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Sip & Fix it DIY

Q. We had a fire in a sitting room which left a lot of smoke damage on one of the walls, I tried painting over it but the stain keeps oozing back out, any solution? 

A. Smoke or fire damage can leave very hard to block out stains on the wall. There is a product I’ve come across called Seal Lock which works quite well on this type of nagging problem. All you do is paint on the seal lock, and after about half an hour, apply your next coat. Do bear in mind that this product is very fast drying.

  • 1 min read

Q. Can I repaint the ceramic wall tiles in my kitchen, as I would like to change the color to match some new cabinets. S Greene.

A: Yes you can. All you have to do is get yourself a one litre tin of a preparation product ESP which you’ve probably seen lauded on numerous home TV DIY shows, about 2.1/2 litres of each good quality oil based undercoat and gloss and a decent paint brush or small smooth roller from any DIY or paint store, and you are half way there. For an extra special, smooth finish, pick up a litre tin of Owatrol oil as used by most of the professional decorators, (in the old days people used white spirits to thin the paint which was very detrimental to the paint quality and ruined hiding power) as this will help the paint flow out beautifully without ugly brush marks or streaks. It also helps the paint adhesion, hiding power and gloss retention.

Add about 20% Owatrol to the undercoat and about 10% to your top coat. About £60 or so should cover all the paint materials, which gives you an extremely cost effective color change! Start the job by cleaning the surface properly with warm water & sugar soap. Wipe on the ESP to the tile surfaces thoroughly with a clean lint free cloth. Leave it 10 minutes or so at normal room temperature, and then wipe off gently with another clean lint free cloth taking care to turn the cloth repeatedly as a certain amount of dirt will come off in the cloth. (Follow instructions carefully – there is a new water based version of ESP out now which has slightly different instructions to previous solvent based version which I’ve noticed here & there)

Usually you can do one wall at a time, wipe on and then the wipe off. After 90 minutes at normal room temperature, apply your undercoat with the 20% Owatrol oil added. Next day when it has dried, apply your gloss top coat, this time with about 10% Owatrol oil and leave it for about 24 hours at least to dry. Take note, oil based paint can take a week or more to cure properly so don’t start poking at it with your fingernails (if you have that strange tendency!) for at least 10 days. Also try to avoid giving that area a hard time for as long as possible. In fact the longer the better.

  • 2 min read

Q. I have old Edwardian cast iron gutters and down pipes that are quite rusty but otherwise intact, is there any way I can protect them from further deterioration? 

A. Yes, remove all debris and clean them as best you can. A power washer would be ideal to shift the old ground in dirt. If you don’t own a power washer, you can rent one in your local hire shop for a few quid a day. After the gutters have dried fully, get your hands on some that old ever-useful Owatrol oil and a can of exterior quality oil based gloss paint, whichever color you choose. Mix them up half owatrol and half paint, and apply directly to the rusted gutters with an appropriate paintbrush. For your information this mixture will do two things at the same time, i.e. it will penetrate deeply into the rusty steel, getting into all the small nooks and crannies, pushing out any remaining moisture and air while giving it color at the same time. This idea also makes a solid color oil based stain that works great on wood, concrete etc.

  • 1 min read

Q. The articles are great. A few weeks ago you wrote about how to avoid streaks in paint and you recommended two brands of mixture. As I’ve mislaid the article could you please let me know the names and where they can be purchased? 

A Thanks for your kind comments. We’ve had many requests like this so here’s a tip regarding same. If you find these articles useful, or any other similar articles for that matter, just cut them out as soon as possible and pop them into a folder marked DIY or Home Improvement Tips etc. Keep the folder in a safe place, like your garden shed hanging up on a nail and it will always be there when you need it. Great also for essential home maintenance phone numbers, web sites etc. The products I mentioned a few weeks ago were called Owatrol Oil and Floetrol. Here’s just a brief reminder again of what they do.

Any time you are using oil based paint such as household gloss, undercoat, satinwood, varnish, eggshell etc, when the paint gets a bit tight and the brush starts to drag a lot add a few teaspoonfuls of the Owatrol oil. Just enough to make it flow easily. It will give you an enviable finish every time. You will also find that you can even paint in very low temperatures using this method, and still get a great finish, that is assuming you don’t mind the cold! Any time you are using emulsions, either indoor or outdoor and the paint starts to dry too quickly etc, add about 10% of Floetrol and stir in. This will result in a much easier application and a streak-free finish. It is especially useful in deep colors and low hide colors like yellows and reds etc. Great also for rag rolling, color washing, sponging etc.

