Enlarging the Opening

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Remodeling    by: ITC

Having set the new lintel in place and re-finished the brickwork of the inner leaf above it, you can cut out the brickwork at the sides of the opening and, if necessary, across the base. First, draw the outline of the new opening on both sides of the wall, making it about lin wider and deeper than the actual frame dimensions to give a fitting tolerance.

External walls comprise two layers of bricks; each layer should be treated separately, working in from each side of the wall.

If the wall is a solid one produce a square edge along the opening outline on the inner layer by cutting through bricks where necessary. Always remove complete bricks even if they project beyond the outline. This gives a toothed effect to the edge.

If the base outline runs through the center of a course of bricks, remove the course completely; you can make up the difference later.

Replace the outer layer at the sides of the opening by mortaring cut bricks into the toothed sections so that their cut ends are innermost.

Next, replace the area of wall above the window, laying the bricks on the lintel and copying the original brickwork bond for strength and appearance. In a solid wall, you can create a curved, self-supporting soldier arch by setting a wooden framework in the opening on which the bricks of the arch are laid. Then the surrounding courses are fitted round the arch and the mortar left to set for a couple of days before removal of the formwork.

The frame must sit squarely in the opening; if it is twisted, you may have problems in opening and closing the window and the glass will be under stress and may shatter at the slightest vibration.

In a solid wall you can set the frame: flush with the outer face with its sill overhanging the edge; in the center of the opening with narrow reveals on each side; or flush with the inner face with a sub-sill at the bottom to throw water clear of the wall.

When the frame is set forward in the opening, the sides and top of the reveal are plastered and a wooden or tiled window board set across the bottom. When set at the back, it is normal to trim around the inside of the frame with molding

The simplest method of securing the frame is with frame fixings, a hefty screw and long plastic wall plug, but you can also use conventional wallplugs and screws, wooden wedges or metal frame ties. With each type, wedge the frame in the opening with wood offcuts so that it is set squarely in place, while the fixings are marked and made.

With screws and plugs, clearance holes must first be drilled in the frame and the hole positions on the wall marked through these. The holes are drilled and plugged and the frame fitted.

Wooden wedges are tapped into slots cut in the mortar joints and the frame nailed to the wedges. Metal frame ties also fit into slots in the joints, being screwed to the frame and mortared in place.

In all cases, you must leave a’/sin gap between the top of the frame and the underside of the lintel to allow for any settlement of the structure.

Leave the packing pieces in place. and fill the gaps at the sides with mortar, leaving it about 1/sin below the level of the frame face. Fill this gap with caulk when the mortar has set. Use caulking to fill the gap between the lintel and frame also. If there is a gap below the frame, fill this with bricks and mortar, splitting the bricks lengthways if necessary.

Make a sub-sill from wood screwed or nailed in place, or a double layer of tiles set on a sloping bed of mortar.

Another way is to cast a concrete sill in situ, making up a wooden formwork “tray” nailed to the wall. The sill should overlap the edge of the bricks by no more than in and you can form a drip channel (to prevent rainwater trickling under the sill) along the bottom edge by pinning a length of waxed cord (sash window cord will do) in the bottom of_ the tray. The top of the lintel should slope downwards so angle the sides for this. Also provide reinforcement by setting steel rods in holes drilled in the brickwork.

Mix the concrete from 4 parts sand: 1 part cement and pour it into the form. Agitate the mix to compact it and remove air bubbles and draw it off level with the top of the form. Leave the concrete for at least 24 hours before removing the foiinwork.

The frame fixing is much simpler to use and is ideal for securing wooden members to masonry. It comprises a hefty screw and a long plastic wallplug.

To use, wedge the frame in its opening and drill holes for the fixings right through it and into the wall. Without removing the frame, tap the plug and screw combination through the frame and into the wall, finally tightening the screw for a secure fixing.

Frame fixings are supplied in various lengths to hold wood thicknesses up to 33/sin. Another development of this is the hammer fixing, which is used in the same way, but set by driving a ridged, countersunk pin into the expanding plug.

Fitting a New Lintel

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Remodeling    by: ITC

With the wall above the window opening supported by stout wooden needles and adjustable jacks, and the old window frame taken out you can remove the old lintel and brickwork from above the opening.

