Remodeling Your Basement

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

The basement always seems to be the number one home improvement that everyone seems to want to do but they just do not seem to know where to start. What might be a shock to many of these people is that it can be actually one of the easiest as well as one of the most affordable ways to add value to their home.

If you are a beginner to the home improvement world you may be better off to hire a professional for certain aspects of your basement home improvement. But one thing that you will soon discover is that with a little planning and preparation remodeling your basement can actually become a very simple project overall.

The first thing that you will need to consider in your basement home improvement project would be the plumbing and patching. If you are looking at a place to entertain your family and friends you will need to definitely need to make sure that you have adequate plumbing. You need to make sure that you have all the pipes that you are going to need installed before you even begin your remodeling project. After you have finished your entire plumbing project you will then want to make sure that you patch up all of the cracks in your floor and walls patched.

The next thing that you will want to do in your basement home improvement project would be to work on the electrical portion of the project. It is important that you make sure that you install enough outlets to fit all of your needs.

After you have made sure that you have all of your plumbing, walls patched and electrical finished you are then ready to begin on the drywall. This is one of the easiest methods that you can use to form a tight seal between the cement and your new wall. You need to be sure that you use an industry grade cement sealer to be sure that the drywall adheres to the wall correctly. While you are working on the drywall you will also want to take the time to drop your ceilings as well. When you are looking at the variety of different ceiling tiles that are available the acoustical tiles have been the most popular choice. They are both appealing to the eye and also gives the household easy access to certain utilities.

The final thing you need to consider on your basement home improvement project would be the flooring. Due to the fact that the floors of basements are most generally cold it is a very good idea to add a subfloor. This will provide you with more warmth as well as a dryer environment for your basement space.

As you can see undergoing a basement remodel as your home improvement is not a difficult task. It can be a very rewarding project when you reach the finish project and you know you did it all by yourself.

Screening a solid floor

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

Screening your floor gives vital protection to a new layer of damp proofing and is an essential preparation before replacing floor covering.

It can be done in two ways. If the unevenness is slight, or you want to cover the existing flooring without lifting it, the best method to use is a self-leveling flooring compound. Make sure your floor is clean, dry and dust-free. If it is at all dusty, you should treat it with a proprietary concrete sealer before applying the flooring compound.

Mix the compound with water until it has a creamy consistency, and then pours enough on the floor to cover an area just under 1 sq m (1sq yd). Using a steel float smooth it out so that nowhere is the layer thicker than 3mm (Vain).

Then move onto the next square. Remembering that the compound will level itself out, so removing float marks and producing an acceptable finish. Leave it for a week or longer before laying the flooring. A second application, to smooth out slight lumps and bumps, can be applied after two or three days, but no more than three coats should be used otherwise there will be a risk of cracking at a later date.

The second method of leveling, using a mortar screed, is slightly more arduous but it does give the damp-proof membrane greater protection. Working from the far end of the room towards the door, divide the flood into strips about 1m (3ft) wide using 50 25rnrn (2 x line) softwood battens, and use more battens around the walls. Make sure that they are level with a spirit level, and if they aren’t, pack them out with scrap wood.

It is vital that you get all the battens level because they serve to guide you when you start laying the screed. If you don’t have them level, then your screed won’t be true and that’ll cause more problems when you come to lay the final surface. Cover the floor. a section at a time, with a 1:3 cement to sharp sand mortar, mixed with the minimum of water to the consistency of brown sugar_ Using a stiff board, scrape jt level with the battens and tamp it slightly as you go, using a steel float to give it a smooth finish.

To get the best finish to your screed keep the blade damp to stop the surface from dragging, but don’t make it too wet. When you complete each section remove the guide batten furthest from you and fill in the resulting channel before tackling the next section.

If you lay a screed during a warm dry spell it’s advisable to lay a plastic sheet over it for at least three days. This stops the mortar drying out too quickly and lets it cure properly. Even in milder weather it’s still best to sprinkle water gently over it twice a day for a few days. If the mortar dries out too quickly it will be below strength and will probably crack as it dries. Finally make good the walls and replace the skirting.

The big drawback with this method is that it raises the level of the floor by 25mm (1 in). Strictly speaking you should dig out the existing floor to the required level before starting, but this carries the risk of damaging any existing damp-proof membrane. One way of accommodating the extra thickness is to trim the bottom of the doors and build up any existing external doorsteps.

