DIY Disaster Contest


This giveaway is over. Go to our contest and giveaway pages to check for current contests or giveaways.

[Update: This contest is over. Congratulations to the contest winners: Denise Perrotta of Harrisonburg, Virginia and Janine Halikias of Rockville Centre, New York]

While we all would like our home improvement projects to go off without a hitch, who among us hasn’t had an experience that went horribly wrong? From turning over a bucket of paint to cutting through a water line, we’ve all had a DIY moment that didn’t go off exactly as planned.

For our October contest we’re asking you to dig down deep and dredge up those home improvement nightmares you’d probably rather forget. To enter, simply post a comment below detailing your worst DIY debacle. Keep it light and amusing with no gruesome details that involved trips to the emergency room.

The most entertaining entry will receive a Zircon Automatic Laser Level and the runner-up a Black & Decker 25’ Laser Tape Measure to make their future projects go a little smoother.

All entries must be received before November 1, 2007, to be eligible to win. See contest rules for details.

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56 Comments on “DIY Disaster Contest”

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  1. NANCY JOHNS Says:
    October 3rd, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    My cyclone fence was looking very shabby so I decided to paint it. I purchased the alumium paint and a large nap roller. I told my neighbor what I was doing. She very wisely moved her car. So I painted, I must admit that kind of paint is very watery. Well I did not get any on her car, just the the gray bricks on her house. Also the new siding. The splatters were there for years. I recently been doing some well needed and long over due yard work and to my neighbor that I thought it was time to repaint the fence. She said NO.

    October 5th, 2007 at 5:21 pm


  3. Karen Ruth Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    We tried to replace the underground wiring from our pool light to the junction box at the house after it was torn up by a hurricane. We purchased the wire and pvc pipe and planned it out. However, when we almost through threading the wire into the pvc pipe, we realized that it was not going to be long enough. We ended up having to dig up a sidewalk and reroute the pipe in order to make it all fit. Twelve hours later: we were done but exhausted.

  4. Judith Baland Says:
    October 6th, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    My husband and I just suddenly for no reason or plan started ripping out the old tile in our bathroom. Now..oops we have found that putting it back together isn’t as much fun as ripping it all out was. We spent most of one afternoon looking for our stud finder, we have two of them..but where??? Now and then we will turn and ask each other if we are having fun yet…and to top it off the holidays are coming and company with them…

  5. Richard T Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    When I was young and owned my first house, I built a back deck off the house. Three years later I had a party on that deck. Suddenly I heard a crack and slowly (thank God) the whole deck lowered itself to the ground from about 5 feet up (with 10 family members aboard). The main center brace gave way.

  6. valerie mabrey Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    I thought it was a good idea to paint my bedroom purple. HUbby was eager but then the purple didn;t look right and looked like Barney threw up. The 3 other purples later we then figured out we really wnated the bedroom a nice color of BLUE!

  7. Louis Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    we decided to put a blind onto the kitchen window. We measured and went to the store – couldn’t find one what would exactly fit (to the left and right of the window are cabinets). We bought the closest size, but of course it didn’t fit. We had to saw off a piece of the plastic beam on top and cutsome off the floppy plastic things – I wsn’t very accurate and it looked totally crude :(
    We had to through it out and replace it with a different one

  8. Deb T Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    I decided years ago it would be a good idea to reface our old white enamel sink with epoxy paint..not thinking about it draining down the pipe and clogging it… duh. ( never have been one to read instructions) Being an upstairs bath it clogged a pipe of course in our ceiling..needless to say… we not only replaced pipes, but ceilings, sinks..almost a marriage….

  9. Suzanne Kornmaier Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Years ago, a friend was going to teach me how to change a washer on my kitchen faucet. Well, the house is older, and one thing led to another to another to another…. we were THRILLED a couple of days later when we were able to stop replacing broke pieces just before the plumbing went into the kitchen wall! I never did see how to change the washer… change the faucet yes!

