Must I use primer paint?

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Interior Design

Using a primer is a sound idea at most times because it gives next coat of paint a good surface to adhere to, but there is more to it than that.

There is no doubt that today’s paint is far better than we have had before, we have a number of finishes available to us that we did not see a few years ago. But even our modern paints will not do the whole job on their own, they need a good surface that they can bond too, this is where the primer and under coat come in.

A primer should always be used where it is not possible to have at totally flat surface, cracks holes and depressions is just trouble waiting and they reduce the ability of the paint to adhere properly, it will soon deteriorate. Primers can be used on both wood and metal, but wood is the reason that a primer should be used, particularly if the wood has not been painted or it has become bare. Paint primer creates a watertight seal preventing any water from getting on to the wood causing rot.

Another reason for using a good primer is to hide grain and other natural marks on the wood, lighter finishing coats will always show what is underneath if a good primer and undercoat are missed out of the repainting job.

However, no matter how good the primer will be, it will not hide defects such as mould or wet, the wood must always be thoroughly sanded, cleaned and dried thoroughly filled as necessary and then primed. You are better fitting a new piece of wood or frame rather than trying to hide one which has got wet rot.

Picture: tienvijftien

Ten Home Security Tips

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Home Improvements, Security

Keeping you possessions safe and secure is on the top of many people’s list, but the sad fact is that any home is a potential target for the would be thief. Improving the security measures in your home is the best way of discouraging a potential burglar and in this article we’ll give show you the top ten home security measures.

  1. Windows – this is the most common way a burglar will gain access to a house, usually at the rear of the property. Breaking a window is often the last resort for a thief as it draws unwanted attention, so it is imperative that you fit all your windows with key operated locks; this is usually enough of a deterrent.
  2. Doors – it is important to ensure that your external doors are strong, well maintained and fitted with security locks. Cylinder locks will provide increased protection and enhanced security at an affordable price. French doors or double doors should also be fitted with top and bottom mortise locks.
  3. Lighting – security lighting is a great way to deter the would be thief, especially in dimly lit areas and the rear of the property. Some security lights come with timer built in so that you can set them to come on when you are away for your home for a few days.
  4. Burglar alarms – burglar alarms are the best way of deterring a criminal and should be one of the first things fitted for security minded home owners. There are many different alarm systems to choose from including those that simply let of an alarm to those that dial a pre-set number, a local security service or the police. You can also get systems that can be controlled by your smartphone.
  5. Fences and gates – an unmaintained or low fence can make gaining access to the rear of the property much easier. Fences should be approximately 6ft high or you could install a row of thorny hedges, these are both good deterrents. Gates should also be sturdy and should lock from the inside with a bolt.
  6. Spare keys – never leave a spare key outside of your house; this is an easy way for intruders to gain access to your house. Instead give the key to the right recipient or get them to pick it up from your work or a neighbour.
  7. Keep valuables out of sight – just as you would a car, keep all of your valuables out of sight in your home too. You might be proud of that brand new laptop you’ve got, but do you really want to be advertising it to the opportunist thief?
  8. Buy a safe – if you have really valuable items like jewellery or have large sums of money in your home then it is a good idea to get a safe. It can be fitted in a hidden location and is ideal for storing valuables such as cash, jewellery and passports safely and securely.
  9. Mark you possessions – if the worst should happen and your home does get burgled it is important that the police can find its rightful owner should they recover them. Marking your possessions by etching your name and postcode is the best way, alternatively you could mark your property with an ultraviolet marker.
  10. Don’t advertise that you are going away – in these modern times social networking is king, but it is important not to advertise the fact that you are going away, especially on public websites.

security stickerPicture: Mr. T in DC

Laying Ceramic Floor Tiles

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Tiles

There has been a huge leap in the popularity of ceramic floor tiles, possibly due to the beauty of some of the bathrooms that we have all encountered when on holiday in places like Spain. As a consequence tiling bathroom and kitchen floors has increased and it is ideal for a DIY person to do his job and see excellent results. The obvious advantages to a tiled ceramic floor, apart from the decorative appearance, is that they provide a clean hygienic surface and any spills can be quickly and easily cleaned up, they are hard wearing, but remember that ceramic floor tiles can be regarded as just about permanent. A good tip when tiling a kitchen or a bathroom is to keep sufficient extra tiles in case the kitchen units, or say the bath, are replaced and are slightly different in size or shape.

The first thing that you must do is to measure the room to see how many ceramic tiles you will need, remember some extra tiles to keep and also allow between ten to fifteen percent extra for cutting and wastage. Floor tiles come in two distinct shapes oblong or square, with square being far more popular and incidentally easier to lay; you can also choose from textured finishes to elaborate designs, this will give your floor a very special look. You will require adhesive and the coverage will normally be shown on the bucket, otherwise ask the DIY supplier.

