Top 10 Tackiest DIY Design Projects

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Redecorating    by: ITC

10. Self-Designing a Room –With all Matching Furniture

When you purchase a complete bedroom furnishing set, your house will start looking like it’s a showroom. In addition to being boring, and extremely visually hefty, it’s an indication that you do not care about an individual sense of fashion since you have let others perform your decorating job, by letting some place such as a furniture store create it for you. Read more…

Do It Yourself Sunrooms

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

Have you ever wished that you could have a sunroom in your home and just did not want to hire a contractor to get the job done? Well this is no longer the case. You now have a variety of different options that are available to you that will allow you to build your dream sunroom and you will not even have to hire that expensive contractor. You can even have a whole sunroom including the essential elements delivered right to your door step. The main idea behind these great kits is the ability to save you money while you getting that dream room.

This is an excellent idea to help you cut the costs on the overall project if you happen to have a fairly limited budget. This is due to the fact that you will not only save on the labor costs because you will be doing it yourself but also because you are completely cutting out the middle man. Possibly the best cost savings would be having it delivered directly from the manufacturer you save on the total cost of the supplies that will need. Another great advantage in doing yourself sunroom kits is that you have the ability to order an energy efficient kit that will also save you money on your overall electrical bill as well as maintenance costs over time. With today’s economy this can be an excellent benefit.

One of the important things that you need to be aware of however is that the cost of your sunroom kit will vary according to both the requirements that you may have and the overall condition of your home. If you are simply looking into building a simple sunroom on an existing cement block or deck then you will be spending less costly than it would be when you have to build a foundation as well.

If you are one of the luckier ones to have an existing concrete block it is an ideal place to install your dream sunroom. The concrete blocks are one of the best places because it is already prepared for construction and you will not have to do anything extra to it. However if you are not lucky enough to have a cement block you will need to do some careful research on the best possible place that you can place your sunroom. Also it is important that you prepare that area before you lay the beginning foundation to prevent cracks. This will increase the overall time that you will need to plan in the construction phase but it will be well worth it in the end.

As you can see there are a variety of different options available to you when you plan your dream sunroom. The more careful consideration that you do in the beginning will save you time and money in the end.

Ways To Save Money On DIY Home Improvement

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

There are a variety of different reasons as to why you may want to consider a home improvement project for your home. Maybe it is to add value to your home, or maybe still just to add some appeal to your homes overall look. No matter the reason you can do these home improvement ideas and save money while doing so.

Yes it is true that when you are looking at adding beauty to your home it can become costly but it doesn’t have to be. If you are like many in today’s economy and your home improvement funds are a little tight there are inexpensive do it yourself techniques that you can learn to implement. There are three general areas that you can look into saving yourself a lot of money when you are planning your next home improvement project.

The first and probably the most cost efficient savings tip would be to forgo the contractor. These are proven to be the most expensive part of any home remodel project and cost you tons of money so instead of hiring learn how to do the project on your own. The reason for their high price is because you will not only be paying for their services themselves but also for the materials that they purchase. Therefore instead of hiring a contractor for say a flooring job for example learn how to do it yourself or at least purchase the supplies that will be needed on your own. The materials for any small home improvement project are most generally fairly inexpensive if they are purchased through you. On the other hand however if you purchase these through your contractor they will inflate the cost of the supplies and in the end, in most cases, you will end up paying almost double for those supplies.

Another step that you can utilize to save money on your home improvement projects is to take full advantage of home improvement classes. These are great tools for you because they will teach you the basic techniques that you will need for almost any home improvement project that you are looking into. These will become a great advantage to you because with these basic skills in hand you will be able to forgo that costly contractor.

The final great money saving tip would be to pay special attention to the sales and clearance aisles of your local home improvement store. These will save you a lot of money versus paying full price. There are a lot of times in which if the store is really overstocked on that item that they will offer you additional discounts which is really great.

As you can see do it yourself home improvement does not have to become a costly affair. All you need is a few basic money saving tips and you will be well on your way to a great do it yourself home improvement project that will not cost you a fortune.

Replacing Skirting & Architraves

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

Standard features of all houses, however plain. Although each performs a specific job, they also provide ornamentation and a chance to vary decoration.

