Now that the summer is fast approaching it is time to start thinking about your outside spaces. This patio is twenty years old and is beginning to show its age. The patio slabs have sunken in places and have become uneven in high traffic areas. It’s time to pull up the old pavers and lay down a new patio.
When the original house builders laid the patio they put down a very thin sub base of hardcore and then laid a thin layer of sand on top without compacting the earth underneath. This has led to the slabs sinking and becoming uneven in places. See the picture below.
The first part of the project is to pull the slabs up and prepare the groundwork. This will involve taking off the old sand base layer and digging out the hardcore sub base and some of the earth below that to give enough depth for the sub base, base and slab layers. This will allow for a new sub base of 100mm of sub base Type 1 MoT. MoT stands for Ministry of Transport which is the specification for the type of hardcore used for sub base layers also known as DoT or Department of Transport. On top of the Type 1 will go a base layer of cement to a depth of 40mm. The base layer will be made up of 3 parts sharp sand and one part cement with the slabs being laid on top of the base layer. The depth of the slab should be taken into account as well to allow for a gap of 50mm if possible below the level of the damp proof course (DPC) so that the risk of water penetration into the brickwork from the splash back of droplets against the wall when it rains is minimised.
Roof Repair – Broken roof tile leading to a rotten fascia and box end
One of the roof the tiles was cracked all the way down the centre of the tile. The tile in question was fitted on the gable end of the house in the bottom row and had been notched out by the builders to fit round the brickwork. The cut had been made by an angle grinder and in making the cut it looks like the tile had been split in half but used anyway. This meant rain water had been running down through the split and slowly rotting away the fascia (although on the gable end it would normally be a barge board this was horizontal from the return around the eves overhang so therefore a fascia), box end and the end of one of the eves.
After some phoning around and investigation on google the tile was identified as a concrete Marley Bold Roll tile which Marley stopped manufacturing sometime around 2007. A call to a few reclamation yards turned up a good supply in a company down near Braintree.
If the property was built around or before 2000 then take care to inspect the soffits and also undercloaking (thin board used between the roof tile and facias or barge boards on the bottom row of roof tiles). If you are unsure and suspect asbestos, then it’s definitely worth getting it checked out. Have a look online. There are companies which will come out to take a sample and do a 48 hour turn around on the analysis and give you advice on how to proceed for around £150.
Stage 1 – Remove broken roof tile
A solid standoff on the ladder makes a good platform to hold the tools and materials while working. Always take care to follow ladder safety and make sure that the ladder is on level ground and do not overreach.
First off the gutter that was attached to the fascia had to be removed. This can be slightly tricky with older plastic guttering that has gone hard and brittle due to the elements. Try sliding the guttering back and forth in the clips being careful not to upset the rest of the run and then pull the clips out and up pushing the guttering inwards to release it. The gutter will have to be removed all the way up to the first joint beyond the fascia to be replaced. The gutter is usually joined by a slide out rubber seal. Once the guttering is off unscrew the clips and keep them safe for when it comes time to put the gutter back up.
Use a claw hammer or crow bar to lift up the tiles above and around the broken one. If any of the tiles being removed or lifted up are at the edge of the gable end then the cement between the undercloaking and tile will need to be carefully knocked out. The bottom row of roof tiles is normally nailed to the roof batten. Try and get the claw of the crow bar underneath the clout nail to lever it up in order to pull the broken tile out. If you can’t get purchase on the nail, then carefully try levering the tile up under the nail and then when slightly raised the nail can be knocked out with a thin metal bar. Slide the roof tile out. Depending on how much the tile above the one to be removed is raised up by will determine how easily the batten lugs, if any, of the tile to be removed will slide over the batten. The tile may have to be jiggled around a bit to pull it out.
Stage 2 – Remove rotten fascia and box end
After enough tiles have been removed to gain access to the part of the rotten fascia being replaced pull back the felt (sometimes the overlapping felt has rotted away) and remove any undercloaking if any. A cordless reciprocating saw was used to place a mitre cut just beyond the rotten part of the fascia, taking care not to saw through the soffit vent, in order for them to be removed after the nails holding the soffit vent to the facia were removed. In this case the box end had to be removed as well as it too was rotten. It was nailed to the rotten barge board through a 45 degree mitre joint.
