Renewing an Area of Roof Tiles

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

If several tiles are damaged over a relatively small area of the roof, it is probably just as easy to re-tile that area than attempt to replace tiles individually. Buy enough tiles to do the job with a few spares in case you break any.

Always stack the tiles out of the way, since they are easily broken and always carry them on edge rather than flat on top of each other — that way they are less likely to break under the weight.

As with renewing an area of slates, you must recreate the original overlapping pattern of the tiles to ensure that the roof retains its strength and is also waterproof.

Unlike slates, you cannot cut tiles to size, so you must make sure you get the right number of special tiles for finishing off courses at gable ends and for making up the eaves course. You will also need a supply of 11/4in copper, zinc or aluminum roofing nails for fixing the tiles to the battens. If the tiles are of the interlocking type held to the battens by clips and nails, you must buy sufficient clips as well.

Wooden wedges, as described opposite, will be needed for lifting the tiles surrounding the repair so that the old tiles can be lifted from underneath them and the new ones hooked in place.

Begin at the top of the damaged area, working downwards and removing tiles as described opposite. Once you have removed a few from the upper courses, you will expose those below so that you can simply lift them off. If they are nailed down, cut off the nail heads with pincers.

The tiles will be heavy and brittle, so handle them with care and lower them to the ground with a bucket and rope. Keep perfectly good tiles for re-use.

Once the tiles have been removed you can inspect the roof structure below. This will comprise the tile battens and, in most cases, below them a layer of roofing felt. Brush off any dirt and dust and pull any remaining nails from the battens with pincers.

Begin fitting the new tiles along the bottom of the repair area, working your way up the roof. Hook the nibs of the tiles over the battens and nail every third or fourth course down for extra security.

As you work, use the wooden wedges to lift the surrounding tiles so that those below can be lifted into place. Make sure any interlocking types are properly linked together and if these are normally held to the battens with clips and nails, fit these to every course.

Continue to the last tile, fitting it in the same way as described opposite. If retaining clips are used on the tiles you will not be able to fit a clip to the last tile, but the weight of its neighbours will hold it down.

Gaps between the overlapping tiles at the edges of the roof should be pointed with mortar. First coat the edges of the tiles with a bonding agent and then mix some more into the mortar before you use it.

Replacing Single Roof Tile

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

Because the tile you want to replace will be hooked over the batten, you need some means of lifting the adjacent tiles sufficiently to be able to lift the broken one from the batten. The best method is with wooden wedges which you can cut from lengths of 2 x lin batten, about 6in long. You will need two of these and more if the tiles are of the interlocking type.

Push the wedges beneath the tiles of the course above the broken one so there is a big enough gap for the nibs (lugs along the top edge edge of the tile) to clear the batten. Lift the tile up and remove it. If you can not get hold of it because the end has broken off, slide the blade of a bricklayer’s trowel underneath the remaining portion and use this to lift it clear.

If it is nailed in place, try wiggling it from side to side, which may pull the nails free. If not, you will have to cut through the nails with a slate ripper, a pair of pincers or a hacksaw blade.

If the tile is of the interlocking type, you will have to wedge up one of its neighbors to free it.

Fit the replacement tile by lifting it into place with the trowel blade, hooking the nibs over the batten — without nailing; the tiles above will hold it fast.

Remove the wedges carefully to lower the surrounding tiles, making sure any interlocking ridges are properly engaged and that all tiles are sitting flat.

To remove a broken slate you will need a tool called a slate ripper. This has a thin, barbed blade for cutting through the two fixing nails, which are hidden by the slates above. Slide the ripper up under the broken slate, feeling for the nails. Hook the blade over one and tug downwards sharply to slice through it. Repeat for the second nail and slide the slate out.

If you have to cut the slate to size, scribe the size on its face and set it over the edge of a wooden batten; cut along the line with the heel of a trowel.

The new slate cannot be nailed in place because of the slates above. Instead, it is retained by a lead strip measuring 9 x lin. Nail this to the batten (visible below the two exposed slates) with a galvanized nail.

Carefully lift the slates above and slide the new one into place so that the beveled edge along the bottom is uppermost. Bend up the end of the lead strip to retain it then make a second bend for extra strength.

Slates at the gable end of a roof will need a horizontal clip to stop them from sliding off the edge.


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

Because roofs are so far from the ground you must make sure that you have both a safe means of reaching the roof and a safe working platform once you get there. You can reach the roof by a normal extending ladder, but you must take steps to prevent it toppling over. Always set the feet so that they are about a quarter of the ladder’s length away from the wall against which it is leaning.

On concrete you can prevent the feet from slipping by standing them on a piece of sacking. On soft ground, set them on a board with a batten nailed on the edge as a stop. Drive stakes into the ground to stop the board moving. You can also tie the feet of the ladder to stakes driven into the ground.

Tie the top of the ladder to a screw-eye fixed to the fascia board or even to a batten spanning the inside of a window opening, and make sure it extends beyond the eaves by at least 3ft. Do not rest it on the guttering, which could break under the weight; rent a ladder stay to hold it away from the gutter, propped against the wall below the fascia.

If the work you are doing means carrying up bulky materials, you would be better off renting a staging tower which will provide a platform at roof level for stacking materials. These are sectional in construction and often have wheels at the bottom for maneuvering them into position.

