Loading... Please wait...

Lessons I have Learned from DIY Failures

Posted by

photo credit: www.weddingbee.com

When I am working on DIY projects, I am always learning, which is what I love to do. However, the downside is about 80 percent of the time I am frustrated when I am trying to figure out how to make or do something I have never done before. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, I think it is part of the creative DIY process. We all have to learn from our mistakes. The payoff we get is the awesome is when get to say "I did that!"

Today, I thought I would take a proactive approach and show I have learned from my mistakes by sharing how to turn my failures around. Many of you who are seasoned at up-cycling, may find this a bit lame. I am hoping those who are aren't seasoned will find it helpful. Or maybe everyone will think I am a bit of an idiot for not knowing this stuff...who knows.

Just a note before I start, this is not a review of any of the products I mention. I am not receiving any compensation. It is just my experience of what works best for me and the products I like to use.

Take a Moment to Learn from the More Experienced

After many DIY failures, I realized I should actually "read the instructions" and check out some tutorials before I tackle a technique I wasn't to sure of how to do.

So I checked Pinterest, Craftqawker, and Google to search for answers for instructions and tutorials. It saved me money and frustration.

Latex Paint in Carpet

Lock away your latex paint with a twist lid such as sample paint, no matter how high you put it. Toddlers are monkeys, even though they have no idea what is in the container. Then they proceed to open it and throw it all over your rentals carpet then run around leaving teal footprints all over while you are in the bathroom for 2 minutes. I know this from personal experience.

Photo Credit: www.empowernetwork.com

Carpet cleaning companies will tell you it is impossible to remove. In a desperate attempt, call a restoration company. In miraculously, they completely remove it for $300 which seem expensive but is actually a steal when the alternative is completely replacing the carpet when you move out. Okay, a little bit of whining. But I had to warn you of possible heart attacks.

Chalk Painting

Making Chalk Paint from a homemade Recipe – Try different Recipes until one works for you . I tried the Plaster of Paris version and it was a disaster. It was something like cement. Recently, The Crafting Chicks posted a recipe recently I decided to give a try. It basically requires adding a small amount of unsanded grout and a bit of water to regular paint. It works fantastic. I have used it several times now and I am really happy with the result. In the spirit of frugal up-cycling, using a home recipe was about $15 a quart and it lasted for several pieces of furniture. The upside is that I have unlimited color choice.

I love using Annie Sloan chalk paint because it applies easy and takes fewer coats. You can do several pieces of furniture with one quart. However, the colors are limited. Annie Sloan paint and tools are rather expensive. Finally, It seemed to be very difficult to find a local distributor.


I am still perfecting this skill. I figured out that less is more. Use a lightweight photo adhesive. Lightly spray, and then place the stencil where you want it, making sure it is straight and centered. Forget using a paint or sponge brush. Invest in a quality stencil brush. Then using a little paint at a time and dab the stencil until you get the coverage you want. Let dry a few minutes, but not completely. Then carefully remove. I highly suggest practicing on a scrap piece of wood a few or many times. To be honest, my stenciling skills are lacking but the project I am working on now will put them to the test.

Paint and Sponge Brushes

Don’t buy cheap. Investing in a quality paint brush is a must. I learned the hard way and after buying several cheap ones and picking hairs from wet paint, I was told by a professional painter to invest in a professional brush, clean it thoroughly every time and put it back in cover. It will last and give you the best painting results. As far as sponges. Buy quality one from Home Depot or Lowe's. It might seem like a deal to pick up a pack of sponge brushes for a dollar from a discount store, but they last about 10 minutes and fall apart.


Using Screen for Projects

A roll of screen used for screen doors or window screens is great for jewelry organizers and other projects. The roll runs about $20. A roll will last a very long time since it is large with a great deal of screen. If you can find an old screen at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in your area, it is much more affordable if you are doing just one project. Very important to wear gloves because the fibers are metal and tend to stick in your fingers. This is pretty painful.


After trying pretty much every type of glue adhesive out there, it is my personal opinion that E-6000 works best for me. It is water proof. Its' glue cap doesn't get stuck on after the first use. It is really strong and holds a great deal of weight. I love that it does not expand and create gaps. It dries clear and flat, which is a big advantage as well.


Loosen Screws

When working with older furniture, the screws sometimes are almost impossible to unscrew without inhuman strength. If you spray a bit of WD40 directly on the head of the screw, wait a few minutes, and they magically they unscrew. This was a really great tip for me.


Clamping Painted Surfaces

I have tried several types of clamps; however when I clamp a painted surface to hold it until the glue dries the paint comes off I have to repaint. I started to use a little felt or fabric and cover the area before I clamped it. Make sure the glue is not running over or the fabric will stick to the glue. It beats holding the glued piece in place for hours. By the way, you can get a big bag of clamps of all sizes at Home Depot inexpensively. I use them all the time and am thrilled with them.

Prepping Before Painting

Not obvious at first to me …especially with all the paints out there saying no prep needed (don’t believe it). A quick sanding that gets rid of fine bumps and rough spots helps a lot. Then you won't have to do a quick sanding in between.

Don’t paint outside or with a dirt floor – Just don’t do it. Maybe some do. When I do whether windy or not, I always get dust and grass all over the paint. Again this will require another sanding session. It just is not worth it. Even in my garage, I sweep either every day or other day to keep the dust to a minimum. Another tip, do not invest in an expensive drop cloth. I have used thrift store or yard sale top sheets, fabric shower curtains, table cloths and thin blankets. I do have to throw them away eventually, but they are larger and less expensive.

Painting Metal

It is time to talk about my nemesis - painting metal. I absolutely can’t stand it as I mentioned in an earlier post, I Hate Painting Metal. Do not spraying more and more to fix the drips and other problems with that occur painting. Just invest in a spray painting gun that cost about $3. A great little plastic device, that looks like a gun that you place on the top of the spray paint can. It evenly pushes the button and sprays evenly. I have learned tips are helpful;

  • Rough up the surface with sandpaper,
  • Spray from a distance of at least 10 inches away,
  • Constantly moving the spray can, not forgetting the sides and underneath,
  • Slowly building a nice coverage,
  • It takes longer, so patience is the key,
  • Don’t second guess yourself,
  • Walk away and let it dry completely,
  • Spray in very good lighting.

Lacking a Saw

I admit I have a bit of a fear of power tools that I am in the process of overcoming. While I have been doing projects, up until this point all I have needed are straight cuts. If you go to Home Depot, they will cut your wood (straight cuts only) for either free or $.25 per cut if you buy the wood from them. It is a great help when you don't have a saw yet or you pretty much don't go near one.

Power Saw

Start Shopping Now>

CALL US AT (240) 258-8746

Recent Updates


Connect with us: Pinterest