Remove the bricks from the outer layer first. These may be laid in horizontal courses across the lintel or they may be set vertically. If the house is old, they may form a self-supporting segmental arch.

Cut through the mortar joints with a bricklayer’s chisel to remove the bricks, making a gradually tapering, stepped opening up to the level of the wooden needle above. This will prevent any brickwork from falling while working on the opening.

Removing the bricks from the outer leaf of the wall will expose the face of the load bearing lintel set in the inner leaf. You should remove this next.

From inside the house, hack off the plaster above the window opening to expose the inner face of the lintel and the brickwork above it. Again, cut out the bricks to foam a stepped opening up to the level of the needle. Then cut into the mortar joints at each end of the lintel, working along the top, ends and underneath. Use a stout bar to lever the ends of the lintel upwards to finally release them. Then get some help to lift the lintel from its bearings in the wall.

the thickness of the wall. It may lodge and form a bridge for moisture to cross from the outer skin to the inner and cause damp patches on the inner wall.

Measure up the new lintel and draw its outline on the inside of the wall centered over the new window position. Remember, the new lintel should be at least 6in wider at each side of the window opening to provide decent-sized bearings. Also, allow an extra lin at each end and on the depth to provide enough space to manoeuvre the lintel into position.

Cut straight down through the plaster along the outline with the bricklayer’s chisel to provide a cutting guide and then hack off the plaster within the outline.

Go on to remove the bricks exposed by the removal of the plaster, again cutting through the mortar joints in an effort to keep as many bricks in one piece as possible. Clean up the bearing openings and make sure their surfaces are flat and level.

Whether you are using a steel or concrete lintel, you will need some help to lift it into place.

Trowel a layer of mortar onto each bearing and lift the lintel into place, setting it centrally over the opening. Check that the lintel is flush with the inner face and outer layer of the wall.

Hold a level against the underside of the lintel and check that it is horizontal. If necessary, correct this by packing pieces of tile or slate beneath the ends. When level, fill the gaps round the ends of the lintel with more mortar and brick offcuts, pointing the joints neatly flush with the surrounding brickwork.

Enlarging a Window

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

In remodeling your living space you may wish to enlarge a window, either to let in more light or ventilation, by installing an opening window to replace a fixed one.

Window types and materials

Modern windows come in a wide choice of styles in wood metal or plastic. They can be simple fixed panes or they can open with either top-hinged, side-hinged, pivotting, horizontally-sliding or vertically-sliding sections. The tendency is to go for large, uninterrupted panes of glass, but if your house is old you can still buy windows made up of small panes to give it a period look.

Despite the fact that it needs regular maintenance, wood is the most popular material for window frames and offers the widest choice of styles and sizes.

Steel windows are functional in appearance but can suffer considerably from rust if not looked after. Aluminum windows, too, can suffer from corrosion due to the atmosphere, especially in coastal areas.

On the face of it, plastic would seem to be ideal for window frames, being largely maintenance free. However, it is not easy to paint (and is intended not to be), which means that you are stuck with the manufacturer’s color, and if this is white you may find it yellows with age.

Assuming that you are going to fit a larger window frame in place of the original, you must provide temporary support for the wall (with needles and jack posts) while you remove the old frame and lintel. This should be either concrete or steel so that both leaves of the wall are supported. For a solid wall, fit a concrete lintel to the inner leaf and, at the same time, form a curved soldier arch over the top of the window in the outer leaf.

With the lintel in place, cut out the brickwork for the larger frame. Prepare the edges of the opening, prop the frame in position and nail, screw or cement it in place. The final job is to seal around the edges with mortar and caulk.

To make the frame lighter and easier to handle, first remove any opening sections and then carefully remove all the glass.

Cut out the mortar seal at the edges of the frame with a flat chisel and run a screwdriver round the gap to locate the fixings. Cut through them with a saw inserted in the keyhole.

Having cut through or released the fixings, lever the frame out with a stout bar or knock it out with a length of wood and a light sledge hammer.

