What is DIY? What Does it Mean?

What is DIY? What Does it Mean?

Have you heard the term “DIY”? Maybe you’re wondering what “DIY” means and everything it entails. Well, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll share everything I know about DIY, including why it’s so popular recently.

DIY stands for “Do It Yourself.” You might also hear the term, “DIYer” to describe someone who frequently attempts DIY projects. DIY also has sub-meanings. For example, some say “DIY” when describing a craft they made themselves. Other times, people use the term DIY to describe “doing something themselves” that they would otherwise pay for (such as building a “DIY” shed). 

The idea of DIY projects has really caught on in the last couple of years. In this guide, we’ll talk about the whole DIY world, why it’s useful (why it’s not), and how you can get started with your own DIY projects!


What is Do It Yourself (DIY) All About?

As we mentioned before, DIY can take on different meanings depending on who uses the term. Also, keep in mind that people say “DIY” for all sorts of things – such as baking, hair care, lawn care, car maintenance, cleaning, and more. DIY is a very trendy term these days, and it can apply to almost anything.

This article will primarily be describing DIY principles as related to building or fixing something – this could be furniture, your home, a shed, and even things like your car. However, regardless of the type of “DIYer” you are, this article will share some valuable tips and insights. Before we go any further, let’s cover a few DIY principles.

Here are some principles of DIY:

  • Self-reliance: DIY is about believing in yourself and giving things a shot even if you’re not an “expert.” It’s about working hard to learn something that’s within your reach. After you learn to DIY a few projects, your brain will become more receptive to all sorts of DIY tasks. 
  • Collaboration: DIY is also about helping other people out and sharing knowledge. If you’re good with carpentry but someone else is good at plumbing, then perhaps you can share skills and teach each other to understand new things.
  • Creativity: DIY is about solving problems using creativity. While some things are more cut and dry, there are many areas of life where thinking outside the box can get you ahead – and DIY projects are usually one of these areas. 

Now let’s look at some of the reasons DIY is so popular lately.

Why is DIY So Popular These Days?

If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you’ve seen a lot more talk about DIY in recent months and years. What’s the reason for DIY becoming so popular recently? Well, in the world of internet hashtags and instant information, it’s much easier for ideas to spread.

However, the truth is that DIY projects and principles have been around for thousands of years. In fact, long ago, it was normal for most people to possess a number of skills that made them more self-reliant. And yet, even with that being said, it seems DIY projects have exploded in popularity recently. Let’s discuss it.

Here are some reasons DIY is so popular lately:

  • Covid 19 Economic times 
  • Trouble hiring professionals

Let’s look at these things in more depth.

COVID-19 Effects on DIY Projects

Certainly, it seems that the pandemic caused a boost in the number of people attempting DIY projects. Why? Because, frankly, people had to. In many areas that were under severe lockdown orders, it was very difficult for some people to have plumbers, carpenters, or electricians come into their homes.

Just think about all the tasks that many people needed to get done – new decks, a path, a driveway, repainting their home, and on and on. Many people were unable to find those who could do the job.

 Not to mention the explosion in demand for housing. With builders tied up trying to finish new houses, it made it difficult for anyone to get their homes repaired. So what did people do? They “Did it themselves.”

Let’s talk about another point. Economy.

DIY and the Economy

Also partly related to COVID, there was some interruption in the regular distribution of supplies like lumber. Ask anyone around the country, and you’ll hear about how much the prices have risen. You’ll also hear about places that just don’t have the supplies at all.

In these cases, people have had to do one of two things. Either they can pay high prices for materials, or they can come up with ways to solve the problem themselves. This is one area where creativity plays a big role in the DIY process.

There’s another reason people have been turning to more DIY work. Let’s talk about it.

People Become Frustrated with Hiring People to Do the Work

While the vast majority of contractors, builders, and handymen are likely good people, there are some that might be less than trustworthy. This is by no means trying to insinuate that contractors or handymen are dishonest (every profession has a certain percentage of people who might not be doing the job for the right reasons), but it is to say that some people have had bad experiences when hiring people to get work done.

And, in many of these situations, it might not be the fault of the professional. For example, supply constraints affect professionals too, delaying their projects and requiring that they charge more for the work they do.

When you fix something or build something yourself, you don’t need to worry about dealing with the hassle of hiring somebody. Also, you’ll be more informed, so you’ll know when you’re getting a deal or not.

How to Get Started with DIY Projects (Woodworking, Home Repair, Mechanical)

Let’s talk about the keys to getting started with DIY. Naturally, some people feel very overwhelmed with the process. This is understandable – it’s something new, and you don’t want to mess anything up. While there are a lot of ways you can get started, I’m going to list several that have worked for me.

