DIY wood floors — the basics

Filed Under: Do it yourself    by: ITC

If you are ripping out worn out carpeting and find hardwood flooring underneath your first impulse may be to lay new carpet over the wood since refinishing hardwood floors may seem like something that is out of your reach. Many homes have hardwood flooring because in the 60’s it was considered luxury for a room to be carpeted wall to wall, which of course has change quite a bit since then given most homes are now carpeted. Read more…

Tiling the gap

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

If your bathroom is tiled, or if there is a tiled splashback around the bath, the simplest solution is to bridge the gap with quadrant tiles the ceramic equivalent of wooden quadrant beading.

These are normally available singly as straight lengths with both ends cut square, or with one end finished in a bullnose, and in mitred pairs for coping with internal corners. One drawback with quadrant tiles is that they are becoming difficult to obtain, and it’s worth bearing in mind that not only can they work out quite expensive, but they also come in limited range of colors (designed to existing bathroom suites rather than tile ranges).

If you’re going to seal the gap in course of actually tiling the wall splashback, then you can fix the tiles in position and grout them in the way, 12-24 hours after the last has been pressed into place_ In to accommodate any movement, you should make sure that the Wes bedded in a thick layer of silicone where they rest on the bath’s lip.Onthe hand, if you’re faced with existing round the edge. simply bed the tiles in mastic from start to finish. using instead of grout as well.

Quadrant tiles can be used successfrAl situations where the wall is not hied—pew painted, papered or timber-ciad.

However, in the last case its worth considering the use of timber quadrant beading as an alternative. All you have to do is pin it to the cladding or fix it to clean, bare plaster using an epoxy resin adhesive.

Again, make sure that the timber is bedded in mastic where it rests on the lip of the bath, shower tray or basin. Do remember to treat the timber with a good-quality preservative (one that can be painted or varnished over) and then paint or varnish it all round, including any cut ends, before fixing it in place.

Refinishing Furniture

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

Furniture refinishing includes three basic steps:

• Removing the old finish

• Preparing the surface

• Applying the new finish

Sometimes the old furniture finish doesn’t really need to be stripped off. A good washing with TSP will get the grease off. Then roughen the surface with fine sandpaper or steel wool and coat it with varnish or clear lacquer. Do not apply lacquer over varnish, paint, or enamel. It will remove the finish just as a stripper would.

There is no way to blend a new finish with an old finish. If the furniture is badly worn, you will have to strip the finish off the entire piece. You can do this by scraping or sanding for a long time. Or you can use chemical compounds, which work much faster. Chemical strippers soften and loosen the paint quickly, and when the paint is dissolved they will begin to work on the wood and glue. For this reason, you must apply a neutralizer as soon as the last coat of paint or varnish is soft. Then rinse off both stripper and neutralizer along with the old finish.

Always handle chemical substances such as stripper with great care. Wear rubber gloves and read all instructions carefully before you begin to work.

Apply the new finish with a brush or spray can. Practice on some old wood before you begin. Apply finish evenly. Several light coats are better than one heavy one.

After the furniture is stripped to the original wood, give it time to dry. Then sand to even off the raised grain.

If you want to change the color of the wood, add wood stain. Follow up with varnish or lacquer. Instead you may want to apply paint or enamel. Refer to Units 23, 25, and 26 for more information on painting.

Chemical strippers will remove old paint, varnish or lacquer quickly. Follow instructions carefully. If the stripper needs to be neutralized be sure to do so at the proper time. Handle chemicals with care.

Scrape off loose paint with a putty knife or spray off with a garden hose. After the wood is dry, sand down the raised grain.

Sometimes you can apply a new coat of finish without stripping the piece of furniture. Clean the surface and sand it lightly so the new finish will stick. Apply a new coat of varnish or lacquer. Do not use lacquer over varnish or paint or it will act like a stripper and cause the finish below to soften and bubble up.

Apply the new finish with a brush or spray can. Practice on some old wood before you begin. Apply finish evenly. Several light coats are better than one heavy one.

Repairing Furniture

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

At one time most furniture was made of wood. Today many furniture items are made of other materials such as various kinds of plastic. In any case, it is usually less expensive to repair or refinish a piece of furniture than it is to replace it. Outdoor furniture probably gets more wear and tear than indoor furnitur’e, but it is often easy to repair. Sometimes a few minutes of your time will extend the life of a chair or table.

