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DIY vs Pro: the big debate

Doing your own home improvements can help you to save money but only if it’s done properly. DIY disasters can be costly and unsafe. Some tasks are always best left to the professionals – while others are suited for DIY.

DIY vs Pro
DIY vs Pro

Tasks suited to DIY


Tiling is a skilled task but there are guides to help the DIYer get a good result whether you’re tiling a kitchen splashback, a shower cubicle or the entire bathroom. Give yourself time to choose the tiling pattern, calculate tile quantities and prepare the wall for tiling. Of course, you’ll need the right tools and materials for the job. Essential tools include tile cutter and hacksaw (to cut trim). In addition to tiles, you’ll need filler, tile adhesive, spacers, sealant, grout and multi-purpose cloths. 

Painting walls

Painting the walls is one of the simplest ways to refresh a tired room with faded or unfashionable décor. However, it’s not as quick or simple as slapping on a new coat of paint. There’s a lot of preparation to be done first to get a flawless finish - washing down the walls, patching every hole and rubbing smooth. You will need masking tape as well as drop clothes to protect carpets and wood floors from paint spills and splatters. Painting is home improvement project that can quickly turn into a DIY disaster if you’re not careful. See our top tips on how to paint a wall

Fitting laminate flooring

Few floors are easy to install but laminate is the exception and suitable for a DIY project. If you are handy with a handsaw, you may want to give this one a go but be aware a high-speed electric saw is recommended to ensure a good finish. There’s plenty of good advice out there – DIY websites and instructional videos – on how to accurately measure a room to get a perfect fit and placing laminate flooring around door frames and floor edging. Plus, laminate is relatively cheap, so if you make a mistake, it’s not too costly to redo.


Hanging wallpaper has become a lot quicker and easier, thanks to innovations like ‘paste the wall’ wallpaper. It’s simpler because there’s no need to apply the paste to the wallpaper, fold it and let it soak before hanging. Nor is there any need for a pasting table – saving time compared to traditional wallpaper hanging methods. There are still some jobs that you need to do to ensure your walls are fully ready, such as scraping off any existing wallpaper and unscrewing fixings. There are plenty of guides available to help you hang the wallpaper to get a smooth finish without air bubbles or creases. 


Sometimes adding a few accessories can improve the look of a room without an expensive remodel. Putting up shelves is a rite of passage for many novice DIYers. Whether for displaying treasured family photos or storing books, fixed shelves must be sturdy and perfectly level. The tools you’ll need include a spirit level, drill, masonry or wood bit to fit wall plugs and screwdriver. It’s a good idea to check the walls with battery-powered pipe and wire detector so as not to drill through any hidden pipes or cables.

Jobs best left to the pros

Electrical and gas

It’s never a good idea to attempt electrical or gas DIY projects, such as fitting a new hob, oven or boiler. Working with electricity (especially in wet areas) or gas can be lethal and there are rules and regulations that must be followed. For example, electric showers need earthing. DIY errors cause half of all serious electric shocks in UK homes, according to campaign group Electrical Safety First. Its “Don’t Die for DIY” campaign warns people not to put their lives at risk by following unqualified YouTube DIYers or electrical advice you find online. Always leave gas and electric work to the professionals. To find an electrician in your local area see


Plumbing is also best left to the pros.  While there are basic jobs that homeowners can take on themselves, such as fixing a dripping tap, it’s always better to enlist the help of plumbing professionals for more technically complex work. A plumber has the right training, equipment and experience to get the job done properly whether it’s moving pipes for a bathroom refurb or laying new ones for a kitchen extension. The last thing you want is to turn on the water supply to your home again and leaky pipes flood your beautiful new bathroom or kitchen. Plumbing DIY disasters can lead to problems with damp and even fallen ceilings.

Structural changes

Structural changes are not recommended without an experienced professional as it could weaken the property or break building regulations. Before knocking down a wall, seek advice from a qualified professional, such as a structural engineer or architect, to see if it’s a load-bearing wall. It’s an extra cost but it can save a lot of stress and money in the long run. You can also use an architect to help you come up with imaginative design solutions that makes the most of your space and budget. To find a surveyor see and/or an architect

 Cabinets/countertops/kitchen refits/bathroom refurbs

Installing new cabinets doesn’t always require hiring a professional but does need a certain amount of DIY skills and basic tools. Cabinets need to be perfectly level and doors and drawers close properly or they will will look shoddy and appliances may fit poorly. Consulting a professional is a sensible move if the job looks too complex and/or is beyond your capabilities. Many kitchen or bathroom suppliers offer installation by independent fitters. When you buy cabinets, ask for referrals. The job often goes a lot smoother if you hire an installer who is familiar with the products you’ve purchased.

DIY can be very rewarding if you get it right. If you get it wrong, it can look amateurish and at worst, be potentially lethal. Electrics, gas, plumbing, structural changes and complex jobs like kitchen or bathroom refits are always best left to the the pros. However, doing the decorating yourself can help you to save money.