Do make sure that you don’t reduce the floor/ceiling height below the Building Regulations minimum of 2.3m (7ft 6in) and remember to do something about the change in level at the door thresholds: a shallow ramp is better than a shallow step.

There is another option, and that is not to lay a membrane at all. Instead you select flooring that can be laid using cement-based flooring adhesive. The former lets the damp through. so you should choose material that won’t be harmed by it, and the latter acts as a sort of damp-proof membrane itself.

But. as it is a makeshift solution. it will not always work and there is nothing to stop the damp rising through the walls. The floor will therefore be attacked from the edges. which can be just as harmful and the result will be that the whole floor will eventually have to be replaced, not only giving you extra work but also further expense.

DIY: Home Improvements that you might leave to a professional

Filed Under: Home repair, Remodeling, Services    by: ITC

Some DIY work is fun and easy. However, through the years we see people trying to do things that might be better left to a professional. If you have a DIY project and know what you are doing, just go for it. But, in some cases, just take care because it can be really daunting to start working on it by yourself. Check these examples of DIY home improvement project that are too difficult for most laymen.

Brick Paths

You might think that using some bricks to form a road is a landscaping idea that will bring harmony to your lawn. While this might be the case for a professionally made brick structure, it is not for everyone. It is difficult for an amateur to create a perfectly flat surface on which to lay the bricks, and if you are not careful, you might wind up with an uneven row of bricks that go up and down.

Instead of buying lots of bricks to create a path, why not lay uneven stones, which do not have to be perfectly flat, and fill the joints with cement?

Removing Wallpaper

Unless you have removed wallpaper before and know how to do it professionally, there is a good chance that you will destroy the drywall. Wallpaper removal is a tedious and difficult process. It can take several weeks for a single room and there’s no turning back.

However, painting over the wallpaper is not that terrible an idea. The wallpaper will give texture to the result and it may well be aesthetically appealing.


A drywall patching can be difficult. It is often better to leave it for a professional instead of doing it as a DIY home improvement project. It does not cost much if you provide the materials and you’ll love it when your walls are completely smooth.

Deck Building

Perhaps you think your backyard deserves a deck. If this is the case, it might be necessary to hire a professional. Regarding DIY and home improvements, this is much harder than it seems. Many decks are attached to the roof to create more stability, but an amateur can indeed destroy the house structure.

For all other projects, no matter how simple they are, carefully plan what you’re going to do and have clear instructions at hand so you can proceed step-by-step.

Plastering Techniques

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

Plaster is an excellent and inexpensive material for giving a smooth, hard surface to an internal wall so that it is ready for painting or wallpapering.

There are many types of plaster, but they can be divided into two basic types: gypsum-based and cement-based. The former are used solely for indoor work, whereas the latter are mainly used outdoors for rendering walls. Cement- based plasters do have a use indoors. however, and that is to finish external walls that might be subject to damp penetration; damp will attack a gypsum plaster and cause it to crumble.

Modern plasters come premixed with lightweight fillers such as perlite or vermiculite, which give a higher degree of thermal insulation and fire resistance and should be mixed with clean water.

Plaster is normally applied to the wall in two layers. The first, called a “floating” coat, is intended to even out the irregularities in the wall surface, so it is kept fairly thick — about 3/sin being usual. The second, finishing coat is spread much thinner Ysin or so — and carefully toweled off to a smooth finish.

Different types of building materials absorb water at different rates and if too much water is absorbed from the fresh plaster, it will dry too quickly and crack.

For example, bricks and lightweight building blocks absorb water quickly and are termed high suction surfaces. On the other hand, materials such as concrete and gypsum board do not absorb water that quickly and are termed low suction. You must choose a plaster to match the surface; but if in doubt, the best thing to do is coat the entire wall with a bonding agent which will make a low suction surface.

Browning plaster should be used for the floating coat on high suction surfaces and Bonding plaster on low suction surfaces. Finish plaster can be used for the finishing coat in both cases.

Only buy plaster as you need it since it has a limited shelf life. A 22lb bag of Browning or Bonding plaster should cover an area of about 1.8yd2 at a depth of 3/sin. The same quantity of Finish plaster, spread thinly, should cover an area about 6yd2.

In addition to a couple of clean buckets and a long level, you will need some special plastering tools: a spot board about 3ft square and supported on trestles or an old table to hold the mixed plaster while you work; a hawk for carrying small quantities of plaster to the wall; a rectangular metal plasterer’s trowel: a wooden float for producing flat surfaces (with a few nails knocked into the end it can double as a “scratcher” for scoring the floating coat before applying the finishing coat): and a 5ft length of 1 x 3in planed wood for leveling the plaster surface.

