If you’re anything like us you’ll have gone into lockdown full of good intentions to tick off your to-do list of things to fix around the house.
Several weeks later and that list isn’t getting any shorter on its own.
DIY can be daunting if you’ve never done it before – but there are plenty of tasks that are easy for even a complete beginner to do.
Now certainly isn’t the time for novices to take on anything too challenging – neither you nor the NHS need to be dealing with any accidents.
So for those still getting to grips with the difference between a flathead and a Philips, the experts at bathroom retailer Victorian Plumbing have shared some tips on the 10 simplest jobs to complete during lockdown.
1. Fix a blocked drain
Standing in the shower, and find yourself having an unexpected bath? Looks like you’ve got a blocked drain.
Don’t worry though – a blocked drain is one of the simplest DIY jobs to tackle because you don’t actually need special chemicals or tools to solve the problem. You’ll probably find most of what you need in the kitchen!
Bicarbonate of soda and vinegar make for excellent drain cleaners. Simply pour bicarbonate down the blocked drain and flush through with the vinegar. If you make this into a regular task, you’ll have far healthier drains.
Pro tip – if there’s still problems, use an old-metal coat-hanger to fish out any hair blockages. Sounds gross – but it’ll solve 99% of bathroom blockages.
2. Reseal your bath
Replacing sealant is easy – though you’ll need a cartridge gun. Firstly, use a Stanley knife to remove the old sealant, slicing through the top and bottom edges at one end before gently pulling the sealant from the wall. It should come out easily, but make sure to scrape off any excess.
Fill your bath before resealing so the gaps between bath and tile are at their largest. Then with the cartridge gun, simply fill the gap in one smooth, consistent motion. After a day of leaving things to dry, you’ll be back to relaxing in no time.
Nothing will ruin your bathroom bliss more than seeing that unsightly sealant every time you’re soaking in the tub. Over time sealant rots away, which not only looks unsightly but can lead to leaks. Be proactive and sort the sealant before this happens.
Pro tip – practice using the cartridge gun following a line on a piece of paper before you take on the tub.
3. Sort that sink-trap
That J-shaped pipe under your sink? That’s the sink-trap, and left to its own devices it’ll eventually get clogged. Prevent that from happening with some proactive cleaning.
Unscrew the slip-joint nuts on each side of the J-pipe – you should be able to do this by hand, though with older, more stubborn plumbing you’ll likely need a wrench. Inside, you’ll find a spongy ring around the pipe – that’s the O-ring, and it’s important that you keep that safe. Tap the pipe onto a wall outside to remove any gunk and clean through with an old rag.
But tackling the sink-trap is a great way for beginners to get an understanding of how plumbing works. As you reassemble the piping (remember to re-attach it to the wall, make sure the O-ring is back in place, then fix to the tap) you’ll get a good sense of how kitchen pipes slot together – useful skills to build on in future.
Pro tip – while not crucial for this job, shutting water off before undertaking any plumbing task is always beneficial. You’re more likely to face problems with excess water already in the pipe, so make sure you have a bucket below just in case.
4. Repaint wooden furniture
It’s the perfect time to start experimenting. If you’ve got an old table you were planning to throw away, why not repaint it instead?
First, lay down a cloth to catch any excess paint – you’ll be surprised how many people forget to do this. Then sand down the table using a flexible foam sanding sponge or thick sanding paper – you can get these easily online.
And once you’ve sanded the piece down, seal the wood with a primer and leave to dry for an hour. Then paint in your colour of choice – go wild to really spruce the piece up, but remember you’ll need two coats. Repainting or even refinishing wooden furniture is a fantastic way to revitalise tired pieces and a great alternative to buying replacements – plus painting is one of the most soothing DIY activities there is.
Pro tip – between coats, put your paintbrush in a plastic bag and stash it in the fridge. It’ll stay moist for the next day.
5. Start sewing
Some of the most effective DIY jobs are the smallest, and the trusty needle and thread is a vital part of any renovator’s arsenal.
DIY doesn’t always have to mean going big, and sewing is a useful skill to learn. Plus, everyone has a sewing kit knocking about somewhere too. So dig yours out, and get yourself on YouTube to learn basic skills – start with button-fixing. But if you’re really struggling, try hemming first. Hemming is relatively easy and great for getting your clothes to fit perfectly.
Pro tip – use a garment you were planning to throw away to practice.
6. Make your own bookshelf
This might be the most ambitious project on the list. But it’s one you can have fun with, and makeshift bookshelves can get away with looking a bit rustic. You can make a pretty solid single bookshelf out of any old wood you have knocking around at home – you might even find something suitable on your daily walk.
First, you’ll want to strip and sand the shelves down until you’re happy with the finish, taking care to sand down any awkward edges. To ensure your shelves are made to last, it’s worth treating the wood with a nourishing oil (just rub it in with an old rag, like you are waxing your car) and leave to dry before hanging your new upcycled shelves.
7. Tackle leaky taps
If your tap has started leaking, there’s probably a problem with the rubber mixer. To check if yours is okay, you’re going to have to swap your tap with another and test a different washer. Look for a little screw – it’ll either be under the hot and cold taps or behind the tap – and use that to take your tap apart. The best bet is to look up YouTube videos of your tap model.
Then, fit that onto your leaky tap and see if the problem persists. You’ll need to order a new washer online but don’t worry – you can get these very cheaply. Getting to grips with taps is one of the easiest ways to broaden your plumbing horizons – you’ll be replacing showers in no time.
Pro tip – always remember to shut off the water before you start plumbing jobs.
8. Hang pictures
One of the easiest DIY skills to master. Hanging pictures is very straight-forward, and requires very few tools – so it’s a great one to get started with. All you’ll need is a hammer and a nail.
The trick is to know exactly where you’ll be putting the nail before you even pick up the hammer. Have a friend or family member hold the picture frame where you want it, and lightly mark the top centre edge. Use a ruler to work down from there.
Pro tip – catch falling dust by using a folded over sticky-note as little trough.
9. Tackle draughts
Okay, so repairing a draught properly might be a little bit ambitious for the novice DIY-er. So for a simpler solution, you can easily make your own draught excluder.
You’ll need a piece of fabric that’s longer than the width of your door – start by rolling it into a tube and blocking off one end. Then stuff it with any old clothing you can find – tights and socks work well. And if you don’t have socks to spare, use sand or lentils, which also make for great insulation.
Pro tip – look online for tips on how to turn your draught excluder into a cuddly stuffed dog. Put those sewing skills to use again.
10. Fix cracks
Cracks start small and get worse over time. Especially if they’re in moving parts of a wall – so around door frames and windows.
Left to their own devices, cracks can get bigger – especially if they’re in areas with ‘movement’ – so around doors and windows. It’s best to fill these cracks with something called caulk. You can order it online fairly cheaply. Once you’ve got the caulk, filling cracks couldn’t be easier. Just make sure to smooth off any excess.
Pro tip – if you’ve got a really big hole in the wall, don’t be afraid to pad it with newspaper before filling with caulk. The newspaper gives the filler something to grab onto.