Hanging wooden blinds

Wood blinds are a nice touch to a window treatment. They typically have large wooden slats and head rails, along with brackets that mount to the top window trim and the head rail. However, it is possible to hang a wooden blind to the top window trim without the use of brackets. This will give you a cleaner look. It also eliminates the slight gap between the backside of the blind and the window trim caused by the brackets.

Wood blinds provide shade from outside light.

Step 1

Drill two holes through the face of the head rail approximately 1 inch inward from each end. Use a portable drill and a drill bit large enough to allow the screws to slide through the head rail. This will prevent the head rail from splitting when you drive the screws into the wall. Inspect the ratcheting mechanism at the top of the head rail. If you can add a third screw hole through the center face of the head rail without damaging the ratcheting mechanism, do so. This will add additional rigidity to the mount.

Step 2

Place the head rail over the top window trim and center it over the window. Place a bubble level on top of the head rail and position the blind so it remains level on the top window trim. Mark the holes you drilled onto the head rail by placing a screw into each hole then pressing the screws into the wood. This will give you an indentation.

Step 3

Drill pilot holes into the top window trim with the drill and a drill bit approximately half the size of your screws. Drill the pilot hole 1-inch deep.

Step 4

Place the head rail over the top window trim and center the rail over the holes. Secure the head rail to the window with 2-inch drywall screws. Drywall screws are black and tend to blend in with wood finishes. You can substitute these screws for a different variety; however, they must be long enough to go through the head rail and into the top window trim by at least 1 inch.

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Getting plastered



Need some help with plastering… here are a few pointers to help you along.

• Plaster won’t stick to just any surface and you don’t want it to start falling away, so ensure your surface is ready to be plastered.

• Make sure it is clean – remove bits of existing plaster, dust or wallpaper.e sure it is clean – remove bits of existing plaster, dust or wallpaper.

• Check the suction of your wall.

• High suction porous backgrounds can suck the moisture from the plaster meaning it dries too quick – so you may need to wet the wall before you start.

• When wetting your walls use a fine mist spray gun to avoid having to keep reaching down to re-wet your brush.

• Once the water starts running down the wall, you know you’ve controlled the suction.

• Low suction backgrounds, such as painted surfaces will also need to be properly prepared.

• While plasterboard or backing coat can be skimmed over without preparation – existing plaster or previously painted surfaces will need treating with a bonding agent, such as a mix of PVA glue and water to ensure the plaster sticks to the wall.

• You could also try adding a handful of sand to the PVA mixture to give it a rougher texture and better adhesion.

• Clean as you go along – it may sound over the top but it’s vital to have clean buckets, tools and equipment to ensure your plaster doesn’t go off and you get a better finish that lasts.

• Also, dry plaster is a nightmare to remove from your tools and can cause drags in the plaster finish on your next job!

• Always use clean water, again to avoid contaminating your plaster and make it go off or set too quick.

• Always mix plaster by adding plaster to the water and not the other way around.

• Add just enough plaster first to make a heap on the top of the water and mix it so that it’s lump free, then slowly add the plaster to get the correct consistency either with a wooden stick or mixer drill.

• Plaster and water mix together roughly half and half – so half a (clean) bucket of water should make a full bucket of plaster.

• The plaster should be the consistency of melted ice cream – try standing a stick in it – if it can stand up, the plaster is mixed right.

• Plaster must be applied when a surface feels tacky, but not too wet, to help it bond to the surface well.

• When plastering a room, try not to do two walls that are touching each other as you risk damaging one wall while plastering the other.

• Keep it cool in the room you are plastering – radiators should be turned off or the plaster will dry out too quickly, making it difficult to apply and crack.

• Beginners should start on a small area first to ensure they’re getting the technique right.

• Start with an area which only takes 30 mins or less for the first coat.

• Ensure you follow the six stages of plastering correctly and confidently – from the first coat to the final finish.

