You don’t want the materials exposed to the weather or stolen while you are working, says Ed Del Grande, author of “Ed Del Grande’s House Call” and former host of the DIY Network’s “Warehouse Warriors.”
Rain, heat and other elements can destroy building materials if they’re not properly stored, and thieves can make off with them if they’re not secured.
Professional tip: If you have a septic tank, make sure you know where it is. If a supplier delivering materials in a heavy truck drives over it, you could be looking at a cracked tank.
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Skimping on materials
Barbara Kavovit, CEO of Evergreen Construction in New York City and designer of a tools and accessories collection called DIYVA by Barbara K, says she often sees DIYers building walls using 1/4-inch drywall.
It’s better to go with 5/8 inch, or with 3/4 inch, if you want a good sound barrier, she advises.
The same rule applies to plywood for subfloors. Go with 3/4 inch. It creates a much stronger floor, especially if you’re installing wood on top, Kavovit says.
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Using the wrong paint
One of the most popular do-it-yourself projects, painting can make a place look great. But make sure you’re getting the right paint for the job.
Ace Hardware’s Manfredini says flat paint should be used only for ceilings because it’s usually not as washable as eggshell or satin-finish paints.
On outdoor decks, use a linseed oil-based stain. It drives the pigment into the wood and preserves it.
“Sun and rain tear the heck out of the wood,” says Manfredini, who notes that clear sealers don’t block UV rays, and they peel.
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Improperly prepping walls for painting
A quality paint job is 90 percent preparation, Manfredini says.
Clean the walls, sand them and patch any holes before you paint.
A coat of primer or stain blocker is advisable if you’re going to cover over oil-based paint, stains or peeling paint, or if you’re painting a lighter color over a darker color.
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Not taking safety precautions
Let’s say you’ve taken out a personal loan or home equity loan to get the work done. Nothing will diminish the return on your investment like a trip to the emergency room.
Wear safety goggles when using power tools or working with drywall or wood.
Wear hard hats when you’re working below scaffolding.
Open the windows when you’re painting, staining or stripping finishes off of floors or walls.
Never wear loose-hanging clothes, especially when using power tools.
Protect your hands with gloves when carrying wood, metal and rock, or when hammering.
Wear a nail or tool pouch to prevent damage to your floors and more importantly, the feet of people and pets.
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Are you sure you want to cut there? That’s one of the key questions you want to ask yourself again and again during the course of any home project.
It’s so important for things such as building walls, hanging drywall or cutting baseboards, countertops or pipe.
If you’re going to err, err on the side of too long. You can always make something shorter; you can’t make it longer.
Spackle can cover only up to a 1/8-inch seam.
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Working beyond your capabilities
There are some projects you shouldn’t tackle on your own. Everyone has limits.
Del Grande, for example, says he won’t work on a roof. You might draw the line at plumbing or electrical work.
Here are a couple of good universal restrictions:
Don’t try to work beyond your reach.
Don’t stand on the top steps of ladders: 43 percent of all fatal falls involve ladders, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Not looking for chances to learn
You don’t want to use your own house as a classroom if you don’t know the basics of doing home projects.
If you have a friend who is a contractor or an experienced DIYer, offer your assistance on one of his projects so you can learn. No one will turn away free labor.
If you need to remove a supporting wall, have an engineer look at it to see what kind of beam you need to replace it.
These days, there are ample resources on the internet for learning how to do specific home-improvement projects.
A cardinal rule for newbie DIYers: Never dive headlong into something you’ve never done before. It’s a pretty safe bet it’s going to be harder and more complicated than you imagined.
“If you have a saw in your hand and have a question about what you’re doing, stop,” Del Grande says. “Follow that little voice in your head.”