Common DIY Misconceptions Common DIY Misconceptions

More and more people are adopting a DIY lifestyle, choosing to tackle projects around their house themselves over hiring a professional. And while most home renovations and upgrades can be done yourself, there are a lot of DIY misconceptions floating around. We set you straight below with seven common DIY misconceptions and the truth behind them.

All Paint Strippers Are the Same

For the most part, paint strippers do the same kind of job: they strip paint off of surfaces. However, not every paint stripper is the same, and not using the appropriate stripper could cause permanent damage to the surface you’re working with. There are actually three categories of paint stripper: biochemical, caustic, and solvent. Biochemical-based strippers are derived from plants, but still contain some chemicals and can irritate skin. Caustic strippers are water-based with lye as the active ingredient, which could be either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. This stripper causes a reaction that loosens the paint from its surface. Health risks include skin burns and lung irritation. Solvent strippers instead dissolve or soften paint from its surface, causing it to bubble up. Solvents are often methylene chloride, with alcohol, acetone, or ketones present.

Cement and Concrete Are Interchangeable

Mixing cement.

The words cement and concrete are often used interchangeably. Although cement and concrete are related, there is actually a difference between the two. To start, cement is an ingredient in concrete. Cement itself is a fine grey powder which kind of looks like flour. Concrete, which has a mixture of paste (water) and aggregates such as sand, gravel, or crushed stone, needs cement because of its unique adhesive properties that make it a great binding agent.

Longer Screws Are Better

A lot of people assume that if the nail or screw is long it will be stronger and hold things better than a shorter screw. However, longer nails or screws can actually cause damage to wiring or plumbing in the walls. That’s why it’s better to use the right length.

Any Screw Will Work

Not only does the length of the screw matter, but so does the type. Back in the day, people only had the option to use a slotted or Phillips screw. Now, there are so many more options because we have the choice to use drills instead of only screwdrivers. Power drills need screws that won't slip or completely strip the metal off.

The Measurements of 2X4s Are Accurate

Tall stacks of lumber.

Although it may seem that a 2x4 would be 2 inches by 4 inches, that’s not the case. A 2x4 board does start out as a true 2x4 in measurement when it's first rough sawn from the log. However, through the drying process, the board eventually turns to 1 ½” x 3 ½” for softwoods like pine, spruce, and fir, and 1 ¾” x 3 ¾” for hardwoods like oak, maple, and cherry.

Bleach Cleans all Mold

There are a lot of tutorials and articles online that suggest using bleach to clean mold, but, believe it or not, you can’t kill mold with bleach. If mold is growing on a porous surface, such as wood or Sheetrock, it makes it even harder to clean, and bleach won’t be able to penetrate it properly. Bleach is a water-based substance with chlorine mixed in. But the chlorine evaporates fast, leaving you with moisture that could make the mold worse. And definitely don’t mix bleach with other cleaners, which could create a toxic gas.

Permits Aren’t Necessary

Building permits.

When deciding to tackle a DIY project yourself, you might not realize you need a permit for certain things. Even though it's your home and you have the right to renovate it yourself, some projects do require a permit. For example, most cities will require permits for projects like installing new electrical wiring, converting your garage, and demolishing a load-bearing wall. Make sure to check with your city as to whether or not you’ll need a permit for your next DIY project.

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