14 DIY Don'ts to Avoid

From paint gone bad to glue snafus, HGTV Magazine shares these common blunders and how to avoid them.
By: Jessica Dodell-Feder

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

©Jack Parker for DIY Network.

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Photo By: Rob Howard

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Photo By: Dan Zettwoch

Prevent DIY Disaster

Heed our advice (and that of some trusted HGTV pros), and you’ll never make the same mistakes again.

Don’t Close a Bottle of Glue Too Soon

Don’t close a bottle crafts glue immediately after using it. This is a surefire way to clog the cap. To keep it clear, wipe the tip with a damp paper towel, then before closing the bottle, stand it upright for several seconds so the glue can drain down.

Don’t Paint From the Can

Don’t paint directly from the can. You may end up contaminating an entire gallon if you dip a dirty or dusty paintbrush into a can of paint. Instead, pour some into a smaller container and keep the larger can closed, opening it only when you need more.

Don’t Work Ahead

Don’t cut fabric for upholstery without laying it over the piece of furniture first. Always drape the fabric—especially if it’s a pattern—over whatever you’re covering to make sure you have enough fabric to work with and the design is centered. Only once you know exactly how it will line up should you make your cuts.

Don’t Spray-Paint on Newspaper

It may seem like a smart idea to protect your work surface with newspaper, but it’s so lightweight, a blast of paint can cause the paper to fly up and stick to your project. Heavier materials like cardboard or brown kraft paper are better.

Don’t Press Too Hard

Don’t press hard when cutting with a crafts knife. You may think using a lot of pressure will make a cleaner slice, but pushing down too much on a crafts knife gives you less control, which can cause crooked cuts, a broken blade, or even an injury if your hand slips. Instead, drag the knife over the material in multiple light passes.

Don’t Be Exclusive

Don’t sand with only one kind of sandpaper. To get a supersmooth finish, start with a coarser sandpaper (80 grit) that’s rough enough to cut through any nicks or old finishes, then work your way up to a finer sandpaper (220 grit).

Don’t Dry Out Markers

Don’t store markers with the tips facing up or down. Take a hint from arts supply stores—they always rest markers on their side. If a marker is cap up, it could dry out. If it’s cap down, the ink could pool at the tip and create blotches.

Don’t Sand Paint Off Vintage Furniture

“There’s a chance older pieces—usually from before 1978—may contain lead paint, so avoid sanding them if you can. If you really want to refinish the item, make sure to wear a mask, gloves, and protective eyewear.” —Cari Cucksey, Cash & Cari

Don’t Split Wood

Don’t drive a screw into wood without drilling a pilot hole first. “It’s tempting to just put a screw into wood and hope for the best, but you risk splitting the wood that way. It’s smarter to drill a pilot hole first, using a bit that’s slightly smaller in diameter than the screw.”—Chris Grundy, DIY Network’s Cool Tools

Don’t Forget the Seal

Don’t forget to seal painter’s tape to your walls. “Paint can bleed under even really good tape if you don’t seal it to your walls before painting. Use an object with a flat edge, like an old credit card, to firmly press it down.”—Matt Muenster, DIY Network’s Bath Crashers

Don’t Paint on a Rainy Day

“Water-based latex paints will take longer to dry when there’s lots of moisture in the air.”—Amie Sikes (left), Junk Gypsies

Don’t Peel Off a Stencil Too Late

Don’t wait until paint has completely dried to peel off a stencil. Stencils can stick to dry paint, so when you remove them, you might peel off some paint, too. Instead, wait a minute or two after filling in the stencil, then pull it off while the paint is still wet.

Don’t Cut Ribbon Straight Across

To prevent frayed ends, hold the ribbon taut and snip it at a 45-degree angle. You can also coat the ribbon’s edges with clear nail polish.

Don’t Leave Ink on a Stamp

Old ink could show up on your next project or blur your image. To clean the stamp, press it repeatedly on scrap paper until the image is faint. If the ink is water-based, rub the stamp with an alcohol-free baby wipe or a damp sponge. If the ink is permanent, use a special stamp cleaner (available at crafts stores).