Handy Andie’s DIY Don’ts


DIY is hard. One minute you’re confidently applying adhesive in a Z shape to a door handle, the next thing you know, you’ve superglued yourself to a door. Has this happened to you? No, of course not.


For an adult, I’m terrible at being self sufficient, not to mention absolutely petrified of EVERYTHING. Luckily, my sister isn’t quite as cowardly and can be relied upon to eliminate spider threats or monsters under the bed. Sadly, as fearless as she is, even her talents don’t quite stretch to DIY. So there have been occasions, (when no one has been around to stop me) where I’ve tried to rock a tool belt. The results were predictably disastrous, so I thought I’d impart my wisdom on how NOT to do DIY. I’ve learned a few things along the way…OK that’s a lie, the ONLY thing I’ve learned is that it’s virtually impossible to write a simple DIY blog without it turning into one long innuendo laden filth fest to rival even Masterchef.

DON’T apply sealant if you don’t have steady hands.

It was in Spring 2011 that the ant plague first began. We get them every year for a week or so, but they soon hightail it back to their hills and Queens. It usually takes a can of Raid and an uncanny Liam Neeson impression to see them off.

I wasn’t successful that year. Maybe they’d become immune to the Raid, or even worse, my impressions. They set up camp and refused to shift. Just my luck to be invaded by the crusty hippies of the ant world. I wouldn’t have been surprised, should I have chosen to look through a magnifying glass, to find the rebellious fuckers handcuffed to the metal legs of my dishwasher. No amount of raid, cleaning, or cinnamon worked. It wasn’t until I decided to put on my deerstalker and trace their trail, that I realised they were hiding in the cracks around my cooker where the sealant had come off.


Like a stealthy ninja, I didn’t let on that I was onto them. They sensed nothing. Not. A. Thing. In all honesty, their skills don’t really stretch much beyond finding food twice their side and carrying it back in neat, straight, lines. Not unlike the North Korean army, only twice as cunning.

The next day, as they set off for work, I made my move. I had sealant and I was not afraid to use it. I carefully applied it around the cooker and sink and left it to dry. A menacing Hollywood villain laugh may have escaped my lips. Soon, they returned to find their hiding places gone. I was victorious and it felt GOOD.

REALLY good.

I felt invincible. It wasn’t until they’d gone, that I really stopped to admire my handiwork. The lines could’ve been straighter, there was no doubt about that. The sealant wasn’t white, but a more transparent wiggly line, a little like a….
“Slime trail!”Announced my nephew, who was 6 at the time, as he and his sister busied themselves looking for snails, the only creatures ugly enough to have created them. Everyone laughed, and I countered that ugly was better than unhygienic, as I contemplated seasoning their pasta with spiced termite.

Last year, we finally got around to having some work done on our crumbly little house. As the lovely Chinese handyman finished painting the kitchen, I went to have a look. It took a few minutes to notice my wiggly slime trails had been replaced by neat, straight white lines. I raised a questioning brow at him.

“No matter, don’t want money. It look bad. I fix. All straight.”
“Thank you.”
“Some builder, they drunk. No pay them for mess.”

I chose not to set him straight.

DON’T get stuck to the front door. 

This was rather unfortunate.
We used to have an old wooden front door that would often expand in the heat and require kicking from the outside, or pulling from the inside, to get it open. There was a door handle for this very reason that we used to cling to and pull with all our might. Predictably, it came off in my hand one day during some furious yanking and I only narrowly avoided crashing into the stairs behind me at great speed. My sister had bought a new drill and was itching to give it a go, so the handle was reattached, but not quite as firmly as we would’ve liked.

That was when I had the frankly, GENIUS idea to use superglue to make it more sturdy. My sad little tube of superglue had laid unloved for years after one quick application to fix a heel, and the cap had managed to stick itself to the tube. I saw this as a good sign, it was displaying its holding prowess, flexing its little sticky muscles, but I too was determined. Having finally prised it free, I was too busy celebrating to notice the liquid oozing out and onto my hands. I applied it generously, and held the handle firmly in place while the glue did its job. It did it rather too well, as I realised when I tried to let go of the handle and found I was stuck. I’m not sure if the embarrassment overwhelmed the panic, but I managed to eventually unstick my hand bit by bit, losing bits of skin and looked at my poor hand, which looked like it’d been attacked by a flesh eating virus. No amount of washing would removed the residue, and I was forced to scrub it with a foot file.

This episode should act as a cautionary tale to anyone thinking of trying their hand at DIY with no skills to speak of. I’m an irredeemable idiot though, so I jumped straight back into it, this time with expanding foam.

DON’T try to smooth expanding foam into place with your fingers.

I don’t think I fully appreciate how lucky I am to be in possession of a pair of fully functioning hands. I’ve tried my best to alienate them on several occasions. This story isn’t dissimilar to the one above, only this time I decided to fix some gaping holes in my wardrobe with expanding foam. I’d been told it was easy to mould and I was certain nothing bad could come of using something that looked like the squirty cream I like to top my hot chocolate with. I don’t possess the vocabulary to adequately express just how wrong I was. Having squirted generous amounts of it into the gaps, I set about smoothing it down with my fingers. The name should have been a clue, but I hadn’t expected it to expand quite as alarmingly as it did and really had to get my hands dirty to restrict it.

Congratulating myself on a job well done, I went to wash my hands, only to realise it was stuck like a second skin. Even worse than the superglue, this stuck out of my hands in little peaks and strings. It looked like I had white, hairy, palms. A pumice stone was sourced and my hands were scrubbed to within an inch of their lives, but people still gave me a wide berth on the tube for a week or so afterwards. I’m almost certain it was because of my hands.

DON’T fix your burglar alarm with tit tape.

It’s hard not to feel a little proud of this one. Early last year, after a spate of burglaries in the area, we had an alarm fitted. All was well, until one day it suddenly started a slow, torturous, beeping. At first, it was an annoyance, but as the day went on, in the stifling Summer heat, I started looking for a stray sledgehammer to take to its whiny, beeping, mocking, FACE. When that failed, because as is demonstrated in this blog, I am not the sort of person who’d have a sledgehammer lying around (and that’s what you’ll tell them when they come for me) I was forced to read the manual to ascertain that the beeping was due to one of the sensors coming loose. It was attached to the front door, which as we now know, hates me. I ruled out superglue this time. The memories were still too raw, and opted for pritt pads instead.

30 seconds later, I realised I hadn’t actually bought pritt pads since high school and had to settle for plan B.

If you’re a woman and not me, the stickiest thing you’ll probably have encountered, is tit tape. That stuff is gold, probably even more so if you are, unlike me, in possession of some boobs. I use it mostly to hold my bra straps in place with wide neck tops, or to hold up strapless dresses. Even at the end of a long, sweaty evening, it provides such a strong hold, that removing it is akin to giving your shoulders a quick wax. Not that I have hairy shoulders, you understand.

God bless razors.

Feeling very pleased with myself, I set to work attaching the tape to the sensor. Congratulating myself on a job well done, I enjoyed the silence.

It lasted 2 hours.

As the mournful beeping started again, I gave up and called my brother in law for help.
“You could’ve just disabled that sensor and saved yourself all the hassle, you know,” he pointed out helpfully, far, far too late.

I haven’t attempted DIY since.


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