Preparing a wall for tiling

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

It does not matter what sort of DIY job you are undertaking, there is one rule which if avoided or skimped will result in a poor or unsatisfactory end result and that rule is preparation. Ask any time served tradesman and they will tell you that the finish of a job is only as good as the preparation and the amount of time spent on it, this applies to tiling a wall just as much as painting or wallpapering it.

If the wall surface is papered, it is not suitable until you have stripped the wallpaper and prepared the walls.

For Brick and Concrete you must scrub the surface to remove any loose material, fill any holes to give an even surface. Painted surfaces are alright providing the paint is sound if so then wash down with sugar soap, if the paint is flaky rub down and size the walls, using a PVA adhesive mixed one part PVA to five parts water and allow to dry before tiling and then we would score the painted surface of the wall with the edge of a scraper to help the adhesive stick.

Plastered walls are ideal, but first ensure that these dry out for at least a month before tiling. Size all bare plaster using a PVA adhesive mixed one part PVA to five parts water and allow this to dry before tiling; plasterboard should be treated in the same way.

Old tiles make an ideal surface as they are usually smooth and true and you will get a good finish, however remove any loose tiles and use filler to level the surface. Wash down with sugar soap. Wood panelling again is a good surface but, it must be at least 12mm thick and you should paint all bare wood with oil based primer and allow this to dry.

Picture: litlnemo

Manipulating space in the home

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

Manipulating the space in a home is key to having a comfortable environment in which to live, relax and sleep. There may be areas of the home that are too small or too big, but instead of building an extension or fitting a false ceiling why not try using different colours and patterns to manipulate the space.

Using painted walls to manipulate space

Our eyes process colours in a very specific way with some creating an optical illusion; this is great for DIY projects because you can use a variety of colours to make a room seem bigger or smaller depending on the effect you want to create.

Using a warm colour on a wall such as orange, red or brown will make the room seem smaller than it actually is, and using a cooler or paler tone like blues and greens can create the sense of space. This is especially noticeable when painting a featured wall where all of the other walls are a neutral colour.

The same effect can be made on the ceiling and floor. Painting the ceiling and floor a darker tone than the walls will make the room seem smaller, whereas lighter tones give the effect of more space. Adding lighter tones to the ceiling and floor in a hallway will make the space seem bigger and will reflect more light adding to the effect.

Using patterns to manipulate space

Using patterns is also a great way of manipulating the space in your home. Horizontal stripes will make a room seem wider, whereas vertical stripes will increase the height in a room. Large patterns that are focal points have the tendency to make a room seem smaller, whereas a small regular pattern makes the space seem bigger.

Using colours and patterns to manipulate space is a great way of changing the look and feel of a room with the minimum cost.

Picture: Little Greene Paint Company

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:

Easing a sash window

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

Sash window look great and they are really functional, they do justice to any home particularly older homes where they were a standard fitment. However, one thing that can go wrong with a sash window, especially if it is in a very old property and that is they can stick either when just open or they will not open at all. The main cause of this is usually that it has had years of paint applied, both inside and outside, and the paint has either been liberally applied or it has been done badly, but do not despair, they can be made to work again satisfactorily.

With a sharp Stanley knife carefully score down the edge, sometimes the paint has penetrated quite a way and it’s difficult to get a Stanley knife in deep enough without damaging the paintwork. Usually with patience you will be able to free it enough, but if not then you will have to use a flexible steel scraper. Please note these are not like putty knives with wooden handles but have a steel capping on the top edge.

Use a medium sized one which is about 3to 4 inches and hold it up to the gap and gently tap with a hammer.  Because they are so thin they can get into the gap and free up the window without any damage. Do this all around the joins inside an out. Once you’ve got the window, you may have to use a hammer and chisel for this and for the lower window place the chisel only from the outside at the base, the upper one from the inside only and prize them up or down. Then use a sharp chisel or sandpaper to remove any build up of paint on the inside of the runners where the windows run on. It can be quite thick there but with a little effort the window should start to run much more smoothly.

To ensure smooth operation use an old candle to apply some candle wax to the runners this really helps the window to run smoothly. Rub the candle hard on all the parts where the window runs up and down the frame.

Picture: P.Flintandco

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

How to reupholster a dining chair

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

When your dining chairs start to look a little shabby, you might start thinking about buying a whole new set to get your dining room looking up to scratch again. But if you buy all new chairs, maybe you need a new table too; and that’s when things start to look a little expensive. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to reupholster a dining chair yourself, and here’s how to do it.

First you need to remove the seat pad from the chair. The frame has screws on the underside of the seat in each corner holding it on; these need to be removed. Once it is lifted away from the chair, you should remove the cardboard or plywood that is stapled to the underside. If this is in good condition, save it to be reused when you put the chair back together.

Next you need to remove the fabric itself. You can used the old fabric to create the pattern for the new piece so that you can be sure that it fits. If the padding underneath is looking a little worn, you can replace this too at a very cheap cost.

To put it all back together, first lay it all out with the fabric right side down, the padding over the top, and the seat pad as the final piece. You’ll then need to staple the fabric in place, first at the centre front and back, then around the edges. The board can be reattached using staples too, which can be hammered in if need be.

And the final step is screw the finished seat pad back onto the frame of the dining chair as it was before.

Picture: Stacie

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 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

DIY safety

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Safety

It is a sad fact, but each year 70 people are killed carrying out DIY jobs and on top of that a staggering 250,000 are injured and many of those are serious injuries. With this in mind, we suggest that you look at some of the points that can help you from suffering a serious injury or worse. Most of these accidents need never happen and are simply due to either carelessness or lack of knowledge. Here we point out some simple things, such as the correct positioning of ladders, to protection from electric shocks, with some points to remember when hiring equipment.

For example and this may surprise many, the most dangerous piece of DIY equipment is the common screw, nail or tack, ten times more than an electric drill!

Don’t wait until disaster strikes to find your stop-cock, opening and closing them three or better still, four times a year will ensure they easily work when you need them to. In the event that a main fuse or trip activates, keep a torch handy and always ensure that the batteries are in good order.

Another area is underestimating the time a job will take, this is when you may take short cuts, rush and become tired, take a break and give yourself more time to do the job than you expect. Always read the instructions and warning paragraphs especially if you are using a piece of equipment for the first time. Be honest with yourself, if you think it may stretch your abilities; call in a professional, being a hero is useless if you end up in hospital.

Ladders can be fatal, get help with extension ladders don’t struggle and remember that leaning a ladder rule is that you should position the foot of the ladder one metre out for every four measures in height. Always secure the bottom and upper part of the ladder with rope or straps around the stiles.

Most major accidents are caused through using machinery such as chain saws and hedge cutters. Unless you have been properly trained, you should not hire or buy a chainsaw, get a professional in. Hedge cutters are fine, but only buy or hire a model with two-handed controls, a blade-stopping time of less than 0.5 seconds and blade extensions. Always keep both hands on the handles. Wear goggles, strong gloves and ear defenders.

Electricity is a great power saving commodity but please keep water away from anything electric. Never wash walls without turning off the power at the mains switch, water can get into sockets and never be tempted to use a socket or plug or equipment which could still have water in or on it; allowing it to dry could mean the difference between life and death.

In DIY if you act like a professional and abide by safety rules you will be accident free and get jobs completed with total satisfaction. Stay safe!

Picture: lilszeto

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