June 7th, 2013
We are all familiar with nails, they have been in use for hundreds of years, in one form or another and they are now produced in many different lengths and thicknesses, which is referred to a the gauge. Normally the longer the nail is the thicker it becomes, although nails of the same length can come in different gauges.
Nails are made from different materials depending on what is required from them and are designed around strength, the need to prevent them corroding, as well as the gripping capabilities. Put simply the nail relies upon the friction between itself and the surrounding material for its holding strength, it follows then that the longer the nails is the greater will be it gripping strength.
It is possible for a nail to bend of course and it can usually be straightened by tapping it in the opposite direction. It may bend because it has hit a knot or solid object, in which case it will be necessary to reposition this.
There are a number of popular types of nail and these include: Round head nails which are used for general woodwork, made with smooth or chequered head. Round lost head nails which are used for joinery, head is punched below the surface for a better finish. Oval brad head nails used for joinery and flooring, to avoid splitting the wood, the long oval side should follow the grain of the wood, also lost head oval nails which has a smaller head than Oval brad head for a neater finish. Cut floor nails are used for fastening down floor boards, the blunt tip punches a hole which helps to stop the wood splitting. Clout nails used for sheet material and roofing felt and tiles. Plasterboard nails, as the name suggest these are used for fixing plasterboard sheets. Has jagged edges to give very high resistance and holding power. Masonry nails are especially hardened to prevent bending or buckling when driven into masonry.
May 26th, 2013
Although sanding a wooden floor is not something that should be tackled by the average person, it can be done by a good any DIY exponent if they follow some simple guidelines. The first thing to consider is what kind of floor is it, hardwood or softwood.
Softwood floors are found in most British homes that have been built since World War II, with some exceptions of course. They are fairly easy to recognise and are pale on colour, have the boards nailed down through the face of the board and not the tongues, the knots will usually be more pronounced in this kind of floor as well; there are some inherent difficulties in sanding floor of this kind, the nails must be punched down at least 3 to 4 mm below the surface and reducing the protruding knots has to be done with a plane.
Hardwoods on the other hand have warmer shades and are usually oak which is golden brown, beech which is a light sandy colour, and African, South American, or Australian hardwoods which are rich in colour varying from reds through warm and dark browns. These come in strip form with long and often narrow boards always “secret” nailed through the tongue. The other hardwood floor is wood block which is normally laid in a herringbone style. All these hardwood floors are definitely worth taking a lot of trouble to sand and polish and they will always take on a beautiful appearance when the task is completed, hardwood floors will last for year upon year.
The third type of flooring which has become popular mainly due to the high cost of good hardwoods and the ease with which they can be put down by relatively unskilled carpet fitters, is the laminate overlaid floor. This consists of a very thin veneer of hardwood glued to a cheap softwood carcase. In most cases this kind of floor is “fully floating” and not fixed, relying on the weight of the item to keep it down, plus of course any furniture sitting on it. This style of floor does not lend itself easily to sanding unless the veneer is more that 3mm thick, even then great care should be taken as a sanding operation can remove this amount of the wood surface.
Picture: Daniel Slaughter
May 9th, 2013
Checking your radiators for cold spots and bleeding offending radiators once a year keeps your heating system running smoothly and efficiently, and can also save you money in the long run; it’s an easy project to do by yourself and all you need is an adjustable spanner and a radiator key.
First thing to do is make sure that all of the thermostatic radiator valves are fully open, when this is done turn the heating system on for 10 minutes then turn it back off.
Starting at the first radiator insert the radiator key into the valve and slowly turn it anti-clockwise; it is recommended that you have a small jug or rag handy in case there are any drips. If you hear hissing then there is air in the radiator; let the air escape and when water starts to come out of the valve close it immediately.
Repeat this for the rest of the radiators in the house and test by turning on the heating system; the radiators should be warm all over with no cold spots whatsoever.
April 30th, 2013
Sash windows were very common place at one time and in some areas in is an offence to remove these and replace them with modern styles of window frame. One thing that always seems to go wrong with a sash window is that the cord holding the weights which counterbalance the window break and it is difficult to keep the window open or closed, depending which cords have snapped.
Replacing these is not easy but it is a lot cheaper than getting a professional in to do it for you. When you are doing the job it is worth doing all the cords, you won’t be doing it again for a very long time. The first thing to do is to remove the inner sash which is held in by two strips of beading, prise off the beading strips, being careful not to crack or split the wood. Any unbroken cord should be cut and the sash frame can then be lifted out.