The ends of the eves that had gone rotten were cleaned up and sealed with a timber treatment. The felt was replaced with enough left to overlap between the new fascia and gutter when replaced and then stuck down with roofing felt adhesive to make the joint water tight.
Stage 3 – Make new fascia and box end
The new fascia and box end were cut out of pressure treated timber and painted with 2 coats of exterior white gloss paint. They were offered up into position and then holes were drilled to allow the box end and new facia to be screwed together and the new fascia to be screwed to the old fascia. The soffit vent was tacked back into position on the fascia. The screw heads and mitre joints were filled with exterior repair filler and painted over.
Stage 4 – Cut a notch out of the replacement roof tile and put back
Now was time to cut the notch out of the replacement Marley Bold Roll tile using an angle grinder taking care to wear protective ear defenders and eye protection. The tile was offered up to make sure it fitted. Happy with the fit of the replacement tile the rest of the tiles were put back wit a bead of an MS Polymer exterior adhesive was placed down the edges of the tile that will be in contact with the roofing batten and the felt. This was because it is difficult to get the clout nails back into the tile nail holes without damaging the tiles around it particularly if close to tiles near the hip, valley or gable end of the roof. Then using the same procedure as removal the tiles were put back by placing a claw hammer under the existing tiles to allow the tiles to be slid in and interlocked, taking care to get the batten lug over the batten.
The last tile which in this case was the replacement tile with the notch cut out was put back having had the fibre cement undercloak nailed back on to the top of the new replaced box end first and a bed of exterior repair cement laid on top that the replacement tile would bed into.
The last job was to screw the gutter clips back on to the facia and put the gutter back up making sure the fall was in the right direction to allow the rain water to drain away.
Do you have a favourite leather or vinyl sofa in your house or perhaps chairs at your office or in a salon that are beginning to show their age or have become discoloured in the line of duty. As long as the fabric is structurally still sound then a rejuvenation of the colour is not as problematic as it may seem at first glance. Even if there are minor blemishes in the material then these can also be improved and sometimes eradicated completely.
It is important that the fabric be as clean as possible so as to give the leather and vinyl colorant dyes the best chance to penetrate into and adhere to the fabric. In order to achieve this first of all give the material a good clean with a foaming interior cleaning agent using a sponge and then plenty of soap and water then use a good isopropyl rubbing alcohol with a high alcohol percentage to get all the grease and dirt off of the fabric and to evaporate thoroughly in order not to leave any cleaning residue behind that may impede the application of the colour dye and paint.
Minor blemishes like a small cut or burn marks in the fabric can be repaired with special leather and leatherette colourant dyes that are quite thick in viscosity. They can be painted into cuts and burn marks in order to fill the gap and smooth out the blemishes. The dyes can be applied in layers to build up the necessary thickness and are available in a range of colours to suit your requirement.
With all the blemishes in the fabric repaired now the material can be repainted to either restore its original colour or to change the colour to a new one. Use an all surface spray paint that can be bought from your local hardware store. Spray outside and be mindful of where the overspray will go. Make sure you wear a face mask, eye protection and gloves. Give the can a good shake for a minute or so before you spray and use even strokes across the surface. Do not allow the spray to become to thick in one place or it will produce runs. Build up the finish in layers allowing 20 minutes per layer for the paint to become touch dry.
Once the painting is complete allow to dry thoroughly for 72 hours before using your newly restored chair again.
The entrance hall is the first thing that everyone sees when they step into to your property. One of the easiest ways to give your house an upgraded hallway is to put down a gorgeous engineered oak floor to really make it stand out.
First job is to remove all the old carpet and underlay along with the gripper rods and door threshold bars. Then all the skirting boards were removed. These were a little tricky to remove because they had been nailed through the dry wall and into the thermalite blocks as well as being dot and dabbed but prizing them off the wall using a wall paper scraper, claw hammer and cold chisel did the job. Then the walls were filed, sanded down and repainted.
