Trying your hand at DIY in an attempt to improve and update your home? Whilst some of us might be confident in tackling a DIY job around the home, many of us are novices. So where exactly is the best place to start? The experts at Victorian Plumbing have put together a handy guide on the 10 simplest DIY tasks you can take on right now.
1. Tackle Draughts
You can easily make your own draught excluder. All you’ll need is a piece of fabric that’s longer than the width of your door. Simply roll it into a tube and block off one end – you can fill it with old socks and tights, and even sand and lentils. These all make great insulators.
2. Repaint Wooden Furniture
Have you got an old table or chair you were planning to throw away? Why not repaint it instead? Start by laying down a cloth to catch any excess paint – you’ll be surprised how many people forget to do this– and then sand down the table using a flexible foam sanding sponge or thick sanding paper.
Once you’ve sanded it down, seal the wood with a primer and leave to dry for an hour. Then paint in your colour of choice – remember you’ll need two coats. Repainting wooden furniture is a fantastic way to revitalise and upcycle tired pieces and a great alternative to buying replacements, plus painting is one of the most soothing DIY activities you can take on.
Tip: Between coats, put your paintbrush in a plastic bag and stash it in the fridge. It’ll stay moist for the next day.
3. Tackle Leaky Taps
A leaky tap is probably related to your faulty rubber maker. Testing the problem might seem a little awkward for a novice, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. To test if yours is at fault, you’ll need to attach a different tap and see if the problem persists. Look on Youtube to see how to remove your model of tap – usually, the screw you’ll need is under the hot and cold caps or behind the sink.
You’ll need to order a new washer online if the problem persists, but these are cheap – you’ll get a lot of them for your money too. Plus, getting to grips with taps is one of the easiest ways to broaden your plumbing horizons.
Tip: Always remember to turn off the water before you start plumbing jobs.
4. Reseal Your Bath
Over time sealant rots away, which can cause leaks. Thankfully, replacing sealant is easy – but you’ll need to get yourself a cartridge gun. 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 fully before resealing so the gaps between the bath and tile are at their largest. This will make setting the sealant easier. 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.
Tip: Practise using the cartridge gun following a line on a piece of paper before you take on the tub.
5. Sort that Sink-Trap
You know that J-shaped pipe under the sink? That’s the sink trap, and years of bits of food being washed down it has probably left it worse for wear.
Start by unscrewing the slip-joint nuts on each side of the J-pipe – you should be able to do this by hand, though for older, more stubborn plumbing you’ll likely need a wrench. Make sure you keep the O-ring safe – that’s the spongy ring you’ll find around the pipe, and it’s important. Take the pipe outside and tap it against the wall to remove gunk.
The sink-trap is a great way for beginners to get an understanding of how plumbing works. As you reassemble the piping (re-attach it to the wall, make sure the O-ring is in place, fix to the tap) you’ll get a good sense of how kitchen pipes slot together – useful skills to build on in the future!
Tip: Put a bucket under the pipe in case of excess water – this can be a messy job.
6. 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 toolbox. It’s likely you’ll have a sewing kit knocking about somewhere too, or you can buy one at an affordable price.
Get yourself onto Youtube to learn basic skills such as button-fixing. If you’re really struggling, try hemming first. Hemming is relatively easy and great for getting your clothes to fit just right.
Tip: Use a garment you were planning to throw away to practice on.
7. Fix a Blocked Drain
If your showers are starting to turn into baths, you’ve probably got a drain blockage. Luckily, a blocked drain is one of the simplest jobs to tackle because you don’t actually need tools or special chemicals to fix the problem – you’ll only need bicarbonate soda and vinegar. Check your kitchen cupboard, then simply pour bicarbonate down the blocked drain and flush through with the vinegar. You’ll be having normal showers in no time.
Tip: If the problem persists, use an old metal coat hanger to fish out any hair blockages. It sounds gross, but it’ll solve 99 per cent of bathroom blockages.
8. Hang Pictures
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. Ask one of your family members to hold the frame where you want it, and lightly mark the top centre edge. Then work down with a ruler.
Tip: Catch falling dust by using a folded over sticky-note as a little trough.
9. Fix Cracks
Cracks start small and get worse over time. 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 which you can get online pretty cheap. Filling in the cracks is straightforward but make sure you level off after.
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.
10. Make a Bookshelf
You can make a solid single-shelving by finding wood on your daily walk. Find a few thick pieces and strip and sand the shelves down until you’re happy, taking care to sand down 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 a car. Put together once the shelves are dry.
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