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Things They Don't Tell You On The Home improvement Shows

Updated on November 30, 2012

DIY Vertical Mosaic Glass Backsplash

What My Husband Figured Out

My husband is an avid do-it-yourselfer when it comes to home improvement project. He has installed cabinets, tiled, painted, done basic plumbing and electrical work, and more. He also likes to watch the home improvement shows for information and inspiration. Over the years, however, he has noticed a disconnect between the tasks as they are presented in the shows and the tasks as they are completed in the real world. In an effort to educate my fellow man/woman, he has compiled a list of differences between diy television and diy reality so that you, the reader, can watch these shows with a more critical eye.

The number one thing that they don't tell you on home improvement shows is that many of the materials are heavy -- very heavy. For example, let's say you are building a deck -- you go to your favorite home improvement store and buy the materials, arranging for delivery. A few days later, a big truck shows up in front of your house and deposits hundreds or thousands of pounds of lumber on your driveway or front lawn. You have to haul that wood to the back yard before you can use it to build your deck. That’s quite a bit of backbreaking labor that, in his experience, gets edited out of the home improvement shows. Plywood, tile and cinderblock are even heavier and more difficult to carry. Large quantities of tile or cinderblock are usually delivers on palates that must be dismantled and disposed of as part of the preparation necessary to begin work. So before you’ve even begun the task proper, you’re already exhausted.

Another thing that they don’t tell you on these shows is the tedium that sometimes sets in when you are working on a large project. Tiling a large floor or wall is a good example of this; it’s a task that requires patience and concentration as it’s important to set the tiles correctly so that future tiles will line up. Understandably, the producers of the shows edit out boring and repetitious tasks…but you can’t edit them out of real life! Because of this editing, a steady diet of home improvement shows (without doing the work portrayed) can leave you with an unrealistic opinion of how long it takes to accomplish various tasks.

There is a very subtle but omnipresent concept that home improvement shows gloss over that I’ll call the “hey, this fits exactly!” principle. For example, let’s say you are using a mosaic tile to create a backsplash in your kitchen that you are renovating. With new construction, most dimensions are roughly square and work out to be even sizes (say, 24” instead of 23.68”); this makes it easy to trim out an area with tile. With older construction, however, you don’t always have that luxury. Often, you are faced with the choice of leaving large gaps at the perimeter of the tile field or cutting mosaic tile (which is difficult with tiles that are small and/or glass). I’ve never seen this issue dealt with on a home improvement show, things always seem to magically fit – even the “cute handmade tiles our owner picked up at a local art fair.”

Home Improvements Books To Help You Start DIY Projects


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    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Alocsin, despite everyone's best efforts, there is always a miscalculation, as well, where you either have to cure on the spot (because it is already glued down) or tear out and do over. Thanks for visiting.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Good points here -- you never find out about the weight and boredom until you try to do it yourself. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thanks Rtalloni for your comments. Despite best efforts, my husband from time to time found that he's erred and had to redo or tear out.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Having the right definitions, getting an accurate perception, and initiating prudent planning can create an expected outcome! :)

      Too bad everyone can't look at what goes across the screens in our lives with this kind of perspective!

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      LearnFromMe, thanks for visiting my hub and commenting on it. My husband's latest project (he has many ongoing)is to do wall-to-wall shelves and he learned all of his techniques from Carl Champly, the Aussie carpenter.

    • LearnFromMe profile image

      LearnFromMe 6 years ago

      My husband and I love watching DIY shows and completing our own projects, so we know everything you say here about the shows is so true! Great hub!

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 6 years ago from Los Angeles


    • Vicki99 profile image

      Vicki99 6 years ago from Meridian Idaho

      Great job on your first hub. Insightful information.