A good time to check those windows

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

We are in a spell of dry warm weather and this is just the time to check those window frames, sills and doors to see if you should be doing remedial work before the winter. Today many homes have double glazed units fitted to their wooden frames and if the frames are not in good condition, water will seep in and gather at the bottom of the unit causing condensation between the panes of glass as the seal at the bottom is cracked. There is a good reason for this as most are fitted into a putty or mastic and this can dry out allowing water in and it then penetrates the edge seal, saturate the desiccant, and cause condensation between the panes.

The frame should be sanded down to ensure that there is no flaking or cracked paint on them and any imperfections to the wood, or to the filling around the glass should be attended to before a good primer or undercoat is applied. This should be lightly sanded down and at least two further coats applied before the final gloss finish is applied to the frame, this will protect the putty or mastic giving protection to the glass seal.

Picture: P.Flintandco

Choosing a new bathroom suite

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

The kitting out of a bathroom requires careful consideration.  Combining aesthetically pleasing style with practicality and ease of cleaning takes a certain amount of forward planning.

The first thing to consider is the colour scheme.  A traditional white bathroom suite looks clean and crisp and will complement virtually any colour choices in the rest of the room. Coloured suites work well within a particular design, but they can limit future decorating potential further down the line.  Wooden bath panels give a rustic feel to an otherwise practical white enamel suite.

Free-standing baths add a touch of glamour to any bathroom, as well as becoming a draw for potential buyers should you decide to sell your home.  Baths with the fittings in the centre make a home bathroom seem as stylish as a hotel en-suite and make the bath more spacious.  For a real hotel feel, add a dual sink with matching taps and an under-sink storage cabinet.

Saving water should be a priority wherever possible.  An eco-bath from Cleargreen is specially designed to reduce water usage and to retain heat for longer, and is made from a minimum of 30% recycled materials.  Fitting a shower over the bath also saves water, as a typical ten minute shower uses half the amount of water that it takes to fill a bathtub.

Whilst an enclosed wet-room may look wonderful and save on space, it is worth remembering that most potential buyers will be put off by a house with no bath.  Instead, fit glass shower screens from Aqata around the edge of the bath to get the look without losing it.

Enclosed toilet cisterns create a space for ornaments or other decorative items, which can really spruce up the look of a bathroom.  Geberit produce some which are practical and environmentally friendly, and for an even more eco-aware bathroom choose toilets with a dual-flush system to save on water and energy.

DIY tools for tiling

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

Having a good set of tiling tools in your DIY arsenal is essential when planning to re-tile any surface, and having the right tools makes the job even easier and produces a professional look. Here are the basic tiling tools and what they do:

Spirit Level

This is an essential tool not just for tiling, but for levelling anything you wish to hang or fix to the wall. A spirit level is used to line up tiles both horizontally and vertically and provides a professional and eye pleasing finish.

Serrated Tile Trowel

Having an even spread of tile adhesive on a wall of floor is essential for a good tiling job and for seating the tile flat against the surface. The serrated tile trowel has a tooth like edge that is perfect for the job.

Tile Cutter

As the name suggests, a tile cutter is used to cut tiles in straight lines for finishing the edges of a room. Most tile cutters use a lever action to first score the tile then snap the tile along the score line; there are also electric tile cutters available, much  like a table top circular saw but these are expensive and usually out of the budget for a DIYer.


Cutting narrow strips off a ceramic tile is near on impossible unless you have an expensive electric tile cutter, but this is where nibblers come in. Score the tile as you would and use the nibblers to break off the unwanted piece of tile. Nibblers look similar to pincers but have sharper jaws made from tungsten carbide.

Profile Gauge

A profile gauge is an essential tool for copying the contour of pipework, door mouldings and more complex shapes. The shape can then be transferred to the tile and cut out with a tile saw. It can also be used when fitting laminate or vinyl flooring.

Tile Saw

A tile saw looks very much like a hacksaw but with one crucial difference. Instead of a blade it has a tungsten carbide rod suspended under tension. This rod is hard enough to cut through ceramic tile and because it is round it can cut it any direction making it a great tool for curved lines.

Grout Spreader

A grout spreader has a rubber blade fitted into a plastic or wooden handle and is used to spread grout into the gaps between the tiles. This tool is a great time saver if you are tiling a large area.