Keep in mind that this list is ordered in a specific way for a reason – you don’t want to start buying a bunch of tools or supplies before you know the requirements for your project. Let’s go over these steps one at a time so you can feel confident when you start your DIY journey.

Steps to get started with DIY:

  1. Know your focus 
  2. Get some knowledge on the topic (before talking to pros)
  3. Talk to professionals 
  4. Determine your own limits 
  5. Get the right tools 
  6. Execute 
  7. Assess and repeat 

Let’s go over each of these in more depth.

Know Your DIY Focus

The first step is to know your current DIY focus. For instance: building a fence. If you need to build a fence, then you’ll probably want to focus your efforts on that for the time being. Of course, you don’t need to limit yourself, but if you try to do too much (or learn too much) too soon, then you can become overwhelmed and discouraged.

Good news: DIY skills have a lot of overlap. So, just because you’re learning how to build a fence doesn’t mean that you’re not learning skills that will apply to other projects. For example, when building a fence you’ll need to learn how to use a level, how to cut lumber, how to sand, how to paint, how to use a drill, and on and on. All these skills will translate to other projects.

This is why it’s important to focus on the job at hand.

Gain Knowledge in the DIY Area

After you’ve made a list of what’s important, you need to take some time to learn about the job. Now, in this instance, you don’t need to become an expert – you just need to learn enough to stay safe.

You might have heard the phrase, “I know just enough to be dangerous,” but in the case of DIY you want to “Know just enough to be safe.” Keep in mind that, when DIYing, there will be mistakes made. This is just part of the gig. The hope is that you can eliminate huge mistakes, and that’s part of gaining some knowledge in the area you’ll be working.

 How do you do this? Well, read good articles online (like this one!) and watch some videos as well. Also, take it a step further and consider getting DIY books from the library. You can do all this in a weekend, and it will really help you as you take the next step.

Talk to Professionals in the Field

You might think this would be the first step. And it can be, but there’s a reason you might want to do some review yourself first. When you talk to a professional, you’re naturally going to want to ask about all aspects of the project.

However, if you don’t know anything about the project yet, then you won’t know the right questions to ask. The professional might be able to give you some helpful tips for getting started, but if you haven’t already done some of your own research, you might find it difficult to have a fruitful conversation.

That being said, if you know a professional builder/handyman personally, there’s nothing wrong with talking with them throughout the process.

Note: If you’re thinking about hiring a professional, doing some of your own research beforehand can help you assess whether they’re giving you a fair deal or not.

Determine Your Own DIY Limits

Yes, you can do anything if you put your mind to it and persist. However, you should keep in mind practical limits. Let’s talk about them.

For example, if you don’t know anything about electrical work, you should be very cautious about trying to DIY something. For one, it’s dangerous when you don’t know what you’re doing. You could be electrocuted or cause a fire.

Second, there are often codes that regulate how electricity is set up – righty so, because if your house burns down, that’s a threat to the whole neighborhood (and anyone who might buy your home in the future).

Yes, you could become a professional electrician, but you’ll have to determine your own limits. Think about other practical DIY limits, such as digging in certain places, doing specialty work (related to plumbing or roofing), or frankly, anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Now, it’s natural to be uncomfortable with everything in the beginning, but if you’ve read some books and talked to some professionals and you’re still not comfortable with giving something a try, then consider whether it’s worth it.

Remember, mistakes are okay – unless they compromise your safety.

Get the Right Tools

Now that you’ve done your research and you know your limits, it’s time to think about supplies and tools. The types of tools you’ll need will be different depending on the project, but there are a lot of lists that describe some of the fundamental workshop tools.

Things like hammers, screwdrivers, clamps, drills, handsaws, and safety equipment are usually some of the first things on your list. In the DIY world, the goal is often cost savings, so ask yourself if you can safely use a single tool for multiple projects (instead of buying out a whole section of Home Depot).

Another thing to remember with DIY projects: it’s often better to buy a little extra when it comes to supplies (like wood, paint, etc.). These are items you’ll often use anyway.

Execute the DIY Project

Now it’s time to get started on the project. The key here is to break down the project into steps and then focus on one step at a time. If you look at the whole thing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

If at any point you become uncomfortable with something, you should stop and do some research before continuing. In the beginning, most DIYers spend a lot of time just trying to figure something out. This is okay. You will get better and better at DIY projects as you go.