Besides normal wear and tear, hot, dry air can cause wooden furniture to shrink and come apart. The four most common furniture problems are:

• Wood shrinkage

• Warping

• Worn seating

• Scrapes and scratches

If table or chair legs begin to come unglued, finish knocking them apart with a soft wooden block and a mallet. Remove old glue with a dull knife or hook scraper and sandpaper. Scrape glue out of the holes, too. Remove only the old glue. If you sand off any wood, the joints will be too loose.

Use white vinyl glue and reassemble the chair or table. Wipe up any spills or runs before they dry. Then, with rope or a webbed clamp, clamp the legs in place until the glue dries.

A warped table top can be straightened. Warping is caused by uneven drying. First strip off the paint and varnish. Paint remover is dangerous. Wear rubber gloves and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Next soak the wood by piling wet newspaper, wet sawdust, or wet towels on top for four or five days. When the wood is soaked through, remove the newspaper, sawdust, or towels and place weights or clamps on the warped boards. When everything is clamped or weighted down, leave it in a warm dry room for a few days. Move the clamps each day to help the wood dry evenly and prevent cracking.

As soon as the boards have dried straight, refinish BOTH SIDES to keep more moisture from entering or leaving the wood.

This method will not straighten laminated wood. Wait until the weather changes and the laminated piece will straighten by itself. When it does, glue another piece of scrap laminate on the underside. It will remain straight.

A kitchen chair seat or back is held on with only two or four screws. The cushion is usually made of foam or cotton batting covered with cloth or plastic folded over a piece of plywood. Replace old cotton batting with foam cut to size. Polyfoam is softer and lasts longer than cotton batting without getting lumpy or hard.

Cane bottom chairs can be modernized and made more comfortable by removing the cane part of the seat. Cover the seat with a cushion of plywood, polyfoam and a cover of plastic or cloth.

To fix a small scratch on furniture use a crayon-like touchup stick. They come in various shades to match different finishes. Sometimes iodine or shoe dye will work too. If the crack is deep, fill with wood putty. When it dries, rub stick shellac over the area. Stick shellac is applied with a spatula knife heated over an alcohol lamp. Finally, rub with felt or fine steel wool. Sometimes toothpaste will rub out fine scratches

Fill deeper scratches and gouges with wood putty. Cover with stick shellac. Finally rub it down with a felt pad or extra fine steel wool.

Home Repair Tips – Door and Frames

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

Doors are subject to constant use, so it is understandable that they don’t always open and close properly. All doors have the same problems. They are caused either by the frame and door or by the hardware. Door and frame problems include:

• Swelling

• Warping

• A loose fit

Wood swells when moisture gets into it. Never sand or plane a swollen door. Wait until the weather gets drier or remove the door and keep it in a dry, warm place until the swelling goes down. If the door continues to stick even after the wood is dry, inspect it to find out where it is binding. Then lightly sand the area until the door moves freely. Seal the wood and finish with paint or varnish. The sealer and paint will keep moisture from swelling the wood again. Be sure to seal top and bottom of doors as well.

Humidity can also cause doors to warp. A warped door lets heat out in the winter and, in summer, lets heat in. You can straighten a warped door by removing the door and piling weights on the, bulging part. But it’s usually easier to pry loose the side stop and renail it to fit the warped door.

Since there is always a little swelling and shrinking, doors should be smaller than their openings. To have the door work properly but fit tightly, use weather stripping. The simplest weather stripping is adhesive-backed plastic foam. To install it, first clean the door stop. Remove grease and dirt. Then press the weather stripping along the top and side of the door frame

Seal the bottom of the door with a folding (hinged) threshold seal, or use a special aluminum-plastic strip that tacks into the threshold. You can purchase weather stripping in specific lengths or cut it to size.

Self-adhesive weather stripping is pressed along the door stop as the paper backing is removed. Since straightened doors fre quently warp again, it is easier to move the door stop to fit the door than to try to reshape the door. Remove the stop. With the door closed, draw a guide line on the frame and renail the stop along this line.

The bottom of the door can be sealed with a special strip attached directly to the door. Another type of seal, made of plastic and aluminum, fits right into the threshold.

