DIY Disagreements: These Home Improvement Projects are Most Likely to Cause Fights With Your Significant Other

A recent survey by Porch reveals that DIY projects can cause disagreements among couples (to put it mildly), and some of these arguments can get quite heated. Whether DIYers are married or in another stage of the relationship, fights among couples are pretty common during a DIY project. Sometimes they fight over whether the other person made a mistake or not. They also fight over the direction or the duration of the project, the cost, or the final result.

As a general rule, it’s important for couples not to bite off more than they can chew – and that’s advice for the budget and the work, according to Michael DiMartino, Senior Vice President of Installations at Power Home Remodeling in Chester, PA.

Some DIY projects can cause stress, mistakes, and arguments. Image: Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

“This is an area where I see couples struggle a lot during the remodeling process, both DIY and professional,” he says. “Oftentimes homeowners will choose to DIY a project because they think it’ll save them money. But if they take on too much, too fast, it can become overwhelming,” Di Martino says.

“Especially with older homes, I recommend breaking down the long list of remodeling jobs to do into smaller ones, thinking carefully about what can be accomplished in the next three months, six months and twelve months,” he says. “Prioritize any time-sensitive projects — big or small — first.” In fact, when buying a fixer-upper, know where to draw the line before it turns into a money pit.

Below are the DIY projects most likely to cause disagreements and the percentage of survey respondents who admitted they did indeed fight either before, during, or after, the project. In addition to DiMartino, Freshome also asked a few experts to weigh in on why these projects could lead to complications – and arguments.

There’s no room for mistakes when dealing with electrical wiring. Image:

There’s no room for mistakes when dealing with electrical wiring. Image: Sturti/Getty Images

Electrical wiring or rewiring: 43.6%

Our experts are in agreement that the potential for serious errors outweighs any money that might be saved. “I always recommend that people avoid doing DIY electrical work because the consequences of a poorly done job can be as simple as a light not working or as extreme as a hidden fire source,” warns Nathan Outlaw, President of Onvico, a construction company in Thomasville, GA.

It might look like a simple project, but Mark Scott, President of Mark IV Builders, which builds luxury homes in Bethesda, MD and Washington, DC., warns that there are more than a handful of mistakes you could make when taking on an electrical project. “Not only is it unsafe, but it could also cost you much more to fix than you ultimately saved by taking on the project yourself.”

With the stakes so high, it’s no surprise that couples would argue over this project. “I always recommend to my customers to save their energy and their sweat equity for a project where the consequences of an incorrect or incomplete job don’t have the potential to be dire,” DiMartino says.

It’s going to take a long time to achieve the desired effect.

It’s going to take a long time to achieve the desired effect. Image: Welcomia/Shutterstock

Drywall hanging or patching: 41.7%

This isn’t a difficult project, so why would it lead to so many disagreements? Unless you have a lot of practice, it may be difficult to achieve a high-quality finish,” warns Outlaw. “Hanging drywall is something that is easy to start and hard to finish for DIYers. Even a good-looking patch can take several coats of drywall with sanding.” While he says it’s not difficult to learn the technique of hanging, Outlaw warns it can be hard, dusty work – and most people don’t enjoy doing it.

That’s why Michael McDermott, Owner/Production Manager at CRD Design Build in Seattle, WA, doesn’t find it hard to believe that this project could lead to relationship strife. “There’s a reason general contractors almost never have their own crews hang drywall. They practically always give that task to professional drywall subcontractors, because it’s extremely dusty, physical work that usually takes even handy people much longer than they expect.” If you’re doing anything besides minor drywall patches, McDermott recommends leaving the hanging, taping, and mudding to a pro.

The ceiling box is as important as the ceiling fan.

The ceiling box is as important as the ceiling fan. Image: AntonioDIaz/Shutterstock

Installing a ceiling fan: 38.2%

Although this borders on the side of electrical work, Scott thinks it’s a fairly simple project that any couple could take on. “If you don’t have much experience with this kind of project, we recommend ‘easy-install’ ceiling fans, which often come 90% assembled, and only require the homeowner to click the different parts — blades, bowl — into place.” However, as with any new fixture, he says you need to test that the ceiling box can hold the weight of the new fan. “That’s a mistake that can create some serious damage that’s costly and dangerous,” Scott warns.

Preparation is the key to a professional job.

Preparation is the key to a professional job. Image: Brian McEntire/Shutterstock

Exterior paint: 32.7%

This sounds like an easy project, but it can be more complicated than you think. “One thing that is important to proper painting is proper prep work. Many DIYers find themselves not applying the correct paint or primer for an exterior application, which can lead to flaking, mildew issues, or just an unprofessional look,” says Outlaw.

And there are other considerations if you want to do the job right. “When doing work on the side of the house or the roof, make sure you’ve got someone to hold the bottom of the ladder, so you can be sure you complete the project safely,” Scott advises. Also, you can run into a variety of problem if you don’t know the right temperature range for exterior painting.

Measure twice so you can cut once.

