Avoid These 6 Most Common DIY Mistakes

Frustrated DIY Couple

DIY projects require focus and determination. While inspiration might be enough to jumpstart your imagination, there are a few things that can ruin a good project, usually having to do with improper preparation and readiness when following instructions. To cover all your bases, make it a point to avoid these common DIY mistakes. You’ll be glad you did!

1. Skipping the Supply List

The supplies are the most important part. Without them, you can't create a project. It's essential to pay attention to what you need to make a project happen.

It’s easy to overlook and assume that you already have all of the supplies necessary. This is often true if you’re avid DIYer and have a large supply stash. Or, perhaps you’re so excited that you jump to the first step. We don’t blame you! Staring a new project is inspiring. However, skipping the materials list can be an enormous mistake.

A list ensures that you have every tool and material on hand to make the project happen. If you're creating your own project, create a list for yourself. Otherwise, the finished product might lack proper construction and function.

Pay attention to sizes, measurements, and models. For example, you might need a certain nail size. Things like specific types of screwdrivers and fiber content of fabric are also just as important. By consulting the supply list, you have increased your chances of creating a successful homemade project.

2. Forgetting to Leave Room for Error

Let’s face it – we’re only human. Creating a handmade project from scratch sometimes means making a few mistakes along the way. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s exactly how you’ll learn.

However, making a mistake can sometimes leave you with less materials than you started out with. And while it’s always possible to redo a step, it can be tricky if you don’t have enough to work with.

This is why it’s always helpful to buy a little more than you need. For example, furniture nails are excellent for dressing up a leather couch. If you find the perfect set of nails, don’t be afraid to buy more than you think is needed. If you leave the leftover nails in their original packaging, you can always return them. This is much better than running out of nails halfway through the project.

Another way to leave room for error is to overestimate. This concept comes in handy when working with things like fabric or cord. Before cutting something, make sure it’s exactly how you want it. Remember, you can always cut away excess material, but you can’t bring it back.

Man measuring wood with tape measure

3. Ignoring Measurements

Like supplies, measurements are one of the most important factors of any DIY instructions. And when it comes to home renovations and décor, the right measurements will ensure that your project does what it’s supposed to do.

Knowing the right measurements of a space or item, such as a chair or a table, will make shopping for supplies so much easier. It will help you to focus on the materials that are appropriate for your project. This beats falling in love with materials only to find that they don’t fit your needs.

The same goes for constructing something. If you’re creating an item from scratch, it’s in your best interest to scope out the right measurements. This way, you can be sure that your creation fits into your space the way it should. It will also guarantee that the finished product functions efficiently.

4. Not Reading Instructions First

Following instructions is a process. Every single step matters, just like each component in a food chain or an assembly line. In other words, each step is there for a reason. It’s important to understand the role of each step and why each one is there.

If you don’t read instructions before starting the project, you won’t know how the steps relate to each other. You also won’t be able to fully understand the intention of each material and technique.

Your best bet is to give the instructions a quick read. By doing so, you’ll be able to comprehend the flow of steps. Better yet, you can also pinpoint where you can inject your own personal touches.

Burnt man holding wires and calling for help

5. Rushing Through the Steps

Again, we know you’re excited to take on this new project. However, this doesn’t mean you need to rush through each of the steps. This is one of those mistakes that can easily send a good project downhill.

Take it slow. In fact, take as much time as you need to complete the necessary step. This will ensure that the technique or method is carried out in the right way. It will also make sure that the process is continued correctly, setting you up for an awesome finished item.

DIY isn’t a race. It’s all about appreciating your ability to make something and fine-tuning your own personal set of skills. And if a project is time sensitive? Make an effort to start the project as soon as you can. Even then, it’s vital to keep a calm mind so that you can carry out each step the right way.

6. Focusing on Creating a “Perfect” Project

They say that we are our own worst critics; this certainly holds true for DIYers. Far too often, creative minds place pressure on themselves to making something that is Instagram-worthy and Pin-able. And in an Internet world that is full of pristine project shots, it’s extremely easy to feel this way.

As with any creative process, this type of comparison will hinder your ability to just making something. It doesn’t have to be a picture perfect project. What matters most is that you focus on brushing up on your skills and exercising your creativity.

When you place too much pressure on yourself to create something “perfect”, you’re distracting yourself from actually making something. By simply starting something, you’re already halfway there. Just have fun with it!

One of the best ways to avoid making big mistakes and ruining your project is by getting help from experts. At Home Depot, you can sign up for free workshops and clinics that will teach you important skills that you can apply to your own personalized DIY projects. For example, learning how to install a ceiling fan can teach you proper safety precautions and basic rules when working with electricity, as improper wiring can be hazardous to your home, you, and your family. Plus, once you know the basics of wiring, you can gain the confidence you need to work with wiring in other aspects of your home. More importantly, you'll have the opportunity to ask questions - something basic instruction manuals don't offer.