Five DIY Tips from a DIY Novice

DIY Tips

For the past 10 days we have embarked on our first major DIY effort. We’ve been in our house two and a half years, and have done small cosmetic things like painting and re-carpeting, but nothing too labour intensive. We decided that over the Christmas and New Year break we would tackle our kitchen to give it a lift by painting the cupboards and using a transformation kit. During our little exercise I have learnt some valuable tips that you may like to follow!

Now that we know we are capable of doing a job like this, we are planning lots of other projects to tackle this year. I will be sure to share the exciting ones with you.

Five DIY Tips from a DIY Novice

1. Proper preparation is important

I can be a little slap dash with household tasks at times… I have been getting better of late, but if this little renovation taught me one thing, it’s that you need to prepare properly. Everything had to be taped up to prevent paint mixing, and the bench tops had to be prepped to make sure the kit actually worked. We made sure that we primed all of the cupboard doors after they had been sanded. Sure, it took extra time but the end result was definitely worth it! The man at the hardware store told us that we would need to apply two coats of primer and at least three coats of paint. By doing it properly, we got away with one primer coat and two of paint. And they look fantastic!

2. Research, compare prices and choose products wisely

Like any products, some things are worth spending extra money on. We decided not to scrimp on paint, and made sure that we bought the proper bench kit rather than trying other alternatives (like sponging paint on the benches which can look effective, but wasn’t the look we wanted). There was quite a bit of difference in the price points of the paint brands, but due to the fact that we were painting kitchen cupboards that are in a high traffic area, not to mention being covered with grease from cooking, we wanted to make sure our hard work wasn’t in vain. I even let my head rule my stomach, and didn’t buy the brand that were offering a tin of lollies as a gift with purchase.

By spending a little time on research, I was able to find some cupboard handles that I loved for a fraction of the price of what I would have paid at a hardware store. When we had our first home, we bought kitchen cupboard handles from eBay, so that was my first port of call as well. The wrought iron handles for our new kitchen cost around $2 each including postage – more than half the price of any other comparable product I could find in Australia.

3. It is possible to DIY with children in the house!

We have two small children, and the week we chose to tackle this project was also the one that both sets of grandparents had planned holidays. While our poor kids were baby sat by the TV more than we would have liked, we found a few activities that they could help with that kept them busy. While we painted doors outside they enjoyed drawing on the driveway in chalk, bouncing on the trampoline and painting the house bricks with water. Inside, they helped vacuum up the mountains of dust. We found that by spending a few good quality chunks of time with them throughout the day, they were happy to entertain themselves for the remainder of the time. Some jobs made it easier for one of us to spend time with them while the other one worked. We definitely made use of nap time and night time while they were sleeping!

4. Invest in a paint sprayer

When my husband first raised the possibility of purchasing a paint sprayer I was very dubious. How good could a $30 spray machine be? Very good, as it turns out! It made the job a lot more efficient, and the finish on the cupboards is fantastic. I’m already planning to use it for the painting of our front door, and the bookshelf that will be given a revamp later these holidays. I did let him say ‘I told you so’…

5. Clean, clean, clean (including how to get water based paint off tiles)

I feel like I have cleaned more this week than I ever have. The bench top transformation generated a lot of dust, so I have been vacuuming multiple times a day to prevent it being tracked through the rest of the house. Tonight I was cleaning water based paint from tiles and was running into difficulties – it just did not want to budge. I Googled for solutions, but couldn’t find anything that worked. I had recently been sent some Dettol cleaning products for a Soup trial, and they really came into their own tonight. Not only did the floor cleaning system make my tiles shine, a few sprays of the Dettol all purpose cleaner, a few minutes for it to activate, and a scrub with a brush resulted in a paint free floor.

The other product that has been in high rotation this week is baby wipes – these things are fantastic! Not only do they remove stains from clothing, they are wonderful for general cleaning. They wiped out cupboards with ease, and were wonderful at getting paint off our skin.


A sneak peak of the cupboards.

I can’t wait to share the finished product with you once we have completely finished the bench and the handles have arrived. We are so proud of our hard work, and feel much more confident in our DIY abilities now that this project has been a success!

Do you have any DIY tips? Are you a DIY expert or novice like us? What project will you tackle next?


2 thoughts on “Five DIY Tips from a DIY Novice

  1. We’ve been renovating for 2 years and 4 months so far…but who’s counting!
    I’d definitely recommend doing your research. What’s your style? What paint colours will best suit your colour scheme? Which tradie/company will be the best value for money (and deliver you the best result)?
    There’s so much to consider when renovating, you really are best not to rush head first into anything, particularly kitchens and bathrooms as they are expensive to change!

    • My goodness – you must be an expert by now! I agree about biding your time before making major decisions. Being able to see what you like and don’t like about a space is really important. I think I will end up picking your brain a bit more down the track 🙂

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