  10. bob keck Says:
    October 14th, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Oh. How difficult can it be to hang a door? I decided (under the heavy influence of alcohol many years ago) to just put up a door. I knew nothing about sinking hinges. I destroyed the door jamb and the door ended up falling on me and knocking me over (which wasn’t too difficult under the circumstances).

    Today I respect mechanical competence and make sure I know what I’m doing or I get someone who knows what they’re doing. Oh, and I haven’t drank for 20 years.

  11. Christi Fry Says:
    October 15th, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Deciding to replace a few windows, (as a widow) had to get them in the truck and bring them home.Upon unloading the windows, a gust of wind blew the stack over on me, and I was stuck!! I screamed and screamed till the neighbor heard me and came to lift the windows back to the other side of the vehicle.Thank the lord that was so long ago, nobody will hopefully remember!!

  12. Matt Carter Says:
    October 16th, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    tried wiring up an electric fence around my backyard to keep dogs from jumping chain linked fence. i knew nothing about wiring anything for that matter. used pvc pipe for supports and ran wire through it. didn’t cover the hole in the top. came a good rain, pipes filled with water , and shorted the whole line. half the pipes melted in half and a whole days worth of work went down the dain.

  13. Deb T Says:
    October 16th, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    TO Christi T.: I was a young widow as well and had to do alot of home improvements/repairs on a very very limited budget as well as alone. Thank God someone heard you, Thank God you are here to tell about it, and to remember and laugh about it. I personally know how hard it is to take on the projects alone, but that’s what made us the people we are today. GOOD for you!

  14. Deb T Says:
    October 16th, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    My last comment should have been to Christi F. not T..and I have no idea why my posts are posting twice, I apologize. I am not submitting them twice.

  15. chuck dargert Says:
    October 17th, 2007 at 9:03 am


  16. Kathy Scott Says:
    October 17th, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    I built a deck with a slightly warped level. Had just a bit of a wave.

  17. heidi Says:
    October 17th, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    i am still after 7 years trying to get my fiancee to replace my back door he broke getting back into the house when he locked himself out in his underwear when i told him not to leave the house

  18. Jerree Richardson Says:
    October 17th, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Several years ago while I was in between jobs I decided to add a bedroom in my huge attic of my current house.In the course of one week I managed to put my foot thru the ceiling in the kitchen,step on a nail twice which required a shot,cut thru two powerlines to ceiling lights, and ruined 4 pair of blue jeans.The bedroom was finally finished with great results but it was a rough start.

  19. Denise P Says:
    October 17th, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    We decided we wanted to spruce up our family room. The brick Hearth seemed too dark, so we decided to resurface it with stone veneer. The scratch layer went on with no problem, The stones went on fine, when we went to do the mortared grout between the stones the fun started. We were not able to point the joints neatly enough, so My husand used a whisk room to smooth the mortar. The mortar was all over the stones. We Tried water and sponge, scrub brush, vinagar, the drill with a nylon brush, steam cleaner, acid wash, but all the stone after drying each time returned to the color of the mortar. We even resorted to trying a 1500 PSI presswure cleaner (yes, indoors) to try to remove the excess mortar, all we ended up with was a flooded basement and a section of ceiling to replace (we were very careful to build a tented frame around, which gave way about 5 minutes into the process). Even the carpet cleaner and a wet vac together couldn’t keep up with the water. I finally ended up matching the rock colors with flat acrylic paints, and had to repaint each stone. And, yes, we just pulled the carpeting and are tiling the room…..Wish us luck!

  20. GEORGE BON Says:
    October 18th, 2007 at 11:20 am

    We have resided in this home for over 35 yrs and have never replaced a window, put heat into our kitchen area which does get cold. We have now signed over the home to our middle son and we will just live here until we die.

    October 19th, 2007 at 9:12 pm


    October 19th, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    we just installed 300 sq ft of interlocking tongue and groove hardwood floor. My husband spent 40 minutes digging through the boxes of random length pieces looking for the exact size board we needed until i blew up and said…”JUST CUT ONE!!!”

