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.


Planning your new bathroom

When thinking through your plans for remodelling a bathroom, consider the practicalities. Whilst it is fun to launch into the selection of suites, accessories and furniture, before you travel too far down that road get the basics right.

At the early stages the advice of an experienced plumber will prove invaluable, as they are certain to produce alternative solutions and suggestions for the layout and design. They will be able to point out things to avoid and things to include, to make your new bathroom a success.

The bathroom plays a pivotal role in the smooth running of a household. A well-designed bathroom will work wonders for domestic harmony as well as adding value to your home if you should resell. After great kitchens, bathrooms with ‘wow factor’ are what buyers are looking for these days.

Remember that bathroom suites come in all shapes and sizes, and what may look fabulous in the showroom could be far too big for the space you have available. Take accurate measurements so you know exactly how much space you have, and the suite you purchase will be the perfect scale.

Make yourself aware of all that is out there. Don’t settle for a boring, predictable bathroom if you don’t have to. Research will tell you about wet rooms, luxury spa baths, multi-jet showers, twin sinks, heated, steam-free mirrors, excellent bathroom cabinets, perfect bathroom flooring and wall finishes. The remodelling of bathrooms has evolved and the scope of what is possible in the smallest room in the house has dramatically increased.


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.


Repairing a Burst Pipe

Plumbing is one area of DIY that requires specialist equipment, but if you have the right tools and a little knowledge, you can save yourself a lot of money.

Emergency Repair

With a pipe repair clamp, you can temporarily fix a burst pipe and prevent the need for an emergency call out.

The first thing that must be done when any leak is found is to turn the water supply off. In order to fix a leak using the pipe repair clamp, you simply place the two halves of the clamp around the split pipe and tighten up with the screws.

Permanent Repair

The easiest way to permanently fix the pipe will be with a compression joint. Using a pipe-cutting tool cut out a section of pipe that is the same size as the new joint. Then, all you need to do is fit the new compression joint and tighten it with a set of wrenches. The burst pipe will now be as good as new and you will have saved a significant amount of money on the cost of calling out a plumber.


How to Fix Phantom Flushing

One of the most common problems for any bathroom suite, phantom flushing is basically an involuntary sound that comes from the toilet.  This involuntary flushing can waste water, and it can certainly make an irritating sound.  Luckily, it is a problem that can be fixed fairly easily.

More often than not, the cause of phantom flushing is the toilet’s stopper failing to seal against the seat of the flush valve as tight as it should be.  This causes water to seep into the bowl at a slow but steady rate, and also causes the sound known as the phantom flush. 

The first step to solving this problem is to turn off the water source for the toilet.  Once the water is off, the toilet should be flushed.  The seat of the flush valve should then be cleaned thoroughly with a scrubbing pad.  This method usually serves to fix the problem, but more persistent phantom flushing may be the result of an improperly centred stopper on the flush valve seat.  Moving the stopper around may solve the problem, but a replacement stopper may have to be purchased.


Laying a gravel path in your garden

There is any number of ways to pimp the garden. One, which has the added advantage of adding an extra security layer, is the gravel path. The security comes from the noise of footfall. A gravel path is also relatively easy to lay and fairly economical.

Mark out the line of the path with sand or a line and cut away any turf and topsoil to a depth of approximately 100-150mm (4-6 inches). Tamp the soil down firmly and fix any soft edges with 100-150mm deep timber battens, pegged at regular intervals. A curved path will need flexible edging, pegged into place to retain turf or flower beds.

Cast concrete is another possible edging, being more decorative and durable, though care must be taken when laying to keep levels even.

Now fill the bottom third with a hardcore base of loose stone or coarse gravel, topped with a layer of sand and a coarse gravel that needs tamping flat. At this juncture, apply weed killer from a watering can fitted with a rose to prevent washing the base away.

Finally, spread the gravel of choice – pea, beach pebble, green basalt or chippings of flint, granite, and stone – over the base before raking, rolling, and smoothing to produce an even, firm path with a level just below the top of the edging. Maintain the path with regular applications of weed killer, raking and rolling, and it will look good for years.