We did a moisture check on the concrete screeded floor and found that the reading was around 3 to 4 percent which is a little on the high side when laying wooden floors. To minimise the amount of water that could permeate through to the engineered boards we decided to apply a rapid drying liquid damp proof membrane (DPM). We painted this on using a large brush and allowed an hour between coats and then let it totally dry for 24 hours.
Now it was time to start laying the hand beveled oak smoked engineered boards. The width of the first board was calculated to allow the width of the last board on the opposite side to be a similar width. The boards were laid in a randomised staggered pattern so as not to have any uniformity where the joints were made. A gap of 10mm was left between the dry wall and the edge of the board to allow for some expansion. An MS Polymer adhesive was used to glue the boards down with the first row being weighted down and allowed to dry before the rest of the boards were laid. The boards have a tongue and groove joint which was tapped into place with a rubber mallet and block of wood to protect the face of the boards. To apply the adhesive to the floor a 10mm v notched trowel was used to spread the glue after it was poored on the screed. A chop saw with an fine 80 tooth blade was used to cut the boards. But none of the cut ends are on show as they are all hidden under the thresholds.
A multitool was used to cut the architraves at the bottom of the door frames to allow the boards to be slid in underneath.
Once all the boards were laid the the skirting boards were glued back on to the dry wall. Skirting was added around the newel posts and gap filler was run around the top of the newly applied skirting.
Then solid oak thresholds were added underneath the door stops to finish off the junctions between the cloak room, living room and kitchen.
Breeze blocks like Thermalite or Celcon are used a lot in the property industry for their ease of use and green credentials. We had a requirement to fix some wall brackets to Thermalite blocks.
The fixings needed to be able to with stand a reasonable amount of weight being hung off them so had to have good structural strength. Thermalite blocks are scratched with a series of lines which indicate the type of block. In this instance the blocks had 6 squiggly scratch marks that designate the fact that they are from the “Turbo” range.
Thermalite blocks are quite brittle and can be easily drilled or cut producing alot of dust when worked. Any fixing into the block needs to create a tight and secure bond with the inside of the drill hole.
The fixings used here contain chemicals so where gloves, eye protection and a mask in order to minimise accidental ingestion or contamination.
This job requires M8 studs so a 10mm hole is drilled into the Thermalite block using an HSS drill bit to a depth of 85mm.
The holes need to be thoroughly cleaned out of all dust created from being drilled. To do this a straw, preferably a metal one to stop the straw walls from collapsing under pressure, was taped to the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner and inserted into the hole with the vacuum cleaner turned on to suck out all the dust. As a belt and braces exercise the inside of the holes was coated with a very quick drying clear concrete sealer and left to dry for 4 hours. This step is not absolutely required.
With the holes prepped to accept the chemical fixings its now time to insert the glass capsules. Make sure the arrow on the capsule is pointing into the hole and push the capsule all the way down to the bottom.
Then place the hex end of the M8 stud into the chuck of a drill and tighten it up. Place the chisel end into the hole up against the end of the glass capsule and start the drill pushing the stud into the capsule until it breaks.
Drill the stud home so that the collar of the stud is just protruding out of the hole and then leave it to set for an hour.
Once the chemical fixing has been allowed to set the bracket can be mounted on the studs and the hex nuts tightened up to secure it.
The deadlock in this uPVC door failed so it was time to replace it with a new one. For the most part their are a couple of variants for the dimensions of Euro Profile door mechanisms. The face plate can be 16mm or 20mm in width and the depth from the centre of the cylinder to the face plate can be 35mm or 45mm. This one was a 16mm face plate width and 35mm cylinder depth.
First unscrew the handles and take the bolt out of the face plate that keeps the Euro Cylinder in place.
Then using the key adjust the revolving cam inside the Euro Cylinder to be in the downward position and pull the Euro Cylinder out. This will be used in the replacement system.
Then remove the face plate. Some times there can be separate face plates for the hooks at the top and bottom and the latch and lock in the middle. The replacement for this system has separate plates so the latch and lock plate is offered up first. The existing housing in the uPVC door needs some adjustment so that is cut using a drill and multitool to fit the new latch and lock case.