• A good plaster finish can be achieved with a combination of confident firm pressure and the correct angle of your trowel.

• Don’t try and get your surface perfect in the first coat – it takes too much time and the plaster may dry too soon – imperfections can be ironed out in later stages.

• When you first apply your trowel to the ceiling or wall, start with one edge of the trowel angled away from it.

• As the plaster on your trowel gets less and less with your movement, the angle between your trowel and the surface gets smaller.

• Watch for spillage when reducing the angle of your trowel!

• If you’re doing a ceiling, don’t stand directly under your trowel, just in case you get plaster in your eye!

• Artex ceilings can be plastered by just using a thicker coat of plaster.

• Don’t go into the edges between the ceiling and wall straight away with your plaster – it can be worked into the edges at a later date and avoid lumps of plaster clumping in the corners.

• But, when you do do your corners, make sure they’re flat – it makes the whole wall look good!

• Ensure the thickness of the plaster is even on the first and second coat. Use firm pressure to ensure it is flat with no bulges.

• You don’t need to worry too much about smoothness or trowel marks at this stage, just that it’s flat and even.

• Make sure the first thin coat is wet and pliable when you apply the second coat.

• Don’t worry about filling every little hole at this stage – it’s better to avoid your plaster firming up too quick.

• After the first two coats, the ‘trowelling up’ process begins. This is time to fill all those holes, remove your trowel marks and get it smooth.

• Make sure before you start the plaster is tacky – pliable enough to push the plaster into the holes, but not so wet you make new holes.

• As the plaster sets it will darken in colour, which means it’s time for the final trowel.

• Don’t over polish the plaster on the final dry trowel stage – it should be even and slightly polished, but feel like eggshell – any smoother, it makes paint and wallpaper a nightmare to stick to.

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How to install beadboard wainscoting










Is there any word in DIY more lovely than wainscotting? Wainscoting has protected walls since the 1600s, when it consisted of wood panels framed by stiles and rails. With the advent of industrial milling machines in the 1850s, however, less-formal beadboard wainscoting became available. So called because of regularly spaced bumps along the edge of each piece, beadboard has hardly changed in appearance or installation: The tongue-and-groove strips are snugged together and nailed in place, one after the other.

Installation is easy, yes, if you know how to handle obstacles, such as doorways, windows, or electrical outlets.

Where a cap rail meets a door or window casing, notch the rail so it overlaps the casing. (As a rule of thumb, the overlap should extend the width of the rail minus the casing thickness). Sandpaper and a dab of finish is enough for simple rails, and more complicated rails may require a miter or cope.

When beadboard meets the horn of a stool, notch out the back of the horn (where it meets the wall) and slip the boards behind it. The best tool for making this cut is a backsaw with a offset handle to save knuckles from getting banged.

For added trim detail, set the wainscot on a baseboard and cover the joint with a cap molding.

 Draw Layout Line

drawing the layout line for the wainscoting

Cut all the wainscot pieces to length. You should commonly set the height at 32″ to 36″ and then cuts all the pieces he needs on a miter saw.

Using a 4-foot level (or longer), find the floor’s highest point along the wall. At this high spot, place a cut board vertically against the wall and set the level on top so that the bubble is centred in the vial.

Pencil a layout line on the wall using the level’s underside as your guide. The top of each beadboard will land on this line.

Move the level around the entire room, drawing a continuous layout line.

Tip: For large rooms, a water level and chalk line make it easier to create a layout line.

Start at a Corner

starting wainscoting at a corner

Most installations begin at an inside corner. But, if a room has an outside corner, you should start there.

Stick a mitered corner piece (assembled earlier) to the wall with some construction adhesive. Insert shims if the piece isn’t plumb. Toenail 4d nails through both tongues to hold the piece in place while the adhesive sets.

Use the level while nailing to make sure the piece isn’t knocked out of plumb.

Tip: Start a wainscot installation where it’s most visible, and try to end it where it’s least conspicuous.

