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

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

Tradesman prefer British made bathroom fixtures and fittings

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Bathrooms, Home Improvements

Just moved into a new house? Or had your bathroom refitted, then chances are that the tradesman used British made fixtures and fittings. A recent survey by a top UK bathroom supplier has revealed that 47% of tradesman believe that bathroom fixtures and fittings made in the UK are the most reliable, with China ranked second with 19% and German made products third with 13% of the vote.

As well as being reliable, those interviewed also felt like the British made products lasted longer and had a better design than there foreign counterparts. While 38% of respondents claimed not to care where the products came from as long as they did the job, a massive 62% said that they preferred to use British made products because they last longer, are built to better tolerances and parts were easier to source.

This is great news for British manufacturers, especially those who specialise in bathroom fixtures and fittings, and it does show the world that we can at least produce something right.

For those who are looking for British made bathroom fixtures and fittings there are many top brands to choose from including Armitage Shanks, St. James, Kudos showers and Ellis Furniture to name a few.

For more information on the survey click here:

How to Clean and Reseal Your Deck

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

Your garden decking is open to the elements all year round, so it is important to maintain the wood to ensure a long and fruitful life. It is recommended that you reseal the wood on your deck at least once a year, but if you use a professional wood seal you may be able to leave it longer between applications.

In this handy guide we will teach you how to clean and reseal your decking so it looks good for years to come.

Cleaning the deck

First thing to do is remove everything from the deck including any furniture, plant pots and other decorations what will get in the way during the cleaning process.

Sweep the decking with a hard bristled brush to get the large pieces of debris off the surface and use a thin tool like a wall scraper to remove all of the debris from in between the deck boards. Once the large pieces of debris have been removed use a hose pipe or ideally a pressure washer to give the decking a deep clean.

Some areas of your decking might have a build-up of algae or mildew, in that case use a commercial cleaning agent mixed with water to remove it. Use a hard bristled brush to get the cleaning solution into all the nooks and crannies, and rise thoroughly with a hose pipe or pressure washer to remove the cleaning solution.

Allow the decking to completely dry before resealing or staining.

Resealing and staining the deck

The choice of finish for your decking is entirely up to you. Choose to match the colour to you existing garden features or make a statement with a different colour; there are many types of stains available for decking available in a multitude of colours.

Read the label of the stain fully before applying to the decking and leave to dry for the recommended time in between coats.

Once dry you can replace all of your furniture and other items to your decking area. Sit back and relax in the knowledge that your decking is protected for another year.

Picture: freestockimages

Fitting a sliding wardrobe

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Bedrooms, DIY Tips, Home Improvements, How To Guides

Sliding wardrobes have been popular for many years for their clean look and ease of use, and are now available using the latest technologies and materials to create a modern storage space.

Custom sliding wardrobes can be purchased from a range of suppliers such as B&Q and Ikea, although specialist manufactures like Slidewardrobes.co.uk wardrobes in particular seem very well built. Made to measure sliding wardrobes are designed to fit perfectly into any room and are specially designed to be easy to fit and maintain.

Measure the space

Before ordering your sliding wardrobe it is important to measure the opening accurately, there is nothing worse than having something custom built only for it to not fit properly. First measure the opening horizontally at the top, bottom and middle of the space. Use the average as your measurement for the width. Next measure vertically from the ceiling to the floor at various points (approximately 1 meter apart) and choose the smallest measurement as your height. You can now order your chosen wardrobe.

Fitting a sliding wardrobe

When your made to measure sliding wardrobe arrives the doors will be pre-fitted with the running gear, so all you have to do is mount the top and bottom tracks for the doors to fit in; this makes it easy for the DIYer and also cheaper too as there is no installation fee.

Fit the top track first; this is usually around 600mm from the back wall, but can be adjusted to fit your needs. Measure your depth from both corners of the back wall and mark with a pencil, this will be where the top track will be mounted. Next, drill some holes in the top track approximately 100mm from each end and periodically along the piece. Offer up the top track in its position on the ceiling and get a helper to hold it in place. Mark all of the holes onto the ceiling with a pencil.

Drill the holes in the ceiling and fit some raw plugs, then screw the top track onto the ceiling making sure that it is level with the back wall. The bottom track is fitted in the same way, but before screwing it to the floor it is a good idea to put one of the doors in place and check that its level with a spirit level. When you are happy with the position the bottom track can be screwed to the floor.

Once both tracks are in place you can fit the doors. Slide the doors into the top track at a slight angle and fit them into the bottom track. Check that the doors run smoothly across the whole wall and adjust if needed.

Now you can either fit a wardrobe rail or a set of shelves or both depending on your needs. Now you can sit back and admire your handy work.

Fitting cornices and coving

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

Cornices and coving are a great way to finish the edges of the ceiling where it meets the wall and has been used for hundreds of years as decoration. Cornices and coving are available in a range of different shapes and sizes from plain concave coving to decorative cornice and you should choose a style that suits your room’s style.

Fitting cornices and coving is pretty straight forward although there are a few tools that you will need before you start, these include:

•    A mitre box and medium tooth saw
•    A ladder or suitable stepladder
•    Wall adhesive

Fitting coving

Use an offcut of coving to mark the dimensions of the piece to both the wall and ceiling all the way round. If the wall has wallpaper on it remove it from the measured area and lightly scratch with a Stanley knife to provide a good key for the adhesive.

Start work from an internal corner and cut using a mitre box and saw through the face side of the piece. Apply a generous amount of adhesive onto the coving and push the piece into the corner making sure that it aligns with the guide lines. Scrape away any surplus adhesive before it has a chance to set.