Cleanliness is essential when mixing plaster. since any dirt present in the mix will affect the drying time. Always use clean tap water for mixing and have a separate bucket of water for cleaning the tools as you work.

Mix the plaster and water in equal volumes in a clean bucket, adding the plaster to the water by sprinkling it on top and breaking up any lumps between your fingers. When the water has soaked into all the plaster, use a thick piece of wood to stir the plaster into a smooth consistency, (Finish plaster should resemble runny ice-cream). and make sure there are no lumps.

Wet the spot board and turn out the plaster on to it, kneading it with the trowel. If the mix appears too wet, sprinkle on a little more plaster and mix in with the trowel.

Home Repair Tips – Improving The Appearance of Your Home

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

There are many ways to improve the appearance and value of a home. With the widespread use of drywall two of the most common improvements are:

• Wall trim

• Paneling

Wall trim includes molding and baseboards. Molding comes in various styles and covers the places where wall and floor and where wall and ceiling meet. It is used to cover the rough edges at the ceiling and floor when walls are paneled_ Molding may also cover joints or nails where paneling meets.

Baseboards are high moldings that run along the wall at floor level are often damaged by vacuum cleaners, shoes, toys, and similar objects. Baseboards are usually nailed down lightly so they can be easily removed or replaced.

Paneling comes in 4′ x 8′ sheets and is made of wood, plastic, rock, cork, or some other material. Several years ago paneling was nailed in place. Today much of the new paneling is glued.

Sometimes a panel will come loose. If the loose part is over a stud or joist, it can be nailed down with a colored finishing nail. When the loose section is not over a stud or joist, panel cement can be forced behind the loose panel. Pound the area with a mallet and padded block while the glue is drying to push it tightly against the wall.

The best way to repair a damaged panel is to replace the entire panel. This may be difficult to do if the panel has been glued and nailed. First carefully remove the molding and baseboard. Then use a thin chisel to pry a corner of the panel loose in order to break the panel free from the glue.

Use the old piece as a pattern for cutting the new piece. Remove old glue from the studs or drywall. Apply new panel cement and press the new panel into place. Pound the panel with a mallet and padded block. Drive several small nails into the panel to hold it down while the glue dries. Afterwards, set the nails with a nail set and cover the holes with a putty stick. Large pieces of old paneling may be kept for patchwork.

Baseboards are a type of molding that run along the bottom of a wall next to the floor. They protect the walls and are not difficult to remove or replace.

Adhesives for gluing panels come in tubes and are applied with a calking gun. Move a cloth-covered block over the face of the panel while striking the block with a mallet. This spreads the glue.

Wood trim is used around the ceiling and around the floor especially where wall paneling has been installed.

Modern buildings need continual upkeep and repair. Roofs must withstand harsh weather and keep the inside of the house dry. Doors and windows are subject to frequent use, and they wear out or break. If not kept in good repair, these things can become a nuisance or a more serious problem.

Home Repair Tips – Wall Repairs

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

Older walls and sometimes even new ones will need some repair before finishing. The most common wall repairs include:

• Dents

• Small holes

• Large holes

• Nail pops

• Split tape

You can repair dents by sanding around them, trowling joint compound (spackle) into the dent, and finally smoothing out the area. This is essentially plastering. Once it is dry, you can sand, seal, paint, or wallpaper the patch to match the rest of the wall.

Small holes are repaired like dents. A wad of newspaper behind the hole will prevent the joint compound from falling between the walls.

For large holes, you will have to patch a piece of drywall into place. Remove all loose material from around the hole with a utility knife. Then cut a piece of drywall to fill the hole. If the patch doesn’t rest on solid wood, set a screw in the patch to use as a handle. After the joint compound hardens, remove the screw and plaster the whole patch with joint cement. Then sand the patch to match the rest of the wall.

When the house framing expands or shrinks, nails pop and become visible under the paint or wallpaper. If the nails are tight, just drive them back below the surface with a claw hammer. Plaster the dent with joint compound. If the nails are loose, pull them if it won’t damage the wall, or drive them so deep they won’t come out again. Then drive new nails nearby. Cover the nails with joint cement. Use only drywall nails. Regular nails will rust when covered with joint cement.

Split tape is caused by the house settling. The tape will bulge like a bubble or blister or actually crack. Cut and pull off the loose tape. Remove all the loose tape or it will split again. Then sand the area and spread a thin coat of joint compound over it. With a wide putty knife work the tape into this compound. Plaster over the tape with compound. When it is dry, sand it.