Glue and Nail

Tom Silva applying an adhesive before wainscoting

Apply 4 or 5 horizontal stripes of adhesive, each about a foot or two long. Slip each board’s groove over the tongue of the previous one and align top edge with the layout line.

Nail up Beadboard Planks

Nailing up beadboard planks

Press wood into adhesive and toenail the tongue, top and bottom. If hammering, drill pilot holes first and use a nail set. Bowed strips may need a third nail halfway down.

Check every third or fourth board for plumb with a level. If necessary, make slight corrections in subsequent pieces until plumb is regained.

Tip: Don’t apply too much adhesive at once. It won’t hold the beadboard after it skins over.

Cut Around Electrical Outlets

cutting around electrical outlets during wainscoting

When a board must be notched around an outlet, rest the board’s bottom edge on the upper lip of the outlet box. Hold it tight against the previous board and mark the board where it meets the corner of the outlet.

Hold the same board alongside the outlet so the board’s top edge touches the layout line. Mark the board’s edge where it touches the top and bottom of the outlet.

With a combination square, draw horizontal lines out from the marks on the side and connect them to a vertical line running up from the bottom mark. The connected lines outline the notch where the outlet will go.

Cut out the notch with a jigsaw, then glue and nail the board as in Step 3.

Repeat on opposite side of the outlet, if necessary.

Tip: “When cutting boards with a jigsaw, use a metal-cutting blade to reduce splintering.”

Fit Against Door Casing

fitting wainscoting against door casing

Within 2 feet or so of a doorway, measure how far the casing is from the top and the bottom of the beadboard. If there’s a difference between these measurements, gradually fan out successive pieces until they become parallel with the casing.

Dry fit the last two full-width boards and measure the remaining distance to the casing. Cut the third piece to that width on a table saw.

Apply adhesive to the wall. Then put all three pieces together, bent to form a slight curve, and press them all at once between the casing and wainscot.

The same approach works for inside corners, but doesnâ?™t demand the same precise fit; any gap with the wall will be covered by the next piece

Tip: A back bevel, planed along the edge of the board that touches the casing, ensures a tight fit.

Mark Cap Rails to Length

Marking cap rails to length

When an outside or inside corner isn’t exactly 90 degrees, use this technique find the precise miter angle:
-Hold two pieces of 1×2 cap rail in place, overlapping them at the corner.
-Draw a pencil line on both sides of where the upper rail overlaps the lower one.

Mark Miter-Cut on Cap Rails

Marking miter-cut on cap rails

Move the upper rail aside and hold the line-marked lower rail in place atop the beadboard.

Use a combination square to connect the two lines, creating a diagonal line that represents the angle of the miter joint.

Cut the first miter, then use that rail to mark the angled cut on the adjoining cap rail.

Join the two rails at the corner with glue and compressed wood biscuits.

Nail on Cap Rail

nailing in the cap rail

Start by fitting the cap rail between inside corners. Miter and glue all joints.

Toenail cap into edge of beadboard with 4d finish nails.

Tip: For fast, accurate cuts, Tom uses a miter saw. For strong joints, he uses a biscuit joiner to scoop out matching slots for “0”-size biscuits.

Attach Moldings

attaching moldings

As with cap rails, start between inside corners.

Secure ogee molding to the underside of the cap with ¾-inch brads. (Tom easily pushes them in with a hand-held brad driver.) At outside corners, join moldings with miters. On inside corners, use cope joints, which stay tight as wood moves.

Follow the same steps to install shoe molding against floor.

Tip: Before coping, make relief cuts into the mitered end to reduce the chance that the blade will wander.

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Removing weeds and moss from paving slabs

You can remove weeds and moss from paving after they have grown or you can take preventative measures to stop the weeds and moss growing in the first place.Weeds growing in or on your paving slabs or paving blocks are unsightly and can do damage to your paving long-term.