  23. ethel solinski Says:
    October 20th, 2007 at 3:44 am

    My husband asked me to help him hang dry wall on the ceiling. He said just hold up the end. Then he asked me to get his hammer which was in front of me. I moved in only about4 feet but the drywall cracked in half and landed on my head. He screamed for two days. I still think it was his fault for asking me to get the hammer. Don’t ya think?

  24. Gregory Williams Says:
    October 20th, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    I consider myself a fairly good do-it-yourselfer, but I will always remember when I was a young kid and my parents had wall to wall carpet installed. This older man who seemed to know everything went out to trim the bottom of a bedroom door. He took a sharp knife to score the grain first and prevent it from tearing out, then cut it using a level to make sure his cut was strait with his circular saw. Boy was he embarrased after showing us kids all that when he had cut the top end instead of the bottom end. Moral: Keep your mind on what you are doing and mark the end to be cut. Even the pros can make mistakes if their minds are not fully on task.

  25. Val F Says:
    October 20th, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    I tried to change my own anti-freeze in my car years ago to save money. Simple, right? Just read the owners manual, right? Before I knew it, green fluid was running down my driveway! As an environmentalist, I was horrified!! I’m yelling and screaming, trying to “stop” it. I still feel ashamed about this. I hosed everything down to protect roaming animals from death. And I have never tried to do that again.

  26. Galen Wood Says:
    October 21st, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    My good friend and neighbor was sitting in the bathroom playing with his mom’s pistol for some reason (we were in high school). It went off and hit the water pipe for the shower. The hole in the wall we figured we could cover up, but the pipe was a problem. So I told my dad some story about a hole in a pipe but didn’t mention the pistol (obviously), and he gave me some of that pipe putty. It was supposed to be let dry for 8 hrs (or was it 24) but my idiot friend didn’t even leave it that long. So he got busted anyway. But we tried.

  27. Precious S Says:
    October 21st, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Have you ever been painting on the inside of your house with children around? This day was no ordinary day when I began painting and steadily telling my grand-son to stop running through the area where I was painting. I went up the ladder to begin trimming and the paint was hanging on the side of the ladder. Swiftly he came running through and knocked the ladder. There went the paint and bucket over his head. I had to hurry and rescue him from his adventures of NA-NA told me to stop running thru here. He was canary yellow from head to toe. “Surely,Surely”, he won’t do that again.

  28. Janine Says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    I live in an old co-op apartment building with very thick walls. I purchased a set of tall, free standing closets and I was concerned that they could tip over if they became top heavy. I decided to bolt them to the wall for safety. All the standard togle bolts were too short so I purchased 2 foot long machine screws that I cut down to fit. The job was done and the closets were safely anchored to the wall. That’s when the superintendent knocked on my door to ask why there were 4 toggle bolts on the wall in the hallway! Aparently the coop walls were not as thick as I assumed and the anchors were now planted firmly in the common hallway for all my neighbors to see.

  29. Cathryn Patrick Says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    I think our worst home improvement nightmare was when my husband decided to buy all new Roman shades for our place, and they were too small, but we hung them anyways. It just looks odd!

  30. Vickie McCoy Says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    We tried to board the windows up on our home for hurricane season and the wind had already picked up. I took a large piece of plywood off the truck and as I walked around the corner of the house, the wind hit me full force, the board acted as a sail, my feet came off the ground and I blew about 5 feet back. Freakishly weird experience. I left the rest of the wood for the guys.

  31. Lisa Garner Says:
    October 27th, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    My husband and I were remodeling out bathroom. We found a great new bathtub at an outlet store at a really great price. It was the only tub like it left. After extensive work getting everything read to install our new tub my husband and father went to lift the tub in place and my father bent it a little as he was lifting and the tub cracked all the way down it’s side. Since no returns were allowed we had to go purchase a new tub so our great deal ended up costing us more.

  32. Kathi Collum Says:
    October 28th, 2007 at 1:40 am

    My husband decided to make a etagere for our master bath. He used beautiful red cedar boards that were fragrant and gorgeous, as was the unit. However he forgot to measure the clearance space necessary for the toilet seat in the up position. Yup, you couldn’t lift the lid all the way. After a couple of weeks of misery we put books under the shelf to raise the height…

  33. Ricka D Says:
    October 28th, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Be careful that when using an electric hedge clipper that you know where the electric cord is at all times or you may have a snap, crackle, pop and a cordless trimmer.

