6 Reddit Stories of Home Improvement Mistakes—and How to Fix Them

updated Aug 28, 2020
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Have you ever gone into a DIY renovation project thinking, “This’ll be a breeze!,” only to find no said breeze while it takes you triple the time (and money) you imagined it would? The truth is, you can prep for a reno as much as humanly possible, but sometimes, it’s inevitable that you’re going to learn from your mistakes. Or, you can learn from Redditors’ mistakes before doing it yourself. (That sounds like a better plan, yes?)

The DIY and The Hivemind Improving Homes subreddits are filled with nuggets of information pulled from “uh oh” moments Redditors have shared. While users often post problems to seek advice from their fellow community, in turn the community also benefits from understanding the problem, what went wrong, and how they ended up fixing it so they can avoid the same situation from happening to them.

Whether you’re here to prep a DIY project, seek comfort in a mistake you’ve made, or just learn for the fun of it, we rounded up some Reddit renovation mishaps that—thanks to input from other Redditors and some luck—ended up just fine.

Credit: Shutterstock/Maryna Patzen

Mistake: Redditor UnaskedSausage turned to the r/DIY community after trying to fix cracked paint on their dining room trim. They attempted to take matters into their own hands by spending weeks peeling, scraping, sanding, and cleaning down the original wood to smooth it out, then using a primer and painting it over with white paint. That’s when the cracking started to resurface, and UnaskedSausage was at a loss for what went wrong.

Solution: It turns out, cracked paint is usually an indicator of laying on the paint too heavy. One user wrote, “Mud cracking usually indicates too thick. Load the brush less, and move the paint into a thinner coat.” Another Redditor went more into detail: “Use correct coating specification and compatible materials. Avoid excessive film thickness. Avoid application at high ambient temperatures.” Translation: time to start over and do it the right way.

Credit: Shutterstock/Kristi Blokhin

Mistake: As a first renovation project, user PurplePrincess98 decided to tackle their parents’ bathroom. There was no accessible way to remove the wallpaper behind the toilet, so they decided to pull the toilet tank off to get the job done. PurplePrincess98 opted to take their dad’s advice over looking it up and simply unscrewed the tank before lifting it up—and that’s when water started to gush out from under the wall.

“The pipe snapped off in the wall,” the Redditor wrote. “The water came through two of the downstairs ceilings, and lights, and soaked much of the drywall in the bathroom. Thousands of dollars in repair.”

Solution: As PurplePrincess98 quickly learned, always disconnect the toilet from the plumbing. Oh, and although parents can be go-to resources when it comes to a home improvement question, it’s always a good idea to give things a quick Google.

Credit: Shutterstock/New Africa

Mistake: Redditor Bonsacked purchased a new bedroom door to replace an old one, and even though they purchased the same size, it didn’t seem to fit. When they tried to hang it with hinges in the exact spot as before, it wouldn’t close—and it turns out its because they didn’t chisel out the mortise first.

Solution: According to one commenter, if you purchase a hanging door at a retailer, chances are it’s not going to be beveled because they’re designed to fit the needs of various buyers. There are multiple ways of going about shaving down the door to match the old one—from using a circular saw to trying out a chisel set. From Bonsacked’s update of “I see what I did wrong. Thank you everyone for your advice,” it sounds like they’re well on their way to a fitted door.

Mistake: In an effort to make a DIY quicker, Redditor larsvonawesome decided to use some leftover spray paint to complete his son’s chalkboard wall. “Thinking it would be a quick project, I taped off the area and drug part of the tarp I already had out over,” they wrote. Things were going smoothly—or so larsvonawesome thought—until his wife pointed out “you got spray paint all over the new carpet.”

Let this be a lesson to always cover as much ground as possible with tarp when it comes to taking on a painting project—especially when you’re indoors. But the Redditor was already past the point of no return, so others had some advice on how to get spray paint overspray off carpet (shampoo and face shaver). But for a more thorough step-by-step rundown, check out our complete guide here.

Credit: Kathleen Finlay/Getty Images

Mistake: Redditor Yonnebay was quick to get to the point of their SOS—they didn’t cover the floors when painting the living room, and now they’re left with dots and spots everywhere. So the user turned to the r/HomeImprovement community to hopefully help them undo the damage.

Solution: Ask and ye shall receive! Redditors jumped at the opportunity to recommend their favorite products for removing dry paint off floors, and even a professional painter made a guest appearance. “Krud Kutter is the best to use on dry paint,” they wrote. “If it’s wet, get a towel and pour straight cold water on it and use the towel to do a transfer. Works like a charm.” Goof Off multi-surface remover was another highly recommended option, which Yonnebay decided to go with—and it worked. “Five cans of Goof Off and hours later, my floor is now back to its former glory.”

Credit: Shutterstock/sima

Mistake: User cmackmason wanted to replace old laminate floors, and when it came to the kitchen, they decided to start chipping away at the tile until they were able to remove it. However, the deed resulted in a layer thinset—a mix of cement, fine sand and a water retaining agent—which the Redditor decided to remove by using a grinder.

However, just two days later, his father noticed that there was a paper layer underneath the tinset that was crushed up, and he raised concern that the Redditor should get the materials tested. Turns out, the paper tested positive for asbestos.

Solution: Obviously, the Redditor moved himself and his family out immediately, and upon returning they’ll clear out any clothes, sheets, and any other fabrics that were exposed to the fine powder. Luckily, they caught it when they did, but it’s a good reminder for anyone working on an older house to get materials tested before any projects. Take it straight from cmackmason: “IF YOU ARE IN A HOME BUILT PRIOR TO 1980 PLEASE MAKE SURE TO TAKE PROPER PRECAUTIONS AND GET THE MATERIALS YOU ARE WORKING WITH TESTED BEFORE PROCEEDING TO DEMO ANYTHING.”

For more on safety measures you can take to prevent this, check out this guide to asbestos in the home.