Replacing a Tap

When you attempt to open or close a tap and find that it is difficult or impossible the fault probably lies with a faulty head-gear. Replacing a tap is one home repair project that most people can easily complete. No plumbing skills are required and few tools are needed.

First isolate and turn off the water supply to the tap. When possible, turn off the isolating valve under the tap. If there is none, you will need to isolate the water supply at the main valve to the house.

Remove the tap cover with a small screwdriver. You will see the rim if you look closely at the top of the tap. Insert the screwdriver into the rim and gently lift it away from the tap. After the tap cover is removed you will see the screw attached to the spindle. Remove the screw by turning it anti-clockwise and the handle will lift off easily.

Using an adjustable spanner, loosen the head-gear nut. Hold the tap in your other hand to prevent it from moving while you are doing this and to make this step easier use a little penetrating oil first.

After removing the damaged head-gear nut check to make certain that there is no damage to the seat inside the tap. Once you have done this you can insert the new head-gear and screw the nut into place, tightening it with the spanner. 

Make certain that the tap is open when you reassemble it, so that when water flow is returned the debris can be removed without damaging the washer. Fit the new handle into place and secure with the screw, before replacing the cover. Restore the water supply to the tap and after a few seconds of running clear water you can turn it off.


How to drill holes

Drilling holes might seem like one of the easiest DIY tasks, but it is easy to make mistakes if you do not prepare correctly or measure accurately.  Whether you are using a hand drill or a power tool, the precautions you need to take to avoid causing damage are the same, but with a little care and attention you can use a drill to help make all kinds of DIY projects much easier, from simple jobs like hanging pictures to more complicated electrical or joinery projects.

The first step is to figure out how deep and wide the hole needs to be for whatever you are going to be fixing onto, or inserting into, the wall.  Many wall fittings bought in DIY stores come with instructions specifying such information, but it always worth double-checking with your own measurements.  Many DIY beginners are nervous about drilling into walls, afraid that they are going to hit water pipes or electrical cables.  Luckily, there are simple devices that can be bought at any DIY store to check for the presence of these hazards in the area where you are planning to drill.

Once you have made sure it is safe to go ahead, and have checked your measurements, you can actually pick up the drill.  Although many amateurs think that a masonry drill is needed for drilling into walls, you are often better starting off with a normal metal drill bit to make a neater and more precise hole in the plaster board.  Most electric drills have a setting which automatically stops when you reach the required depth, but if your power tool does not have this feature, or you are using a hand drill, make sure that you mark the shaft of the masonry drill bit so you know exactly where to stop.


The convenience of garden office buildings

Garden office buildings are sprouting up all over the place, providing elegant workplace solutions to those who opt for homeworking but do not have the space. More and more people are choosing to work from home. The Live Work Network reported recently that one in twelve Brits work from home. That is nearly three million people, and all those people need a place to work.

Sometimes it just is not practical to use the kitchen table or the spare room to conduct your business affairs. There comes a time when you need to secure your own office space at home.

However, therein lies the problem for many UK homeowners. There just is not the space in our homes for an office. The financial climate has made people cautious about trading up and taking on more debt, so the trend has been to maximise the space in the existing home. Expanding into loft space, basements, adding extensions, all these options have become very popular in recent times.

Yet where do you go once you have maximised all the space in your home? Into the garden, of course!

The growth in popularity of garden office buildings makes perfect sense. You are working in a serene environment, close to nature, only a few steps from your home but far enough away for there to be an element of psychological separation between work and home. No longer do you have to endure the daily commute, saving you time and money and enabling you to achieve a better work/home life balance.

Organising a garden office is easier than you may think. You will find companies that provide a fully guaranteed installation service and offer a selection of models suited to home office working. You will be amazed at the level of comfort, style and finish available. If kept within a certain size, planning regulations are not usually a problem for garden rooms.