  34. Arnold Emerson Says:
    October 28th, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Hurricane Katrina really did a job on our roof, taking almost all the shingles and the vents. Most of it had to be replaced but the waiting list for a contractor was almost a year and I knew we had to have it finished as quickly as possible. I decided to do it myself with the help of my wife who is pretty hand with a hammer and nails. Needless to say a person who enjoys doing little DIY projects should never, ever assume they are ready for the big time. Not only did the roof look lopsided, but before finished I had fallen through twice and my wife almost went with me. It took me over a month and more hours than I can count to repair the repair. The first night it rained it sounded as if the rain was coming in the house. It was. I had put the vents on backwards.

  35. Linda Moreland Says:
    October 29th, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    I was hanging up pictures when we moved and after I had done all EIGHT, I backed up and found out, CRAP, they all were slightly crooked.

  36. Lynne G Says:
    October 29th, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Hubby was remodeling in the kitchen and I was helping him hold up part of the beam he was replacing..needless to say a small chunk of the beam fell off the support and hit me in the head. No trip to the ER was involved, but a few choice words may have been said!

  37. Mcnerd Says:
    October 29th, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    The plumbing in an old bathroom sink started leaking so the next day I started removing the old pipes only to realized I could not remove the pipe connected to the sink. Removed the sink. Went to the hardware store and bought new plumbing parts and new sink. Installed sink, but new plumbing wouldn’t. Back to the store for different parts. 2 days later and almost buying out the plumbing department, still could not find the “correct” parts to make things fit. Learned later I needed an “older” metal-style sink that had a 1″ greater clearance. This sink was cheaper too. Put it in and all plumbing went in with no hassles in about 5 minutes.

  38. Thomas Loecken Says:
    October 30th, 2007 at 4:38 am

    I was trying to pull a board towards me, had my hand on top pulling and decided to give the board a whack. Swung from the bottom with my hand over the top. Smashed a nail.

  39. Ashley Domes Says:
    October 30th, 2007 at 11:12 am

    My husband and I decided to make-over our bathroom. Well, we found out that we don’t work well together. I don’t listen and he doesn’t explain things well. Needless to say our bathroom is still gutted and unfinished, a year later.

  40. Ann B. Says:
    October 30th, 2007 at 11:33 am

    I got the bright idea to paint the cement walkway that goes around the entire house to look like cobblestone. I found the idea on a painting website. Well…I got as far as the base coat, then the beige “spots” and never did finish it…The walkway looked like the spots on a giraffe!

  41. David Leach Says:
    October 30th, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    We decided to replace the faucets in the boy’s bathroom this past summer as the original fixtures were about 15 years old and looking kind of nasty. While trying to get the plumbing line out of the fixture, the spiral pipe got crimped and no matter what I did I couldn’t re-round it. So I turned off the water and went to bed.

    The next day I went to the store and bought a torch kit with all the little stuff that goes with it, and some upgraded tap faucets. The sales person assured me it wasn’t that hard and I’d be fine. I was able to cut off the first tap and torch the new one on. One the second one, the copper pipe was too short coming out of the wall, so I attempted to torch it off. It seemed to be taking forever when suddenly there was a pop and a rush of superheated steam and melted plastic. I’m not sure what chemical is in the plastic valve that I had melted, but for a moment I wasn’t sure if I was going to pass out or vomit.

    I managed to settle my nerves and finish the job, but it was quite nerve racking. I’ll never make the mistake of torching a closed valve again, I can assure you.


  42. Michelle Simons Says:
    October 30th, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    Hammer to the thumb instead of to the wall!

  43. crystal allen Says:
    October 30th, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    to save money my husband and i decided to buy a storage building that required assembling. we have spent many hours on the weekends trying to get this monster put together and 3 months later it still isn’t finished.

