Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

Picking up the paintbrush – the resurgence of DIY

Published: 27 October 2020 - Neil Mead

The year 2020 has seen many UK homeowners swapping their usual technology filled hands for a paintbrush. Figures from Gov.UK show that between March and April 2020, gardening and DIY activity increased from ten minutes a day to nearly 50 minutes — compared to the previous two years. The resurgence of DIY made home improvement a priority, increasing reliance on builders’ merchants. Here, Nick Cowley, managing director at PVCu windows, doors and composite doors manufacturer Euramax, explains the trend.


Whether it’s painting and decorating or building furniture, many of us are typically DIY-shy, and relish the convenience of hiring professionals to undertake our DIY jobs. However, with one third of businesses forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our usual ‘go-to’ shops were inaccessible, leaving homeowners to carry out DIY jobs themselves.

A study carried out by insurer Aviva found that 85 per cent of UK residents performed home improvement activities during lockdown. Let’s take a look at what the DIY community got up to:

 The results are in

Lockdown offered ample time to work on overdue DIY jobs. However, whether it was a result of necessity or boredom, the end goal of DIY jobs was home improvement.

According to the online DIY marketplace ManoMano, cement, plaster, fence panels, paint and power tools saw a 250 per cent rise in sales between April and June 2020. Homebase claimed timber sales had doubled, with insulation, loft ladders and loft boards in high demand as people created a home office or additional storage to accompany working from home.

So, what were the most popular DIY jobs? MyJobQuote, which analysed DIY internet search volumes, found ‘DIY table’ was the most searched term with 62,000 monthly searches. In second was ‘reupholster’ with over 49,000 searches and third was ‘DIY painting’. Whether it’s creating a coffee table from scratch or using old materials lying around in the garage, lockdown certainly encouraged home creativity and refurbishment.

Impact on builders’ merchants

Predominantly used by building and construction personnel, retailers and merchants became heavily relied upon to provide building products and supplies for the nation’s DIY tasks.

While it was possible to order DIY and decorating supplies online, the demand for DIY supplies was demonstrated when retailers such as B&Q and Wickes gradually began reopening its stores. Described as ‘absolute carnage’ in the media, people queued for hours, filling car parks to purchase DIY supplies. This also led to both B&Q and Wickes setting up online queueing systems to deal with the demand for products. 

As well as helping the housing market to resume after the lockdown prevented 450,000 people from moving homes, merchants have provided a vital service during 2020’s disruption. In fact, in March 2020, the Builders Merchant Federation (BMF) received clarification that builders’ merchants are a vital part of the construction supply chain and they must continue to support the industry throughout turbulent times.

Continue to update

Results have shown that the majority of DIY tasks carried out during the lockdown focused on interior projects. However, home improvements don’t need to be restricted to the inside. With access to builders’ merchants now widely available, updating the exterior of a home may be next on the agenda for those that do not wish to cease making home improvements.

Refreshing or changing the colour of your window frames and doors is an impactful way to improve your home’s appearance. While a coat of paint can suffice, it may be more effective to replace worn out assets with brand new windows and doors that require minimal maintenance.

For example, switching a worn-out wooden door for a composite alternative can refresh a home’s kerb appeal, while offering a more durable material choice. Composite doors gain their strength and energy-efficiency from a combination of insulating materials and glass-reinforced plastic. Their woodgrain finishes and choice of trending colours such as red, green and grey make them a suitable update to any home’s exterior.

Euramax’s bespoke made to measure service allows freedom to create and tailor products exactly for a home improvement job. Plus, products come with a ten-year guarantee, reducing the need to add further maintenance to the DIY task list.

While 2020 inspired some of us to take up yoga, baking and daily walking, many homeowners picked up a paintbrush, power tools and even tackled their own coffee tables. Merchants are essential in providing the necessary supplies we need to not only to carry out major construction and renovation projects, but to also improve our homes. The DIY spike may have been a consequential phenomenon, but there are still infinite ways that both amateur and professional DIYers can improve their homes.


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