Once the lock case fits into the door then pilot holes are drilled in the door in the positions where the screws will be fitted to secure the face plate. The screws are then put into the face plate and tightened up. At this point put the Euro Cylinder is put back into the lock case using the key to make sure the revolving cam is in the downward position and the bolt is screwed back in to secure the Euro Cylinder. Put the spindle back through the latch and place the handles back on the door and do up their retaining bolts. Make sure the latch and deadlock move freely when turning the handle.
Offer up the latch and lock plate keep to the frame and make sure the existing keep housing in the door frame is in the right position otherwise adjust as required. On this system there is a datum line on the face plate in the door that has to match up with a datum line on the keep. The keeps for this system have packing grub screws to allow a secure footing when the keep overlaps thinner keep gully’s of the old door frame but they are not long enough for these older frames so I used pieces of wood screwed into the metal part of the door frame by drilling pilot holes and securing the wood strips with self tapping screws. Then drill pilot holes for the keep screws and screw the keep to the frame. Test shutting and locking the door and adjust the keep plates as necessary with the grub screw adjusters.
This system has a roller as well as a hook to pull the door tight when turning the handle but some just have a hook. Offer up the bottom hook and roller face plate and adjust the housing in the door by cutting the uPVC as necessary.
When offering up the hook plate make sure the hook is in the fully retracted position when you place the outer male toothed conrod of the hook face plate into the female toothed conrod of the centre lock plate.
The hook unit case is also sometimes called the gearbox. When you are happy that the hook plate is in the best position to work with the centre lock plate and the existing keep housing in the door frame make pilot holes where the fixing screws should go through the door and then insert the screws and do them up. This system has a cover plate which has a location pip which locates in the centre lock plate and then a grub screw into the hook plate to cover the join between the two.
Go through the same process for the bottom hook plate keep as was applied to the centre lock plate keep and test the mechanism. Pay special attention to the hooks and that they clear the bottom of the keep when closing. Repeat the process for the top lock plate keep.
Once all the keeps are fitted test closing, locking, un-locking and re-opening the door.
This cloak-room has remained the same since the house was built in 2000. It was uninspiring then with all the inlet and waste pipes unflatteringly on display below the wall hung corner basin. Now was the time to give the cloak-room a makeover and give it a more contemporary feel.
The first job was to pull up the old carpet and level the floor with a self leveling screed. The old toilet was unscrewed and removed (nb the toilet and corner basin were recycled on the freecycle website reducing waste costs and helping the environment at the same time!) making sure the waste pipe was taped up to stop waste gases coming out of the pipe and into the house. A long spirit level was used to show high points in the floor.
Once the floor was leveled it was time to lay some tiles. A dark gray square porcelain tile was chosen and laid in a square brickwork pattern with a 4 mm grout joint width.
The tiles were laid with a rapid flexible adhesive that requires only three hours setting time before the grouting can be applied. A light gray grout was used and as always pulling the grout float at 45 degrees across the grout lines so as not to drag the grout out of the joints and then taking the excess off with a sponge before it dries hard on the tiles. The grout was left to harden for 24 hours before the tiles were then cleaned up with a grout remover using a non scratch scouring sponge and washed off with plenty of water.
Next job was to cut off the old overflow pipe and fill the remaining hole as the new toilet has an integral overflow outlet that vents into the pan and to re-position the water inlet pipe to accommodate the new back to the wall close coupled WC.
To re-position the copper water inlet pipe the old elbow had to be removed and replaced with a new one at a different angle. First the water was turned off, the pipe was cut after the elbow and any water in the pipe was taken out. The paint around the joint was rubbed off with emery cloth and flux was brushed around the joint. Then to de-solder the elbow joint heat was applied to the elbow very carefully by placing a heat protecting soldering mat over the pipe to stop the flame from burning the wall. Map gas was used in the blow torch as this burns hotter than propane. Heat had to be applied to the joint for about a minute right in the hottest part of the flame about an inch from the torch nozzle before the soldered joint released itself and the elbow could be taken off.
Then a new elbow was soldered on making sure the pipe and elbow were cleaned up first with wire wool and flux was placed around the inside of the copper elbow and outside of the pipe. A new piece of pipe was soldered on the other end of the elbow and a 1/2 inch straight tap connector soldered onto that. This enabled a braided hose with an isolating ball valve to be screwed on the end to connect to the cistern inlet for the water supply.