Liquid Weed killer

There are many brands and makes of liquid weedkiller that you can buy to kill weeds and moss. Some weed killers can be eco-friendly such as Algon which specialise in killing particular weeds leaving other plants unharmed. Whilst others will kill every kind of vegetation that they come into contact with. If you want to remove and kill weeds from natural stone paving slabs you may want to consider using a bleach to keep your paving clean.

If you do purchase a weed killer you should always apply to the liquid weed killer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some weed killers will need diluting with water whilst others are applied to the weeds neat.

If possible, apply liquid weed killers to the weeds and moss when they are actively growing to get the best chance to kill the weeds and moss. This is because the leaves will absorb the weed killer through the green leafy parts better when growing. The leaves transfer the weed-killer to the root of the plant. This ensures that the whole weed is killed and not just the leaves of the weed.

Blow torch the weeds away

Long handled weeding gas blowtorch for burning and killing moss and weedsThere are various models of long-handled blow torch for killing weeds and moss that you can buy.

They work by using the flame of the blowtorch to burn the weeds and moss away. This can be a good, targeted way to remove weeds and moss from paving. especially between the joints of paving slabs and block paving.

The gas canister simply screws onto the lance and the flame is lit. Being long-handled allows you to stand whist you burn away the weeds. You can buy a range of gas blowtorch for killing weeds at discounted prices from Amazon garden section.

By hand

Remove weeds from paving by handUsing your hands to remove weeds is probably the most eco-friendly way of removing weeds and moss from paving.

Although it can be very time-consuming, often difficult and usually involves a bad back after a number of hours spent on your knees pulling up weeds with your hands.

You will be lucky if you manage to completely remove all trace of moss or weeds without leaving some greenery behind. It’s all dependent on how infested your paving is.

Weed removal tools

Easily remove weeds and moss from paving with a hand held weeding tool Using a hand-held weed removal tool makes it much easier to remove weeds from paving than using your hands alone.

They are available to buy in various shapes and sizes. Some of the weed and moss removal tools are made with a wire head brush for cleaning in cracks and joints of recessed paving such as block paving joints.

The most popular tools for removing weeds are made from steel that tend to have a sharp point for deep-rooted weed removal. They can be used for scraping and digging difficult weeds out of paving joints and gaps. A telescopic version of the weed removing tool is available to buy to allow you to remove the weeds whilst you are standing.

Electric weeding machine

Electric weed removing machine. Ideal for garden paving and patiosAt first thought it seems a novel idea to use an electric weeding machine to remove moss and weeds from paving.

But for those who find it difficult to bend down an electric weeding machine could help when removing weeds and moss from paving.

The light, hand-held purpose-built machine has a rotating wire brush that sweeps the weeds away. The rotating wire brush removes the moss and weeds as it is pushed along the joints of the paving. Replacement circular brush heads are readily available to buy.

It is an especially good tool when it comes to removing moss from difficult to scrape inverted  joints of paving.

Using a Jet Washer to remove weeds from paving

Using a rotary head pressure washer to remove weeds and moss from pavingUsing a jet washer to remove weeds is not a recommended method of safely removing weeds from paving. This is because of the damage that can be caused long-term with the use of a pressure washer. By using a jet washer you could cause the underlying sand structure of materials like block paving to be seriously eroded. This leads to water ingress and loss of substrate strength and ultimately sinking of the paving.

Although using a jet washer and especially using a rotary head pressure washer is a popular and very effective way to quickly remove moss and weeds from the joints of paving.

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How to hang a door


interior-door (1)

Step by step door hanging instructions

how to hang a doorFollow all the ‘how to hang a door’ steps on these pages to ensure your doors swing perfectly on their hinges! From chopping in hinges to fitting the door latch everything you need to know is here.


What tools do you need?

