty forgiving.
Install tile in a shower. Water penetrates a grout joint in less than 2 minutes. That means that the tile doesn’t matter as much as what is underneath. This waterproofing is best done by a professional.
Replace a faucet. What could go wrong? Ok, it could leak, or really just take you all day and 5 trips to Nuts and Bolts, but other than that, pretty low risk. Just plan on replacing the shutoff valves, and buy a closet wrench on your first purchasing run. You’ll thank me.
Install a water heater. First of all, its probably down in the basement. Second of all, if it is older than 10 years (which you know it is), it will be half full of sediment and weigh twice as much as the new one. Plus, if these are hooked up wrong it means poisonous gas in the house, or the equivalent of a water bomb (check this out!). Just bite the bullet on this one.
Install laminate flooring. Pergo or something like it is pretty forgiving. If you install it wrong, you can take it out and do it again. Keep the floor clean underneath it, and go for it!
Install carpet. I know what you’re thinking, carpet? That looks so easy! If it is the squares, sure. No problem. But the stretch kind? Don’t waste your time. If you try it, you will end up with beat up base boards, raw knees, a nice carpet knife cut halfway through your thumb, and will only be a couple hundred dollars richer.
Anything with a screwdriver or less. There’s a lot here: towel bars, refrigerators, microwaves, light fixtures, door knobs, tv mounts, shelving, and just about anything from IKEA.
Hang and finish drywall. This is the tricky one. It seems so easy. The drywall is cheap, the mud looks like play do. How hard could it be? If you like white dust on your eyelashes, and in your lungs, and if you like spending three weekends in a row using the “wash on–wash off” gesture on a wall, then you will love this. Otherwise, you could have it done in a few days for about $1.50 per square foot. Why would you do this yourself again?
There you go. Now if you are that superhandy Rennaissance person that sculpts marble in the garage, tunes your own mandolin and speaks 5 languages while cooking duck liver pate, then just ignore everything I’m telling you not to do. But if you are a normal person, who is impressed when you flip a pancake cleanly, has to think about whether “i” comes before “e” in the word “recieve” or has been known to start a project without finishing it, then trust me. Stick with the screwdriver.
Now it’s your turn. I want to see some pictures of DIY projects. Good or bad. Show me what you have done! I can’t wait to see!