Taking out sashes

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

By far the most serious possibility, however, is that eventually a sash cord will break and need replacing. When this happens you should replace all four, because if one goes the rest are sure to be near breaking-point. In any case the hardest part of the job is dismantling everything; fitting four new cords is very little more trouble than fitting one.

Begin by levering off the staff bead. Swing the lower sash inwards, tie a length of string to each sash cord just above the sash, and cut each cord below the knot, letting the weights down gradually to the bottom of their compartments. With the string now attached to the cord, there’s no danger of being unable to retrieve the weights from their pockets. Lift out the lower sash, remove the parting bead, pull down the upper sash and repeat the process. Lift that out too, and remove the old cord and fixing nails from each sash.

Now that you’ve got the sashes out, you can take the opportunity to do major surgery on them if necessary. Where a corner joint is rickety, dowels make a neater and more professional repair than a metal plate. You’ll need to cramp the sash firmly in place on a workbench first, both to hold it steady and to keep the joint tight while you drill the dowel holes. The joint will almost certainly be a mortise and tendon, so the best place to run strengthening dowels is sideways through the tendon, or perhaps lengthwise on either side of it.

If one of the sash members is cracked or rotten, it may be possible to remove the bad piece by sawing lengthwise, and to replace it with new timber — cut slightly too large, glued, nailed and finally planed off flush. For both these jobs, use urea-formaldehyde adhesive, which resists damp.

Sometimes a sash sticks in its channel because it has warped or swollen. In this case, removing a few shavings from the offending part with a plane may be the answer.

Use a blowlamp or chemical paint stripper to remove layers of old paint if it’s in bad condition. and then coat the timber with wood primer. Alternatively just sand the old paint- work down and spot-prime any bare patches. Then apply the rest of your paint system in the usual way.

Repairing Sash Windows

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

The sash (or double-hung) window was used a great deal on homes right into this century almost to the exclusion of any other type. It’s a period feature, often adding a touch of authentic charm. Unfortunately Sash windows can be very difficult to keep in good working order.

Sash windows actually consist of two separate windows – sashes is their proper name – each sliding vertically in its own channel. When both are closed, the sash in the outer channel is at the top, and the inner sash is at the bottom.

The channels are formed by three sets of beading, running round the inside of the frame. These are known (starting with the outermost one) as the outer, parting and staff beads. The outer and staff beads lie flat on the window frame, but the parting bead is fixed on its edge. The outer bead, in fact. may well form part of the frame itself; the other two are always separate pieces, nailed in place. For easy removal they should never be glued, or maintenance of the window becomes impossible.

How sashes work

Counterbalancing weights, each pair of which weighs the same as the sash they’re attached to, ensure that the sashes stay in whatever position you choose and don’t come crashing down – perhaps with such force that the glass is shattered. There’s a weight on each side of each sash, hidden in a compartment inside the frame. Each weight is attached to its sash by a cord that passes over a pulley at the top of the frame and is nailed to the side of the sash.

The drawback of sash windows is that it’s almost impossible to make them fully draught-proof. although some success can be achieved with brush-type draught excluders. The only sure way is to install secondary double glazing – the type that fits within the window reveal and is hinged to, or slides in. its own frame. You can’t attach fixed double glazing panels directly to each sash because they won’t slide past each other. And even if you could, the extra weight would throw the sashes out of balance. preventing the inner one from remaining in the open position and the outer one from remaining closed.

Minor repairs

However, many lesser faults can easily be cured if you know what to do. Often you needn’t even dismantle the window.

Hacking out and replacing old. crurnblinp putty, and renewing a cracked pane of glass, for example, are two jobs where dismantling the window is unnecessary. And if a pulley squeaks – just oil it.

You can even repair a sash corner joint that has begun to open up, provided you wedge the sash firmly in place while you’re working on it. All that’s needed is a flat, L- shaped metal plate which you can easily, buy: you just screw it across the corner. It looks a hit unsightly if left exposed; but you can conceal it by first chiseling out a shallow L-shaped recess to take it, and afterwards covering it with paint (not emulsion paint), Cellulose filler and then a top coat of paint – in that order, so that the water in the filler doesn’t rust the metal and discolor the paintwork.

