How to prepare galvanised steel for painting

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Outdoor objects such as gates and fences are often made out of steel, which has been given a galvanised coating. The process of galvanisation protects metal from moisture and reduces the chances of rusting. Unfortunately, if the metal has been galvanised, this can make it difficult to paint.  This means that the galvanised steel in the gate or fence will need to be properly prepared before it can be painted.

One way to prepare the gate or fence for painting is through the all-natural process of “weathering.” Unfortunately, this will take about four to six months, which is usually far longer than most individuals are willing to wait to get their galvanised steel looking good. With weathering, the elements – including wind, frost, and rain – wear away the zinc coating on the galvanised steel, making it easier to paint. Before painting can begin, the gate or fence will need to be rubbed down with a fine abrasive paper and then primed. A good quality exterior paint should then be applied to complete the task.

A much quicker way to prepare galvanised steel for painting is to treat it, which will, in effect, recreate the weathering process chemically and wear away the zinc coating. This is done by applying an alkaline cleanser to the surface; in most cases an old toothbrush will be suitable for this job. The surface is then rubbed down using abrasive paper. Once this is done the object should be painted with a metal primer, and then finished off with a good quality exterior paint.

galvanised steel gate

DIY loft conversions: Planning permission and building regulations

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A loft conversion is an excellent way to create extra living space in the home, and bump up the value of a property. Anyone who has the skills to do the loft conversion as a DIY task will save a lot of money; however, before beginning work on the new loft conversion it is essential to ensure that planning permission, if required, is secured.

Anyone wanting to construct a loft conversion can apply for planning permission themselves. However, if the plans for the loft have been drawn up by an architect, he or she may be the best person to apply as they will have had experience of council planning departments and know the type of information they require.

For those living in a listed building, planning permission is mandatory and it is often best to use the services of an architect. An architect’s services will also be useful if the design of the conversion is unusual. Generally, however, if the design for the space is simple and the building is not listed, an architect’s services will not be required.

It should be understood that planning permission will not be granted if the conversion extends above the height of the existing roof, or if a dormer faces onto a main thoroughfare. This needs to be taken into account when plans are being drawn up.

While the planning requirements for loft conversions have been relaxed in recent years, individuals who are planning on doing the work themselves have another hurdle to face – namely building regulations. Even though the plans for a loft conversion may have secured planning permission, the work can still fail to get building regulations approval for a variety of reasons.

To ensure that the regulations are met, anyone adding another level to a two-storey house must ensure there is another means of escape installed should a ground floor fire break out. Depending on the type of building where the loft conversion is being performed, self-closing doors may need to be installed to satisfy building regulations.

If these factors are taken into account prior to beginning work, a loft conversion can be one of the best – and potentially profitable as far as resale is concerned – DIY home improvement projects to undertake.

Picture: Holland And Green Architectural Design

Organising a bedroom for a clutter free paradise

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Bedrooms are a place for relaxation and sleep, but more often than not they start to become messy and cluttered pretty fast which can become a problem. Many bedrooms nowadays have dual uses, especially children’s bedrooms that will more often than not be utilised for school work or playing as well as sleeping. This can create a cluttered environment, but careful planning can make the room work both ways without compromising on one thing over another.

In this guide we’ll give you some tips on how to organise your bedroom:

Creating more storage in a bedroom is the best way of keeping it tidy and clutter free. Shelves are a great option for those who want to display their personal items without storing them away and can be painted to match the décor of the room.

Storage boxes are by far the cheapest and easiest way to achieve an organised bedroom. They are available in a range of sizes and colours and can store anything from shoes to toys. If you have a few storage boxes then a good tip is to label each box to let you know what is in each one. You can either get some plain labels and write on them yourself or if you’re feeling creative, create your own custom labels. Custom labels can be purchased from Data Label UK.

Underbed storage is also a great option for those with lots of personal possessions. Divan beds come complete with storage drawers, but you can also buy low profile storage boxes with wheels that are specially designed to fit under the bed if your budget won’t allow for a new bed.

Another great way of saving space is to fit a sliding wardrobe; these can be custom made to fit into any room and can be fitted with shelves and shoe racks to keep everything tidy.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that you don’t have to suffer the clutter and there is always a solution to the problem of space.

bedroom storage

Fitting a thermostatic radiator valve

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A thermostatic valve on a radiator plays a crucial role in helping to keep any home comfortable by keeping the rooms at pre-set temperatures. Rooms which are regularly used can be heated to keep occupants warm and comfortable, while in rooms that are rarely used the thermostatic valve can be turned all the way down to a frost setting during the winter months, which will help to save on power bills.