Assess and Learn for Your Next Project

After you’ve finished the project, it’s time to do an assessment. What worked? What didn’t? How much did it cost? How many hours did it take? Did you have fun doing it? Did it turn out the way you wanted?

All of these are good questions to ask. You’ll need to decide how valuable your time is, and whether it was really worth the work to DIY a project. Also, take some time to consider maintenance for your project. Good maintenance leads to fewer repairs down the road.

Finally, look at your skills. Was there some area that needs improvement? DIY projects are similar to sports in that you need to develop a number of skills to become proficient. You might want to take some time to practice before the next project!

Now let’s talk about the benefits and the downsides of DIY.

What are the Benefits of DIY?

We’ll now go over the pros and cons of DIY projects. As you’ll see, there’s a lot to consider. Know this: there’s nothing wrong with giving something a try, making some mistakes, and then trying again.

However, there’s also no shame in admitting that you don’t enjoy a certain type of DIY project, or that it’s just not worth your time at this point in your life. With that all said, let’s look at the pros and then the cons.

Here are some of the benefits of DIY:

  • Cost savings 
  • Getting to know your things 
  • Ownership and satisfaction 

Let’s look at these in more depth.

Here are the Cost Savings from DIY projects

One of the biggest reasons people DIY anything is to save money. And there’s definitely a lot of money to be saved. Learning how to maintain and repair your home or vehicle can end up putting money back into your pocket. 

Also, when you learn to DIY something, you often learn how to better maintain it (which means less repairs).

DIY Helps You Understand Your Stuff  

Even if you never actually start or complete a DIY project, trying to learn about parts of your life and getting a DIYer’s mindset can help you understand everything around you.

If you know the smell of natural gas, then you can safely evacuate your building before something serious happens. If you have some knowledge of how cars work, then you’ll know when to repair your vehicle before something more serious happens.

Also, knowing about your stuff helps you talk to people you might hire to do the job. If that professional gets the sense that you know what you’re talking about, they will be much less likely to overcharge you or try to unnecessarily delay the project.

DIY Gives You a Lot of Satisfaction

Frankly, DIY projects are just fun, and they bring you a lot of satisfaction. Not only that, but learning to DIY some things in your life can build your confidence and help you feel less nervous in your day-to-day life. Why?

Because if something breaks, you know that there’s a good chance you can fix it. These are just a few benefits, but there are many more (for instance, you could learn a DIY skill and then do this for other people on the side, making real money).

Now, let’s cover the downsides.

What are the Downsides of DIY?

While DIY might seem like it has a ton of benefits, there are some downsides that you should keep in mind. Before we get into this further, know that this is NOT meant to discourage you from attempting DIY projects, rather this is to put forth some honest concerns so that you can avoid them.

Yes, you sometimes have to learn from your mistakes, but you can also learn from someone else’s mistakes.

Here are some downsides to DIY:

  • Cost: Yes, sometimes it can cost less to DIY something, but there are instances when it can cost more. Particularly when you need to constantly buy specialty equipment to do the job. If you know you’ll want to DIY everything, then the initial costs might be worth it; otherwise, you could feel it in your wallet. 
  • Safety and mistakes: The truth is, DIY projects can be dangerous. Not only will you often be using high powered tools (like the table saw, which can be very dangerous), but if you’re working on anything structural/electrical/foundational, then there’s a chance you could mess up your home. DIY is great – don’t get me wrong – but there are some legitimate safety concerns that you should take seriously. 
  • Time: Many people think they don’t have the time for DIY projects. And this might be true. Most people who enjoy DIY try to relax and lean into the fun of trying to learn something new, work together with their family, and spend some time working with their hands. However, if you don’t have the time, then DIYing can feel like too much. 

Now, let’s go over our final take.

Last Take: What is DIY? How Does it All Work?

DIY stands for “Do It Yourself.” With recent changes to our modern world (rising prices, economic changes), DIY projects have become more and more popular around the world. Many people like DIY projects because they feel more informed about their life, can save money, and learn a new skill!

However, you should also be aware that DIY projects can come with an inherent danger. You really need to commit the time to learn about the project you want to do, practice the skills, and seek professional help if you become uncomfortable.

To get started with DIY, you don’t need to do anything dangerous or scary! You could start by painting a piece of furniture or trying to repair a hole in your drywall. Don’t feel limited by your current skill set. When it comes to DIY, here’s a good motto: be safe, have fun, and give it a try.

1 thought on “What is DIY? What Does it Mean?”

  1. Thank you for this clear and concise explanation of what DIY means. It is a great resource for anyone who is new to the DIY world. The article covers all the basics, from what DIY stands for to the different types of DIY projects.


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