Tips for getting rid of clutter

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

Keeping your house tidy can be one of the biggest problems that homeowners face. Particularly once you have a family, you just seem to accumulate stuff. Much of it is unnecessary, a lot of it is probably broken and can’t be used anymore, and some things are just items that you’ve never used and will never use. So here are a few tips on getting rid of those bits and pieces just cluttering up your house.

First of all, grab a bin bag and be ruthless. Take it one room at a time and just go around grabbing things that you know you will never use again, and just chuck them in the bag. Sometimes it helps to have a friend do this with you – they will be less attached to certain objects than you are since they won’t have sentimental value to them, and they will make it easier for you to see that they are useless. Of course, there is no harm in keeping a few objects of sentimental value, but not too many.

Once you’ve done your first run around the house, you’ll probably be pretty impressed by what you’ve managed to rid yourself of. Now it’s time to do it again. If there was anything you debated over throwing out, now is the time to get rid of that. At this point you can start looking at things more closely too, and decide whether they are worth more than being thrown in the bin. You have the option of giving things away as gifts, selling things, or donating them to a charity shop.

A final way to get rid of things is to use this trick. Put everything that you don’t need immediately, or in the next couple of weeks, into boxes. Those boxes which haven’t been opened after 6 months can go. Don’t even bother opening them to check, just get rid of them in whatever manner you choose. You’ll feel so much better afterwards and will have more space than you realised once it’s all gone.

Picture: davidd

Before you add that conservatory

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Home Improvements, Property

Adding a conservatory to a home is a convenient, cost effective way to increase living space and creates a pleasant room which can be used for a variety of purposes. However, before you embark on this or employ some help, you should consider one or two things first. Firstly unless you are very skilled you should not attempt to build the whole thing yourself, restrict your skills to what you can comfortable do, perhaps putting in the concrete foundation and floor slab.

Embark upon and thoroughly research what you are wanting and always buy the very best quality structure within your budget. If you are employing a builder to do all or part of the work ask what is included in his quotation– is it inclusive of flooring and electrics or will you be left with a bare shell? Heating and ventilation are vital in a conservatory, which is after all a very hospitable greenhouse! Although it will be hot on a sunny summer day, unless you have adequate heating it will be unusable in the winter. The best form of heating is probably under floor using a grid of pipes, but if this is not practicable, electric mats installed beneath the floor covering is very effective. Another method is to have air conditioning which can be reversed in the winter.

Do check out whether you need planning permission or building regulations approval if you go ahead without it you may have to take it down. Do think about the position of your conservatory, if it’s south facing it will need good ventilation and shade, if it’s north facing it will need efficient heating.

Picture: Porphyria Poppins

No shortage of choice with garden rooms

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Garden, Home Improvements

Most people buy garden rooms to help create more living space or enjoy the benefits of a home office. There are many different uses for these structures and they are available in a range of styles. Garden rooms from Oeco offer customers plenty of choice.

For individuals who decide to opt for a more traditional style structure there are garden lodges. Garden lodges ordered from the company’s website, www.oecogardenrooms.co.uk are sized 3m x 3m and are less than 4m high, keeping them well within planning requirements. Adding real style to these structures is the apex roof, which is clad in tiles of western red cedar shingle. Cedar is also used to clad the walls, giving the garden lodge a delightful look.

Other options for anyone thinking of purchasing a garden room include a garden studio and a garden pod. The garden studio provides an excellent way of creating more living space and is generally far cheaper than building an extension onto the property or carrying out a basement or loft conversion.

Garden studios are manufactured and installed to the high standards that Oeco customers have come to expect. As with all garden rooms from Oeco these contemporary studios are fully insulated and are connected to mains utilities. They offer homeowners a wide choice of uses, from a space in which to relax, a room for leisure or even a place to work.

Garden pods from Oeco are an excellent option for those who do not have much outdoor space or who want to start enjoying the benefits of using a garden room without spending too much money.

Garden office buildings are the ideal option for those running a business from home. A garden office from Oeco will allow self-employed individuals to enjoy office space away from the distractions of the home, without all the problems and costs of having to commute to and from work.

Oeco Garden Studio

Filling Holes in Walls

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

In old houses, various pockmarks, divots, cracks and holes in the walls are common. Giving the walls, in a home, a new look before decorating gives the rooms a quick and easy cosmetic upgrade. However, not every hole is a job for the trusty Polyfilla, and knowing which type of filler to use depends on the location, size and shape of the holes.