  • 2 min read

Q. I have a very badly stained ceiling, the result of a water leak from the attic tank. I would appreciate if you could advise me how to treat the problem as the stain is still coming through. 

A. This is a fairly easy problem to fix. All you need is to apply an appropriate stain blocker with a brush and finish off with a coat or two of paint. These stain blockers come in various types, generally water based, oil based or alcohol based. The best type for water stains is the alcohol type, and next best would be the oil based. Note that a water based stain blocker is no good on water borne stains but would work well on oily stains. Its almost like opposites work best. There are a few types of stain blockers on the market and one of the better ones I’ve come across is a product called Seal Lock. (Tip: Seal Lock dries extremely fast and you might not be able to wash out the brush afterwards unless you have a supply of mentholated spirits)

  • 1 min read

Q. Is there any way I can make sure emulsion stick on the wall of my daughters bedroom as she is always changing and pulling off posters etc and the sellotape pulls the paint off at the same time. 

A. The only way I know is to apply an emulsion which has a very strong bonding agent like E-B (Emulsa-Bond) mixed in to it. You need to stir in about 25% E-B into your first coat of emulsion, (it does not matter whether it is matt, vinyl or whatever) Then apply the paint with a roller or whatever and I would be fairly certain based on my experience that you will not pull that paint off, even with repeated pulls of tape etc. This is a great idea for anybody that wants to paint a wall that may be used for sticking up posters etc.

  • 1 min read

Q. I was hoping to change the color of my PVC windows and doors, but don’t know how to go about it. 

A. You can paint those PVC windows and doors any color you like thanks to a clever product called ESP (short for easy surface prep) now readily available in practically any hardware, or paint store. I would suggest you choose an oil-based satin or gloss paint to do the job for maximum durability. Wash the areas to be painted with warm water and sugar soap and allow to dry. Now, to do the job all you have to do is get some clean lint free cloths, soak with ESP and wipe it all over the surfaces you wish to paint. Do one window at a time. Read the instructions carefully.

Leave that to cure for at least 90 minutes at normal room temperature and after that you are ready to apply your gloss or whatever. In case you are unsure if the paint will stick, you will know as soon as you start to apply the paint, i.e. if the paint starts to crawl or run away from the brush you have not applied the ESP properly. If this happens, just wipe / wash off the paint in that area and re treat that area with ESP. On the other hand, if the paint goes on in the normal way, everything should be ok. When you are finished applying the ESP, dispose of the cloth properly as per instructions on the tin. Another tip to ensure you get a lovely smooth, brush-free finish is to add some Owatrol oil to the paint if it feels draggy or heavy. This will also help with paint adhesion.

  • 2 min read

Q. Emulsion paint got split on to the roof tiles of my front porch, I’ve done everything and I cannot remove the paint from the tiles, as it seems to have soaked in. Do I have to replace the roof tiles? 

A. If you wanted the paint to stick it probably wouldn’t, but there you go. My suggestion is to re-paint the porch roof tiles. Simple as that. Choose a superior quality exterior masonry paint that matches all the rest of the roof and mix in a product called E-B (Emulsa-Bond) 50:50 into the paint. E-B acts like a stir-in glue that makes paint stick to otherwise questionable surfaces. Pick a reasonably good day and apply one good coat directly to all the tiles. When that dries, if the ‘bad tiles’ are adequately covered you are finished. (Usually one good coat does the job) If you can still see some of the offending paint looking through, apply another coat of the exterior emulsion, but this time without the E-B. (only use E-B in your first coat). You should end up with a fresh looking new porch roof. Lots of people actually repaint their faded and tired looking old roof tiles using this method. (Please bear in mind, working on roofs can be very dangerous, so don’t even think about it if you are not very capable and have all the proper access equipment, ladders etc)

  • 1 min read

Q. I live right on the seafront and am fed up to the teeth with paint peeling off most of the sea facing exterior walls. We’ve had several different painters do re-paints over the years, and despite each one criticize the work done by their predecessor, and assurances of a successful job this time, it still returned to the same old peeling paintwork.

A. Yes, we’ve heard it all before.. “you can be sure we will get it right ma’am” etc. Problem is, to make money, the painter must be able to get in and get out of the job as quickly as possible. Sometimes when there is a bad wall needing what used to be a serious amount of time consuming and back breaking preparation… corners will be cut, i.e. get some color up there on the wall and hit the road. There have been huge strides in paint adhesion technology over the years and nowadays there is no excuse for peeling paint in your kind of situation.

