The other day I shared two accounts of friends of mine sharing their first DIY home improvement project. Every home owner has one and I’d be hypocritical if I didn’t share mine.
It’s a cautionary tale of how inexperience can potentially turn to disaster and that DIY is not for everyone. But this tale also has given me a bad taste for wainscoting.
I had done other home improvement projects before. Small jobs that required little skill and mainly just the ability to use a hammer and screwdriver. Other larger projects I had the assistance of my father-in-law who would put Al Borland’s home improvement skills to shame. So my first major home improvement project was to put wainscoting up in spare room that we were prepping for our first baby boy.
My wife loves the look of wainscoting, especially in a baby’s room, and after an initial trip to Home Depot I discovered that there’s actually a wainscoting kit. How hard could that be? As an experienced Lego builder, I felt I was experienced enough to handle a kit with instructions. Turns out the kit wouldn’t be the problem. It’s the circular saw that would be my downfall.
I enlisted the help of my dad who, like me, isn’t an expert handyman but again this was a kit. Surely a guy with a engineering degree and a consumer marketer could tackle this task. So the room was all prepped and it was time to start putting up the wainscoting. What I didn’t realize is just how much cutting was involved. Sure I had a circular saw (given to me by my father-in-law and hasn’t been used since this wainscoting project), but I didn’t have anything to put the wood wainscoting planks on to cut it.
Here we are needing to cut these 5 feet long pieces of wood, but no table to cut it on. So we improvised and used my lone garbage can as a makeshift saw horse. Yes, that was super stable for cutting wood. The Marine men forced it to work and somehow got the cuts done so the wainscoting planks could fit the corners of the walls.
But there was one other detail we overlooked. The window in the spare room came down lower than the top of the wainscoting boards meaning we needed to cut the boards around the sill of the window. Now that may not sound like a big deal but go ahead and look at the shape of the sill on your window. You don’t realize just how many crevices and corners there are and trying to cut a piece of wood to fit perfectly against the window sill and not leave any gaps is no easy task. Never mind the fact that you have two novice DIY’ers trying to do it.
Somehow using a mini hand saw on our garbage can sawhorse we muddled through and got the wainscoting to fit around the window and used caulking to cover up the gaps we couldn’t cover up.
This wainscoting kit project took the better part of 8 hours to do. I now hate wainscoting. When my wife and I moved to our current home and she wanted to put wainscoting up in one of the kid’s rooms and promptly told her, “Get your dad to do it.”
The lesson to be learned here is that no DIY home improvement project is ever simple, but it can be done. If two non-handy guys with zero craftsmanship experience can somehow do it, you can to. I just choose not to as much as possible.
Let us know your favorite DIY home improvement story in the comments. Feel free to be open and honest. As you can see I have no room to judge.