DIY Weekends That Work

Jane Douglass May 12, 2017

It’s Friday night and you’re ready for some quality time with your toolbox. Tape measure in hand, you dive into your next do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement project. Based on the tutorials online, you should be done by Sunday night.

Whether you hit roadblocks in cost estimation or concept execution, common mistakes can leave you with an unfinished, unsightly project that taunts you throughout the workweek. However, with a little planning, you can set yourself up for success.

We asked eight DIY bloggers about their most successful weekend home improvement projects. Here’s how they stayed on budget and on schedule.

What was your most successful weekend DIY project?

My most successful weekend DIY project was refinishing my farmhouse-style dining table. I picked up a dated table from a thrift shop and turned it into one of my favorite pieces. I cleaned, sanded, primed, painted and sealed it over a couple of days. – Susan Handler of Saw Nail and Paint

A plank accent wall that I created in my living room. It turned out beautifully, and is always the main topic of conversation when family and friends visit. – Melissa Dixon of Thirty Something Supermom

Courtesy of Melissa Dixon of Thirty Something Supermom

My platform farmhouse bedframe was an amazing weekend DIY project. My husband built the entire bed frame, and I stained, painted and distressed the wood. – Pam Baker of The Birch Cottage

My favorite weekend project was giving our kitchen a mini-makeover. I painted our dark laminate countertops, and installed a beadboard backsplash. It completely transformed our kitchen! – Jennifer Polley of The Willow Farmhouse

How were you able to stay within budget?

For DIYers, budget is always determined by material costs. We knew what the dimensions were, so we knew the amount of material needed. Don’t forget to budget for hardware and other items needed for installation - these can add up fast. – Diane and Dean of Diane and Dean DIY

We used an inexpensive tile and did the work ourselves. We also borrowed tools that we didn’t have instead of buying them. – Jessica Panos of Honey n Hydrangea

Courtesy of Jessica Panos of Honey n Hydrangea

Having a detailed list of materials needed for each project helped me stay on budget. Being organized in this way eliminates unnecessary purchases. – Kathy Kolson of Stylish Revamp

Are there any projects that took you longer to complete than anticipated?

Of course. We’ve been working on our laundry room makeover for months now. We had planned to replace a set of kitchen cabinets with stained wood and pipe shelving, and use the kitchen cabinets in the laundry room. At this point, we may just get some cabinets from IKEA. -Diane and Dean of Diane and Dean DIY

Almost every plumbing-related project I’ve tried to tackle has taken longer than planned, and cost at least double what I set out to spend. -Melissa Dixon of Thirty Something Supermom

When working with used furniture, especially vintage pieces, unforeseen repairs can create delays. It’s common for vintage furniture pieces to bleed through new paint, and you must adequately seal the piece of furniture to prevent this. -Susan Handler of Saw Nail and Paint

How far in advance do you start planning for a home improvement project?

I’m a fairly decisive person, and I love to jump into projects. When we ripped down the wall in our master, it was on a whim on a Saturday afternoon. – Jennifer Polley of The Willow Farmhouse

We usually start brainstorming and planning several months before we dive into the actual work. – Jessica Panos of Honey n Hydrangea

Sometimes years. Time flies when you’re busy. – Dolly Sarrio of Hibiscus House

How do you decide whether to DIY a project or hire a professional?

Many times it depends on the tools the project requires. – Jessica Panos of Honey n Hydrangea

Safety is our number one concern. If we’re not comfortable doing something, we will definitely call in a professional. – Kathy Kolson of Stylish Revamp

Courtesy of Kathy Kolson of Stylish Revamp

It depends on the scope and scale of the project. Am I moving an outlet 12 inches to the left?  Can do!  Am I rewiring a house?  Hello, electrician! At some point, you will need help. Always do the research on reputable contractors, and if you like their work, keep going back to them. – Diane and Dean of Diane and Dean DIY

You have to know and recognize your limits. My husband is an incredible carpenter and handyman, but he is not an electrician. When we had our electric panel upgraded last year, we hired an electrician. – Pam Baker of The Birch Cottage

What are your tips for creating and adhering to a budget?

Research what you will need - I can’t say that enough. Keep a journal, and allow extra time to gather all materials needed for the project. It’s amazing how prices differ for the same item. – Dolly Sarrio of Hibiscus House

I really rely on other bloggers’ DIY projects. When we painted the countertops for instance, I looked up other bloggers’ posts on the subject, tweaked the project to fit my own vision, and was able to create a budget based on what they spent. The beauty of DIY? You save a ton of money on labor, so there’s always a little room for error. – Jennifer Polley of The Willow Farmhouse

My best advice is to add 30 percent more to each project budget than you think you’ll spend. This way, when you come under budget, you’re relieved rather than frustrated when you spend more on a project. – Melissa Dixon of Thirty Something Supermom

In what areas do you try to save money when tackling a DIY project?

Make sure you purchase from reputable dealers. I don’t suggest that you buy inferior-quality materials, or replacing them will cost you more in the long run. Buy the best for the least, and you can’t go wrong. – Dolly Sarrio of Hibiscus House

By reusing materials whenever possible. We recently renovated our master bedroom, and noticed the vent covers were a little dingy. Rather than buying new covers, we used a can of white spray paint left over from another project to bring new life to our otherwise perfect vent covers. – Pam Baker of The Birch Cottage

I save money by searching thrift shops or online for materials that I need for my projects. I also find a way to use what I have before purchasing new.  Sometimes a little updating of something I already have can go a long way. – Susan Handler of Saw Nail and Paint

Ready for more DIY inspiration? Check out Zillow Digs.


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