If you use a staging tower always make sure it is set on firm, level ground (with boards under the feet if necessary), that any wheels are locked up and that it is fitted with outriggers or tied to the building to stop it toppling. Construct a platform at the top from stout boards, making sure there are toe boards round the edges and a handrail. Always climb up inside the tower and not on the outside, and do not lean ladders against the tower.

Roof tiles and slates are easily broken, so you must have some means of spreading your weight as you climb across them. The best way is with a roof or “cat” ladder. This has a large hook, which locates over the ridge of the roof, and usually a pair of small wheels. The wheels allow you to run the ladder up the roof before turning it over to engage the hook over the ridge of the roof.

While you can do many jobs working from a roof ladder, for any major work on a chimney, it is better to build a staging tower around it, supporting the feet on boards to spread the weight.


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

Of all the sections of the staircase likely to suffer damage, the handrails come top of the list. Yet they play an important safety role by preventing people from falling down the stairs and so must be kept in good repair.

The balusters are the most vulnerable part of the assembly and may become loose or broken.

A loose toe-nailed baluster can be tapped free with a mallet and block of wood, the nails removed and the holes opened out with a drill to accept countersunk screws. Then glue and screw it in place.

If the ends of the baluster are held by mortise joints, you can stop the baluster rattling about by driving narrow wedges into the gaps around the ends, having first smeared them with glue. Cut the ends of the wedges flush with the surface of the string or handrail as appropriate. Sometimes, the balusters are held by thin strips of wood nailed in place between the ends of adjacent balusters. In this case, carefully prise off the strips on each side of the loose baluster and replace them with slightly longer ones.

If the baluster is actually broken, you can either replace it with a new one (assuming you can get one to match) or glue it back together, reinforcing the joint with dowels or screws. Toe-nailed balusters are easily removed as described above, as are those held by nailed-on capping pieces. However, if they are mortised into the string and handrail, you may have to saw through the ends to remove the baluster. Then glue blocks of wood into the mortise, plane them flush, cut the new baluster to fit and glue and screw it in place as you would a skewnailed version.

If a section of handrail is broken, you can make a simple repair by screwing a metal plate underneath across the break. Alternatively, you- can cut out a section and fit a new piece, using special handrail bolts or screws.

These need matching holes in the ends of the old and new rail, and the easiest way of marking them is with a paper template that matches the profile of the rail with the hole center marked on it. Hold the template over the end of each piece and mark the hole center by punching through with a nail. Additional holes must be drilled or cut with a chisel into the underside of the rail so that the nuts securing the bolt can be tightened.

Newel posts are unlikely to break, but if they do, they must be replaced completely. To remove it, you will have to lift the adjacent floorboards and unbolt the base from the joists. Then drive out the dowels holding the handrail and string to it. Finally, tap the newel post free — it may help to cut it into sections with a saw.

Use the old post as a guide for marking out the new one, making sure the mortises and dowel holes are all positioned correctly. Treat the base of the post with preservative and refit it, gluing the string and handrail in place and reinforcing the joints with fresh dowels.

Whether you are installing a new staircase or simply repairing an existing one, the range of components available in kit form makes the task much easier.

The stairs may be ready-assembled and consist of 12 or 14 treads for a full flight or six treads for a half-flight; they are available with or without risers (for closed or open tread styles) and bullnose steps allow extra versatility at floor-level.

The newels, baluster spindles, rails and fittings are manufactured in a wide variety of styles, from traditional to contemporary. The timber, which includes mahogany and hemlock, is usually sanded ready for varnishing or staining.

Repairs to Stair Treads

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

Actual physical damage to stair treads is rare and will probably be limited purely to split or broken nosings. These can be repaired by cutting them off flush with the riser below, using a chisel, and pinning on a new molding.

A much more common problem, particularly in older houses, is creaking as a result of the treads becoming loose. The ease with which this can be fixed depends very much on whether you can get to the underside of the stairs or not. If you can, simply pin and glue 2 x 2in triangular blocks of wood between the treads and risers below, and drive screws up through the tread into the riser above. This is the only way you can fix a staircase with closed strings.

If the staircase has one or two cut strings, you can make the repair from above. First prise off the molding from below the tread nose and the molding holding the foot of the baluster in place, using an old chisel. Run a hacksaw blade along the gap between the back of the tread and upper riser. cutting through any fixings. Alternatively, cut through the riser itself with a backsaw. Drive a chisel blade between the tread nose and riser and lever it free. Then you can remove the risers if damaged.

If necessary. cut a new tread and riser from wood of the same size as the originals.

If one of the strings is closed, glue and pin supporting blocks to it for the ends of the riser and tread. Use offcuts of the tread and riser wood as positioning guides to ensure a tight fit. Then glue and pin the riser in place.

Pin and glue more blocks to the top of the lower riser and then glue the tread on top, strengthening the bond by driving screws or nails down through the ends into the cut string or strings. Do not drive any screws or nails through the leading edge of the tread as they may become exposed as the tread wears.

Refit the baluster, pinning it to the handrail and then pin the retaining molding to the end of the tread. Finally, refit the molding beneath the tread nose.

If you can reach the underside of a closed string staircase, you can replace treads or risers by removing their retaining wedges with a chisel and sliding the damaged parts out. Slot the new pieces in and fit new wedges. If a carriage runs down the centre of the stairs, however, the work is best left to a joiner or builder.