6 Tasks DIYers Should Almost Always Do Themselves, According to Reddit

published May 18, 2022
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2 people, one on a ladder, painting the walls of a house white. The ceiling is exposed wood. There is a window letting in daylight and trees are outside
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There are few classic adages that hold up well throughout life, but one of them is this: Practice makes perfect. This is especially true if you’re a DIYer, since even the so-called “easiest” tasks — like hammering in a nail, painting a wall, or hanging a picture frame — requires some getting used to. There’s a learning curve for everything, and home improvement projects are no different. Which is why so many people decide to throw up their hands and just hire a professional. 

You shouldn’t feel any shame in letting a pro take over when you can’t or shouldn’t do something yourself, but you should also know the difference between “this will take some practice” and “this is way outside my level of expertise.” Recently, one Reddit user asked the Home Improvement subreddit to share which projects a DIYer should “almost always” do themselves, and the answers should help you to determine how to assess common home problems. With some practice and a little patience, these are the six projects these Redditors think you can probably take on yourself. After all, in this case, practice can lead to a home that’s perfect for you. 

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You can probably do most paint jobs — but know there’s a learning curve.

Painting is usually billed as a straightforward, budget-friendly overhaul that you can likely do with a few tools over the course of a weekend. There were commenters who agreed with this sentiment, however, the process does take some finesse. “I’m currently painting my house myself with no experience because the professional quote was $9,000,” says u/Rheanne. “I hope I do a better job than your previous owners.”

You can most likely handle it if you take your time with prep — like using painter’s tape to cover outlets and baseboards — and do any necessary research on surfaces and finishes (like how to properly cover a textured wall). The conversation was split on this subject, but consider this to be an under-celebrated skill you can hone over time. 

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It takes time, but installing trim is doable.

Trim that looks clean and seamless gives off an air of professionalism, but the truth is, getting this job done is all about knowing your measurements and maintaining a steady hand. If your trim could use an update in any way, it’s possible to make it happen on your own. 

“Thanks to YouTuber ‘Finish Carpentry TV,’ I was able to learn to use the right tools and do something fabulous with exactly zero experience,” says u/gardenbrain. “Yes, it took forever, I made a lot of mistakes, and there are some questionable bits that nobody notices, but it’s so much better than it was. Now I’m a trim-it-yourself evangelist.”

If you’re intimidated by power saws, you have a couple options. First, when you buy from a home center, you can ask them to cut the trim to the correct size and angles. You can also buy a hand saw and a miter box, which will do the job for under $30 total.

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You can DIY some appliance fixes, as long as the problem is obvious.

Many Redditors agreed that fixing an appliance, such as a rattling dishwasher or washing machine, can have a DIY fix after watching a few trustworthy YouTube videos and determining the issue at hand.

“Called someone to look at [our leaky dishwasher], and he really didn’t do that much diagnosing, then sent us a proposal to replace the rubber outside in the bottom door seal for $250,” says u/TootsNYC. “I did some YouTube searches and posted on a couple of Reddit forums, and I ordered the bottom door seal for $13 and a new wash arm for $35. I changed the wash-arm first, [and] the problem seems to be solved.”

But if the issue can’t be figured out, or if you think the appliance needs to be pulled apart to find the culprit, rethink those plans. Like any puzzle, it always seems easier to accomplish when you’re looking at the full picture — but the worst situation to find yourself in is with a disassembled appliance you don’t know how to put back together.

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Handling demo on your own can happen, with a catch.

If you’ve ever watched anyone demo a house — whether they’re on HGTV or otherwise —doing this type of heavy lifting seems like it could be a lot of fun. The process of taking down drywall, hammering off tiles, or ripping up carpet can be done by a DIYer, just as long as you or an on-hand pro can keep tabs on gas and electrical lines if you’re dealing with walls. 

“My friend bought an older home and had a demo party where a bunch of us and some kids (who were given appropriate supervised jobs) all came over on [the] weekend and gutted the house down to [the] studs,” says user u/mykidsarecrazy. “An electrician was there to properly deal with outlets and things, as well as a gas fitter. There was pizza, beer, pop, snacks… it was awesome.”

One thing to also note is that this is a very physical job, as one commenter pointed out. As long as you can handle the workout (and recovery), it could be worth the consideration to save a few bucks, even if you’re having pros take on the renovation.

Electricity isn’t to be taken lightly, but you can handle a few details.

Plenty of Redditors noted that they can handle electrical duties on their own — after lots and lots of experience, and with plenty of precautions. But as you gain knowledge, there are a few things that can still be done in this realm. Changing switch and outlet covers, light fixtures, and even light bulbs are just a few tasks commenters agree that you can do on your own (yes, someone said that they knew an electrician who was hired to change light bulbs)

From there, you can work on replacing an outlet or a switch, as long as you’re very, very sure the breakers are off. Take this story as a warning: “I also replaced some outlets last year and one wasn’t working so I flipped the breaker and went back to check, felt a tingle in my hand, and decided to call my friend the electrician,” says user u/BJMramage. “I did not flip the correct breaker.”

If you’re going to be working with electricity, an absolutely essential tool you’ll need is a voltage tester. Always assume that wires are live until you use a voltage tester to confirm that there is no electricity running through them. If you don’t, you could be hit with much more than a “tingle.”

Keeping your plumbing clear is a DIY-friendly task.

Some Redittors commented that it’s relatively easy to install a new toilet or replace a flapper valve, but if that seems like a more advanced class than the one you’re taking, here’s something everyone should do to keep their home in working order: snake their drains. 

“I think that is pretty safe and will save a lot of money for the effort,” says user u/aviationdrone. Preventative measures were repeatedly brought up as a way to keep professional repair costs down — like replacing filters, routinely cleaning ducts, and monitoring furnaces — but this low-stakes project can be done more effortlessly than most. All it takes is a few minutes and a handheld tool to help stave off future blockages (and costly plumber visits).