Wooden window frames are normally held in place by galvanized metal ties cemented into the brickwork at the sides of the opening, by nails or screws driven into wooden wedges set in the brickwork, or by screws and wallplugs. Metal-framed windows may be held by metal brackets or be fitted to hardwood frames, which in turn are screwed into the opening.

Constructing Archways

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Remodeling    by: ITC

One of the problems with taking out a wall between two rooms to make a through-room is that the beam and its supporting piers remain as clear evidence of what has been done. The same applies if you remove a door and frame from their opening to make an open plan access point between two rooms. These functional pieces of the structure can be disguised and made to look more decorative by forming them into curved archways.

There are many ways in which you can construct archways from scratch, using a basic framework of sawn wood clad with hardboard, plywood, drywall or imitation bricks, but probably the easiest is to use prefabricated galvanized steel mesh arch formers. These are fixed in place at the top of the opening and plastered to match the adjoining walls.

Mesh arch formers usually come in four pieces, each piece being half of the face of one side of the arch and half of the associated area of soffit. In this way they can be trimmed down to fit narrow walls, or widened by the addition of extra soffit strips. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes for spans of up to 10ft. Some one-piece versions are also available.

The faces of the prefabricated mesh panels are usually extended at the edges to form mounting flanges which sit flat against the face of the wall. The formers are

secured by driving galvanized masonry nails through the flanges into the wall or by pushing the flanges into dabs of plaster.

If you intend to disguise a newly fitted beam with arch formers, they should be installed before you plaster either the beam or the piers. If you want to improve the look of an existing opening, you will have to cut – away a margin of plaster so that the mounting flanges of the formers will sit back flush against the wall.

Instead of using Bonding plaster for the floating coat, the mesh arch formers should be given a backing coat of Metal Lathing plaster. This hardens to leave a rough finish ready for the application of thin layers of Finish plaster. Rule the finish layer level with any surrounding original plaster.

Removing the Walls

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Remodeling    by: ITC

If the walls running across the ends of the beam are load bearing, it may be possible to cut directly into them to form bearings. In thi situationa longer than normal padstone should be used to spread the load sideways, or it may be necessary to add some extra strengthening by toothing in a shallow pier.

You must make the complete opening while the load above is still supported by the temporary props. It is essential to have all the necessary tools, equipment and materials to hand so that you can proceed quickly with the job.

At floor level, either trim the masonry off flush with a solid floor, or just below a wooden one. In the latter case, take care not to break through any water proofing membrane.

If there is a difference of level between the floors of the two rooms, either build a wooden step or cast a concrete one in situ.

With the masonry removed, you can make the bearings. Lifting the beam into place will be heavy work so it is as well to do a little preparation beforehand. To avoid the need for lifting the beam from floor level to the ceiling in one go, support it on trestles or pairs of stepladders, setting it so that you can get hold of it easily.

Set the coarse adjustment of the jack posts that will support the beam so that they can be set in place quickly and the fine adjustment made without fuss.

Lift the beam into place on the capstones and check that it is square across the room by taking measurements from nearby fixed points. Set the jack posts in place and tighten them until the beam comes up tight against the joists or masonry above. Check that the beam is completely level and make any fine adjustments with the posts.

At this stage you can remove the posts holding the joists, but leave any needles in place.

Trowel a layer of mortar between the top of the capstone and the underside of the beam and then tap pieces of slate into place to wedge the beam tightly upwards. You may need to insert two or even three pieces. Do the same at the other bearing, making sure it forms as tight a wedge as possible.

Finish off by pointing more mortar round the ends of the beam and capstone. If it is set on bearings cut into the end walls, fill the cavities around the ends of the beam with whole bricks or offcuts and more mortar, pointing it neatly.

With the bearings finished, check along the top of the beam to make sure it is fully supporting the joists or masonry above. If there are any gaps they must be wedged out too. In the case of masonry, use mortar and more slate wedges. If it is a wood floor, drive slates between the beam and any joists that are not otherwise supported.

Allow the mortar to harden for at least two days before removing the jack posts from below the beam together with any needles and their posts. Fill the needle holes with brick offcuts and mortar, then make good the ceiling, adjacent walls and floor.

