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5 DIY Projects You Need to Try

Through taking on a home project, you can learn new skills and experience how good it feels to create something with your own two hands (Photo by Ron Lach).

Hotspots spoke with former painter and current Interior Designer David Mayer of Decorative David Designs about tips on DIY projects for beginners. With over 25 years of experience, the New York native – now Wilton Manors resident – was overflowing with tips.

Here are 5 DIY projects for everyone to try, from simple to intermediate:

The Doors

Skill level: Beginner 

An easy DIY project is to upgrade your doorknobs.

Mayer said that most interior doors are thinner than exterior doors and it is important to measure door thickness and the center of the doorhole.

He said you will need the specs of the new doorknob because it’s not always a universal size.

“All you need is a screwdriver and patience,” Mayer said. “An electric screwdriver is the better way, but you can do it with a handheld one.” He also said that in some cases new door strikes don’t line up to the existing hole in the casing. In this case, just keep the existing one to make things easy. “You’ll still have a whole new look, but it’s simple. I would not rebuild the wheel.”

He also suggested not updating the door plate to keep things easy.

Check YouTube for more detailed videos on how to perform this simple project.

Plant your seed

Skill level: Beginner

“A few flowers and plants can change the whole vibe of your property and bring a smile to your face every day,” Mayer said.

He said he thinks it’s best to start small, as small plants grow faster than you think and are easier to plant. He suggested that you do your research – see which plants you like and either ask or read about their requirements, whether they need to be in the sun, need a certain amount of water, etc. “If you buy the right plant for your environment, it will thrive,” Mayer said. “If not, it will die. That is two-thirds of what it takes to make a beautiful garden.”

He also said it is important to dig your hole a little deeper than the size of the plant requires. Always add fresh soil with nutrients and use your garden hose to water the hole. “That is one of the tricks to getting the new plant to catch and grow,” he said.  “The other thing is – this is very important for the first few days – water, water, water. Wait and find out how fast your plant will grow.”

Remember to follow the instructions included with the plant. “If it says it will grow twice as wide — plant accordingly,” Mayer said.

Assembly required

Skill level: Beginner

Mayer said a good project to try is to assemble a piece of furniture on your own.

“You can save a lot of money,” he said. “And there’s a lot of pride in saying ‘I Did it.’”

If you hate reading instructions, look the item up online and there’s almost always a how-to video to follow. “If you can buy it, there’s going to be a video on it online,” Mayer said.

He said when unpacking your furniture, lay all of the parts out and learn their proper names as  you can’t guess what the parts are.

“Follow the directions and it’s easy to go right,” Mayer said. “Don’t skip steps – there’s a reason for them and it’s important.”

A fresh coat of paint

Skill level: Intermediate

“Painting is the easiest way to refresh your home,” Mayer said. “Whether it’s a walkway or the whole house – it’s easier to do than you think.”

Mayer said to get samples beforehand. A lot of companies offer self-stick samples, which give you a good preview of the colors you are choosing from. He also advocated for not going the frugal route. “Don’t buy the cheapest paint,” he said. “You don’t have to buy the best but get something in the middle. The cheapest is hard to work with and won’t cover.”

Mayer also said that he likes to buy disposable accessories for painting. “Cleaning up is half the mess of painting,” he said.

He has had the best luck with using a thin paintbrush and said a two-inch chip brush is easier to work with. This will also help you get a better finished line. “You don’t need a big fancy brush,” he said. “They are hard to work with.”

Mayer likes to use roller handles with a cover. He said rollers snap into them and it’s a good way to avoid paint splatter. These are hard to find in stores but can be found online. “You won’t make a mess,” he explained.

He always buys a good quality, thick roller pad, which costs $6 to $7. “They tend to flatten up when you use it,” he said. “You want a thicker pad – ½ inch.”

He also said not to go crazy with a ton of paint during the first coat with the idea that you will only need one coat. “It will run and have an uneven finish,” he said. “Always do a second coat.”

Paper that wall

Skill level: Intermediate 

“Wallpapering an accent wall is very trendy,” Mayer said. The first thing to do is to order a sample to see the paper in person before committing to covering your space with it.

Mayer said, when you do decide to order a roll, it is good to order extra because when you are cutting the paper, it could be sloppy.

In addition, Mayer said that a lot of people paste the paper and then hang it on the wall, however, it’s better to add paste directly to the wall with a big brush. Then wet the back of the wallpaper with a very wet washcloth before putting it up. “This is easier and when it dries, it will tighten up,” Mayer explained. “You will get a better finished project.

Mayer also suggested that the best tool to use is the plastic spatula found in the paint department of home improvement stores. When paper is laid down, push it down with a spatula in a side to side motion and use a wet washcloth. This will get the bubbles out.

Mayer said wallpapering gets easier the more you do it. He also said that when using a pattern, it’s important to be patient. “Patience is everything with wallpapering,” he said.

He suggested that beginners start with textured paper instead of patterned. “Textured – or embossed– paper is very beautiful.” “It doesn’t show imperfections and it’s easy to line up.”

David Mayer
Decorative David Designs

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