Bank Holiday DIY tips

DOING it yourself is a great way to improve your home and its become a popular Bank Holiday pastime. But is DIY as easy as it looks on these makeover programmes? JAMES MARSTON visited Suffolk experts to find out more.

DOING it yourself is a great way to improve your home and its become a popular Bank Holiday pastime. But is DIY as easy as it looks on these makeover programmes? JAMES MARSTON visited Suffolk experts to find out more.

IT all looks so simple on the telly.

Within two days some lucky person has got a new kitchen, a new bathroom and a strange purple bedroom, painted and decorated and ready to use.

They have a glass of Champagne and Bob's your uncle - its smiles all round.

But real life isn't like that. Carole Smilie or whoever, doesn't wave a magic wand in every home and, perhaps thankfully, Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen doesn't add his particular touch of flair to every boudoir.

Instead it's a Bank Holiday weekend, the weather's usually not up to much and you find yourself traipsing round some DIY store with the family, getting a few bits for that job which has needed doing for ages.

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Building a wall for the garden, plastering a wall and adding a coat of paint is often easier said than done.

But there's nothing better than a bit of DIY. With saving money on the top of most people's agenda, doing it yourself can cut costs as well as be good fun.

What better sense of satisfaction than looking at your own handy work? What a feeling to know you built that wall or painted that tricky staircase.

But do you really know what you are doing? Are you really skilled enough to take on the job you want to do? Here's a few tips on how to do it the right way, from Otley College tutors who teach a range of trades.

CONSTRUCTION section leader at Otley College Denis Hobin said bricklaying is more difficult than it looks.

He said: “There's a lot to learn and we would recommend anyone attempting to build a wall or something to take a course. It's very hard to learn from a book. Bricklaying is a skill you need to learn.”

Mr Tobin said it takes students about six weeks to grasp the basics.

His top tips include

Get the right bricks for the right job - if you don't have the right bricks what you are building will not last.

Select the correct mortar for the joins - the wrong mortar can decay and corrode.

Work from the correct foundations.

Once you've got the basics sorted then you can begin.

Lay bricks to a line and to a calibrated gauge - this makes the wall straight.

Use a level.

And select the right pointing for finishing off - there are six different types.

Mr Tobin added: “There's a lot more to it than people think to get it to look good.”

Otley student Kelvyn Jeeves, 19, said: “My advice to anyone trying to build a wall or something would be to think about what you are doing before you start. If you don't, then before you know it you will have gone wrong.”

DEAN Smith, painting and decorating lecturer, said lots of people can paint and decorate their own homes but it is harder to get the professional look.

He said: “The main thing is to use decent quality tools and good quality paints.

His top tips for painitng a room include

Start at the top and work your way down.

Preparation is everything - wash or rub down the walls, use the correct undercoat or the right grade of sandpaper.

Look after your tools. Wash your brushes and they will last.

Never rush - it's not make over tv.

Use acrylic (water-based) paints.

Dean added: “A lounge should take about six or seven hours. If you buy a cheap paint you might have to do three coats and it still might not be durable. Quality paint makes a big difference.”

Student Luke Kemp was working on “cutting in” - painting the wall below the ceiling - before using a roller. He said: “Make sure you are tidy and prepared, before you start painting.”

Heidi Ward, learning support assistant, said that if you are wallpapering over a electrical socket you can either unscrew the socket and fit the paper underneath or cut and envelope and cut out the square.

She said: “Wallpapering is quite difficult but practice makes perfect. The main thing is to take your time and not get frustrated.”

A tricky job that requires skill and practice, rendering a wall and then plastering it is for the ambitious DIYer.

Lecturer in the subject Dale Quinton said his advice would be to work within your own capabilities.

He added: “Don't be too ambitious at the beginning. Take it slow and make it simple.”


His top tips include:

Mix sand and cement to a ratio of five to one.

Work to a rule to make sure it is upright.

Key the render so plaster can grip the walls.

Leave a day before putting on plaster.


Patience and preparation.

Mix up plaster in a bucket, 25 kilos should cover 12 square metres.

The first coat of plaster should be followed by a second coat called “lagging down”.

IF that all looks like too much hard work, you could leave the work for the next owners of your house!

Research by Clydesdale Bank found that one in three buyers said they would completely redecorate as soon as they move in, to remove all trace of the previous owner's taste.

Moreover, growing sophistication on the part of many buyers means a bodged finish, or cheap Changing Room-style room alterations are more likely to put people off rather than attract them.

A Clydesdale Bank spokesman said: "DIY can help present a house in the best possible light when you're trying to sell, but getting in the professionals is a wise move if you're not so handy in the decorating department yourself."

If that does not tempt many to leave well alone this Bank Holiday, a poll by the insurer Cornhill Direct also found that 17per cent of people confess to having a complete DIY disaster - with 4pc of those having to make an insurance claim to fix their mistakes.

Simon Coughlin at Cornhill Direct said: "We have seen our fair share of DIY-related claims over the years so people should make sure they know what they're are doing and use the right tools for the job. DIY enthusiasts should definitely check to see if their insurance policy covers them for accidental damage just in case a DIY job goes horribly wrong."

On the plus side, a successful DIY job can add to the value of a property.

Cornhill's survey found that one in 20 people took up to three years to finish a basic job and many households had at least three uncompleted DIY jobs on the go at any one time.