The tools I use for swinging doors are; a sharp pencil, a tape measure, a combination square, a hammer (or mallet is better if you don’t have shatter proof handles on your chisels), some chisels (18mm / 3/4” or 25mm / 1” and 10mm / 3/8”), a power plane and smoothing plane, a marking gauge, a decent cordless drill, some wood drill (Twist) bits, screwdriver bits and to hold the door in position while I work on it a home made saddle and block.


How do you know which way around to hang a door?

In terms of which way up, a four or six panel door generally has a taller stile across the bottom of the door than the top.

In terms of which direction, quite often the door can only open one way and so the decision is easy. If not (and it’s not on a drawing), before you can hang the door you need to determine which way the door will swing. Normally this is into the room (if from a hallway). The position of the light switch may help – really you want to avoid hanging an internal door so the switch is behind it when opened.


How to hang a door: Step by Step

Step 1: Prepare the lining

First, prepare the door lining (frame). Hopefully the door lining was installed properly (tips on this page for fitting frames) and it’s square, level and in wind. If the walls are freshly plastered, I use an old blunt chisel to scrape any large lumps of plaster off the lining, and if needed an orbital sander to clean it up further.

If the frame doesn’t have door stops already built into it then set your combination square to the thickness of the doors edge (often 35 or 44mm thick) and then use it to mark a line in from the face of the lining at each corner like the picture below. Do this about three inches down from the top, and the same up from the floor – out of the way of the hinges.

how to hang a door
Bang a nail half way in at each line that will keep the door flush with the frame and stop it falling through during marking out. I use 45mm ovals or 75mm ‘Lost-heads’ for lightweight/ply flush doors.

If you are hanging a oak door for example or one that you don’t want to risk denting, nail an off cut of doorstop or other timber temporarily (don’t bang the nail in all the way) to the line instead.

Step 2: Put the door in the lining and mark it up.

The most important thing to know about how to hang a door that is a flush or hollow core door is to check the writing on the top edge to find out which side the lock block is in. The lock block is a solid block of wood inside the hollow door for the latch and handle to be drilled in and fixed to. If you go the wrong side the door could be ruined! Once this is established, put the door in the lining with the lock block in the side where the handle will be fitted. This might sound silly but make sure you hang the door the right way up! Ive seen a few upside down DIY attempts! The easiest way to know if it’s not obvious is that the bottom horizontal rail will be taller than the top horizontal rail. When hanging ply flush doors, the top is normally the edge with the writing and lock block markings on.

Raise the door up in the opening using a wooden wedge until only a 2/3mm gap is left at the top. You can cut a spacer or use cardboard in between to ensure consistency when hanging more than one door.

If the carpet or flooring isn’t already down, check there is a large enough gap underneath to allow for the floor covering and if there isn’t mark what you need to cut off now too. I usually allow about 18-20mm for carpet and underlay.

Step 3: Mark the hinges.

Unless I am hanging doors to match existing ones or the schedule says otherwise, I mark a clear line with a sharp pencil on both the lining and the door – 150mm down from the top (this is the top of the top hinge) and 230mm up from the bottom (this is the bottom of the lowest hinge). I always put an x on the side of the line where I want the hinge to be on both the frame and door so I don’t chop the hinge in the wrong side of the line (Again!). When hanging doors that are fire check, hardwood or in a bathroom/airing cupboard for example, you should mark a line and a cross for a third hinge in the centre of the door and frame as well.

how to hang a door
Remove the door and place in the saddle and wedge it, hinge side up. Square all the pencil lines across. I mark sharp clear but faint lines that are easy to sand off later, and only mark where needed not a huge line across the whole width of the door!

how to hang a door
Place the hinge to mark the length of it on the doors edge. Slide the hinge up to the line until it covers the ‘x’ and mark the other end (height) of the hinge. Set the marking gauge up as shown in the picture below and scribe the width of the hinge into the door edge, always working from the face.

how to hang a door
Repeat for all the hinge positions and then set up another gauge if you have one to the thickness of the hinge (I always use two marking gauges to save set up time when hanging lots of doors). Scribe this into the side of the door and lining too.

