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What are the Best and Worst Projects for DIY?

February 5, 2021

What are the Best and Worst Projects for DIY?

We love DIY, but let’s be honest…some projects should be left to the pros! Check out this list of the best and worst projects for DIY to help you decide which option is best for you.

Taking on do-it-yourself (DIY) home projects is incredibly satisfying, if not empowering. But, some projects are better left to professionals, as they can potentially impact the integrity, safety, and resale value of your home. If you’re a homeowner, check out this list of the best and worst projects for DIY so you can decide which route is best for next project!

Worst: Flooring

Replacing flooring yourself can be tricky, especially if you’re a DIY newbie. There are a wide variety of flooring choices, but what’s most important is how they are installed. Something like luxury vinyl plank flooring is very forgiving for a person new to DIY, but anything that needs to be glued down — like some wood, linoleum, or tile options — may be better left to a professional installation. The last thing you’d want is to have uneven flooring or inadequate protection from elements like heat, cold, moisture, and even insects. This also includes installing carpet, as there are special tools and techniques that keep carpets tight and secure.

Best: Paint Projects

No “best and worst projects for DIY list” would be complete without mentioning painting. Perhaps the most popular choice for DIYers, painting your space is a budget-friendly project, especially given how impactful it is. Paint protects your space indoors, and can shield your home’s exterior from the elements. But, even though it’s a simpler DIY, doing it wrong could negatively effect your home’s look, and even it’s sale value. Follow these tips for a smooth paint process:

  1. Make sure you know what sheen of paint works best for the area you’re focusing on. For example, painting your bathroom will require a sheen and paint formulation meant for high moisture.
  2. Have the right supplies! Using the wrong kind of brush or roller can make or break your paint project. Don’t hesitate to ask a professional or the person at the paint counter at your local home store for their advice.
  3. Grab a friend to help (but don’t forget to wear your masks)! It’ll go by much faster with a trusted companion working alongside you!

Worst: Porches and decks

Lots of thought and planning is required for a successful porch or deck build — after all, the last thing that you want is for the structure to collapse and cause injury. Equally important is how it’s attached to your home, and making sure it’s structurally sound so it won’t damage your property. This is why a building permit is usually required to construct them. To maintain this high level of integrity calls for at least a basic knowledge of construction skills and materials, plus access to the heavy-duty tools required to do the job. For those reasons and their major implications for safety, we definitely recommend a professional for porches and decks if you’re newer to DIY.

best and worst projects to DIY
Heavy-duty power tools are usually needed for porch and deck builds.

Best: Backsplash Tile

Adding or changing backsplash tile is the perfect beginner DIY project, because it’s a simpler way to learn the ins and outs of tile work. Usually, areas with backsplash are smaller compared to shower walls or floors, and can be a little more forgiving if you make a mistake. To make DIY backsplash even easier, there peel-and-stick tile options are available that require no thin set or grout. Some don’t even require a tile saw to cut the product. Easy peasy!

Worst: Electrical Work

Basic electrical work, like swapping out ceiling fans or lights, is doable for most new DIYers. On the other hand, rewiring your lights completely or adding new electrical systems to your home are complex tasks and are definitely something to leave in the hands of a licensed electrician. Wiring fixtures can mean the difference between safety and peace of mind, and an electrical fire that damages the home or worse, causes injury or death. If you’ve got your eyes on a more extensive electrical project, let the pros handle it!

(READ MORE: It’s Electric! What You Need to Know About Electrical Panels)

Worst: Structural Changes

Any time you want to add on to your home or open up a room, this is definitely something to hand over to a professional. Depending on your project, you’ll need proper permitting and inspections to ensure the space is up to code. Even if you want to remove a wall from within your home (they make it look so simple on HGTV, don’t they?), you need to know if it’s load bearing (meaning, the weight of the floor above it or the roof line, is literally resting on that wall). Remove a load bearing wall and your home could potentially collapse, so this is something best left for a professional.

Best AND Worst: Roof repairs

It’s helpful to know how to fix minor roof damage and proper safety protocols for working on your roof. Not fixing your roof correctly could not only compromise it’s integrity, but also put the inside of your home in danger of extensive damage. Issues like a loose shingles are relatively simple fixes that you can typically DIY; plus, this type of proactive maintenance can extend the life of the roof. But, for issues like extensive leaks, major storm damage or structural sagging, a roofing expert should be your go-to. They can diagnose the issue, give options for safe and sturdy repair, and provide you with a ballpark cost estimate so you aren’t caught off guard (something we can’t promise if you try to DIY it!).

best and worst projects for DIY

The Bottom Line

Even though a professional might be a better option for your home project, it doesn’t mean the project is impossible for you to DIY. It just means that you need to take extra caution and care to understand the project scope and what the implications are if something goes wrong. If you’re not sure about something, it’s always better to invest the money to have projects done correctly so mistakes or overlooked issues don’t end up costing you even more later. While DIY is meant to be rewarding, protecting your investment should always be your number one priority.

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