Next the wall was painted and the new back to the wall toilet and cistern were connected and screwed down. With there being no gap behind the WC it does make connecting the waste pan connector and inlet water supply slightly tricky. A flexible pan connector and 500 mm braided hose for the water supply give enough play to allow the joints to be made without too much trouble. A tip for putting the pan connector on is to put washing up liquid over the exterior of the pan outlet pipe to aid sliding the pan connector on.
Next the sink was removed and the rest of the walls painted . The hot and cold water supply inlet copper pipes were cut to allow 1/2 inch straight tap connectors to be soldered on and isolating ball valves screwed on to those in order for the tap connectors to be attached later when the sink gets installed.
Next the vanity unit was altered with cutouts made in the shelves and carcass to allow it to fit around the pipework. The vanity unit was screwed to the wall at the top and bottom to make it stable.
With the vanity unit fitted the tap and clicker waste were installed in the sink with clear jointing compound placed around the joints of the clicker waste to help the seal and the sink was put in place with dobs of silicon placed around the top of the vanity unit carcass to keep the sink in place. The tap connectors were screwed on and the waste connected up with a flexible hose and the door put on the vanity unit. A tiled mosaic splash back was created around the sink using a contrasting tile of grays, greens and browns with a light gray grout to tie in with the grout used for the floor tiles. Then the skirting board was fitted and the fixtures and fittings put on the wall.
In the early days epoxy grout gained a reputation for being hard to work with and making the cost of the job too expensive. The product has evolved over the last 20 years and has much different properties to that which it had in the noughties.
Epoxy grout has excellent properties when used in shower cubicles, wet-rooms, swimming pools and anywhere that requires prevention of mold buildup, staining and requires good antibacterial qualities.
Early products had very short pot open times which means the product cured very quickly and that you had to work fast to get the product into the tile gap and remove the excess. Even straight after mixing the grout and the hardener it still had a plastic like quality fresh out of the mixing pot that did not make it easy to push into the grout lines.
Modern two part epoxy is much more like standard grout with a greater pot life and a more fluid consistency making it much easier to work with. It still requires a slightly different approach than standard grout but definitely puts it in the realm of general use.
One of the reasons to re-grout an area maybe because old ordinary grout has gone moldy and discoloured. The old grout can be ground out effectively with an oscillating multi-tool and a diamond tile/grout cutting blade. Wear eye protection and ear protection as these can be a little noisy. You only need one channel in the old grout to give the epoxy grout a good key to get adhesion when re-grouting.
If you are applying the grout to freshly laid tiles I always allow 48 hours for the tile adhesive to cure thoroughly but check with the guidelines that came with your tile adhesive. Depending on the adhesive you have used to lay the tiles it maybe that you can allow a shorter time or are required to allow longer before applying the grout. Wear protective gloves when applying the grout.
Most two part systems suggest mixing up the entire pot and using in one go. Even though the pot open times are now longer I still prefer to part mix into a separate pot. If you read the specification sheet supplied with the epoxy grout you should see a grout to hardener ratio specified. Normally its around 9:1 grout to hardener. I use some postage scales to work out the amount of grout and hardener to mix together – don’t forget to take into account the weight of the pot you are mixing up the grout in. I normally try and do 2 meter squared areas in one go. The amount to mix will be dependent on your grout line width and depth but try with about 800 mg total amount to start with and see how far that goes.
After stirring thoroughly the measured amounts of grout and hardener its time to start applying the grout. The epoxy grout should stay workable for between 30 to 40 minutes. I start by working the grout into the grout lines with a metal spatula and then using plenty of water and a rubber grout float pulled diagonally across the grout lines take off the excess grout from the tile surface. Next again using plenty of water use white scouring pads rubbed in a circular motion over the grouted area to remove the grout residue from the surface of the tiles. Keep rinsing the sponges in water and be prepared to go through quite a few sponges. Keep the circular motions fairly light pressured at a diagonal to the grout lines as much as possible and don’t press too hard so as not to pull the grout out of the tile gaps too much.