If you have used a steel beam, clad this in a material that will protect it from fire: do not leave it exposed. The usual method is to clad the beam with gypsum board on a wooden framework nailed to wedges hammered into the sides of the beam.

The corners of the gypsum board should be taped or fitted with metal corner beads and finish it.

Concrete beams can be directly plastered over, their surfaces being rough enough to provide a key for the floating and finish coats.

When the beam has been plastered, finish the piers as well, using battens or special beads to form the corners. (Beading is probably best since the piers project into the room slightly and are, therefore, more likely to be knocked.)

Finally, cut the baseboards to fit around the base of each pier.

If the wall is of the non-load-bearing variety, the job will be much simpler since there is no need to fit a beam.

With a masonry wall, simply hack off the plaster and remove it brick by brick or block by block from the ceiling down. Cut out any metal ties holding the partition to the end walls, or cut through any bricks or blocks that have been toothed into them. At floor level, trim the masonry off flush — it may just sit on top of the floor anyway.

Replace the ceiling, if necessary, by cutting back to the nearby joists and nailing on a fresh strip of gypsum board. Finish it off with a skim coat of plaster and repair any damage to the walls.

If the wall is a wood-framed stud partition, simply lever off the cladding and prise apart or unscrew the frame. Fill any holes in the adjoining walls and redecorate.

Enlarging a Room

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

The techniques for removing a wall between two rooms to turn them into one large, through-room are essentially the same as those needed to make a new doorway or a pass-through but on a larger scale.

However, if the wall is load-bearing much more of the structure of the house will be at risk from collapse, so you must take particular care to ensure that you provide temporary support for any loads carried by the wall before you start to remove it and, just as importantly, that there is adequate permanent support when finished. This means finding out if the floor joists of the room above rest upon it and also if the same wall continues upwards to form a dividing wall on the floor above, for example. This is where you may find it necessary to check first with a professional contractor.

If there is no continuation wall above and the floor joists simply rest on top of the wall, you can remove it completely, using stout wood planks and adjustable props to bear the weight of the joists from below while the supporting beam is set in place. However, if there is a continuation of the wall, you must leave a margin at ceiling level to allow for the insertion of wooden needles at 3ft intervals.

Ceiling joists at right-angles to the wall must be supported by props under planks, spaced at 3ft intervals.

As already mentioned, it is normal for wide spans c: this sort to be supported by a steel beam but the beams can be very heavy and you might find it easier to use a steel angle instead. This will be lighter and only good for shorter spans depending on the size.

You could also use a reinforced concrete beam or a pre-stressed concrete beam (the lighter of the two). But both will only cope with spans of 10ft so they are only really suitable for narrow rooms.

In any event you may have to gain approval from your local Building Inspector for the way you intend to tackle the job, and this includes your choice beam. If you are not sure of the best type to us always take professional advice or check with your local Building Code.

Whatever type of beam you choose, it will still be heavy and you will need helpers to lift it into position. You will also need enough extra adjustable props to support it at 3ft intervals while you mortar it in place.

The ends of the beam must rest on bearings that are 6 to 9in wide, and because of the heavy loads carried it is usual to support the beam on concrete “padstones” (concrete blocks are ideal). This helps to spread the load evenly across the bearings.

As an alternative to a concrete padstone, you could use a heavy steel plate, or one or two courses of a strong brick; normal facing bricks would crumble under the weight.

The bearings must have substantial support below them to cope with the loads imposed on them from above and the way you arrange this support can take several forms. It is something that the Building Inspector will pay particular attention to.

A common method of supplying support for the bearings is to build brick columns or piers at each end of the span, toothing every second course into the brickwork of the adjoining walls.

Such piers must have substantial foundations of their own and this usually means digging down into the ground below, putting in a layer of well compacted gravel and pouring a thick layer of concrete on top. The exact requirements will be specified by your local Code which should be checked at the beginning.

Once the foundation has hardened. you can begin building the footings of the piers, remembering to set flashing in one of the mortar joints level with the flashing of the existing walls. This should be just below the level of the floor. If the floor is solid concrete, it should have a damp-proof membrane and you must take steps to see that your new flashing and the membrane are sealed together.