Laying the tiles onto a concrete floor is ideal, but because there have been big advances in the modern adhesives, this has meant that it is now possible to lay ceramic tiles onto a wooden or suspended floor. Just one point to remember though, once laid you will not be able to access things like water pipes or cables which may run under a suspended floor.

Picture: Alwyn Ladell

Cleaning the Terrace or Patio

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden

It does not matter how well the slabs have been laid, over a period of time you will get weeds appearing in the joints and they will certainly require some basic maintenance to keep them looking their best. It is true to say that maintenance will keep your paving looking good lack of it will certainly have the opposite effect!

Weeds can usually be pulled off the surface of most paving, or scraped off using a hoe or similar tool. You should keep the slabs weed free by regular brushing of the surface with a stiff broom. Weeds will grow on the accumulated dirt in the joints; they will not grow thought the slabs’ or the mortar joint, unless it has broken down of course.

With simple steps such as a basic wash-down with soapy water, all types and forms of paving will look so much better for it, although there are some types of paving slab that will need more attention.

Good results when cleaning the slab can usually be achieved with nothing more than good soapy water and a stiff brush hosing off afterwards. If the slabs are very dirty then power washing is probably the best way to get rid of the dirt and if you do not have one, they can usually be hired at a good DIY merchant or hire shop.

We do not recommend acid based cleaners on your slabs as they can ruin certain types of stonework. Avoid any cleaners that that has hydrochloric acid listed in its ingredients. They may clean your paving, but there’s also a significant risk that they’ll ruin it. This particularly applies to Indian sandstones they will be ruined!

A word of warning about power washers, used properly, they will keep paving in tip-top condition, but take care because if the high-pressure water jet is allowed to remove that critical jointing material, you will have to re-point it all.

Picture: Eva Ekeblad

Decorating a bedroom for a teenage girl

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Bedrooms, DIY Tips, Interior Design

Your little princess isn’t so little now and has grown out of her princess themed room, so where do you start when redecorating? In this article we’ll give you some handy hints in creating the perfect bedroom for your teenage girl.

Storage, storage, storage

Storage is the key to creating an uncluttered room perfect for a teenage girl. Whether they need storage for clothes and shoes or book and CD’s it is important to have planned out space for everything. Under bed storage is great for adding storage without taking up additional space in the bedroom, whereas sliding wardrobes provide custom storage for clothes and shoes. There are a huge range of sliding wardrobes available in a range of different colours that can be built to fit into any bedroom; companies such as and offer bespoke designs at an affordable price with a range of storage options.

Ottomans are also a great option for adding storage to a bedroom and if the room has a bay window why not utilise the space by making a bench seat with some storage underneath.

Another important consideration to think about is adding some kind of desk/make up table to the room. This will provide a practical area in the room for your child to do their school work or talk to their friends through social media away from the hustle and bustle of the main house.

Painting and decorating

Pinks, red and oranges are some of the more popular colours in a girl’s bedroom, but at the end of the day it should be up to them to choose a colour scheme because at the end of the day they will be spending all their time in there.

Adding wallpaper to one wall can create a fantastic focal point for the room, whereas pastel or muted colours are timeless and will suit a variety of themes.

Designing a bedroom for a teenage girl needn’t be stressful, it’s a simple task of evaluating the storage and practical needs of your child and choosing a suitable colour scheme.

Winter plumbing tips

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Home Improvements

With the onset of winter it will pay to make some simple checks that can help save a plumbing disaster, should the frost strike.

The first place to start is in the loft of your home, it is sure to have at least ten inches of insulation, if it hasn’t you are just wasting heat and money. Assuming that you have topped up the roof insulation, how about the exposed pipework in the loft space? With the increase in insulation it is sure to mean that the roof space is colder than it was, pipework should be lagged using one of the proprietary closed cell polyethylene pipe wraps. Ensure that there are no gaps in the sleeve. The hot water and central heating tanks should also be insulated and be covered on top with a suitable insulated lid, a cracked tank due to frost can cause havoc below.

Do you have pipework that runs through a garage, perhaps to feed an outside tap? This is an area which can be affected by frost and all pipework here must also be lagged. Similarly the outside tap should be wrapped and where possible shut off for the winter period, do not forget to turn the tap on to drain and allow any water in the tap itself room to expand if it does freeze.

Gutters and downpipes should also be clear to ensure that there is nothing that will obstruct the water from clearing the gutters. You may be surprised at how many plastic gutters fill with debris and the water freezes in them causing them to crack. Avoid his expense by ensuring that they are free from debris.

Finally, if you have not already done so, locate where that stop tap is that isolates the incoming cold supply and make sure that it is free and easy to close and open. There should also be a tap which isolates the hot water and this should be located in the event that a problem arises with the tank.