As the years pass, they’re bound to come in for a few knocks – and will most likely be covered in several layers of paint, which not only get chipped but also eventually clog up their profiles. Skirting boards, in particular, are also prone to rot if walls or floors are damp. However, since wood trim is in no way part of the house’s structure, repairs and even replacement should create no major problems.

Slight dents and cracks can often be repaired with cellulose filler – or perhaps glass fibre repair paste for larger or more accident-prone areas. In most cases you’ll have difficulty blending in the filler by hand with an ordinary filling knife. Instead, you can use a template cut to the profile of the molding from plastic sheet (a large plastic ice-cream container is ideal), or hardboard or cardboard; run it along to smooth the surface after applying the filler.

If the damage is more serious, you may be able to saw and/or chisel out the bad part to leave clean edges, and glue and pin in a small piece or pieces of prepared molding, or else plain timber shaped to fit.

If patching and filling won’t work, you need a completely new piece. This, however, can be a snag if your existing molding is one of the scores of obsolete types, because you won’t be able to match it off the shelf.

You may occasionally be able to buy something suitable – on site where an old house is being demolished or renovated, or perhaps from a demolition contractor who stocks secondhand timber. Otherwise, many joinery firms will cut a molding specially if you take in a sample of the pattern; but that’s likely to prove very expensive.

Your next option is to substitute a readily available pattern of molding throughout the room. But that’s a pity – not to say a lot of trouble – if most of it is sound. A third possibility, probably the most attractive if you only need a small piece, is to make it yourself. You can mold the shape with a power router, or perhaps a plough plane, combination plane or scratch stock.

A scratch stock consists of a piece of steel (for example part of a hacksaw blade) ground and/or filed to the profile you want. It is then clamped with screws between two pieces of hardwood in an improvised stock, and scraped along the timber till the desired shape emerges.

Externally curved moldings, such as plain chamfered skirting and architrave, can of course usually be formed with an ordinary bench plane and glasspaper. Lastly, it’s sometimes possible to make the molding up in sections from smaller ones, glued together and filled where necessary.

Clearing Blockages

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

Professional plumbers rarely relish being called out to deal with a blockage. There are specialist drain clearance firms, but they can’t always be contacted quickly in an emergency — and their charges reflect what can sometimes be the unpleasantness of the job. Drain or waste-pipe clearance is usually well within the capacity of the householder, and there are certainly few more cost-effective do-it-yourself jobs about the house.

The outlet of the sink, usually the trap immediately beneath the sink itself, is the commonest site of waste-pipe blockage. Usually the obstruction can be cleared quickly and easily by means of a sink-waste plunger or force cup. This is a very simple plumbing tool obtainable from any do-it-yourself shop, ironmongers or household store. It consists of a rubber or plastic hemisphere, usually mounted on a wooden or plastic handle. Every household should have one.

To use it to clear a sink waste blockage, first press a damp cloth firmly into the overflow outlet, holding it securely with one hand. Then pull out the plug and lower the plunger into the flooded sink so that the cup is positioned over the waste outlet. Plunge it up and down sharply half a dozen or more times. Since water cannot be compressed, the water in the waste between the cup and the obstruction is converted into a ram to clear the blockage. The overflow outlet is sealed to prevent the force being dissipated up the overflow.

If your first efforts at plunging are unsuccessful. persevere. Each thrust may be moving the obstruction a little further along the waste pipe until it is discharged into the drain gully or the main soil and waste stack.

Should plunging prove unsuccessful you’ll have to gain access to the trap. Brass and lead U-shaped traps have a screwed-in plug at the base. With plastic U-shaped and bottle traps the lower part can be unscrewed and removed – see Ready Reference.

Before attempting this, put the plug in the sink and place a bucket under the trap: it will probably be full of water unless the blockage is immediately below the sink outlet, and the chances are that opening the trap will release it. Having done so, probe into the trap, and into the waste pipe itself. You can buy purpose-made sink waste augers for this purpose, but you’ll find that a piece of expanding curtain wire, with a hook on the end. can be equally effective.

Building an Extension

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

A ground floor extension can be purpose-designed and built to suit your needs exactly, or it can be constructed from a number of standard prefabricated components purchased from an extension manufacturer. Which type you choose depends on what you will use it for. The former is ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms; the latter is more suited to laundry rooms, sun rooms, children’s play rooms, work-shops and so on, and includes simple metal-framed, full-glazed conservatories.

