6 'renter-friendly' TikTok home hacks that should be avoided, according to DIY professionals

We all love a clever DIY hack, but these TikTok tutorials might not be the best idea

a rental home designed by the novogratz
A rented home designed by The Novogratz
(Image credit: Novogratz)

There are a lot of reasons to love TikTok – its short-form video format, effective algorithm, and endless entertainment have made it the fastest growing social media platform ever. Far from simply a lip-syncing app (yes, really!), TikTok has become the go-to place for quick, renter-friendly DIY hacks. But, did you know some trade professionals are now warning against many of them?

TikTok has become the favorite search engine when it comes to DIY tips for decorating a rental - the hashtag 'DIY' has has over 191.6 billion views on the app. Many of them aim to provide quick and cheap DIY solutions, however, a recent study by Toolstation has revealed the pointless, expensive, and sometimes dangerous consequences these videos can have. 

Researchers at Toolstation showed five hacks to over 100 trade professionals including plumbers, decorators and furniture designers. They revealed that many of these hacks could cost you more in damage than it would to hire a professional, and they could result in a very unhappy landlord. 

We've taken a closer look at these TikTok hacks to offer some more reliable solutions.

1. Placing an epoxy ball into a pipe to stop a water leak

In the first video, this TikToker eagerly claims to have a new innovative way to stop underground water leaks without the need for tearing up your floors or garden. He suggests using a small epoxy ball - which  is NSF approved - to fill in the hole by placing it down the leaking pipe.

The water pressure causes the ball to seal the pinhole and within 15 minutes, the leak has completely stopped offering a cheap and simple solution to a leaking pipe.

However, according to Toolstation's study, their plumbing and heating engineer is strongly against the idea. ‘You will be contaminating the water supply as you have introduced a foreign body,' he says. 'You would need to re-check your water regulations.’

It's also by no means a sustainable solution to an underground leaking pipe. It shouldn't really need explaining, but a far safer way of fixing the problem is to hire a tradesperson to locate the pipe's leak and dig a trench. This way you can also check for any structural water damage that could have occurred.

2. Putting up wallpaper using tape

Most of us have been here - a drab rental that could do with a statement wallpapered wall to make it your own. Unless your landlord is particularly kind and you're a long-term resident, it's unlikely you'll be able to jazz up your walls with wallpaper. 

However, this renter-friendly TikTok hack claims to offer a solution to wallpaper that doesn't involve wallpaper paste. The woman demonstrates how how she achieves her bedroom wallpaper idea using painter's tape in ladder formations across the wall. She then applied double-sided sticky tape so the wallpaper sticks to the painter's tape.

a kids room with a desk and wallpaper

(Image credit: Mary Wadsworth)

Although you might be tempted to try this hack at home, Toolstation's professionals claim it's not as effective as you may think. ‘The painters tape and double-sided tape will leave ladder marks and the longer it is left up, the worse it will be,' they explain. 'You could also still damage the wall removing the tape.’ 

Due to the awkwardness of aligning the wallpaper strips, it would also be extremely difficult to get a smooth application of your wallpaper, so this hack definitely isn't as foolproof as it first seems. 

The solution? Sweet talk your landlord! If you've proven to be a reliable and trustworthy tenant, politely ask if they'll let you decorate a feature wall. The worst that can happen is they say no!

3. Use honey to stick a pad to your sander 

This 'sweet' TikTok hack suggests using honey to stick a pad of sandpaper back to your sander. By simply dotting some sticky honey on the surface on your pad, the man in this video claims it will help it to stick, allowing you to continue the job at hand.

Not convinced? Neither is bespoke furniture maker, Toby. ‘This is a short-term fix that will result in clogging of your sander, for something that can easily be solved by replacing the hook and loop pad or using a pad saver in the first place.' 

A trip to the hardware store is the best way to overcome this problem, and it will probably cost you less than $15. A new pad will make your life a whole lot easier.

4. Removing a flow restrictor from a showerhead to increase water pressure

In this popular tutorial, a man demonstrates how to remove a flow restrictor from a showerhead to increase the water pressure of the shower. Using a screw and a screw gun, he inserts the screw into one of the restrictor's plastic quadrants. He then drives the screw into the plastic using the gun, wiggling them out of the showerhead to remove them. 

However, Toolstation's plumbing expert was not impressed by this shower room idea. 'Flow restrictors are in place for a reason,' they explain. 'Removal can cause temperature issues, especially in the case of combi boilers. I would say to never remove them unless the manufacturer clearly states they can be removed entirely.'

'Most appliances call for a flow-rated item be fitted, different colored ones indicate different flow rates, and you should always adhere to manufacturer advice,' they add. A safer, renter-friendly solution would be to buy a pressurized shower head which can be bought for a reasonable cost. 

a pink bathroom with a shower over a bath

(Image credit: Kristy Noble)

5. Using IKEA BILLY bookcases for a kitchen island

In this IKEA TikTok hack, two BILLY bookcases are joined together using brackets and some MDF board sealed with D-C-fix to create a budget kitchen island. 

Sound genius? Although it might look amazing and seem renter-friendly, Toolstation's experts warn that this IKEA furniture hack would be extremely unsafe if not secured to the floor. 

The brackets and the bookcases' particle board are not strong enough materials for a kitchen either, meaning they wouldn't withstand a lot of weight. If you're looking for kitchen island ideas, it's best to invest in a reliable and longstanding piece. 

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.