Picture: akeg

Keeping your drains clear this Christmas

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, How To Guides

Lots of food will be consumed this Christmas and lots of fat and grease will find their way into our drains unless we actively prevent it. You may not think too much harm can come from fat getting into our drainage system, but you would be wrong and it is the one thing that causes most of the problems we get in the drains at our homes.

This Christmas, and come to think of it all the time as well we should always pour or scrape greasy or oily food waste into a container or jar, then allow grease to cool in the container before throwing it in the waste bin. Always wipe and scrape utensils and plates before washing and dispose of any waste with your household rubbish, detergents will not do this for you they dissolve it for sure, but it will still coagulate when it gets into the main sewerage system.

A good way to avoid the problem is to consider using a Fat Trap to collect excess fat and oil and all sinks should have strainers in the sink to collect food particles, these are cheap and it into the plug hole, may types completely replace the traditional plug. Pouring fat and grease into the sink is not just passing the problem to the local authority; your own drains can become blocked particularly if you have a sump.

Picture: Beppie

Choosing bathroom radiators

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Bathrooms, DIY Tips, Radiators

Before you choose your radiator, it is essential to know how much heat you require in this room, so you can decide on a radiator that gives you adequate output. 

Heat output is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs).  In order to calculate the amount of heat output your room will require, you first need to work out the volume of your room in cubic feet by multiplying the room’s height by its width and then by its length.  The volume then needs to be multiplied by five, to give the heat output required in BTUs.  This gives you an approximate guide, which can be refined further, for example by adding 15% if your bathroom has two outside walls, and a further 15% if there is no loft insulation.  Always round up the output figure to the nearest suitable radiator.

Your bathroom can be heated by a radiator, a heated towel rail or a combined towel rail and radiator unit.  You can find radiators and towel rails to match your chosen décor and your bathroom tiles, whether traditional or contemporary.  Valves are usually supplied separately, since the type of valve you require depends not only on the radiator, but also on the location where the pipework comes into the room, i.e. through the wall or up from the floor.  If you are installing a completely new heating system, you will be able to decide on the position of pipework.  Otherwise, you may prefer to base your decisions around the existing pipework. 

If you opt for a heated towel rail, you might want to consider a dual fuel system, which enables the towel rail to heat up when your central heating system is switched off.  You simply turn off the valve, and then you turn on the rail’s own electric element.  This is an ideal solution if you prefer warm towels all year round.

Making a London Blind

Author: dpinning  //  Category: How To Guides, Interior Design

To make a London blind, cut a piece of fabric and lining fabric to the size required. Place the fabric with the right sides together to match the raw edges. Pin the fabrics and stitch along the side and bottom edges, just half an inch from the edges. Turn these pieces the right way out and press.

Place the fabric the wrong way up on a flat surface. Mark parallel lines down the length of the fabric at six-inch, 12-inch and 18-inch intervals from each side edge.

Find a piece of Austrian blind tape. Turn one inch under at the bottom edges of the tapes and place the tapes over the 12-inch marking that you created so that the first loop is located two inches from the bottom edge of the fabric. Pin the tapes before stitching them into place.

Turn one inch of material in at the top edge and stitch. Fold the blind down the centre, with the right sides together, and match the marked lines together. Pin and stitch the marked lines from four inches down from the top edge and two inches from the bottom edge. Press the pleats along the length of the blind so that the stitching is centred over the tape.

Pin Velcro and stitch along the top of the blind on the wrong side, very close to the fold at the top. Cut nylon cord in half and secure it to the bottom loops of the tapes. Thread the cords through all the loops. Secure the blind to the batten and fix in place.

Organising your workshop

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, How To Guides

Whether you use your workshop or garage for your hobbies or work it is important to keep it organised to not only provide a safe environment in which to work but also create a productive workflow.

Here are some tips to keeping your workshop organised:

Fit a pegboard

A pegboard is great for organising your tools; they can be fitted with a range of add-ons including shelves, racks and even storage boxes. Easy to fit and maintain, a pegboard can be an invaluable feature to a workshop.

Use Component Drawers

Use component drawers to store all your small items such as screws, fittings and electrical components. Label each drawer up with some self-adhesive labels to make sure that you know what is in each one.

Build some custom shelving

Keep your power tools organised by building custom shelving to store them on. Shelving is also great for storing just about anything, keeping fragile items off the floor and out of the way.

Make enough space for big machinery

If you own any big machinery such as a table saw or band saw it is important from a safety point of view that you have enough space to work all the way around the machine. If your space is small think about getting some frames with wheels built-in, that way you can wheel the machine out when you need it without taking up more room than is needed.

Clean up regularly

One of the biggest tips I can give you is to put your tools away in their proper place once you have finished using them. This not only keeps the workspace clean and clear, but also saves you time when trying to find a specific tool.

Picture: mtneer_man