The most important parts of the structure of your new extension are the foundations, which support the walls and spread the load evenly across the ground. Consequently, their design is quite critical and should be carried out after consulting your local Building Code which will specify the type of foundations required for the job and the depth to which they must be dug, based on local ground conditions.

To be effective, foundations must lie on firm, stable sub-soil, and depending on the soil type this may mean digging to a depth of 3ft or more. The type of soil will also dictate the type of foundations needed, as will the method of construction of the extension.

For a purpose-built extension with brick or block walls, it is usual to lay concrete in a trench and build the walls on top but for lighter constructions, such as prefabricated buildings, a slab of concrete known as a “raft” is more common.

The most common form of foundation is the “strip” type. With these a layer of concrete at least 6in thick is spread along the bottom of the trench, leveled off, then the walls built on top. Normally, a width of 18in is quite adequate, but at depths below 3ft or on certain types of weak soil a width of 30in or more is preferable — often with steel reinforcement added.

The trench-fill foundation is filled with concrete to within 6in of the ground level and the walls begun.

The concrete for this type of foundation should be at least 20in deep and about 6in wider than the width of the wall. The sides of the trench must be vertical to prevent any possibility of the load above causing the foundations to topple.

The walls of a habitable extension to your house must be of cavity construction; that is comprising an outer leaf of bricks and an inner leaf of bricks or. more usually, concrete insulating blocks with a 2in Pit- gap in between giving a wall thickness of 1 lin, although the cavity may be 3in wide to accommodate polystyrene slab insulation and still leave an air gap.

Even if the main part of your house has solid outer walls, the Building Code specifies that your extension must be of cavity wall construction.

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.

Opening Up the Space

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Remodeling    by: ITC

Rather than wanting more rooms in your house, you may find that you would prefer fewer larger rooms. Some rooms may be too small for their intended use, while others may be too large.

Kitchens are commonly too small for comfort, particularly in older houses, which were not designed for all the equipment we take for granted today. Bathrooms too can often be cramped. Or the rooms generally may feel claustrophobic, and can often be gloomy if they have small windows or are on the shady side of the house.

Many problems of this kind can be overcome by removing part or even the entire wall between two rooms. For example, a kitchen and dining room or a dining room and living room could be combined. Removing the wall between a bedroom and small room, or even making an opening in it will provide more closet space or room for a shower.

Of course, the problem might not be one of having insufficient space in any one room, but rather poor access between rooms. It is not unusual for there to be no direct access between a kitchen and dining room, the route between them being via a hall. Making a doorway in the dividing wall, or even a pass-through, will make life much more bearable and will prevent such things as cooking smells from drifting through the house.

Whether you are making a simple pass-through or taking out an entire wall, the method is basically the same. Before making the opening, a steel, concrete or wooden beam is inserted in the wall to span the opening and support any load on it from above. Then the opening is cut out below this beam and the floor, walls and ceiling are refinished.

The most important aspect of this type of job is planning, since the wall you intend breaking through may contribute to the overall strength of the house and without it, the building may come crashing about your ears. Walls fall into two categories — load-bearing bearing and non-load-bearing — and you must identify which it is before starting work.

If you are in any doubt about this stage of the job, consult a structural engineer or architect. You may have to submit plans of the job to your local building department. They will be concerned that you don’t breach the Building Code and will pay particular attention as to how you intend supporting the wall above the opening and also — in the case of enlarged rooms — to the amount of light and ventilation the new room will have. If you intend making an opening in one of the exterior walls, you generally must apply for a building permit. Always check your local code before beginning any job.

Other points to bear in mind when considering this kind of work are that you will need to completely redecorate the new large room and you will also have to do something about heating. Previously you could heat two small rooms separately, now you will have to heat one large one and so you may need to upgrade any heating appliances.

Pipe and cable runs in the wall you are to work on should also be dealt with by rerouting them before work begins. If you are only making a doorway or hatch, moving its position slightly may avoid the need to reroute the services.

The job involves a lot of dust and debris, even if you are only making a small opening, so if at all possible remove all of the furnishings from the rooms affected. Cover anything else with dust sheets and lay a thick plastic sheet on the floor on which the debris and rubbish can be collected.

Plastering Corners

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

The main problem when plastering corners, whether external or internal, is getting a good, sharp angle. You will face a similar problem at the junction between the wall and ceiling. However, the techniques for dealing with both types of corner are not difficult to master.