Filler will also take care of minor cracks, dents and other blemishes in the wood. You can do a certain amount of redecorating, too, without removing the sashes. but you’ll find it hard to get a neat edge as you approach the concealed parts.

Major repairs

Some jobs, however, do call for taking the window to pieces – a procedure that’s far easier than it sounds. One such task is silencing a rattle; the root of the trouble in this case is that the beads are too far apart and need repositioning.

Pries off first the staff bead and then the parting bead on each side of the frame. There’s usually no need to interfere with the sections of beading at top and bottom, but you’ll have to take out the inner sash to get at the parting bead. To remove a bead, cut down the angle with a sharp knife first to break the paint seal and avoid tearing off flakes. Then push a chisel between it and the frame, as near the nails as you can, and spring it out gradually.

The various beads may well have become damaged over the years. In that case you can simply replace them with new ones, bought from a timber merchant (ask for them by their proper names, and he’ll understand). To lessen the risk of splitting, drill pilot holes for the nails oval nails are best. When re- fixing the beads, position them close enough to each sash to cure the rattle, but not too close. or you’ll bring about the second common fault: sashes which won’t slide freely, or at all.

The other and more likely reason for that. however, is a build-up of paint in the channels? You can’t just go on putting coat upon coat of paint when you redecorate them. and the only remedy when they jam is to sand or scrape off the paint where thrashes are binding, leaving room for the primer and one or two further coats that will have to be re-applied to the bare wood.

Treating rotten windows

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

The opening lights of windows often suffer from the same defects as hinged doors — loose joints, faulty hinges, etc — and the remedies are similar. However, you have to proceed with more care to avoid breaking the glass, especially on repairs that involve driving in wedges.

But the most common defect is rot, usually in the window sill. If the rotten section is not too extensive then you can make a repair, but if it has spread, you may find that the best policy is to remove the frame completely and fit a modern replacement window.

If the rot is in the middle of a sill, make a saw cut about 75mm (3in) each side of the rot. The cuts should be at an angle so that you remove a wedge-shaped piece from the sill. You will then have to cut a new piece to fit. Timber merchants sell standard sill sections but in the case of older houses you’ll have to buy a rectangular section and shape it yourself.

Treat the new timber and the cut ends of the existing sill with preservative. The repair is held in place with dowels set at intervals of 100mm (4in) and fixed into the frame. Smear all meeting surfaces with adhesive before finally fixing in place. For additional strength on wider sills, fit steel repair plates to the underside of the repair. Corner repair pieces are fitted in the same way, except that they are slightly more difficult to shape to the correct profile.

Remember that the outside of any window is exposed to the weather so be sure to give any new timber a coat of primer and then a good coat of gloss paint to protect it. Older properties are more likely to have sash windows and for a complete discussion on how to repair these.

Covering Roof with Asphalt

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

The method used for constructing a flat roof is outlined in the following way; the joists usually being laid along the length of the extension from the house to the end wall. At the house end, the joists may either rest on top of a wooden wall plate, being toe-nailed in place, or be nailed to metal hangers which are also nailed to the wall plate. The ends of the wall plate are set in sockets built into the extension side walls.

At the end of the extension, the joists can simply rest on top of the end wall and be nailed in place or, if there is a window in the end wall, a second wooden beam can be fitted to span the opening and support the joists.

Tapered furring pieces are nailed to the tops of the joists to create the right fall. For felt covering the fall should be 1 in 60, but for asphalt it should be 1 in 80.

Sheets of exterior grade plywood are used to provide a roof decking and are nailed down through the furring pieces into the joists. The sheets should be staggered so the joints between their short edges do not coincide.

Although a felt-covered roof is the cheapest and easiest to construct, a much more durable finish can be obtained by having it covered with asphalt. This material is heated until it melts and is then spread over the roof to provide a solid, impervious layer when it cools. It is a job that requires a great deal of skill and is one that you should get a building, contractor to do for you.

Flat roofs can often suffer from condensation when moist air passes through the ceiling from the rooms below and cools on contact with the underside of the roof — particularly with bathrooms and kitchens and when the atmosphere is damp.