Measure twice so you can cut once. Image: dotshock/Shutterstock

Flooring installation: 30.0%

Our experts believe that flooring installation is a very doable DIY project, but there are some caveats. “Proper flooring installation also comes down to prep. The existing subfloor or concrete slab may need to have leveling completed or repairs made,” explains Outlaw.  “Use measuring tapes, start or lay out from the center of the room, and use spaces when laying tile.”

Scott agrees that it can be done by DIYers and reiterates that measuring is critical. “This is one case in remodeling where it’s not ok to cut corners. Ensuring that you’ve got the right measurements, especially near obstructions like fireplaces or islands, is crucial to the success of the project.” Scott recommends consulting a remodeling professional or someone at a local hardware store, if you have any questions.

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How to Paint Over Bold Colors Using Fewer Coats

Painting is one of the quickest and easiest ways to update your home. However, depending on the color you’re trying to cover, painting might not be quick or easy. Keeping up with the latest color trends can lead to pastels, jewel tones and everything in between. But when you’re ready to make a change, some colors are notoriously difficult to conceal under fresh paint. How can you paint over bold colors to make sure that new colors take and don’t bleed through?

Prep work

 Ben Akiba/Getty Images

Black is a sleek, stylish and stubborn color. Image: Ben Akiba/Getty Images

It’s less a matter of what colors are hardest to paint over but more about the transition, according to Jimmy Slattery, senior product manager at Valspar. “The more drastic the transition (light to dark, dark to light) the more difficult it can be to get the job done in less coats.”

If your paint job entails a drastic transition, Slattery recommends that you use a high hiding primer. If you can, get the primer in a tone close to the new color. “Also, vibrant reds, yellows and oranges can struggle to hide no matter what color they’re going over,” he explains. Slattery recommends applying a light or medium gray tinted primer tinted as this will reduce the number of coats that you’ll need.

 Peter Zvonar/Getty Images

Red and orange hues are notoriously hard to cover. Image: Peter Zvonar/Getty Images

The importance of primers

Brian Osterried, PPG Paints product marketing manager, agrees that priming is the key to success. This is true when you’re trying to cover dark colors with light colors – and he says when trying to cover light colors with dark colors. “When going from black to a light or medium color, a grey or deep base primer is recommended, such as PPG Paints SEALGRIP® tinted to grey,” he says. “Darker primers allow the lighter hue to cover in less coats and reduce the chance that the dark color will bleed through.”

Like the sun, this color wants to shine through. Image: Gladiathor/Getty Images

Tina Nokes, co-owner of Five Star Painting in Loudoun County, VA, adds that “Many people try to skip the primer step thinking that 2 topcoats will do the job.” However, she says you can prime now or prime later.  “A primer will ensure that you don’t have to go back and prime after two top coats, or you may end up applying a third and fourth coat of paint for adequate coverage when the finished result is not what you hoped.”

Nokes recommends using a high-quality stain-blocking primer. “This will keep dark paint colors from seeping through the fresh topcoat,” she explains. “Applying paint primer will also allow for no more than two coats of coverage, enhance the paint’s adhesion, and minimize the chance of the finish appearing streaky and uneven.” However, even with a primer, Nokes says that one coat of paint is rarely enough – especially to cover the most stylish color of the year. “Two coats are almost always required after using primer to assure even coverage and no flashing of the old color.”

She agrees that the primer should be tinted a grey color – or similar to the topcoat that you plan to use.

Quality products matter

Wachirawut Priamphimai/EyeEm/Getty Images

This vibrant color won’t be easy to tame with a paint brush. Image: Wachirawut Priamphimai/EyeEm/Getty Images

While it’s important to use a high-quality primer, this doesn’t mean that you can skimp on the other materials. “Aside from the surface you’re painting and the previous coating underneath it, the biggest factor when it comes to repainting over a colored surface is the product you choose to use when repainting, “ says Osterried.

That might sound like just a sales pitch, but Nokes agrees. She says that a higher quality paint does a better job of covering dark walls because it contains greater levels of binders and pigments. “And these binders and pigments are necessary for hiding difficult colors and boosting coverage.” If you use lower cost paints, Nokes warns that they may not provide the coverage you need. This could result in your walls needing more than two coats after the primer has been applied.

Using top-tier tools is also important. “Use high-quality rollers and paint bushes to make your painting project easier and more efficient,” Nokes says. “These tools deliver the paint in a smoother, thicker coat, which works to conceal the dark color.”

Finals Tips

Paint Over Image: Paolo De Santis/EyeEm/Getty Images

Purple is a royal color, but it can also be a royal pain to paint over. Image: Paolo De Santis/EyeEm/Getty Images

Before you apply the primer, be sure to prep your walls. “Fill in nail holes and sand through rough spots to make sure the surface is smooth and free of structural problems,” Nokes advises.  “To ensure a perfect surface, wash the walls with a solution comprised of mild dish detergent and warm water to remove dirt.” She also recommends using a drywall pole sander. “This will break down the paint color, and increase adhesion,” Nokes explains.

In addition, she recommends that you cut and roll while keeping a wet edge. “This keeps the new color coverage consistent and assures that the cut lines won’t show up on the wall.”

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