There are two forms of guide you can use for forming an external corner: a timber batten or purpose-made metal beading.

The wooden batten is used as a thickness guide for the floating coat then the finishing coat on each wall. Nail it on to one wall so that it projects by the right amount beyond the other and use as a ground for that wall. Then, when the plaster has set, move it round the corner and repeat the process. Any sharp ridges on the apex of the corner should be sliced off with the trowel blade and then the corner rounded off with a block plane or rasp. With wallboard you must tape the angle first.

Two depths of metal beading are available to deal with masonry or gypsum board-clad walls and they can be fixed in place with plaster or galvanized nails. On wallboard, nails must be used. The beading acts as a ground for the floating coat on masonry walls. Before this hardens, cut back the level to allow for the finish coat. Trowel off flush with beading, leaving the nose exposed to provide a knock-resistant corner.

For dealing with internal corners, you need a long wood rule. Use this to rule the floating coat outwards from the corner.

After keying the floating coat, cut out the angle by running the corner of the trowel blade up and down it, holding the blade flat against each wall in turn. This will produce a sharp angle. The finish coat should be treated in the same manner. The final job is to hold the short side of the blade against one wall so the long side is just touching the fresh plaster. Hold the blade at 30′-40° and gently run it down the corner.

For finishing corners where both walls have been plastered, use a special V=shaped angle trowel. This produces a constant right angle in the fresh plaster. Load a small amount of plaster onto the angled blade of the trowel and run it lightly down the angle.


1. Reinforcing the external corner of a masonry wall with angle-bead; set it into blobs of plaster, 12in apart.

2. Plastering one wall; work away from the corner, using the nose of the bead as a thickness guide.

3. Plastering the adjoining wall in the same way: leave the nose just visible. Score the surface of both walls.

4. Applying the finishing coat, this time covering the nose: round off the corner by running a wet finger along the bead.

5. Securing angle-bead to the internal corner with galvanized nails; nail through the drywall into the stud.

6. Applying a coat of finishing plaster, working away from the corner; the nose should be left visible in this case.

Setting Out For Plaster

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

One problem the beginner faces when tackling a plastering job is that of producing a floating coat that is uniform in thickness and level over the entire wall. The answer is to divide the wall into sections and use the dividers as depth guides.

Space the dividers as close together or as far apart as you like, but a suitable distance is about 3ft.

There are various methods for dividing the wall into bays, and a traditional way is to trowel narrow strips of plaster from floor to ceiling. Known as “screeds”, these strips of plaster are allowed to harden, then more plaster is spread on the wall between them and brought up to their level, using a long straightedge placed across the screeds to check.

The problem with the screening method is being able to get the plaster strips to the right thickness in the first place. Small blocks of wood, known as “dots”, can be fixed to the wall at the top and bottom of the screed position and used as thickness guides by setting a straightedge between them.

An easier way is to use wooden “grounds”. These are lengths of planed, %in thick by about 2in wide softwood, which are fixed to the wall with masonry nails. Since you plaster only one bay at a time, you need only two grounds per wall and, therefore, you can move them along as you work.

After setting out the first bay, you can apply a floating coat between the two wooden grounds, striking it off level with a long wooden straightedge called a “rule”. Then, having let the plaster harden off for a while, you should carefully pull one ground from the wall and nail it back on further along the wall to make a second bay.

Continue applying the floating coat in this way until you have completed the job.

When fitting wooden grounds it is essential that they are set vertically, otherwise the plaster surface will be out of true. Use a long mason’s level to check that they are upright and, if necessary, slip small wooden shims as packing pieces behind the grounds to bring them into line.

An alternative to using wood grounds is the metal screed bead which you can buy from your builder’s supply house. It does the same job as the ground but is designed to be left in place on the wall; it disappears under the finishing coat of plaster.

The center of the bead is formed into a raised, inverted U-shape, the depth of which is equal to the depth of the floating coat, and on each side there is expanded metal mesh. You can cut it by snipping through the mesh with metal snips then sawing through the bead with a hacksaw.

Beading is fixed to the wall with “dabs” — blobs of plaster troweled on to the wall. Push the beading into the dabs then check with a level.

Allow the plaster to harden off and then use the beads as thickness guides for the floating coat.