  44. James R Pawlik Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 12:47 am

    While framing my fireplqace, I cleverly built in an access panel. I forgot that I had not secured it, sat up on top of it, and promptly fell to the floor jaming my ring finger. Well now it looks like I am married for life as I haven’t been able to remove my wedding ring for almost 2 decades!

  45. annie ives Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Home improvement I paid for was a home disimprovement! He left a bare pipe for the bathtub faucet, no handle on the bathroom door, no paint on the sheetrock, plastic shower wall that simply hangs off the area, ad infinitum. Friend of the family indeed!?

  46. Timothy Sternberg Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    My cyclone fence was looking very shabby so I decided to paint it.

  47. Alecia Gibson Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    My parents decided to try to level their house by themselves. After they got it level, they realized that everything else became crooked: the woodwork, windows, etc. They ended up selling the crooked house for a loss.

  48. C S Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    We were camping out in our house during remodeling and trying to use the clothes washer with a garden hose as input in front of the garage. Somehow, that didn’t work out so well and that washer croaked. It was back to hand washing for the duration.

  49. Samantha freeman Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    year after year in the fall we put the pool cover over the pool to keep the blowing leaves out, and every year while trying to take it off we lose everything that has collected on it back into the pool. well needless to say that this year was no different expect with the exception that not only did we get all those nast leaves and pine needles to fall in anyhow the hubby went in with em.. thank god for digital

  50. Angela Thompson Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 8:20 am

    As with Crystal, we tried to save money putting a storage building together. After several hours we went and bought a power screwdriver

  51. tammy christiansen Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 11:06 am

    our disaster was the time my husband got done with a remodeling project of drywalling a room and only to discover he drywalled his flat bar in the new ceiling.

  52. Official Comment:

    Nicholas Roussos Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 12:00 am

    Well, the contest is closed (no further comments will be entered). I’ve enjoyed all the entries. Some are helpful and others are humors. So keep posting them (even thought the contest is over) because we still love to hear your stories.

    Also, if you didn’t get in, it’s alright, we’ll be running a new contest in just a few days.

  53. Pamela White Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    My husband and I needed to replace wallboard. My husband started to cut the wallboard while I was at work. He used a saber saw. There was plaster dust everywhere. All over the house. I had to tell him all he needed was a utility knife.Then I spent the next 8 hours vacuuming and dusting.

  54. Tom In Indy Says:
    November 3rd, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Two bits on advice from an old sage who has been updating and improving houses for over three decades now…

    Read (no, MEMORIZE) the installation manual that came with your project piece before you start on it. Wait a day, if you can, read it again, and be sure you have all the tools it calls for and any extra parts necessary for the installation…speeds us the project. Oh, and as one of the submitters on this site intoned “don’t do it drunk!”
    Invest in a good tool set from one of the major manufacturers…not some cheapie set. Invest in a good 12 volt (plus!) cordless power drill, and a quality bit set as well…you won’t regret it! (When I started working and earning my own money way back in my high school days, I invested weekly in a quality tool, usually on sale, to build up my toolbox. Over 35 years later, I still use these tools, and value them!)

    Good Luck with all your projects, and work smarter, not harder!

  55. Mark Says:
    August 31st, 2008 at 5:51 am

    As a tradesman from the cleaning industry I was recently involved in a sewridge/water damage where we required the help of a plumber.

    Unfortunately the first plumber to arrive turned up with a premise of a relatively cheap price but no sooner did he arrive and the price he mentioned over the phone hit the up and up by a staggering amount. When we asked him to leave he tried to hit us with a call out fee…what a joke.

    The good news for us is we eventually utilised the services of a wonderful company that had their act together.

    The lesson here is don’t hire a plumber just because they offer a cheap price. Always ask qualifying questions like:

    Are you insured? what guarantee do you offer? How committed are you to finishing my job before you go off to start another.

    By asking these questions we hired the man for the job and had the plumbing fixed within an hour and a half so we could then start our work.

  56. EILEEN URIBE Says:
    October 24th, 2008 at 6:39 am


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