Our guide to DIY

Our guide to DIY

First published date February 26 2014 Amended date April 22 2015

Do you struggle at home when it comes to DIY? Does your home need a bit of a sprucing up, or a massive makeover? Regardless, if you haven’t the foggiest when it comes to DIY, or you just want to advance your already honed handiness with tools, there will be DIY courses suited to whatever your needs may be. Whether you want to turn your house inside out with a top to bottom and back up again makeover, or just a bit of wallpapering to your child’s bedroom to make it more suitable for a teenager because they’re growing up fast, we have you catered for.

Courses range from introductory sessions for those perhaps looking to delve into a bit of DIY, to other more advanced courses with professional qualifications possible upon completion –  this is more suitable if you’re looking to make a career or trade out of a DIY course.


I’m useless at DIY...

Don’t be scared off by a bit of DIY, a lot of it is to do with confidence which you will gain once learning. There are many introductory courses on offer which will take you through everything in slow steps if you are a complete beginner; after all, we all have to start from somewhere, right? DIY courses are open to all kind of people, whether you’re a beginner as mentioned or someone already into their handiwork, as long as you have an interest in DIY then course providers will be more than happy to have you on board!


Areas of DIY

Of all the courses on offer, there are of course the different disciplines and fields of DIY to delve into depending on what you want to do specifically.  However, there are also more general courses that cover DIY with an all encompassing approach.  Below are some of the more popular forms of DIY but there are many others for you to explore such as welding courses or cabinet making courses also.



Whether you’re building a wall for your front garden or a brick barbecue for some sizzling summer grilling, there are bricklaying and brickwork courses available for you. You will be shown all the basics, from the different types of brick, to the various mortar mixes used to bond the bricks together and which ones suit certain purposes or weather conditions. From there you will be taken through the actual techniques and approaches when laying bricks, from the foundations, to the patterns and spacing between each brick.

Painting and decorating

If you’re looking to do any kind of decorating such as wallpapering a bedroom, tiling a bathroom or properly painting any given wall, there will be a course available for you to learn from. Courses in painting or decorating  will teach you all the fundamentals  and higher level courses will show you more advanced and specialised techniques.  Of course, health and safety is something that can’t be ignored as you’ll almost certainly be working in a hazardous area, maybe from a great height, with chemicals like paint stripper or paint alone, and sharp tools, all of which will be covered on your course. For those looking to perhaps start a career in painting or decorating, courses are available which offer diplomas and NVQs over different levels depending on your current experience.


Have you ever tried to fix your pipes or unblock a drain only to find yourself soaked head to toe in water? Then maybe you need a course in plumbing to get your pipe-work water tight.  There are many courses available in plumbing in the UK ranging from crash courses which cover the basics to more formal and extensive courses which offer proper qualifications and job opportunities upon completion. Basic plumbing courses are excellent for anyone who needs to do minor work in their home but doesn’t fancy paying over the odds for a professional when the job isn’t too complex. But if it is a career in plumbing you’re after, courses offer various qualifications from Level 1 BTECs to Level 3 Diplomas in plumbing,


If you fancy yourself as a bit of a Bob the Builder and you’re enthusiastic about your DIY, why not take part in a carpentry course to fulfil your desire of building and crafting things? It’s always far more rewarding to build your own bookshelf or spice rack instead of popping to a home furnishings store and buying one that everyone else has in their home! It gives you the tools to be creative and unique with your everyday home essentials. Beginner courses will show you the some of the basics of joinery, gluing, and the different kinds of timber as well as tool safety.


Plastering a wall properly is a very difficult skill to master alone, so to be out of harm's way in terms of your own home and safety; why not embark on a plastering course? You’ll be shown everything from the right materials to use, how to mix the plaster and how to apply it to a wall correctly using the right hawk and trowel technique. With the right guidance and perseverance, you’ll be a sure hand at plastering and will feel rewarded by the work you managed to do yourself instead of paying a pro to do it.


Working with electricity can be dangerous, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s never 100 per cent safe to even change a light bulb in the home if the light has accidently been left on for example, so a course in some of the basics of electrical work could be very beneficial. A beginner electrician course will naturally cover everything needed for you to be safe and sound working with electricity. Hopefully you already know that water and live electricity don’t mix! Apart from safety essentials, you will learn about the physics behind electricity as well as everything to do with the wiring and circuits also.


Benefits of DIY courses

There are many benefits in taking any course related to DIY. It can either lead you on the pathway to a newfound career or just educate you to be handier around the home. With your newly discovered competence and confidence, you will have the know-how to fix that leaky tap or mend that dodgy plug socket without having to call, wait for and pay money for a plumber or electrician. Skill enhancing plus money saving is a win  win situation! Being a domestic god or goddess will get you a lot of kudos around the home too. Who knows what contraptions you will be able to make in the future?!

Finishing a longer, more comprehensive DIY course (no matter which field specifically) will generally get you the right qualifications for your career as a tradesperson. Of course, there are classes which are meant for beginners or avid DIY enthusiasts more than career people, but there are professional courses as well to get you on your way. Whether you choose plumbing or plastering, getting your Level 3 NVQs, which are available from the many courses on offer, is important for you to get your career underway.


The ideal toolbox

Anyone looking to take their DIY even remotely seriously needs to have the right tools for the job. Now, while it is traditional to say ‘a bad worker blames their tools’, you need to have some tools to be able to blame for when things go wrong! Let’s look at some of the essentials for the ideal toolbox...

Good set of screwdrivers – Essential for any work around the home and can often be bought in sets varying in sizes and function. Investing in a good quality set is also well worthwhile as bending screwdrivers that are hard to grip is a nightmare for anyone.

Tape measure and spirit level – No brainer really, these are of course essential for working accurately as any lapse in precision could prove catastrophic for any kind of handy endeavour you go on. There are many different varieties to choose from for each also depending on the kind of work you will be doing.

Torch – If you can’t see, you can’t work. Torches or headlamps are particularly useful for plumbing or electricians as you may find yourself working in small, dark corners where piping and wires are tucked away.

Claw hammer – No matter how oafish and cumbersome a hammer looks in the hands of Jeremy Clarkson, it is most certainly a very useful and important tool. Hammering nails in or clawing them out may appear caveman like but it does get the job done!

Pliers and wrenches – These are great for a number of things owing to their versatility. Pliers can be used as wrenches and vice versa depending on what you’re doing and if sizes match, but for true mobility, an adjustable wrench saves you having to carry and store loads of heavy ones around.

Electric drill – No toolset is complete without a good electric drill. That can be multi-purpose if you get different bits meaning you can also sand down and mix as well as drill. Cordless power drills can be very handy but expensive battery packs are a bit of a drawback.

Hacksaw – Great for cutting wood and pipes, hacksaws come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on how you intend to use them. However, they are known to be a bit brittle so it’s worth investing in a decent quality one.

Knife – It’s pretty basic but always handy and reliable when you need to cut something open like a box. Stanley knives with good grips are the perfect utility knife for any toolbox.