This will now reveal the weights which will be covered by a cover which can be easily removed, now lift the weights out of the frame. Repeat this exercise for the outer sash window. Starting with the outer sash thread b new waxed cotton cord through the pulley wheel and down into the frame, take the end of this newly threaded cord and tie one of the weights onto it securely, repeat the process on the opposite side of the frame. Here you will need to get the correct length of cord and to do this you should get someone to help, by holding the sash so it is about 10cm above the windowsill. Now you should pull on the cord until the weight touches the pulley wheel and you can nail the cord securely into the cord groove, removing the excess by cutting with a craft knife. Repeat the exercise for the opposite cord and you can now replace the beading.
The procedure is the same for the inner sash except that frame should be fully down and the cord nailed ito the groove first and then this is attached to the weights which you will have to pull to the top of the channel when the sash is fully down before tying this. The beading can now be replaced.
April 20th, 2013
Erecting a fence around your property need not just be about maintaining a level of privacy and security; if done well, it can add to the appeal of your home.
Remember to first check exactly where the boundary of your property begins and ends and only erect the fence on land that you own.
Marking it out
First, you need to measure and mark out where the fence will run. Do this by placing a wooden stake into the ground at each end and run string between them.
Digging the post holes
If you have a large amount of ground to cover, you are going to be digging a lot of holes, which could take quite a while with a spade, so it might be worth purchasing or hiring a post-hole auger to make the job easier.
A good rule of thumb is to make the post holes no shallower than a quarter of the height of the fence; for example, a 1.2m high fence would require a post hole at least 300mm deep.
Erecting the posts
Give the post extra support by placing a layer of broken bricks or similar into the bottom of the hole. Slot in the post and make sure it is completely upright before securing it using lengths of wood driven into the ground at an angle and fixed to the post. Add concrete to the hole and allow it to set completely before removing the supporting braces.
Fixing the panels
It is important to ensure there is a slight gap between the bottom of the panel and the ground to prevent the panels from rotting, which can happen even with treated timber. If you prefer, fit concrete panels under the timber panels.
Once you have the panel in place, a few offcuts of wood to prop under it are helpful here, nail the end of the panel into the fence post.
Picture courtesy of CoolValley
April 11th, 2013
Themed bathrooms have always had a place in UK homes, and currently their popularity is on the rise. A coastal theme is one of the most common and easily achieved.
Part of the popularity of the coastal theme for bathrooms comes not just from the connection to water but from the bright, clear colours associated with the seaside which make a room appear larger than it really is. Bathrooms are usually the smallest rooms in the house, and creating the illusion of space is high on most people’s wish lists. Crisp, clean blues, pastel greens and splashes of bright yellow combined with a spotless white bathroom suite, and natural wood storage units work wonderfully well in almost any bathroom.
Inexpensive ornaments in the shape of seashells and jars of coloured sand can be dotted around the bathroom to complete the coastal feel. Enclosed toilet cisterns from Cisterminster provide a focal point for display in an otherwise overlooked area. Choose towels and mats to complement the colour scheme.
Stripes can create a feel of traditional beach life, so opt for stripy shower curtains and towel sets. For a more festive seaside feel go for Hawaiian prints in bold colours and really brighten the place up. Bring in some tropical plant-life to fully complete the look. There are many green plants which thrive on the humid temperatures of the average bathroom. If your bathroom does not get any natural light then opt for a fake plant and add some touches of bamboo around mirror frames.
April 7th, 2013
Decorating a room can make a big difference to the look and feel of a room, but if you don’t want a plain wall then using strategically placed stencils can create a nice touch to an otherwise dull wall.
Wall stencils are available in a range of different style and patterns from floral patterns to sports stars and even famous quotes. They are really east to use and can provide a great focal point in any room. Wall stencils can be reused making them great for creating recurrent patterns or to create different colour effects throughout the room.
Using wall stencils
Here is a quick guise to using wall stencils:
1. Paint the whole wall with your chosen background colour (if you are changing the colour) and leave it to dry.
2. Take your chosen wall stencil and apply low tack painters tape to the edges and position it on the wall making sure that it is level. Take a step back and make sure you like where the stencil is positioned before carrying on.
3. Its time to paint. Take just the foam part from a small paint roller and dip the end in the paint; wipe off any excess paint and start to dab in the colour through the stencil.
