Whether you’re in need of a project to keep you busy during the lockdown, or feel that your home could do with a refreshing spring boost, try our suggestions for DIY tasks.
Spending more time at home makes it tempting to start on the DIY projects that you’ve been meaning to do for months. With the lockdown extended for three more weeks, you might even have time to tackle several.
You’re not alone: a fifth (19%) of people have started decorating their home, or are doing more, since the start of the lockdown, according to a poll by Ipsos Mori (1,069 British adults, 10-13 April 2020).
Before you dive in, check you’re confident that you can complete the project safely. Avoid jobs involving tall ladders, power tools or other elements that could risk injury. With the NHS under pressure, now is not the time to take on tasks that put you in danger.
Need to buy the materials? Most DIY stores are currently closed, although many are offering click and collect or home delivery, and a few have started reopening their doors this week.
Find out how to buy what you need for DIY and essential repairs from B&Q, Homebase, Wickes and more.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration to touch-up your living space or a project to refresh a room, here are our suggestions:
- Paint a room
- Deal with damp
- Draught-proof your home
- Clean and re-grout your bathroom
- Clean your sofa
- Clean your carpet
- Plan future projects
Get the latest COVID-19 updates from our health, retail and consumer rights experts: Which? coronavirus advice
Repainting will give any room an instant lift, whether it’s refreshing tired walls or transforming your space with a completely different colour. Tiled bathrooms with relatively few painted surfaces are quicker to do (but more fiddly) than rooms with large expanses of wall space.
Consider the paint you choose depending on the room. For example, you can buy special mould-resistant emulsions for bathrooms, or harder-wearing emulsions for heavily used rooms, such as hallways.
Allow enough time to prep your room before you start painting. Ensuring any holes are filled, and walls sanded and washed-down will make a big difference to how neat the completed job looks.
Follow expert tips from Which? Trusted Traders to get started with decorating:
When you’ve finished, know how to clean paint brushes and rollers effectively.
While it might not sound like the most exciting task to tackle, getting to the bottom of problem damp or condensation in your home should be satisfying – and might help save you money in the long term.
The worse the situation gets, the more time, effort and money it is likely to take to resolve in future.
There are several types of damp:
- rising damp
- penetrating damp
The first step is to work out what kind of damp is affecting your home.
Condensation is the most common type of damp. It occurs when warm moist air condenses on cool walls or windows. It’s common in rooms where lots of moisture is produced, usually bathrooms and kitchens, and tends to be more of a problem in winter.
If you notice water droplets on your windows or walls, dark mould near windows and a mouldy smell, this is probably what you are dealing with.
Wipe up condensation with a cloth in the first instance. If lack of ventilation is the problem, make sure that you open windows or use an extractor fan where possible. A dehumidifier can help in some situations.
Check our expert tips on how to stop condensation.
While the days are getting warmer and sunnier, early mornings and evenings are still feeling the chill.
Draught-proofing doors and windows is a quick, cheap way to make your home feel cosier and cut your heating bills – by around £20 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Start by looking for the source of the draughts. The culprits will be uncovered gaps and openings to the outside, such as windows, doors, keyholes, letterboxes, chimneys, fireplaces and loft hatches.
Once you’ve found them, draught-proofing is fairly straightforward if you’re happy to tackle simple DIY jobs. Single-glazed windows are trickier, however.
Depending on where your draughts are coming from, you have various options including:
- Sash windows: sealants and metallic or plastic brush strips can help fill gaps around windows.
- External doors: fit a weather bar or door brush strip, or use a draught excluder.
- Letterboxes: draught excluders or plates cover the opening without blocking your post.
- Keyhole cover: stops draughts, and slides to the side when you insert your key.
- Loft hatch: foam strips around the edge of the hatch can help block draughts.
- Chimneys and fireplaces: if you don’t use the fireplace, you could fit a chimney draught excluder.
Products are available from most DIY shops (although stock may be limited, or delivery times longer, owing to coronavirus).
Find out more about draught-proofing your home, including which rooms to leave as they are.
Limescale, grime and mould building up over time will make any bathroom look tired. Fixing these will give it an instant lift.
You can buy specialist limescale-shifting and mould-cleaning products from supermarkets and DIY stores.
If those don’t do the trick, try an anti-mould grout-reviving pen. They come in different colours to match the colour of your grout (or the colour you’d like it to be).
If you have more time on your hands, you could redo the grouting entirely. Look for a product that will help prevent staining and mould growth in future, so your bathroom looks its best for longer.
Follow our tips to spruce up your old sofa or keep your new one in top condition. One in 10 of us admitted to never having cleaned their sofa* – if that’s you, now is the time to give it a go!
- Vacuum or brush your sofa to remove dirt and dust.
- Deal with spills immediately – especially if it’s red wine, tomato or curry – using plain water. Wipe lightly with a damp cloth and then immediately with a dry one. Don’t rub.
- Try stain-removing products only after you’ve tested them on a hidden area to check they don’t fade the fabric. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Some cushion covers are washable – check the labels on your sofa. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer.
Read more about how to clean your sofa, plus tips to keep new sofas looking showroom-fresh.
*Online survey of 5,715 Which? Connect members in March 2019.
Few of us are fortunate enough to own a carpet cleaner, and hiring one isn’t an option for many people at the moment.
Besides vacuuming regularly – check out our vacuum cleaner reviews if you need a new one – you can tackle small stains with carpet shampoo.
To avoid a stain ruining your carpet, act fast. The sooner you tackle it, the better the chance of removing it:
- Scrape, remove and blot as much of the stain or spill as you can.
- Test any carpet shampoo or cleaning product on an inconspicuous area first to check it won’t damage or discolour your carpet.
- Avoid using hot water, as it can make some stains worse.
- Don’t rub too hard, as this can damage the carpet fibres.
See more carpet cleaning tips, and how to tackle stains including fizzy drinks, mud, coffee and wine.
It’s hard not to compile a mental list of ‘what you want to do when this is over’. You can use any extra time you have now to plan and prepare for future projects.
Upgrading your kitchen or bathroom, getting new double glazing or planning a loft extension or conservatory are big projects that require planning and time to make a decision. There’s plenty you can do in advance to prepare.
Start looking for inspiration online, including on retailers’ websites, to get an idea of styles and prices. If you’re considering double glazing, new doors or building work, take a look at nearby properties when you’re taking your daily exercise, for inspiration or to see how a similar project looks.
Check our handy guides for ideas and practical tips to get you started:
- Kitchen design ideas, planning and costs
- Bathroom ideas, including updating your bathroom on a budget
- Loft conversion ideas
- Conservatory interior design
- Choosing double glazed windows and doors
- Is fitted bedroom furniture right for you?
Although many traders are currently only doing essential and emergency work, some are able to give quotes for future work online or over the phone, or even offer video consultations to plan projects for when the lockdown is lifted.