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Home maintenance and decoration: can I do this job myself?

Here are a few gardening, cleaning and decorating jobs that, with ample enthusiasm and the right tricks and tools, you can have a go at yourself.

In this article

1. Gardening

Lawn maintenance

Lawn care professionals may have lots of fancy gadgets to remove thatch or feed and aerate your lawn, but lots of these jobs can be undertaken yourself, provided your lawn is in reasonable condition. A standard garden rake run along the surface of the grass from time to time will remove debris and prevent build up of thatch. Similarly, a garden fork plunged into the lawn regular intervals can adequately aerate the grass. Visit a garden centre for advice on how best to feed and water your lawn.

Read more lawn care advice

Tree stump removal

You should always use a professional tree stump removal contractor for stumps that are larger than 5” in diameter. But smaller stumps can sometimes be dug our yourself. You’ll need to wear protective gear and use a mattock – a tool that looks like a pick axe with a flat blade on one side. Cut around the outside of the stump before removing as much of the root system as you can.

2. Cleaning

Oven and hobs cleaning

Professional oven cleaners can help with really stubborn, stuck-on spills but for everything else, you can do a good job with some simple tools, homemade cleaning solutions and a bit of old-fashioned elbow grease. Unless you’ve a stainless steel hob, invest in an oven scraper. This small tool, which you’ll find in some supermarkets or online, has a retractable blade and removes grime from ceramic or enamel surfaces with minimal effort. Bicarbonate of soda solution is easily made (simply mix a little soda with water) and makes light work of a mucky oven.

Read more about cleaning your microwave, oven or hob.  

Carpet and upholstery cleaning

Carpet and upholstery cleaning is best left to the professionals when you want to refresh the whole carpet or suite, but spills and stains can often be treated yourself. A spot of pre-emptive product buying and trying means you’ll be ready when the inevitable happens! Test the cleaning product on an inconspicuous area of the fabric or carpet first to make sure it won’t cause irreversible damage or discolouration. When working on a stain, start at the outside and work inwards. Spray the product onto a cloth, rather than directly onto the carpet or upholstery, and try to blot the stain away rather than rubbing.

Read more about cleaning your carpet and upholstery and removing common stubborn stains.


3. Painting and decorating

Painting interior woodwork

Painting skirting boards plus door and window frames is a reasonably quick and cost-effective way to refresh your home. Invest in good quality materials (cheap topcoats, for example, can quickly become yellow) and spend some time planning the work and properly preparing the surfaces before making a start with primer and/or undercoat. A little patience goes a long way when it comes to the topcoat. You’ll find that you quickly become confident with the paint brush but, if you make a mistake, simply allow to dry and then sand away the excess before re-applying the paint.

Read more about painting home woodwork yourself.

Painting walls and ceilings

You might take longer than a professional painter and decorator, but there’s a great sense of satisfaction, plus bragging rights, to be had by painting a room yourself. A telescopic roller makes light work of painting a ceiling without a ladder, while a bit of practice will have you ‘cutting in’ with an angled brush like pro in no time. Resist the temptation to skip the preparation and cleaning of the surfaces before you start painting for the best possible finish and remember to move or cover everything in case of mishaps or paint spatter. Buy the best paints you can afford so you can enjoy the fruits of your labour for longer.

Read our tips for painting tricky areas such as ceilings, corners and skirting boards.

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