When I first learned how to hang a door I used to carefully screw the hinge to the door/frame in the exact position and mark all the way round it with a sharp Stanley knife. I use squares and gauges now though because it’s much more accurate and consistent, I know the hinge will be perfectly parallel to the door edge and positioned identically in the lining as well.

Step 4: Chop the hinges out.

Always start by chiseling the top and bottom of the hinge first. Then chop in at about 10mm intervals to the depth set by the gauge, as shown in the picture. Carefully pare away the waste, keeping inside the lines. Sand any remaining pencil lines out, drill pilot holes if you need to and screw the ‘leaf ’ side of the hinges to the door (leaf side is that in the picture above, that the marking gauge is set to) with your battery drill. Make sure the screws finish flush.

If you are fitting ‘loose pin’ hinges, you may need to take the pin out and slide it back in the other end so it doesn’t fall out after you hang the door.

how to chop in hinges how to fit hinges
Step 5: Trim the bottom.

Use an electric plane or a circular saw if a lot needs to be removed. If you do use a circular saw, score the door with a straight edge and sharp Stanley knife before you cut the bottom off to prevent tear out. Also, leave the line in a little so you can clean it up with the plane after. Sand any remaining pencil lines off.

Step 6: Applying a leading edge

Sometimes it’s necessary to apply a leading edge to the door so it doesn’t hit the frame. Click here for help applying a leading edge to the door.

Step 7: Screw the door to the lining.

Lift the internal door out of the clamp and screw the hinges to the lining. Don’t fill the hinge up with all the screws yet in case it needs adjusting, unless you are hanging a heavy fire check door. You can use a Board & Door Lifter to make this easier. If it fits OK, put the rest of the screws in the hinges.



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Lock problems

















Door locks are complex mechanisms with lots of tiny moving parts and, as such, can malfunction on occasion. Here we look at how to fix typical door lock problems.

If your door key doesn’t work right, the first and most obvious step is to be sure you’re using the right key. Once you get the door open, try the key again. If it works easily, the deadbolt isn’t engaging the strike plate properly. If it doesn’t work any easier, lubricate and clean the lock. Otherwise, coat the key with graphite and work it back and forth in the cylinder several times.
If the key turns but doesn’t unlock the lock, disassemble the lock so that you can be sure the cam or tang is properly engaged with the bolt. Replace any broken parts and reassemble the lock.
If the key won’t go into the lock, ask yourself if the weather is cold enough for the lock to be frozen. If it is, hold the key with a heavy glove and heat, then work it gradually into the keyway. Repeat heating and inserting the key until the ice has melted.
A new key that won’t go in or work properly may have rough spots that need to be filed off. To find them, hold the key over a candle to blacken it with soot and then turn it very slightly in the lock and remove it. File down any shiny areas where the soot was removed by the rough spots.
Door Lock Works Slowly
Exterior locks can freeze, interior locks get dirty, and small internal parts eventually wear out or break. Before you buy a replacement lock, try some quick remedies:
Put some graphite into the keyhole, either by squeezing it from a tube or dusting it onto a key, and then operate the lock a few times to work the graphite into the mechanism. Lock de-icers contain alcohol and other lubricants that help to dissolve gummy, dirty deposits. The last resort is to disassemble the lock to see if something has jammed or is broken—you may be able to set it straight or replace the part without buying a whole new lock.
Entire Lock Cylinder Turns
A cylinder turns when the setscrew(s) meant to hold it in place become loose or broken.
Mortise lockset: Remove the faceplate (if there is one) at the door’s edge and locate the one or two cylinder setscrews. They should be in line with the center of the cylinder. Tighten the setscrew(s) by turning clockwise—be sure they engage the slot that runs along the edge of the cylinder (the key slot should be perfectly vertical). Replace the faceplate.
Surface-mounted rim lock: Unscrew and remove the cover, called a “case.” Tighten the cylinder setscrews. Replace the case.
Lock Doesn’t Latch Properly
When a door latch doesn’t click into position, it usually means the latch and the strike plate are out of alignment. Tighten the hinge screws and then try adjusting the strike plate by loosening its screws and shifting it slightly.
When possible, it’s easier to file the slot in the strike plate a little bit so that it will receive the latch. Shifting the strike plate’s position usually involves mortising the jamb, filling part of the old mortise, and so forth. You can also solve misalignment by replacing the strike plate with an adjustable strike plate.
A latch can stick for many reasons, most of which are easily fixed. Check that the hinge screws are tight. If the door is out of alignment, the latch will bind. Also check the knob and lock assembly for loose screws or misalignment. Finally, look closely at the strike on the door jamb—if it’s blocked or out of adjustment, the latch won’t run freely in and out.
Deadbolt Is Stuck
The chances are good that the bolt is having a hard time finding the throat in the strike plate. Be sure the strike plate is secure and in reasonable alignment with the bolt. You can file the edges of the strike plate a little, and even slightly round the edges of the deadbolt’s end. If this doesn’t work, you’ll probably have to remove the strike plate, fill the screw holes with glue and wood matchsticks, trim flush with the jamb, reposition the strike plate properly, and screw it back in place.
Key Is Broken Off in Lock
Using pliers, try to grip and pull the key straight out. If you can’t get a grip even with needle-nose pliers, cut off a coping saw blade and, with the teeth pointed outward, insert the blade into the keyway and try to hook and drag the key out. As a last resort, remove the lock cylinder. Insert a stiff wire into the cam slot at the back of the cylinder and push the key out. Or take the cylinder to a locksmith.

