How to lift floorboards

Lifting floorboards may be necessary for a number of reasons.  You might want to have exposed floorboards, and find that some of them are badly worn; you could be checking that the joists underneath are sound, or considering replacing the whole floor.

Older houses usually have floorboards with straight edges, which are relatively straightforward to lift.  Use a wide-bladed chisel and insert it at one end of the floorboard into the gap, gently prising it up.  When the gap is wide enough, slide in a claw hammer and move along the board, pulling it up gradually until you reach the end.

Tongue and groove floorboards present a little more of a challenge because the tongue needs to be sawed through on at least one side.  You can do this with a flooring saw that has a convex blade, or alternatively use a circular saw or pad saw.  When the tongue’s full length has been cut the floorboard can be pulled up.  Take care not to damage any joists with the saw because they will become weakened and may have to be replaced.

Floors made of chipboard sheets can be unscrewed and lifted away.  If the chipboard is tongue and groove, use the same method of cutting the tongue as with ordinary tongue and groove floorboards.

If you are just checking a piece of pipe work under the floor you may not need to lift the whole floorboard.  Lift the board over whichever section you want to get to, then cut it off with a floorboard saw, making sure the cut is right above the joist so it is supported when put back.


Cheap blinds

New blinds don’t have to be expensive.  In fact they can be a much cheaper alternative to curtains.  When comparing the price of curtains and blinds, remember that with curtains you will also need to buy a pole if you don’t already have one.  However blinds can be fixed straight onto the wall, so the price of the blind is the total price you need to spend.

One of the cheapest blind options is venetian blinds, which are usually made from PVC.  There are still plenty of colours available, so it is possible to match the colour scheme of your room exactly.

Roller blinds can also be bought very cheaply, and again many different colours and patterns are available, including eyelets, scallop and castle edgings.  Cheap roller blinds are usually made from fabric and are not usually made from blackout material.  However, you can usually buy cheap blackout blinds for a little more than the cheapest roller blinds, and they will offer valuable light proofing and thermal properties.

It is also possible to buy cheap roman blinds, although these are not likely to be as cheap as venetian or roller blinds.


Tips on installing granite tiles

Granite tiles are becoming an increasingly popular option, as they are great looking and are incredibly durable. It is entirely possible to lay granite tiles yourself. However, you should be aware that they are very heavy, so if you think it might be too strenuous for you consider bringing in a professional. Furthermore, granite tiles are expensive and they can break when you drop them.

Granite tiles should only be installed in an area that is going to remain relatively clean, or one that can be cleaned very easily. If you are unable to keep the tiles clean they will soon need replacing.

The tiles should only be laid onto a flat surface; any bumps in the surface can easily damage them. If the tiles are laid on an uneven surface then it is possible that when people start walking on them they will crack.

When purchasing granite tiles you must remember that because they are not processed you will not have perfectly matching colours and you will not be able to find them at any retailer.


How to fit a kitchen splashback

Splashbacks are becoming increasingly popular.  They are an easy way to inject life and colour into a simple, monotone kitchen without overpowering it.  The most popular form of splashback is the glass version, however, tiled splashbacks can be used as well.

The items you will need before you begin are as follows; neutral colour silicone, silicone gun, tile spacers, drill and rawl plugs (only if you are screwing it on), cloths, warm soapy water, tester pot of paint that matches the colour of the glass, and a small paint brush.  Make sure that the wall is even before you begin, any bumps or dips of more than 2-3mm should be addressed prior to fitting the glass splashback.

Before you begin using your tester pot of paint, paint a strip of colour onto the walls anywhere that there may end up being a small gap.  By doing this you make the gap less noticeable as both wall and glass will be the same colour.

Apply circular blobs of silicone onto the reverse side of the glass; about 20mm in diameter should do it.  Repeat the process of the entire surface keeping the blobs about 100mm or so apart and not too close to the edges.  Now press the glass into place and if feels a little ‘bouncy’ anywhere, remove the glass and apply some more silicone at that point.

Use tile spacers to ensure there is an expansion gap around the edges of the glass, especially if it is close to wooden surfaces or cupboards as these can expand when warm.  Once the glass has been fitted, leave it for a full 24 hours before removing the spacers.  You can now seal the splashback with a clear silicone sealant and wipe the surface down to make sure it is clean.


Measuring your windows for new blinds

Whether you are buying made to measure or standard sized blinds, it is important to get the size of your window right in order to make the most of your new blinds.  Where you should measure your window depends on the type of blinds you are buying.  There are two options:

Inside the window recess

You should measure your window in this way if you are buying blinds which you want to sit inside the window recess, such as roller blinds, vertical blinds or venetian blinds.  Measuring is quite simple: You should always measure the width of your window recess in three places, and use the smallest measurement. You should then measure the drop in the same way.

Outside of the window recess

You should measure your window in this way if you are buying blinds which you want to overlap the edge of your window recess.  Blinds that sit outside the window recess may include roman blinds, venetian blinds and roller blinds.  Before measuring your window, you need to decide how much overlap you want on each side of the window.  The majority of people choose around 6-7 centimetres, although this is entirely down to your preference.  Additionally, the roller mechanism will need to be far enough above the top of the window recess so that the blind doesn’t cover too much of the window when it is rolled up.  You should then measure the size of your window recess in the same way as the above, and add on the size of the overlap (ensure that you add two sides of overlap on to each measurement) to both the width and the drop.


How to cover hairline cracks in plaster

When it comes to redecorating there is nothing worse than finding a long hairline crack on the surface you want to paint.  This does not, however, need to pose a disastrous problem and even the worst DIY people can fix this issue.