The first thing to do when fitting a thermostatic radiator valve is to drain the central heating system. To save time it is always best to fit all thermostatic valves in a house in one go. This means the system will only have to be drained the one time.

After the central heating system has been drained the old valve adaptors must be removed. This can be done using two adjustable wrenches, one to hold the valve in place and the other to do the actual turning. Use towels or old sheets to protect carpeting or flooring from possible water drips.

The old cap nut and metal collar – known as the olive – needs to be removed before they can be replaced with new ones. In some cases the old olive will slide right off; if this doesn’t happen, the olive should be carefully cut away using a hacksaw blade; it is absolutely vital the blade does not cut into the pipe. Once cut, the old olive can be removed using a screwdriver.

Once the old valve has been removed the new one – along with its cap and olive – can be fitted onto the radiator. The internal threads will need to be cleaned, and this can be done with a clean cloth.  Next, PTFE tape should be wrapped clockwise around the adaptor threads; six times should be enough. The adaptor should then be screwed onto the radiator, and tightened.

When fitting the new thermostatic radiator valve the cap between the adaptor and the valve has to be tightened. Once this has been accomplished the heating system can then be refilled. As this is being done a check should be made for any leaks. Once that task has been completed the radiator settings can be adjusted for each room.

Near Field Communication could allow us to open our house with a smartphone

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Near Field Communication has been integrated into most new mobile phones for years and allows users to send small bits of data to another handset or machine almost instantaneously.

One of the most popular ways of using NFC is to pay for small items; Starbucks in the US and UK allow customers to pay for their drinks and snacks with their smartphone by swiping their phone at the till.

Other machines to use the technology include vending machines and ticket machines, and it is estimated that there are around 300 million NFC- enabled devices in the world today. This potential user base serves to drive innovation in the NFC market with companies utilising the technology in a range of different ways.

One of these companies is security lock expert Assa Abloy, who own a range of household brands including Yale, Chubb and Union. They have just completed a trial with a Swedish hotel chain that allows guests to check in and open their hotel room door with their smartphones.

Once the check-in process has been confirmed using the hotels smartphone app, the room key is sent to the guest’s phone, they can then unlock their room door by holding the phone against the doors lock. This allows the guests to check-in and acces their room at any time without having to queue at reception first.

When departing the hotel, guests can also complete a self-checkout as well by swiping their smartphone and touching the confirmation button.

The successful trail of this technology means that it may soon be available for private use, allowing users to assign individual mobile keys for their family and friends either for a temporary period or permanent period.

What do you think about using NFC technology to open your house? Leave your comments below.

Assa Abloy

Energy saving tips for the budget conscious

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Saving money on your household bills has become a priority for many, especially with the increase in bills over the past year and the current economic climate. Here are our energy saving tips that won’t break the bank:

Draught excluders – unless you live in a relatively new house your likely to lose some heat from around windows and doors, gaps around the floor, through open chimneys and other little holes around the house. An easy and cheap way to stop unwanted heat loss is to install proper draught excluding products. Installing draught proofing products could save you up to £30 a year on your household bills.

Turn it off when not in use – everything these days seems to have some sort of standby mode whether it be your TV, consoles or laptops and making sure that these devices are completely off when not in use could save you between £40 and £80 a year.

Kitchen energy saving tips – by following these handy tips you could save up to £50 a year:

  • Wash your clothes at 30°C.
  • Use a washing up bowl instead of a dish washer or running the hot tap for an extended period.
  • When making a brew don’t fill the kettle to the top each time you boil it. Instead just fill the kettle by the amount you need.

Fit a water efficient shower head – if you own a shower that takes hot water from the boiler instead of being an electric shower then fitting a water efficient is a great way to reduce the amount of water your family uses while still maintaining a powerful shower. Some water companies are actually offering water efficient shower heads to customers for free, contact your water company to see if you can receive one.

standby button

Replacing the sealant around a bath

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Have you noticed water leaking from around the edge of your bath?  Do you see spots of mould growing at the section where your bath meets the wall?  If so, it may be time to replace the sealant around your bath as generally these problems arise when the sealant or caulking around the bath begins to break down or loosen.

So, how can you change your bath sealant?  First of all the sealant that is currently in place needs to be removed.  This job is actually quite simple, as long as you have a flat knife and a few minutes of time. Simply run the flat edge of the knife between the sealant and the wall and move it slowly around the bath to loosen the sealant completely.  Go back around and peel the sealant away bit by bit.

Once the edges of the bath are completely clean, a new layer of sealant can be applied.  Prepare the work surface by laying masking tape above and below the edges that are to be sealed.  Place a tube of sealant into a caulking gun, snip off the tip at an angle, and slowly depress the plunger to release the sealant from the tube.

