• Brits spend £244 correcting the average DIY decorating disaster, adding up to a staggering £6 billion by the nation per year
  • Our inability to complete decorating tasks means there are currently 31.7 million unfinished jobs in British households
  • One in ten Brits have injured themselves doing DIY decorating

With many Brits tackling DIY projects in their homes, new research has exposed the pitfalls that over-confident, self-proclaimed handymen and women may be up against. A study by Armstead Trade of more than 2,000 homeowners has revealed that three quarters of Brits have experienced DIY disasters that cost hundreds of pounds to put right.

According to the survey, the nation’s inability to complete basic DIY tasks to a decent standard, including painting a wall or a ceiling or putting up wallpaper means Brits spend £244 on average correcting their mistakes. This adds up to a staggering £6.19 billion spent on putting right a bodged attempt at decorating or DIY across the nation. Some DIY decorating results have been so poorly executed that 6% have had to splash out more than £1,000 for professionals to fix their bodged attempts.

The study, commissioned by professional paint brand, Armstead Trade, the ‘smart choice for professional decorators’, found that 67% of homeowners now avoid doing basic decorating themselves, with one in ten fearing they will repeat a previous disaster. 16% report feeling stressed at the prospect of completing a decorating project and 12% of men report that their partner does not trust them to do it. 36% of the nation admit that they simply don’t have the skills to do decorating themselves and as a result of this, there are now 31,767,600 unfinished decorating jobs across the country.

According to respondents, painting walls and ceiling are the jobs most likely to end badly (32%), followed by putting up wallpaper (15%), constructing flatpack furniture (14%) and putting up shelves (12%). When asked about their mistakes, a fifth of respondents admitted ruining carpet or furniture by spilling paint on them, with some even admitting to spilling paint on pets (4%) and children (1%). The research shows that many of these mishaps are down to attempting to do a DIY task too quickly (20%) while a lack of appropriate tools (16%) was also cited as a reason for a DIY decorating job not working out as well as was hoped. 3% reported that a decorating task ended in disaster after having consumed a few glasses of beer or wine. And one in ten has injured themselves while doing DIY and decorating. Aside from mishaps such as hitting themselves with a hammer, 6 per cent have fallen off a ladder and one in 25 men (4 per cent) have managed to do themselves such a mischief that they needed hospital treatment.

Revealingly, the survey also showed that DIY and decorating is the cause of rows and recrimination between 9 per cent of squabbling couples. So much so, that in a bid to impress, 7 per cent of men admit they have hired a professional to do the job and then claimed they did it themselves afterwards. Meanwhile, a quarter have had to get a friend or relative to finish their bodged job for them.

It seems that one in ten Brits find relatively simple tasks that would involve isolating or shutting off water beyond their comfort zone – 10% indicated that fixing a dripping tap or taking a radiator off a wall would flummox them and result in a disaster. Almost one in ten (7 per cent) confess to using entirely the wrong paint for the job, such as gloss instead of emulsion, 12 per cent have drilled a hole too big for the task and 6 per cent have seen their shelves fall down.

Jason Duggan, Senior Brand Manager at Armstead paints, explains: “Homeowners think they may be saving money by taking on improvement tasks themselves, but the jobs can often take longer and cause inconvenience with whole rooms being out of use for some time. The tasks themselves are more difficult because of a lack of knowledge or appropriate tools. We think the smart choice is to employ a decorator who knows their trade.”

Non-professionals are prone to making mistakes, which, as the research releveals can cost a considerable amount of money to put right. Jason Duggan continues: “Lack of knowledge and experience makes homeowners underestimate the complexity of a job, so they tend to give up half way through it, which explains the high number of unfinished DIY decorating jobs we currently have in British households.”

The top 10 list of decorating disasters that we can’t get right:

  • 31% have made a mess of painting a ceiling or a wall
  • 15% have suffered from incorrectly put up wallpaper
  • 14% have failed at constructing flatpack furniture
  • 12% have bodged fixing shelves to a wall
  • 9% have ended up with a less than perfect finish painting gloss on woodwork
  • 7% fixing a dripping tap
  • 4% wiring a plug
  • 4% putting down flooring

While 50% of Brits claim not to have suffered any DIY accidents, 6% also boldly boast of being a DIY ‘genius’, indicating that they have not needed to swot up on how to do a decorating task.

Decorator Confessions

Armstead Trade also asked professional decorators to confirm how often they are called in to fix a mangled DIY decorating disaster and the results are startling. 69% spend between one to two days per job fixing their customers’ decorating mistakes and a further 31% spend between three to six days per job on corrections. With the average British work day of eight hours, decorating mistakes are costing Britain 19 hours and 26 minutes of labour per job (or 14 days per year, per decorator); time that could be spent on getting decorating jobs right the first time with a professional finish.

Jason Duggan, Armstead Trade says: “We did not expect decorators to indicate that they devote so much of their time fixing decorating jobs. The decorators we polled say they are called six times a year on average to fix jobs that customers have made a mess of. It is important for homeowners to make smart choices when it comes to home improvements, even if this means admitting they are not up to the task. It is often cheaper, quicker and better to rely on qualified professionals to do a job. Not only will jobs have a better quality but they will save homeowners the need to pay twice.”

While Armstead Trade is drawing attention to homeowners making a ‘smart choice’ by engaging a professional decorator, it also wants to make decorators’ lives easier and for a limited period only, the ‘Bodge It Shop’ launches on the 26th May – providing so-called ‘shortcut product solutions’ to help decorators correct even more DIY painting jobs. Decorators wanting to make a real smart choice for their customers however, can visit their local Dulux Decorating Centre to see the range of Armstead paints.

Make sure you get along to this year’s National Painting and Decorating Show at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, 1st and 2nd December.

It’s the biggest show ever, with masses of new products, ideas and incentives for anyone involved in the painting and decorating sector.

Over 100 stands will be displaying everything from paints to wallcoverings, tools to workwear, access equipment to spray machines, – and there will be some fantastic ‘show-only’ discounts on offer.

With free entry, including a choice of over 30 MasterClass presentations during the two days, it really is an event not to miss.

Go to to register for free tickets – and get a great goody bag when you arrive!