Tips for doing DIY on a budget

Giving something new a go can breathe fresh air into your daily routine, whether it’s learning to dance, trying a new sport, or even achieving zen through mindfulness. If you want to start simple, how about a spot of DIY? A home makeover can be a great way to flex your creativity and give your surroundings a new lease of life. Here’s some tips on making your money go further when you next spot some room for improvement and decide to ‘do it yourself’. 

Woman painting an old chair in pink

Upcycle old furniture

Repainting a drab wall isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but upcycling an old bit of furniture into something bright and beautiful can be an enjoyable creative challenge.

The ways you can upcycle are only limited by your imagination.

For example, a lick of paint and some new handles can be a cheap way to revitalise dreary bedside tables. Search online to see what’s possible, and then hunt down some step-by-step video tutorials on how to turn that dated chest of drawers into a cabinet of curiosities.

Before you throw something away, think about what decorating ideas it could be used for.

With a little work, corks become place-card holders; painted wine bottles evolve into candle holders and Mason jars transform into bathroom organisers. Every pound you save through upcycling can go towards something else in your monthly budget. Here’s a few more upcycling ideas:

  • Instead of buying new furniture, upgrade the handles on your wardrobes and give your bedside tables a facelift by applying adhesive contact paper with a marbled or patterned effect for that luxe look.
  • Add personality to curtains, cushions and throws with handmade pom-poms, or use inexpensive rubber stamps to block-print patterns.
  • Use washi tape (a decorative masking tape) to add accents to walls.
  • Spray-paint old photo frames to give them a new lease of life.
  • Fill a large Mason jar with battery-operated fairy lights to brighten a dark corner.

Think small

It’s amazing how lots of small individual touch-ups to your home décor can add up to a big transformation. Here’s a few simple examples which together could make a big difference.

  • Whiten tile grout with a whitening pen to keep it looking fresh.
  • Fill cracks in plaster or wood with an all-purpose filler.
  • Refinish wood, metal or brick surfaces with a coat of spray paint.
  • Cover marks on paintwork with a paint tester pot that matches your walls, or get rid of grime with a magic eraser sponge.
  • A vase of flowers will brighten up any room. Fresh flowers from the market are usually much cheaper than in supermarkets.
  • Use a photo printing and delivery app and hang the photos from your wall with pegs and string. Some apps offer free photos and charge for delivery only.
  • Use chalkboard paint to create a shopping list on your kitchen wall or the back of a door – it’ll turn any surface into a chalkboard.
  • Use white self-adhesive trunking to hide cables.

Protect your purchases

A credit card could offer protection when making a series of smaller purchases, which could give you extra peace of mind when embarking on a DIY project that requires lots of purchases from a range of suppliers. As long as each transaction is between £100 and £3,000, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 may cover you if goods are faulty or not delivered. If you buy something for under £100 and there’s a problem, you won’t be covered by Section 75 but you might still be able to make a Chargeback claim now known as a Dispute.

Rent your power tools

Unless you’re a DIY fanatic, it could be cheaper to rent power tools from stores than buy them. If you rent by the hour, you’ll want to get up and running as soon as you get home, so make sure you pick up detailed instructions and ask questions before you leave the store. It could be a good idea to do all the prep work in the house, like marking out the drilling holes, before getting the drill. Better still, ask your neighbours if they have any tools you can borrow – just don't forget to give them back.

Purchase protection can be particularly handy when buying tools online. For example, if you order a drill set costing £110 and it doesn’t arrive, you maybe protected for the whole amount.

Revamp interiors with soft furnishings

DIY and decorating needn’t be time-intensive or expensive. You can transform a space just by using some soft furnishings. If the living room’s looking tired, a new throw or set of cushions could bring that old armchair up to date. You can even make your own cushion covers from old clothes or by using fabric from a haberdashery. Get inspiration by searching online for ‘the most beautiful fabrics in the world’.

Looking to spread the cost of smaller DIY projects? A credit card could be an option – find out more about Barclaycard’s range of cards. With all credit cards, it’s important to stick to your credit limit, make repayments on time and only borrow what you can afford to repay.

Need more know-how? You can still Do It Yourself

You could make big savings by taking on a DIY or decorating project instead of hiring a private contractor. However, if you’re planning a large project or any changes that could impact the structure of your building, the plumbing, gas, or any electrical work, it’s essential to get professional advice and check the qualifications of anyone you hire.

Measure twice, cut once, is a useful rule for getting it right first time, but the trick to achieving the perfect result is doing your research.

What materials and tools will you need? How long will it take? Do you have the required DIY or decorating skills? Sometimes it’s wise to get the builders in for part or all of the project. If you’ve got the confidence and time, a quick search online for ‘How to put up a shelf’ or ‘How to seal a bath’ will give you a number of step-by-step video guides.

If you decide to hire a tradesperson for your next project, you can always check their credentials on a trade comparison site. Type in their name or search for accredited members by postcode and you’ll be shown a score based on customer reviews. If they’re undertaking work that impacts your gas supply or appliances, check they’re licensed.

What's next?

Home improvement projects are a great way to upgrade your DIY skills while upgrading your home. The only limits to your projects are your imagination and, of course, your budget.

Dipping into your savings to fund home improvements is a good way to avoid paying interest, but if you do want to spread the cost of smaller projects, we have a range of credit cards that could help. Do as much research as possible so you’re sure you know the total cost of borrowing will fit within your budget. Then let your creative juices flow.

More about our range of cards