Move the caulking gun around the edge of the bath to seal it entirely.  After the entire bath is completed, go back and look at the sealant edge to make sure that there are no gaps.  Wait for a few minutes, and then run your finger along the caulking to smooth it out.  Take the tape off and the job is finished.

When you are ready to put the finishing touches to your bathroom, be sure to pick up a Cleargreen eco-friendly bath panel to cover the space below the bath.

Picture: Timothy Takemoto

Space saving ideas for the bedroom

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Bedrooms contain more of our personal items per square foot than any other room in the house, and as you can expect become cluttered in a hurry. In this article we’ll go through some great space saving ideas to help keep your bedroom organised.

Underbed Storage

The bed is the single biggest item in any bedroom and has lots of untapped storage space underneath. Some beds come with storage built in, such as a divan, but most of the time you will have to find out your own type of underbed storage.

Underbed storage is available in a range of different types including boxes, drawers and vacuum bags, but it is important that you don’t just stuff everything under there or chaos will ensue. Instead, lay out your items in an organised fashion in boxes, drawers or bags with labels on them so that you know what’s in them, that way you will always be able to find what you are looking for.


Shelves are a great option for a cluttered bedroom and utilizes the vertical space in the room too. There are plenty of sizes and styles of shelves available on the market, but it is best to choose some that are specific for your needs while still fitting in with the overall theme of the room.

Furniture with built in storage

Furniture with built in storage is a great option for a small bedroom. Accessories such as ottomans and bench seating come with handy storage compartments, great for keeping the room tidy anf free from clutter.

Sliding Wardrobes

Clothes and shoes take up the most room in any bedroom, and unless you have a dedicated dressing room you’ll need some kind of wardrobe to store them in. Standard wardrobes have doors that are on hinges which take up a lot of room when opened and are not recommended for small bedrooms, instead think about getting a sliding door wardrobe.

Sliding door wardrobes can be custom built to fit into any room and because the doors slide they take up far less room than a standard wardrobe. Sliding wardrobes can also utilise the vertical space in the room so that no space is wasted, and can be fitted with built-in storage and shoe racks.

bedroom storage

Picture: Pestpruf

Saving water in the bathroom

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The average UK household uses around 600 litres of water each and every day.  This figure does not include ‘invisible’ water use, which covers the water used to irrigate imported crops and in the clothing industry.  Water is the most valuable resource we have and we cannot survive without it.  Saving water wherever possible could and should be part of every UK resident’s daily routine.  Whilst we should never stint on drinking water, the bathroom is one area where savings can be made on a regular basis.

The bathroom is one area where saving water is easy.  Flushing toilets are one of the biggest consumers of water in the western world.  Fitting an eco-cistern from Geberit to the toilet saves water each time you flush.  Opt for a cistern with a dual-flush mechanism to save even more water.  Taking showers rather than baths saves a huge amount of water and energy, giving a double boost to the environment.  However, this is not often true in the case of power showers, which produce a full bath-tub of water in only five minutes.

Today’s children are fairly eco-aware, so get them on board with the water saving as well. Not leaving the taps to run during tooth-brushing can save litres of water each day, as can filling a basin with hot water for washing rather than leaving the tap running.  Making water-saving a family activity can be fun, and children who are encouraged to think about the environment from a young age are more likely to grow up to be eco-aware consumers.

Picture: stop that pigeon!

Early window coverings

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The first windows were openings in roofs, and were recorded in medieval dwellings in the 13th century.  The word window comes from an old Norse word meaning wind, as the holes were unglazed and allowed the passage of air.  The Latin word “fenestra” describes a window fitted with glass, and the fenestration of a building describes how windows are fitted into a building facade. 

The first windows in walls were simply holes, which were later covered with hides, cloth or wood.  Shutters were the first form of structural window coverings, which could be opened and closed.  Later, worked animal horn, paper or thinly sliced marble was used in windows, however, the Romans placed the first glass in windows. 

Paper windows were placed in dwellings in the Far East, whilst mullioned windows with small pieces of glass patched together with lead, predominated in Europe.  In England animal horn formed windows from the 14th century, and glass was not used until the 16th century. 

The origins of blinds

Blinds are so-called as they limit the view of those outside and inside a building when the blinds are closed.  Solid blinds which are not separated into slats, either vertically or horizontally, can also be called shades, as originally blinds were developed to shade dwellings from the mid day sun in hot countries.  They were in a simple style, using fabric to cover the window.  These blinds can only be moved up or down, so either completely block out the light, or open up to allow ingress of light as well as to enable people to see through the window.  In Ancient Egypt, blinds to shade the light were constructed using reeds.

Picture: k_t