In some cases you may be allowed to use a set of engineering bricks as a flashing.

When the pier has been built, it is topped with mortar and the padstone set in place and leveled.

If the wall you are breaking through is a solid Sth thick wall, you may be able to leave short stubs of the wall projecting into the room to act as piers for the ends of the beam. However, you will need to check with your local Building Code to be satisfied that the original wall has substantial enough foundation. Remember, the weight carried by the wall, which was spread evenly along the length of its foundations on removal of the wall, be concentrated on two much smaller patches.

The mortar of the old wall should be in good condition, too. If it is loose or crumbly. rake out all the joints and repoint them with fresh mortar.

Cutting an External Doorway

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Remodeling    by: ITC

The positioning and installation of external doors is subject to the requirements of your local building code, so make the necessary applications to your local building department first.

Temporary support for the wall must be provided by Sin sq needles on top of adjustable metal props. To fit the needles, remove a whole brick from the outer layer and drill through the inner layer at the corners of the opening. Use the holes as a guide for cutting out the masonry from the inner layer. Insert the needles and tighten the props.

Draw the outline of the lintel on the inside wall and cut out the plaster and masonry from within. Drill the corners of the outer layer and remove the masonry. Fit the lintel on mortar bearings packed out with tiles or slates to set it level. Fill all round the inner portion of the lintel with mortar and rebuild any brickwork above it. Similarly rebuild the outer brickwork in the existing bond or stand the bricks on end to form a “sodier” arch.

When the mortar has set, remove the needles and brick up the holes. Then cut out the opening for the door frame — to fit the size of the frame.

Remove the bricks down to floor level, cutting through the protrud-bricks of the inner layer, on solid walls but removing whole bricks from the outer layer to give a toothed appearance. Square up the toothed outer layer by fitting cut bricks in place so that their “finished” ends are outermost.

Toe-nail the frame together before inserting it in the opening. Tack a length of flashing material to the underside of the sill, covering the nail heads with a bituminous sealant.

Fix the frame in the opening with screws and wallplugs, packing the sides to make them vertical. Fill gaps on the inside with mortar; apply caulking around the frame on the outside to keep out water.

The door sill should overhang the brickwork slightly and is best fitted with a metal weather bar, which is set in caulk. Once the frame is in place, hang the door and finish.

Blocking Redundant Doorways

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

There are two methods you can use for blocking off a redundant doorway: you can fit a wood framework around the inside and panel it with wallboard on both sides, or you can use bricks or lightweight building blocks if the floor is solid. In each case, plaster is used to finish it off.

Alternatively, consider whether you can put it to some other use such as paneling in the back and filling the recess with shelves.

Removing the old frame

To remove the old door and frame, unscrew the door hinges, lift the door away and lever off the molding. The lining frame may be fixed by masonry nails, screws or metal ties cemented into the brickwork. You should be able to lever it free, but if not, cut through its fixings by working a saw blade between the back of the frame and the wall.

Paneling with wallboard

If you are filling an opening in a stud partition, the supporting framework should be made of wood to match the framework of the partition — usually 2 x 3 or 4in lumber. On the other hand, if paneling a masonry wall, you might need two separate frames of something like 2in sq wood to panel each side flush.

The frame should comprise a head plate, sole plate, two upright studs and a central brace. Toe-nail these together and to the insides of the opening, making sure the frame is set back from the face of the wall to allow for the thickness of the skimmed wallboard.

Nail a panel of wallboard to each side of the frame, and to prevent the skim coat shrinking back from the edges, nail lengths of metal lath around the join. Apply a skim coat of finish and when the plaster has hardened, fit a length of new baseboard across the opening.

To fill the opening with bricks or concrete blocks, you must tie the new masonry to the old. The easiest method is to hammer 6in masonry nails half-way into the side of the opening to correspond with the mortar joints of alternate courses of the new bricks which will eventually be buried in the mortar.

Lay the bricks or blocks in the normal overlapping fashion and point all the mortar joints flush with the face of the masonry when finished.

Finally, apply floating and finish coats of plaster, using the surrounding original plaster as a thickness guide.

