Home » Homesteading » DIY Projects

DIY Projects

DIY Projects can save a great deal of money around the home. An older home is full of projects just waiting to be done but even if you live in a more modern home you can get creative to make it more characterful and unique.

Table of Contents
Saving Money on DIY Projects
Easy DIY Projects
Renovating
Projects Inside the Home
Projects Outside the Home

Saving Money on DIY Projects

Save money by repurposing anything you can find whether that be something already in your home that is looking old and tired, a useful item a friend is throwing out or a bargain find.

Bargains can be found at second hand stores, auctions, internet classified adds or garage sales.  Don’t be afraid to bargain down the price or try purchasing two items for a reduced price.

If you know someone in the building industry, they might have leftover scraps of timber and other materials they might be willing to sell to you cheap.

Be sure to check discount bins at hardware stores however beware of anything electrical in case there is a fault.

Try this guide on Repairing a Shoe Heel or Making Bird Baths from Scrap Materials.

DIY Bird Baths Made from Scrap Materials
A simple bird bath from scrap materials.

Easy DIY Projects

Restoring Old Furniture – Restoring furniture requires sanding back to the original wood, oiling or staining then applying coats of varnish to protect it for the years to come.  This is a satisfying job and the end result will look so much better than the new furniture you can buy today.

Painting a Slow Combustion Wood Heater – Buy paint specifically for wood stoves that can be used with high temperatures.  Make sure the heater is cold and clean before painting.  If painting inside it is best to use a pot of paint then brush it on.  Spray paint tends to find its way to where you don’t want it!

Wood Box – Now you have painted your heater try creating a wood box to place beside it.  This will save lugging in wood all the time and letting out that precious warm air.  A box can be a simply constructed frame with flat boards covering the sides and bottom.  Stain then varnish to suit your décor.

Restoring Rusty Gates and Screen Doors – Sand off any loose rust then paint with an all in one primer and top coat specially made for covering rust, usually an epoxy enamel. Try this guide on Restoring a Rusty Gate.

How to restore a rusty gate
A restored old gate.

Making a Bed Head – Bed Heads don’t have to be elaborate to look good.  A simple bed head with two posts either side and flat boards across the middle can be stained your preferred colour to match your existing décor.

If you are handy with a router you can always try making a design in the cross boards to give it a unique look.

Basic Side Tables – Now you have made your bedhead why not try making matching side tables.  You don’t have to have drawers; just use four square posts for legs with timber in between to keep them stable then use flat boards on the top and half way down to create a top and shelf.

For more money saving projects try this category on Repairing and Recycling Projects.

Renovating

There are some renovating jobs anyone can do while others will need expert advice. Always keep safety in mind when attempting DIY Projects.

Things you should never do yourself:

Electrical – It is against the law unless you are licensed.  If the electrics aren’t done properly you can be shocked or even killed.  You could also burn the house down.

Plumbing – By law you also need a licensed plumber.  The last thing you would want is water leaking inside your walls creating mould and rotting the timber.

Moving Walls – Get a builder in to make sure any walls you want to move are not supporting walls.

Gas Appliances – The last thing you want is a gas leak. There have been many reports of homes exploding due to leaking gas pipes.

Things to consider getting an expert in for:

Roofs – I have replaced an iron roof before and you can save a considerable amount of money however don’t even think about doing it yourself if you have a fear of heights.  Also, you will need to invest in a safety harness.  It is easy to slip off the roof especially first thing in the morning when there is dew.

Installation of a Wood Fire – Freestanding slow combustion wood fires can be installed yourself.  The main issue is the positioning of the fire and height of the flue to meet local government regulations. 

Installation of Windows – Installing windows on the second floor of a building is tricky even for the experts. You may need to hire a crane or scaffolding.

Flooring – It is best to get an expert in for carpets as you need the correct tools to lay them.  Vinyl can be replaced yourself and existing floorboards can be refinished without a professional but other flooring such as floating floors can be tricky to get right which may cause you more expense than if you had paid extra to have it laid. Try this guide on Restoring Floorboards.

Applying natural linseed to the sanded floorboards.
The natural linseed oil gives the floor a warm yellow tint.

Tiles – Tiling takes a little practice.  Try tiling a laundry to see if this is something you are able to do yourself before tackling a bathroom.  Remember bathrooms will need a water proof membrane before the tiles go on.

Projects anyone can do:

DIY Projects Inside the Home

Painting – Painting walls, trim and furniture is an easy job.  Picking out the colours then seeing the end result is fun and rewarding. In an older home or if you have an existing colour on your walls other than white you will need to use a primer before the top coats. 

The primer will give you a good base for the top coats especially if they are lighter in colour.  Some primers will also help to make your walls smoother.  Even though it costs more money and time it is worthwhile to prime your walls.

Replacing Plasterboard (Drywall) – You will need to get an electrician in to remove any power points or switches in the way. Once you have removed the old plasterboard and any nails this is a good chance to put in insulation. 

Install the new plasterboard by cutting to size if necessary.  Use a sharp knife to cut the front of the board then snap it backwards.  Use the knife to cut the paper on the back. 

Use plasterboard screws to screw the board onto the wall ensuring the head of the screw is just below the face of the board.  In old houses you may need to predrill the holes with a drill bit smaller than the screw you are using.

Plastering – Apply a base coat to fill the join then place tape over the top while the base coat is still wet.  Apply another thin layer of base coat over the top of the tape then leave to dry.  Fill any screw holes.

Lightly sand over the base coat then apply a thin top coat wider than the base coat.  Apply a top coat to any screw holes.  Leave to dry then lightly sand.

Apply another top coat wider than the previous coat.  Leave to dry then sand off with fine grit sand paper or a circular sander.

Mesh tape is easier to use than the paper tape as you will have to make sure the paper tape doesn’t get air bubbles underneath.

For more projects try this category on Home Restoration Projects.

DIY Projects Outside the Home

Cement Sheeting – Older houses use cement sheeting on the walls and ceiling.  Line out any outside areas such as a garage, eaves or veranda with cement sheeting.  Use fibre cement flat head nails.  You may need to predrill old timber with a drill bit smaller than the diameter of the nail. 

Use props to hold up ceiling sheets as they can get heavy especially if you are trying to nail while holding up the sheet!  Use plastic joiners or timber cover strips for the joins.  You will need to use hardwood strips for any outside areas.

Verandas and pergolas – You will need to check your local council guidelines to see if you need permission to put up any new structures outside your home.  For veranda floors you can use decking, a cement slab can be laid or use paving stones for a Mediterranean look.

Siding – Wood siding that is rotting can be easily replaced.  Remove the old siding with a jimmy bar, remove any nails then install insulation if needed. 

You can buy fibre cement siding which is more durable and cheaper, the traditional wood siding or vinyl siding which can contain some insulation and doesn’t require painting.  Start at the bottom then once you have your level right the rest will go up fairly easily.

Insulation – Always wear long sleeves and pants, protective eyewear and most importantly a dust mask so you don’t breathe in any of the fine particles.  Make sure each cavity is completely filled with insulation.  Batts can be easily cut with a hand saw.

It is best to get an expert in when installing foil insulation in the attic or near any wiring.  This has been known to cause electrocution.

For more projects for the garden try this category on Garden DIY Projects.

Tip

When attempting any DIY projects around the home always keep safety in mind especially when working at heights, using insulation and power tools.  If in doubt call in an expert.  The risks just aren’t worth it.

For more projects try the category Do It Yourself Projects.

To Print or Save this guide on DIY Projects, click the button below for the PFD File.

Do you like vintage items? Try my Etsy shop Caraway Keepsakes.