Bathroom and kitchen walls are sometimes covered with ceramic tile. When a tile is cracked, it should be replaced. Start by removing the tile and old grout. You may have to break the tile with a hammer and chisel.

Repair large holes by cutting a piece of drywall to fit the hole. Cement the patch and hold it in place with a handle made from a screw. When it has dried, remove the screw and plaster, sand and finish the whole area.

Sometimes it is necessary to back a hole with newspaper when filling a hole with spackle or patching plaster. A piece of wire screen or plasterboard works well also.

Most wall repair is essentially plastering. On drywall, use drywall cement or spackle to fill the hole. Wood walls are repaired with wood putty.

Nail pops that are tight can simply be driven back in with a hammer and a nail set. Loose nails should be pulled or driven in. Drive a new nail nearby.

Although the tile is usually set in a special cement, it is much easier to glue the replacement tile with white epoxy cement. The wall must be dry. Use a putty knife or cover your finger with a piece of plastic or cellophane and work the epoxy around the tile to match the old grout. Hold the tile in place until the epoxy begins to set.

Clean all cement off the tiles before it hardens.

Wallpaper is difficult to repair. To replace a greasy or torn spot, carefully tear a piece of matching wallpaper from the front of the patch so the backing will be torn away from the edges. Remove the old piece. Match the pattern and paste down the new patch. The seams will always be slightly visible, but the ragged edges will make them less obvious.

Sometimes wallpaper bulges loose in a bubble. Cut a small slit in the bubble and force paste behind it, in order to work the bubble down. The cut is less visible if it is made along a straight line in the wallpaper pattern.

Remove all tape that is loose. Spread joint compound over the area and work new tape down with a putty knife. Then plaster over.

An uneven piece of wallpaper is less noticeable than one that is cut straight. Tearing the backing off the edges will make it even less obvious.

Gluing tiles with white epoxy cement is easier than using grout. The cement must be spread by hand to look like grout. Protect your finger with a piece of plastic.

Home Repair Tips – Finishing Walls

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

Walls are the first thing anyone entering your home will see. They should be kept clean and in good repair.

There are many ways to finish walls. Probably the most common is painting. Paint preserves and beautifies many objects. It protects metal from rust, wood from mildew and plastics from sun damage. Paint also makes them easier to clean.

There are many types of wall coverings. Paper, plastics, and fabrics are some. Wall coverings can be prepasted and pretrimmed. Some are washable; and some are even treated for easy removal at a later date.

Paneling is easy to care for, and there are many different types to choose from.

Whatever type of wall finish you use, the job should be clean and neat. You should also know some of the chemistry of the materials and surfaces you are working with—what will mix and what may explode.

Painters will always have work. Even if the perfect paint—one that never wears out—is discovered, there will always be someone who doesn’t like the color!

Drywall is soft. It is best held in place with large headed drywall nails, screws or staples.

To prevent nails and seams from showing, nails are dented into the walls. The dents are then filled with drywall cement. Then you cover the seams with drywall tape and plaster over with drywall cement.

Finishing drywall seams. Apply compound over the seams and nail impressions. Work the tape into this compound. Smooth over, allow to dry, and sand.

In many modern houses, interiors are finished with drywall. Drywall normally comes in sheets, 4′ x 8′, 4′ x 10′, or 4′ x 12′. It is usually 5/16, 3/8, 1/2 or 5/8 inch thick. The most common size is 3/8 inch thick 4′ x 8′.

Drywall sheets are nailed to the house joists with large headed nails, screws, or staples. Nails are driven so that a small dent is made in the drywall. This depression is then filled with a type of cement and covered over with tape

There are three basic ways to finish drywall:

• Painting

• Wallpapering

• Paneling

You may apply paint directly to drywall. New drywall usually takes two coats: one to seal it and one to present an even, finished surface.

Wallpaper is becoming popular again. It comes in rolls and is applied directly to the drywall. Before it will stick, the drywall must be prepared with a glue-like coating of sizing. The trick in applying wallpaper is to avoid bubbles and match the edges and the pattern precisely.

Paneling is glued or nailed directly onto the drywall. Panels may be veneer, wallboard, imitation masonry, or some other material.

Moldings and baseboards finish off walls and ceilings. In older homes they are always made of wood. Most new molding and baseboard is made of synthetic materials which are more flexible and less likely to crack when nailed into place.