Putting a Doorway in stud partitions

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

To put a doorway in a stud partition, first expose the framework below the skin of the partition. Find the stud positions on each side of the proposed opening by tapping the surface and probing with a bradawl. Draw in the stud positions on the surface and another line between them to mark the height of the door frame plus an allowance for the wood lintel.

Cut along this outline with a keyhole saw continuing the cut through the skin across the top of any studs or bracing you come across. Lever off the skin to expose the framework and the back of the other skin. Remove the latter in the same way.

Cut out all the framework within the opening and then make up two short “trimmer” studs to support the lintel. Nail the trimmer studs to the original studs on each side of the opening and the lintel to the tops of the trimmer studs. Nail through the lintel into the base of any cut stud.

If the door frame is narrower than the distance between the trimmer studs, fit an intermediate between the lintel and sole plate, linking it with short braces to one of the trimmer studs.

Cut out the section of sole plate across the bottom of the opening and fit the door frame. Finish the partition by nailing on gypsum- board and applying a skim coat of plaster over the top.

A hatchway between a kitchen and dining room can be extremely useful, and you may wish to consider installing one should you have to block off a redundant doorway, or to suit other remodeling plans. Plan its position carefully so that it coincides with a work surface in the kitchen and something like a worktop or small table in the dining room so that there will be somewhere to place dishes and plates, for example.

The method for making a pass-through is basically the same as that for making a doorway, except that the opening is not continued to the floor. In a wood framed partition, a wood sill piece is needed between the studs on each side of the opening.

The pass-through can be left open with plastered edges and a wood sill, screwed across the bottom or a wooden lining frame can be fitted to take hinged or sliding doors, or some form of roller blind to give the maximum amount of privacy, and also to prevent cooking smells, for example, from drifting through.

Working on the Interior

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

Wearing protective clothing, (especially the goggles), carefully cut away the plaster from within the lintel outline to expose the masonry below. Remove the bricks or blocks by cutting through their mortar joints and lifting them out. If any above the slot should drop, remove these and keep them for replacement later. Retain any whole bricks from the slot for possible reuse.

Lift the lintel into place, bedding it on mortar (3 parts soft sand: 1 part masonry cement) laid on the “bearings” at each end of the slot. It is best to get the help of an assistant with lifting the lintel, especially when lifting weights above the head. Make sure the lintel is level and, if necessary, pack it out below the ends with tiles or slates.

Finally, fill any spaces around the lintel with more mortar and replace any bricks or blocks that may have dropped out at the slot-cutting stage. If the wall is constructed of blocks, bring the lintel up to the height of the adjacent blocks by laying a course of bricks on top, and mortering them in place.

Leave the mortar to set for at least 24 hours, and preferably 48. Then remove the needle and wood supports. Fill the needle holes with brick offcuts and mortar. Lever off the baseboard and place it to one side for cutting down later.

Remove the plaster inside the outline of the opening to expose all the masonry below. Using a light sledge hammer and bolster chisel, cut this out by chiseling through the mortar joints, carefully working down the wall one course at a time. Because of the bonding pattern used, you will find that on alternate courses you will have to cut through bricks at the sides of the opening. Do this as you come to them. driving the chisel into their faces and levering them out from below to leave a straight edge to the opening. Remove all the bricks from the opening.

Trim off the masonry flush with a solid floor, or jus: below a wooden one. In the latter case, join the tv,-: floors by screwing battens to the joists then fit a piece of plywood or short pieces of floor-board on top neaten and close the gap.

The frame can be held in place with either galvanized metal ties mortared to the wall, or by screws and wall plugs. If ties are to be used, you need three per side. Cut recesses in the sides of the opening for the ties. If you intend screwing the frame to the wall, drill screw clearance holes in it and offer it up so these can be marked on the wall. Drill and plug the holes.

Set the frame in place, packing out the sides as necessary with wood offcuts to set them vertical. Then either fill the tie recesses with mortar and brick offcuts or insert the screws.

Fill in the gaps round the frame with more mortar and offcuts and trowel a thin layer of mortar over any exposed masonry at the sides and top before refinishing the plaster.

Finally, nail lengths of molding around the frame, mitering the corners, and trim and refit the base boards to the base of the wall.