4. Paint a small area at a time making sure that the stencil stays in place with a minimum amount of movement.
5. Once you have good coverage over all of the stencil let the paint dry for a short period before removing the stencil.
6. Using a small stencil brush fill in any spots where you missed.
7. The stencil can now be cleaned and stored away for future use.
Using wall stencils can create some great effects and you can experiment with different colours and positions making them ideal for creative people.
March 28th, 2013
Laying paving slabs on a screeded sand surface is very much something that requires proper technique to accomplish safely and successfully. There are a few factors to bear in mind. For starters, if the person laying the slabs steps onto the sand, then they disturb the surface. This needs rectifying to decrease the risk of the slabs rocking after being laid. The large 600 x 900 slabs are heavy and awkward to move, so for laying the first slab it is recommended that two men take equal weight and, without stepping on the sand, carefully lower the first paving slab into place. It is advisable that a string line is prepared down the side of the paving area, to get a perfectly straight line.
Once the first slab is down, it is actually easier for one man to lay alone than for two men to share a paving slab. Stand on the first slab with the next piece of paving standing vertically. Walk the slab to the edge of the already laid piece of stone, and align the 600 lengths of the slabs, by placing the corners of the two slabs together. This creates an ‘L’ shape with the two flag stones. Overlap the top stone by approximately one inch.
Drop into Place
This is the moment when the flag must be dropped into place. Crouch on haunches or kneel whilst gripping only the top of the flag, ensuring there is nothing that can hit your fingers. Pull the weight from the finger tips towards the bottom of the flag. This ensures that the two paving stones ‘marry up.’ Then, while pulling the slab downwards and crouching or kneeling, fall forward with the slab. This sounds dangerous, but it really is not, as long as a person remembers to keep all fingers clear. If the technique is done properly, the paving slab is laid correctly and is in perfect position.
March 25th, 2013
Updating your bathroom doesn’t have to cost you thousands; there are many design ideas specially catered for those on a budget and plenty of bargains to be had if you shop around.
Some people can get away with not replacing the whole Cleargreen bathroom suite, but if your suite is in dire need of changing there are deals to be had. The internet has transformed the way in which we update our houses, from inspirational designs to cheap bathroom suites there are ways to save money.
Checking out your local bathroom suppliers is also a good idea, as they may have special deals on or be able to match an existing quote you have from somewhere else. Reclamation yards and even eBay are also great places to pick up a bargain and maybe a bit of inspiration too.
Adding a new splash back and painting the walls will have a dramatic effect in the bathroom. Try to avoid cold colours like blue, opting instead for pastel warm colours like yellow or orange; this will create a warming and relaxing environment.
Bathroom tiles are relatively cheap nowadays and can also make a dramatic effect, although it does take a bit of time to remove the old tiles and install the new ones any DIYer can do it.
Vinyl flooring is one of the most popular floor coverings for the bathroom, they come in a range of different textures and patterns, is easy to install and is great for those on a budget.
Remember to have fun and add a touch of your personality to the room, after all you’ll be the one unwinding and relaxing in it.
March 21st, 2013
Roof felting helps protect a shed and its contents from the elements. However, over time the felt can become worn or damaged. When that happens it is very important that it is replaced as soon as possible before the rain and inclement weather causes any further damage.
It is same process when replacing roof felting whether re-covering ridged or flat-roofed sheds.
Before the new roof felting can be attached to the shed roof the old one must be removed. This will mean the old nails attaching the felt have to be removed. This can be done with a claw hammer or a small pry bar. Sometimes the heads will break off the heads of the old nails, but this problem can be solved by hammering these nails into the wood. None should be left above the surface as they could tear the new felting. Once the nails have been removed the old felt can then be lifted.
The next task is to fit the new felting. More than one strip of felt will usually be needed to cover the length of the roof. When cutting the felt, 50mm should be allowed at the edges to ensure an overlap which will help seal the joints. A Stanley knife can be used to cut the felting.
Next the felt is laid along the length of the shed roof and it is then be nailed along the fascia. There should be 50mm space between the nails. The second piece of felt should then overlay the first strip by 50mm. The overlaps are fastened together using felt adhesive. Nails should never be used on the overlap as this will affect the roof’s waterproof properties. The edges of the second piece of felt can be then be nailed to the fascia at 50mm intervals.