There is a way to paint your walls properly with no more peeling paint. First, all the old remaining paintwork must be properly removed, usually a power washer is best and quickest, but if at all possible, wash at a 30 to 40 degree angle to the surface to avoid too much water penetration while achieving maximum old paint removal. Leave it for a few weeks of good drying weather, and then you are ready for a paint job. Choose a high quality exterior (water based) paint and mix in about 30% of a very strong gripper like E-B (also known as Emulsa-Bond and available in most good paint outlets) into the first coat only and apply. Apply your second coat without E-B.

This process will ensure your paint will stick because the E-B will soak deep into the wall providing serious grip and it should not peel off. I’ve seen what can only be described as desperate situations totally cured using this process. The wall must also be checked for mold, mildew etc and if present kill same with 50:50 bleach and water mix. (There is also a useful mold preventative paint additive now available called VC 175 Mold Stop which is quite useful in preventing the return of the mold etc)

A very high percentage of the smarter painters now use this method because it is reliable, and from their time point of view, very fast and easy also. If you would like to help the finish coat you could add 10% of a very useful emulsion paint conditioner like Floetrol. So, next time you are having your wall re-painted let the contractor know what you want done, (whether he likes it or not) and this bit of useful info will make him take great care to do it right this time! If possible ask around among your friends or neighbors for names of some reliable painters rather than just take a chance.

  • 2 min read

Q. We just bought a house that is painted a very dark grey and want to paint it white. The surface is flaking in many areas what is the best way to get this job done? 

A. Sweep off all the flaking bits with a stiff brush or you could power wash it off. I prefer sweeping because you don’t wet or soak the wall. Generally speaking, if you try to paint white on top of a dark, you would require three good coats to get the proper hiding power, but there is a quicker and less labor intensive method used by many contractors. After you’ve done the most important part, the preparation, apart from tools etc you will need a good quality exterior water based paint, E-B, and some Floetrol, and here’s a real neat trick on how you should be able to do it in just two coats instead of the usual three.

Mix in 25% E-B into your first coat of paint and apply. The E-B will deal with the flaky condition as well as help with hiding power. When your first coat is nice and dry, apply the second coat, and this time mix in the Floetrol emulsion paint additive (do not put E-B in your second coat) at a rate of 10% +/- and apply. You should have the equivalent of a good three-coat job done at this point.

Tip: For readers who have exterior walls that look a bit tired but you don’t want the expense of a two coat paint job, you can get a tremendous one coat job done with a combination of E-B and a high quality exterior masonry paint as mentioned above.

  • 2 min read

Being around the water offers allure and beauty, which is why waterfront homes are admired by many. Your own backyard can be alive with the visual appeal and sounds of water in motion. These soothing sounds and the beauty of colorful fish swimming among your plants, brings your landscaping alive. It's fun to create this attractive feature and it will become the centerpiece of your backyard. Before we get started I would like to answer some frequently asked questions about backyard ponds.

• Will the winter cold kill my fish? Most fish will naturally stop eating and hibernate at the bottom of the pond when the temperature of the water goes below 45 degrees. If you live in a climate where the pond will completely freeze over (even at the edges) you will need to create a hole in the ice for the fish to remain alive.

• Will the winter cold kill my plants? Yes, if it goes below freezing in your area. Bring plants inside for the winter months.

• Do I need to filter the water? That will depend on your climate and the design of your system. Ask a local dealer his recommendations for your geographical area concerning filtration. (look up in the Yellow Pages under ponds or water gardening) The action of water moving provides some natural filtration, so sometimes you can get away with only a fountain or waterfall. There are biological filters and cartridge filters available from pond supply outlets. We have provided links below to 3 sites that offer products, services and advice for building backyard water gardens. Water Gardening and Pond Supply :

• B&Q



Step 1. Educate yourself so you can make intelligent decisions. Learn about water gardening in your part of the country. Visit retail stores, shop out of a catalog click on the website links above. Determine the answer to such questions as, will I use a flexible liner or pre-formed shell...The location of my pond should take into account such things as availability of electricity...will I have a waterfall...etc. We will describe how to install a flexible vinyl liner pond in this article. Flexible liners give you complete variety in the shape of your pond, and are extremely durable.