Leaving ventilation gaps behind the fascia and insulating the roof will help, but the best idea is to either use foil-back gN,:psumboard for the ceiling – which will stop the moist air passing through – or staple a separate polyethelene vapor barrier to the underside of the joists before nailing the gypsum- board in place. Once the extension has been weatherproofed by glazing the windows and fitting the doors, the room can be finished. Before plastering the walls and ceiling, lay in the necessary electrical cables, mount accessory boxes and run in any pipe work for hot and cold water or central heating.


1 Nailing the roof joists into hangers attached to the main beam; toe-nail through the top of the roof joists into the main beam also.

2 Nailing furring pieces (narrow end over the front wall) to the tops of the roof joists to set a 1 in 80 fall for the roof

3 Nailing the plywood roofing sheets over the furrings: stagger the joints between the short edges.

4 After pouring hot asphalt onto the roof. smoothing it out to a layer about 3/8in thick.

Ridge, Eave, Verge, Valley, Hip tiles

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

The tiles on each side of the roof apex are sealed by ridge tiles. These span both upper courses and are bedded on mortar.

Replacement is carried out by chiseling out the old mortar and levering the old tile off. Then a new one is fitted on a fresh bed of mortar. Slate roofs are treated in the same way although sometimes they may have lead sheet wrapped over the ridge bar instead.

Gable tiles

To avoid there being a toothed pattern to the gable edge of the roof, special wide tiles and slates are made which are one-and-a-half times the normal width, allowing a square edge to be produced.

Eaves tiles

To ensure that the overlapping pattern of the roof continues at the eaves, a course of shorter tiles or slates is nailed in place so that their ends are flush with the course immediately above, but their joints are staggered by a half tile width.

Valley and hip tiles

Where two roofs meet there must be some means of joining the courses of tiles to ensure a watertight seal. It is usual to form a gutter along the angle of the join to carry water away. Use zinc sheet, or valley tiles which are nailed to the roof members and often interlock with the adjoining courses.


1 Measuring the projection of the gable-end tiles; bed the undercloak tiles face down in mortar and tuck the inner edges under the felt.

2 Setting the end tiles into mortar on the undercloak; use alternate full-width and widthand-a-half tiles to level edge.

3 Repointing the verge after the mortar has hardened; a pigment added to the mortar will make the pointing less obtrusive.

4 Checking the size of a cut tile adjoining the valley; this must allow the valley tile to be firmly bedded down beside it.

5 Working from the bottom of the valley upwards, aligning the bottoms of the valley tiles with the adjacent cut tiles.

6 Bedding the first hip tile into mortar; this must be shaped to prevent it overhanging and is supported by a hip-iron.

Renewing an Area of Slates

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

Slates are fixed to the roof in rows, or courses, each course overlapping the one below by at least half a slate length. In addition, the joins between slates in adjacent courses are staggered: in this way the joins are always covered by the slates above or below to ensure a water-tight construction.

Where the roof has a gable end, wider than normal slates are fitted to the ends of alternate courses to produce a square edge to the roof (these are known as “slate-and-a-half” slates). In addition, the edge slates at a gable end may be bedded on mortar laid on stacks of narrow slate strips known as creasing slates. These tilt the edges of the slates upwards so that rainwater runs down the roof to the gutters.

In addition to cutting them to size as described opposite, you will also have to make nail holes in them — no closer to the edge than lin. Use an old slate as a template for marking the holes.

Make the nail holes by drilling them or by driving a nail through with the slate supported on a block of wood. For safety and ease of working, do the cutting and drilling on the ground and carry the finished slates up to the roof. You will need 1 ‘Ain copper, zinc or aluminum roofing nails to hold the slates in place.

Remove the old slates from the roof using the slate ripper and starting with the upper courses of the area to be renewed. As you remove these upper slates, you will expose the heads of the nails holding the slates below. Cut these off with a pair of pincers.

Collect the slates and lower them to the ground with a bucket and rope, taking care with whole, undamaged ones, which you will be able to refit.

Having stripped off the old slates, inspect the battens below and if any are broken or rotten cut them out with a saw.

Begin fitting the new slates, starting at the lowest course and nailing them to the battens to recreate the overlapping pattern of the roof. Use two nails per slate and make sure it is fitted with the beveled lower edge uppermost to aid drainage.

Work your way up the roof, nailing the slates in place until the surrounding original slates make this impossible. Then fit the other slates with lead clips or toggle clips (see opposite) to complete the repair.

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.

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.