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Our new brochure

Our new brochure! 

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Guttering mistakes



Following on from the major gaffe at the Oscars last night, we thought we’d share some common gutter installation mistakes.

These days, there are plenty of resources for do-it-yourselfers if they want advice on how to complete a home improvement project. Many of them, like TV shows and online videos, give the illusion that every type of DIY job is very simple.

But in reality, most do-it-yourself projects are more difficult than they look. This is especially true of installing new gutters on your home. Here are the seven most frequently-seen mistakes in gutter installations:

  1. Improper pitch. Even though they look level from a distance, gutters should be pitched slightly from one end to the other. If the pitch is too gentle, water will just fill up in the gutters until it overflows, and a too-sharp pitch isn’t aesthetically pleasing. Gutters should slope an inch or two for every 40 feet.
  2. Forward tilt. That said, gutters need to be completely level from front to back, or water could spill over either edge. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to hang the gutters so that the front edge is slumping forward too much. Use a level when installing gutters and make sure all fasteners are tightly affixed.
  3. Wrongly positioned. Just hang the gutters on the roof’s edge, right? Incorrect. The guttering should run a few inches lower than your roofline. Gutters that are too high can enable runoff water to drip down their back side, which in turn can cause deteriorating fascia boards and stains on siding.
  4. Incorrect hanger spacing. You might try to slope your gutters correctly, but improperly-positioned gutter hangers can foil those plans and cause your gutters to sag in the middle. Make sure that there is no more than three feet of space between any of your gutter hangers.
  5. Too many seams. Like the weakest link in a chain, your guttering’s seams are the spots that tend to accumulate the most damage. Sometimes, gutter sections will even separate entirely. That’s why it’s vital to keep the number of seams to a minimum (or have seamless gutters made for you).
  6. Damage during installation. If you’re hanging aluminum gutters, you have to be extra careful during the installation process. All it takes is one hard blow from an errant ladder or a long fall to the ground from a roof and they can be bent or dented. Then you may have to replace the section altogether.
  7. Injuries during installation. Everybody feels safe and secure while they’re up on a ladder — until they’re not. Tends of thousands of people visit emergency rooms each year because of injuries sustained by falling off a ladder. So work with a helper, make sure your ladder is on solid ground, and never lean out too far while on the ladder.
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Mixing concrete by hand

Mixing concrete by hand









If you are not in possession of a concrete mixer you’re going to have to use that wonderful mixing board called the ground and use those handy implements called your hands. A shovel is also essential if you don’t want to get fastened to the planet beneath you.

