How can I do all these DIY jobs?

Four DIY Cheap Cheats

By Alexandra Smith

Doing the job yourself, rather than hiring a professional, used to be a cheap option but DIY shops and products are actually quite expensive. Here are four tips to help you cheat the marketing cons and just get the job done cheaply. Use the links to help you find or learn about the products you need.

Tip 1 - Instead of filling gaps with expensive white filler, use plaster for indoor jobs (or sand and cement for outdoor jobs). Find an independent builder's merchant who will sell you the raw product and possibly even break a big bag so you don't have to buy a lot. Add water to plaster like you would water to icing-sugar. You want the stuff to be quite sticky and not runny so it stays in the gaps you're filling (be aware that plaster that is too wet will crack when it dries). You may like to use plastic take-away spoons and an old, clean food tub to serve and mix your small batches of plaster. Two metal continental filler blades will help you put the plaster on the wall because you can hold the plaster on one and scrape it into place with the other.


Tip 2 - Before you reach for the paint pot, clean surfaces or walls with a good mould spray because you may find this will remove the dirt you were going to paint over. To paint small areas check out the little tins in pound-shops before going to the DIY store. If you have a huge pot of paint you don't want to carry around the house then mix it with an old wooden spoon and scoop the amount you need in to an old, clean margarine tub (place the tub on its lid to catch any drips). For most painting jobs you will find old newspaper, cheap masking tape and a variety of brushes useful. An expensive brush is nice but a cheap brush can be thrown away after use; which could actually be better for the environment than using loads of white-spirit to clean the bristles after a job.


Tip 3 - If you don't like using a drill then get a gimlet. It can't do heavy-duty jobs but hammer it in to a piece of wood, plastic or even a soft brick wall and then give it a few twists to create a hole for a small screw. A pink toolkit is pretty cool but not essential.

Tip 4 - If climbing a ladder to clean the roof gutters is not for you then perhaps you could make something to poke out the blockages. Take extreme care if you plan to use a poking device from an upstair's window as you do not want to fall out! The stick pictured was made from an extendable clothes-line proppaint-roller handle and a wire coat-hanger. It is held together by cheap duct tape and has successfully knocked dry moss out of roof gutters on several occasions.

Gutter-poking device!

Note: Always wear suitable protection when using harmful building materials and follow appropriate instructions so you know what you're doing.

© This article and its photo(s) are the property of Alexandra Smith. Only use or reproduce with permission.

Disclaimer: These tips are created from lessons I have learnt during my own experience.  With regard to the content and advice on this blog, Alexandra Smith makes no representations or warranties about its accuracy, reliability or suitability for anyone. Any reliance you place on the blog or its content is at your own discretion and in no event will Alexandra be liable for any loss, damage or injury in connection with your use.

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