Home Repair Tips – Painting Your Home

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

For thousands of years, natural fiber or animal hair brushes were the only things you could use to paint with. Now, however, there are several ways to apply paint:

• Brushes

• Rollers

• Pads

• Spray guns or cans

Good brushes are expensive, but they hold and distribute paint more evenly than cheap ones. The end of each bristle in a good brush is split or “flagged”. These “flags” help spread the paint evenly.

Good brushes have bristles with flag ends that hold paint and spread it evenly. Hog bristles make some of the best brushes.

Natural bristle brushes are used for varnish and oil base paint. For water base paint, use nylon (synthetic) bristles.

The right amount of paint brushed on a wall should cover well but not run. Too much paint should be brushed out evenly before it runs. Too little paint will require a second coat.

Brushes come in several sizes and shapes. for different uses. They may be large and rough for whitewashing, or small and angled to paint around the edges of doors and window frames.

Be sure to clean your brush immediately after you use it. Brushes used for vinyl or latex paints can be cleaned with water or detergent and water. Saturate others in the correct thinner. Thinner that’s been used for cleaning is fine for the first rinse. Work the thinner through the entire length of the bristles. Squeeze out the thinner.

Then soak the brush in clean thinner. Work it through again. Repeat the process several times until the brush is clean. Finally, comb the bristles with a steel comb and hang it by the handle so the bristles will dry straight. When the brush is dry, wrap it in foil or heavy paper and hang it up by the handle. Never store a good brush without protecting the bristles.

Just like brushes, rollers also come in different shapes and sizes. The roller should match the type of paint.

If you get too much paint on a roller, it will splatter. So be sure you press out the excess paint in the roller pan. Running the roller too fast will also make a roller in paint, start in a spot a short distance from where you left off and work your way back. This will help prevent heavy spots and runs.

Some rollers are worth cleaning. Others are better used once and thrown away. Clean rollers in water or the proper solvent.

Paint pads are made of the same materials as rollers. They also come in various shapes.

Painting pads also come in several shapes and sizes. Many pads are made of the same material as rollers. The big difference is that the paint is wiped on instead of being rolled on. Clean paint from pads as you would clean rollers.

Spray painting equipment can be simple or complex. Bypass guns need a compressor but not an air tank. Other. types need an air tank as well as a compressor. Some spray outfits have an electromagnetic vibrator in the gun and no hose or compressor. One type, called an airless sprayer, shoots a jet of pure paint without using any air at all. This type covers best and drifts least. Professionals use it for painting just about everything.

Always wear a mask when you spray paint. Experiment first. Test the gun before actually painting anything.

Keep the spray at right angles (90°) to the surface being painted. Start each stroke beyond the edge of the surface being painted, and move the gun with an even, parallel, back-and forth stroke. Keep it moving so paint will not build up in one spot. Too much paint will ripple, blister, or run. Spray corners and edges first.

If you must spray paint in a room, make certain it is ventilated well. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and wear a mask.

Clean spray equipment as soon as you finish. Spray the proper solvent through the gun before you take it apart. Use a tip cleaner or a broom straw to open clogged jets. A wire or nail will ruin the gun.

Spray cans are like small spray guns. A propellent gas forces paint through a spray nozzle.

Use a spray can as you would a spray gun. Never use a fanning motion. Hold the spray straight, 10 to 12 inches from the surface. Move it parallel to the surface and keep moving. If you stop for even a half second, you will get an orange-peel texture or the paint will run. Don’t change direction until you’ve passed the edge of the job and are spraying into air.

Spray can paint is even thinner than paint used in spray guns. It doesn’t cover as well and runs quicker. Two or three thin coats are better than one heavy coat. Give the paint plenty of time to dry between coats. While you’re waiting, turn the spray can upside down and spray until clear air comes out of the nozzle.

This cleans the nozzle so the paint won’t dry and clog it before you want to spray the next coat.

Because spray cans are under great pressure, they can explode, and careless handling can be dangerous. They should never be punctured or thrown into a fire. Store them in a cool place, away from hot water and heating pipes.

Home Repair Tips – Mixing Paint

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

Before you open the paint, gather at least three times as many rags and more thinner than you think you’ll need. There will be spills to wipe up and brushes or rollers to clean.

Painting begins with stirring. All paint is made of tiny grains of solid material suspended in a binder. If a can of paint sits long enough, the solid particles will settle to the bottom.