Spot the Holes

Holes in plasterboard need attention, as soon as possible, to stop the problem from getting worse. Generally, the average size of these types of holes is about the size of a fist. Plaster patches are wonderful products that are applied directly over holes. Simply stick one over the offending area, cover it, and level it out with a small amount of filler prior to painting the wall.

No Hole is Safe

The best way to get rid of large holes, in solid walls, is to fill the holes with a fast-set plaster-based product. Filling wood is another matter entirely, and it is advisable to use a two-part wood filler. The Polyfilla is the best thing to use for quick and easy fixes of tiny, screw-sized holes and thin or hairline cracks. Always note what material in which the hole appears. The difference between plaster, concrete and wood means a separate approach is necessary to successfully remedy the problem. Make sure the mixtures used to patch up the holes are dried properly before decorating over them.

Picture: David Allan Barker

Emergency plumbing tips

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

Whether it is a blocked drain, dripping tap or broken pipe, there is no need to panic. Do not call the plumber until you have checked out the problem. There is a good chance that with a little DIY know-how and the right tools you can fix it yourself.

Make regular checks

You might not notice a leak right away and once you do, costly damage may have already been done. It is worth checking for any signs of water under sinks, around fixtures or near appliances.

Stock up on tools

Do not wait until you have a plumbing emergency to get the tools; stock up on basic plumbing tools ahead of time and you will be prepared for anything.

Do not hang around, unblock it early

We often live with blocked pipes or drains for a long time before we decide to do anything about the problem. A blockage can develop into a serious problem, however, so it is advisable to fix it before that happens.

Start with a plunger; anyone can use them and they are extremely cheap to purchase. If that fails to solve the problem try one of the drain cleaners on the market. If that is no use either, you are going to have to roll up your sleeves and remove the trap from below the sink to look for and then remove the blockage.

Repair pipes

Pipes often burst in winter, when water freezes inside them and expands. The first step to fixing a broken pipe is locating the site of the leak; quite often it can be repaired without needing to replace the pipe. Some types of holes are easy to repair; pinhole cracks need only electrical tape, while a hairline crack can be fixed with a pipe clamp.

Mend a leaking pipe joint with plumber’s putty, but remember to turn the water off first. Other cracks can often be repaired with a patch kit.

Picture: cmurttaugh

How to restore woodblock flooring

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

When restoring woodblock flooring the first thing to do is check for missing or broken blocks, or blocks that have worked loose. Blocks that have become loose can be reattached, but the black pitch adhesive will first have to be scraped away.

Flooring adhesive is used when fixing blocks onto the floor; it is spread in the spaces where the blocks are missing or where they have become damaged or loose. 5 mm of adhesive should be spread on the floor surface and some needs to be spread on to the bottom of the blocks.

Once the blocks have been fitted the next step is to weight them down to ensure they adhere to the floor. This can be done by first putting a plastic sheet over the floor area. Plywood is then put on top of the sheet and weighed down using bricks. Check the instructions that come with the adhesive for drying times.

Once the adhesive has set, the next task is to sand the entire floor and varnish it. This will ensure a smooth, uniform finish for the entire area.

Picture courtesy of Daniel Slaughter

The silence of a music room

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Garden, Home Improvements

The teenagers are hoping to become the next latest pop sensation and are making music at a level which that generation love to do; they are in their own dedicated room. Sitting just a few feet away are their parents who are quietly reading, but completely undisturbed, all thanks to the purpose built garden room.

An Oeco dedicated music room is an ideal place for any musician to practice in the knowledge that they will not be disturbing family or neighbours. The garden music room is built to the highest possible standard and specially soundproofed. Using soundproofing during the construction phase, efficient windows with 28mm Pilkington K argon gas filled double glazed units with warm edge super bars, the garden music is an ideal addition for music practice, tutoring or just listening to music.

All Oeco garden music studios are bespoke and installed with electrics, heating, and lighting, a room which can be used all year round and not confined to warmer months. The price you pay is for the complete agreed package and will be installed onsite by the Oeco team, one company from beginning to end, normally within seven days. From foundations, to building construction, interior fit and electrics, Oeco will give you a complete package at a fixed price.

Picture courtesy of Oeco Garden Rooms