Repeat this for all four corners then cut pieces for the other side using the alternative side of the mite box. Once all of the corners are done its time to fit in the gaps with straight cut coving. Use the surplus adhesive to fill in any gaps as you go along.

Once the adhesive has dried the coving can be primed and painted to match the existing rooms colours.

Picture: Ben O’Bryan

Plumbing tips and advice

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

The very first thing that you should do in your home, whether you are new to it or have lived there for years, is to establish just where the mains water supply comes into the house and where the stop cock is located, it is a little late when water is coming through the ceiling.

All domestic water is supplied by a service pipe, often called a rising main. This is connected to the local water authority’s main which runs under the road or pavement outside the house. There will be a stop cock where the rising main tees off the water authority’s main; this provides a means of isolating the supply to your property, should an emergency or any repairs be required. It is worth reminding home owners that they are fully responsible for the pipe after it leaves the water company main and any fault in that pipe such as a burst or blockage must be rectified by the homeowner.

Remember there are two stop taps coming into the house, one at the water main and a further one where it comes into the house outside or inside, usually under the kitchen sink or in the service cupboard under the stairs; find out where these two stop taps are. The one at the water company main should only be turned off if there is a problem with the supply pipe as it is can be common for the tap to supply two or more properties.

If you decide to carry out some DIY plumbing work it is necessary that you always adhere to local water authority regulations. These regulations are designed to safeguard public health and reduce risk of contamination or wastage. Also and very importantly, you must always adhere to any relevant electrical regulations; these are designed and necessary to safeguard you and others from being injured, you will find that certain sections of the plumbing must be earth bonded; if any sections are replaced with plastic then an earth bonding link needs to be fitted. Please contact a qualified electrician if you are in any doubt at all, be safe and sensible at all times.

Picture: Andrea R

Getting ready for a painting job

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

Firstly you have to be particularly careful if you live in a very old house as the paint on the wood surfaces will also be old and can contain lead. Special care is need when preparing this and if your home was built before the early 1960’s it will almost certainly be lead pint on the windows, doors, woodwork and for some metal items.

The easiest way to deal with lead paintwork, if it is in good condition, is to paint over it with a coat of modern paint. This will seal in the lead and prevent it from causing harm. However, if the paint is badly chipped use a solvent-based or caustic paint stripper, or a water based one.

Dealing with the paintwork, no matter what age, if it is in good condition and although it could be several layers thick, a quick preparation is all that is needed. If the paint is oil based, rub down with a medium coarse abrasive paper wrapped around a wood block, wash down with a solution of sugar soap, allow to dry and you are ready to apply the first coat. For emulsion paints a simple wash down with soapy water is all that is needed. For paintwork that is peeling, pitted, badly chipped or crazed then the paint will have to be stripped to the bare wood.

For a first class finish it is worth remembering the time honoured advice of the professionals; “the finish is only as good as the preparation of the surfaces before you paint”, excellent advice.

Picture: tienvijftien

How to fix screw and nail holes in the wall

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

If you’re redecorating your house and moving things around, it often means that where you once had furniture and picture frames, you may no longer have anything. This can leave unsightly nail or screw holes in your walls that are exposed. It is also a good idea to make sure any of these are fixed and covered if you’ve lived in a rental property and are moving, or else you might find that you won’t get your whole deposit back. But it’s really a very easy thing to do, even if you are new to home repair.

Using a joint compound mixture, which is available at any home or hardware store, fill the hole in the wall with a thin layer of it. Smooth it over carefully with a putty knife.

Once the mixture is completely dry, use some sandpaper or a 120 grit sandpaper block to sand the filled hole so that it is completely flat against the wall.

Make sure that you have a paint colour or primer that matches the wall exactly. If you no longer have that paint, or if you never had any in the first place, take along a sample of a picture to a hardware shop who will point you in the right direction. Use this paint to then cover the area.

And that’s all! You can make it even more simple by buying an all-in-one nail hole patch product, but these don’t usually give quite as good finish as doing it the long, but still easy, way round.

Picture: Steve Snodgrass

Removing a tiled fire surround

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

If you are preparing to redecorate your fireplace area and you wish to remove the fire surround, the process will vary depending on the type.  A tiled fire surround made from tiled concrete is one type, and it can be removed if you know what to do.

Get a helper

This is a task that requires two people.  Have your helper steady the surround while you are working so it does not fall.  Remember, these can be quite top heavy and when you begin removing screws they can topple and damage your flooring.  Your helper will also help you remove it when you are ready.

Find the screws

Most tiled fire surrounds are attached to the walls using screws that fit into metal lugs.  These are typically hidden behind the plaster, so you will need to remove any wall coverings and then chip away at the plaster to reveal them.  Once you find them, clear the screws of any plaster and then unscrew them from the wall.  Sometimes the screws will be stuck so if you cannot unscrew them, then prise the lugs to loosen the fittings from the wall instead.

Remove and break up the surround

Once the screws or lugs are loose from the wall, lower the surround, with your helper’s assistance, on to the ground.  If you are going to break it up to dispose of it, take it outdoors. Cover it with an old piece of sack or cloth and protect your hands and face with the right safety gear.  Then, use a sledgehammer to break it into small pieces.  If you notice any metal strengthening, which is common with concrete, pry the tiling away from this as you break up the surround.  When you are done, dispose of it properly and get ready to redo your fireplace surround.

Picture: Domonic Alves