All you need is some filler, such as Polycell Hairline Crack Polyfilla, a small paint brush and some sandpaper.  Begin by removing loose plaster and dirt from the surrounding area. Then, using the brush, simply paint the filler into and over the area of the crack.

Do not over-spread the filler or apply too much in one go, just gently build up the level until the crack is no longer visible.  Wait until the filler has dried and then use the sandpaper to smooth the surface down so that it is flush with the surrounding plaster.  Clean off the area once you have finished to remove any dust particles that could get trapped in the paint and give an uneven finish. Now get your paint out and re-decorate the wall, it really is as simple as that.


Roman blinds – key facts

What are roman blinds?

Roman blinds are fabric blinds with a cord which raises them into a soft layered pleat, and lowers them to cover the whole window.  When the blinds are raised, the cord is attached to a cleat which is secured to the wall or the window frame, to keep them raised.

Why should I choose roman blinds?

Roman blinds are luxurious blinds that are perfect for giving your room an elegant look.  They can be made out of fabric to match the décor of your room.  They are a contemporary alternative to traditional curtains, and have good blackout abilities.  They can be easily cleaned of dust using a vacuum cleaner.  Roman blinds can also help to keep your room warm and private.

What are the negatives?

Roman blinds can be quite complex to take down and put back up for thorough cleaning, so they should be kept clean and hoovered regularly.

Where can I use roman blinds?

Roman blinds are a great choice for your bedroom, living room or dining room.

As roman blinds are made of fabric, they are probably not the best choice for your bathroom or other locations where they may become wet.

What are my choices?

Roman blinds give you plenty of choice, just like curtains.  You can choose from different fabrics, patterns, and colours, including faux suede and fur.  In addition, if you want to match your roman blind to fabric you already have in your room, it is possible to have your blind especially made from the fabric of your choice.

Most companies offer custom made blinds so they will fit your window perfectly, and you can choose which side you want the cord to be.

You can also choose whether or not you want a blackout lining.


Cleaning Window Blinds

After brand-new window blinds are installed, they look all sparkly and shiny for a long period of time, and then start showing signs of dirt and grime, thus requiring a good cleanse.  Cleaning Venetian and horizontal blinds can be a tedious undertaking.  However, there are a few simple ways to perform the cleaning process as well as to periodically keep the dust and dirt off of the slats.  The first step is to dust the blinds.  This should be done on a regular basis to remove settled layers of dirt so as to prevent blinds from becoming dirt-stained.  Dusting can safely be done on all types of blinds, including wooden, fabric, aluminium and vinyl.

For blinds that are made of fabric, a vacuum cleaner can be used to help remove dirt and dust.  Try to use the brush attachment, which will loosen any dirt that was collected over time.  Once these two steps are followed, examine the blinds to see whether they require a deeper cleanse.  If so, it is now time to get some spot cleaning done!

Spot cleaning can be done with warm water and a mild detergent.  This solution can be used on fabric blinds as well as all other materials.  When undertaking spot cleaning, it is wise to avoid rubbing the slats too hard as well as using any type of abrasive cleanser that will damage the blinds.  When cleaning fabric curtains and blinds, test the solution in a small area to ensure staining does not occur.  Regular cleaning will help prevent dirt and dust from building up, which reduces the need for future spot cleaning.


How to assemble flat-pack furniture

Even people who consider themselves to be useless at DIY will probably have tried to put flat-pack furniture together.  Flat-pack furniture is popular with retailers because they can keep more stock in a smaller space, while consumers like it because it costs less than pre-assembled units.  There are a few steps you can take to ensure that the process of putting together everything, from a CD tower to a new bed, goes smoothly.

Read the instructions all the way through before you start, making sure that you have all the equipment you need and that you understand all the instructions.  If there are any terms you do not understand do not guess what they mean; look them up.  Give yourself plenty of space and a clutter-free work area so that you do not lose any vital pieces or tools and everything is close at hand.

Check that all the parts you need have been included before you even start the assembly.  There is nothing worse than getting all the way through a job, only to find the very last screw was not included.  Use small tubs to keep the different types of screws together and prevent any from going missing during the assembly process.

Take your time to follow each step thoroughly and right to the end.  Never be tempted to ignore one of the instructions because you think there is a better way of doing something; the manufacturers will have tested out all the possible ways of putting this particular item together and there will be a good reason why they have rejected your brilliant idea.


Vertical blinds add style to the home

If you are looking for an easy and affordable way to dress your windows, then vertical blinds may be what you are looking for.  These blinds are ideal for windows that look onto a street or where the neighbours can see in easily.

With curtains, when opened, you have to have netting to hide your personal life from the outside world.  The same applies if you choose roller or roman blinds, but with vertical blinds, they open sideways.  This means your neighbours will be guessing at what is going on and won’t be able to look in any more.

Available in a range of colours

Vertical blinds
fit so well into any size window.  They look stylish and are available in a range of colours to compliment any room in your home. The advantages of these blinds include:

•    Easy to install.
•    Easy to maintain.
•    Offer style and sophistication.
•    Easy to open and close.
•    Choice of great colours and patterns.

The biggest advantage is you can choose how to use your vertical blinds, you can either open them so they still hang down but allow light in, or you can open them up completely, enabling the entire window to be exposed.

For anyone looking for ways to dress their windows in order to add style, a splash of colour, and ease of use, then these vertical blinds are the way to go.  Made from durable materials that are easy to clean and require a minimum amount of maintenance, they are the ideal choice over curtains.