Once the epoxy grout has been applied, and as much excess removed at the time of grouting, I allow 12 to 24 hours for the grout to cure and then start the process for removing the haze residue that gets left behind on the tile after grouting. You can buy specialist products for removing epoxy grout haze. Be sure to wear protective gloves and have protection for your eyes. Also make sure of good ventilation as the cleaners can be rather potent acid based liquids.
Like applying the grout I try and clean the tiles in 2 meter squared areas. Spray the cleaner and leave to get into the glaze for 30 minutes or so. Then using more white scouring pads start rubbing the left over grout haze off the tiles with plenty of water and the scouring side of the sponge. You can tell when the residue has gone as the tiles take on a smoother feel. If you find any lumps of the epoxy grout stuck to the tiles then you will need a knife or scraper just to knock the leftover grout off. Keep rinsing the sponge and again like grouting be prepared to go through a few sponges. Once you are happy that all the haze has gone with the sponge side of the scourer and plenty of water, give the cleaned area a good soaking and then mop up the water giving the cleaned tiles a good wipe over.
Now all the grout haze has been removed and the tiles are dry its time to seal them. Various types of sealer are available. One that actually soaks into and impregnates the tile and one that just sits on and coats the surface of the tile. For wet environments I always use the impregnating type. They will not give the surface a shiny finish but you can get ones that improve the lustre and intensify the colour of the tiles. Non impregnating sealers tend to be used for non wet high traffic areas. There are also differing sealers for natural stone as opposed to porcelain or ceramic tiles. Check you are getting a sealer for the right type of tile you are working with.
Some of the products like the polyurethane sealers give off lots of vapor so work in as ventilated environment as possible and wear protection and if sealing an en-suite make sure you leave a few hours for the smell to vapourise before going to bed. Pour some of the sealer into a clean dry pot and rub a thin layer over the tiles with a sponge. If you have really porous tiles you may need to apply 2 coats. Allow the sealer to dry for at least 24 hours before subjecting the area to water.
Living with builders’ finish, plain magnolia walls – not sure what to do with them? Here’s a way to give your room the wow factor with some cheap planks of wood, paint and a little fun!!
Take some cheap, thin planks of wood, give them a lick of paint and literally nail them to the wall.
This makeover is simple yet effective and you don’t have to spend weeks getting the look perfect, the more distressed and irregular the better the look!!
We sourced our timber from a merchant who sold “off the shelf” pre-cut into 10mm thick by 100mm wide by 1.8m long rough sawn softwood planks, just plain old cheap timber!
The end result is really up to you, depends on the depth of colour or amount of distress you prefer. We started by painting on a coat of quick dry water based white emulsion and letting it dry for a couple of hours. We then followed with a coat of garden timber paint in slate grey, although any kind of paint will do. Then after a couple more hours another coat of white and 2 more hours drying. Now the fun begins – by gently sanding the wood, marks and knotts start appearing, these can be enhanced with a little extra sanding around them, cracks look good especially if you sand back to the wood in some places, but that’s the whole idea don’t worry about the technique just sand away and the finish will reveal itself like magic before your eyes.
When you have painted and sanded enough planks to cover the walls that you have picked to apply the finish to then it’s time to start cutting them up and applying them. Start at the top of the wall and work you way down cutting the planks into irregular lengths and fixing them to the wall. We used an inexpensive nail gun that can be purchased for around £30. The nails we chose were 18ga 25mm brad nails. Be careful if nailing your planks to the wall when driving the nails close to services such as electric, gas and water. We chose the 25mm long nails, allowing 10mm for the planks and 15mm for the drywall, as this meant they would not protrude beyond the drywall and interfere with pipes or wires being run through the wall. Use a digital wall detector if you have any doubt where your services are.
The colour combinations are endless using single or mutli colours, we used white as a top to give the slate a smokey look but any colour can be used ie., terracotta on top with a grey underneath to give an autumn effect and depending on the size of wall you are doing, you may have odd tins of paint to use thereby cutting the cost even further, the paint doesn’t have to be expensive, just run of the mill emulsion. The best part is you can experiment until you get the look you want, just paint over and start again! You can even try distressing the wood further by hammering it or hitting it with nails and even painting over areas with vaseline before painting to stop the paint being absorbed in certain areas. We applied a clear stain as a final topcoat to seal the surface but this is completely optional.
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