Step 2. Locate the area in your yard for the pond. Determine how deep you want your pond to be. The depth of a back yard pond will usually be between 18-24", but you determine that after study and deciding the particulars about your pond. Mark the outline of the pond shape with string or garden hose on the lawn. Remove sod and start digging !

The outside wall of the pond will have a step in it to hold potted plants just under the water. You create this step by leaving the original dirt in place as you dig. This will make the step as solid as possible. The depth of this step is approximately half of the depth of your pond. This depth is also determined by the potted plants you plan on placing in the pond. You need to raise low areas so the entire perimeter is the same height. Check the depth as you dig to make sure the bottom is level as well. 

3 Step 3. To determine the right liner size, take the width of the pond and add twice the depth of the pond, plus 24 more inches. The length measurement will be done using the same formula.

Step 4. When hole is completed, drape liner over pond, centering it and placing stones around the edge. Start filling with water. As it fills, remove wrinkles and fold large creases into neat folds to be less noticeable.

Step 5. After pond is filled, trim excess liner to within 12 inches of edge of pond, and place your coping material around edge to give it a natural finished look. We recommend large flat stones because they can overhang the pond edge slightly, and they look very natural.

This article covers the basics of how to install your own backyard pond. To finish the project you will need to investigate pumps, filters, plants and fish.

I know from personal experience that the catalog from Lilypons is complete and informative. Enjoy your new water gardening hobby. Waterfall built next to pond with dirt from pond excavation

  • 3 min read

standard sizes - panel doors - hollow doors - glazed doors imperial/ metric equivalents

Two basic features define internal doors:
• Height, width and thickness
• Method of construction

Doors come in a number of standard sizes:
• Width - 24, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36 inches (each designed to fit openings between 1/4 inch less to 5/8 inch greater)
• Height - 78, 80, 82 inch
• Thickness - 1 3/8, 1 3/4 and 2 inch For a replacement door, the correct thickness should be chosen to avoid the need to reposition the door stop strips.

Method of door construction:

Panel door
These are made from pieces of solid timber, the stiles and rails being fixed together either by mortise and tenor joints (with wedges) or by dowels. The number of panels may vary, but the general construction is similar with full height stiles on each side with top, middle and bottom rails.

The bottom rail is wider than the top rail, and the middle is normally below the mid point - so it is easy to tell which way is up.

With the solid timber stiles and rails, these doors can be trimmed fairly easily to fit an existing door frame They must not be excessively trimmed as there is a risk that the sides of the mortise may be exposed in the top/bottom rails or the wedges holding the joints in the stiles becoming weakened.

Hollow Doors
These are made using a hidden frame covered with a thin cladding on each face and, normally, solid timber strips down the two edges to give a decorative finish. The cladding may be ordinary hardboard, which can be painted after the door has been hung, or a decorative plywood that can be varnished to give a natural timber appearance.

A number of different types of 'in-fill' within the door are available to give the faces some strength and rigidity. The simplest form of in fill, is a cardboard honeycomb, other specialist in-fills are used to make the door fire resistant.
Within the door, a solid timber area is provided for fixing the lock and handle; this solid timber is normally restricted to one side of the door and set at a suitable height for the lock/handle.

So when hanging a door, it must be hung the correct way up and with the correct side to the hinge - failure to do this will mean that there will be nothing solid within the door where the lock/handles will need to be fitted.

Hollow doors cannot really be trimmed (either in height or width) to fit an undersized door frame; this generally means that these doors can only be hung in modern houses where 'standard' door frames are fitted.

Glazed Doors
Glazed doors are ideal where it is desirable to 'borrow' light into a dark area such as a passage. These doors are made with solid timber surround and may be half glazed, full glazed or 2 half glazed. The frame is normally made from solid timber in the same way as for panel doors with the inner edges of the stiles and rails machined to take the glazing. The stiles and upper/lower rails can be trimmed as for a panel door.

The important aspect is the type of glass used to glazed the door. UK regulations require that Safety glass is used in full glazed and lower glazed panels; it is always wise to use Safety glass for all glazing in a glazed door. Safety glass cannot be purchased off the shelf, it is in fact ordinary float glass which has been subjected to a special heat treatment - the glass must be cut to size before it is treated.

Imperial/metric door equivalents.
78 x 24 1981 x 610
78 x 27 1981 x 686
78 x 30 1981 x 762
78 x 33 1981 x 838
80 x 32 2032 x 813
82 x 34 2083 x 863
84 x 36 2134 x 914

  • 3 min read

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