Paint can be divided into three basic types:

• Paint

• Enamel or varnish

• Lacquer

Paint has a fiat finish. Some types, like vinyl, latex, whitewash and kalsomine, clean up with water. Other paints have an oil base and use other solvents like turpentine or mineral spirits.

Painters used to stir new paint by hand with a wooden paddle. Then they strained it through cheesecloth to remove hard lumps. Now most paint stores will mix the paint for you in a machine. This distributes color evenly.

The only paint you will have to stir is leftover paint. With a stick, lift off the dried paint (the skin) that has formed on top. Wrap it in old newspaper and throw it away.

Most paint stores have paint mixers to shake up the paint. This method is better and quicker than stirring with a stick.

In time paint will separate. It should be thoroughly mixed before being used.

You can make a handy stirrer by bending a piece of steel rod 3). Attach it to an electric drill with a chuck. Place the rod all the way into the paint before starting the drill. Do not remove the rod while it is moving. Use this stirrer in an open area where nothing important will get spattered.

Enamel is paint mixed with varnish. It gives a glossy, easy-to-clean surface. Never shake enamel or varnish. Stir it slowly. Shaking will fill the can with bubbles which will show up on the painted surface. Once enamel or lacquer has been shaken, it will take about a week for the bubbles to disappear.

Lacquer is of a different chemical family. It can’t be mixed with anything. If lacquer is painted over enamel, it will soften the enamel like paint remover. However, enamel can be painted over well-dried lacquer. Lacquer, like enamel and varnish, should not be shaken. Industry is the biggest user of lacquer.

When you have all the necessary materials together, you are ready to apply the paint.

A straight steel rod can be bent into a stirrer that can be used in a hand drill. The drill must be off before placing the stirrer into or removing it from the paint can. Steady the paint can with your feet.

Shaking enamel, varnish or lacquer creates a foam that will show up as bubbles on the finished surface. NEVER SHAKE ENAMEL, VARNISH, OR LACQUER.

Building a picnic table

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Hardware    by: ITC

Building a picnic table is a hefty project. Here are some tips that will help you to build something both you and your family can enjoy.

Prep tips:

1) Placement.

Stand in the area where you think you will be placing the picnic table and think about which size and shape will work best with your yard or patio and your family size. A family of four will need a different table than a family of six.

2) Size and shape.

Do you want the normal rectangular table or do you want an octagon shape? How much sun does the space get and do you need to design a table that can hold an umbrella for shade? Will you be using your outdoor eating area for entertaining? How do you plan on accommodating guests?

3) Find a design or create one.

There are many very intricate start-to-finish details of building a picnic table but once you know the size and shape you want, you can hit the design books. Don’t forget about the internet. There are several designs available online.

If your space and family need something more creative than what is available in design books, you can try designing your own. However, review various professionally designed tables to ensure you are incorporating all the necessary elements.

Construction tips:

1) Cedar is an excellent wood for use outdoors. It is not just for closets. The oil inside cedar helps it stand up to the elements and the wood is beautiful with a nice even grain. If you include some pieces of aromatic cedar, you will also experience built-in pest control.

2) Lumber. Some designs call for the table to be made out of 2×4 pieces of lumber. 2X4 pieces of lumber work well for the support structure but 2X6 pieces seem to work better for the top and/or seating. Do not use anything smaller than 2X4.

3) Work outside. Unless you have a very large workshop, you may want to consider working on this project outside. You will need a good amount of space for cutting the long pieces of wood and for assembly. Make sure you check your weather report before beginning.

4) Use decking screws for the top and carriage bolts for the supports. Some designs call for nails to be used on the top and seating. Screws, however, work better in the event a board should get damaged and need to be replaced.

5) Paint, stain or varnish. Even beautiful cedar needs a protective coat. Most paints and stains, even outdoor ones, will fade with sun exposure. Using a varnish that will bring out the natural beauty of the wood will work better. Make sure you pick a tough varnish that can stand up to the elements and apply it properly. Marine varnish, sometimes called spar varnish, is an excellent choice for a picnic table.

If the varnish you use contains linseed oil, make sure you properly dispose of any soaked rags to avoid potential problems. As linseed oil dries, it oxidizes. As it oxidizes, it will generate heat and may cause wadded rags and towels to spontaneously combust.

As always, use diligence when dealing with any power tools. Always follow proper safety procedures including eye protection and hearing protection. If you properly build your own picnic table, it should outlast commercially available tables by years.