Generally you should be using either a slab of existing concrete or a large mixing board – both of which can easily be hosed down and cleaned off afterwards. In other parts of the world they seem to prefer to mix the concrete in a barrow or tub – here we’ll discuss doing it the UK way.

Each of the ingredients for the concrete need to be measured, by volume, to get the proportions right, some people do this by shovel load but, unless you have experience, it is better to measure the cement and ballast (or sharp sand/gravel) actually using a bucket, you tend to get more ballast on a shovel than cement so just counting the shovel loads can be misleading. Do not use too large a bucket as after you have measured all the ingredients, you could end up with a large pile to mix in one go. It is a lot easier to mix two smaller piles than just one large one.

  • Clean off the working surface to remove any odd debris and wet the area.
  • Carefully measure out about half the ballast (or sand and gravel) you are go mix – and dump it in the mixing area to form a cone shape.
  • Use a shovel to form a crater in the middle of the heap, then measure out all the cement required and add this to the crater.
  • Measure out the remainder of the ballast (or sand and gravel) you need and add this to the top forming a cone shape.
  • Without adding any water, use a shovel to mix all the ingredients together, work around the heap turning over each part three or four times until the mixture is evenly coloured (grey).
  • Mixing concrete - adding the water Use a shovel to reform a cone shape and make a crater in the top of the heap – add some water to the crater.
  • Mixing concrete - turning the heapUse a shovel to move the mixture into the central crater from around the edges and turn it over to distribute the water throughout the mixture. Watch for any water ‘escaping’, use the shovel to trap any with the mixture.
  • As all the water becomes absorbed, reform the heap, make a crater in the middle, add some more water, and turn the heap until the whole mixture is wetted. Be careful not to add too much water, you can always add some more.
    Chopping the heap to mix the concrete As all the dry material becomes wetted, flatten out the heap and use a shovel to ‘chop’ into the top moving around the heap as you do so to evenly mix in the water.
    A mix which has the right amount of water is smooth and plastic, not over-wet and runny nor dry and crumbly. As a guide, watch the ridges as the top of the heap is ‘chopped’ – if the depressions between the chops fill with cement slurry, the mixture is OK; if it looks a watery slurry or the ridges don’t stand up, the mix is too wet; if the depressions remain dry, the mix is too dry.
    Advice: One of the most common errors made when hand mixing concrete is adding too much water. Add a little water each time, the mix will suddenly be at the right consistence. By keeping part of the dry mix to one side, this can be added into the heap if it does appear to be too wet.

After you have finished mixing the concrete, wash and brush down the area used for mixing it to remove any remains of it.

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The first draught









Feeling a chill while you sit on the couch. Follow these steps to find the culprit.

Inspect window frames
Wooden or steel window frames require annual inspection and maintenance as and when required if you want your home to be free from draughts. Check that glass panes are firmly bedded in the frame, or replace degraded window putty or sealer. Where wood beading has come loose or broken, replace this with new beading or apply an exterior wood sealer around the glass panes.

Wooden window frames need to be treated with a wood preservative or exterior wood sealer every 18 to 24 months; or sooner if the wood starts to show signs of drying out or cracking. You will find a selection of wood treatment products at any hardware store, and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines for proper application to ensure maximum protection.

Where windows do not sit flush with the frame you can purchase self-adhesive rubber strips that can be mounted either to the window or the frame to create a snug draught-proof barrier that will insulate your home during the colder months.

 Draught-proof doors
Exterior doors are the main culprit for loss of heat in a home. Cold draughts under a door can be blocked by fitting a door sweep to keep out draughts and, as with window frames, a rubber strip can be mounted around the door frame to close up any gaps.

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