Vertical Blinds – great for any room!

October 15th, 2011

Vertical blinds are an extremely popular choice for home and office settings; they look great and boast an array of materials and varied fabrics to choose from in their design.  Vertical blinds are made up of horizontal strips, or ‘louvres’, which can be turned 180 degrees using the control mechanism to either let light in, to provide partial privacy or that can be fully closed to completely shield the window. 

Runners are placed between these louvres to maintain their shape as they are drawn and closed.  This form of blind also allows the user to draw the blind fully across to one side of the window space to expose the full pane, which makes it a very popular choice for use across patio doors and conservatories.  It is also an excellent variant of blind for covering large areas such as these as the mechanisms that control it are strong enough to operate across extremely wide areas e.g. over four metres.

The design of a vertical blind allows it to reduce the glare from sunlight, or reflect such heat into the room dependant on the properties of the material chosen for the blind.  Different materials are used for different purposes; some fabrics allow light to flow through them but still maintain privacy, some provide a dimming effect and others are able to work so that the user can see through them but others cannot see in.  The fabric used in the manufacture of the vertical blind is easy to replace too; the louvres can be removed from their tracks and replaced by another fabric.

Insulating Your Garden Room

October 13th, 2011

Since garden offices first started to gain popularity in the late 1990s, there has been an increase in the number of companies offering garden room facilities.  As house prices and stamp duty have continually risen, and moving house is not always an option, the garden room has become a cost effective alternative for people who need more space, and now more and more individuals are opting for one to be installed in their garden.

A garden room, whether it is a standalone building or attached to the main property, should be constructed for the purpose for which it will be used; for example, if you are constructing a garden office and intend to use it all year round, then it must be constructed so as to keep you warm in the winter.

Garden rooms are not conservatories, which are generally hot during the hot summer season and as cold as ice during winter.  Garden rooms can be properly and efficiently insulated so that limited heating is needed to keep them warm, and an open door or window will cool them down.  Building regulations stipulate that glazing must allow for conservation of fuel and power, and offer protection against impacts.  Insulated walls, floors and ceilings should be at the top of your priorities if you intend on using your garden room year-round. 

Cost is always a concern, but creating a year-round insulated garden room is a must if you want to use that extra space throughout autumn and winter.  Such insulation (which must be CFC-free) can also offer sound proofing in the event that the room will be used for noisy activities, such as music creation.

Woodworking Tips

October 12th, 2011

Keeping just a few simple tips in mind will help to prevent injuries and ensure you do not waste any materials when you are working with wood.

When you sand wood, you should always follow the direction of the grain, otherwise you will have a hard time getting a smooth finish, and it will not look good.  You can avoid damage to the wood by starting up a power sander before it touches the area to be sanded. 

One problem that many people encounter when working with wood is the wood splintering when it is drilled; in most cases, this can be prevented by reducing the pressure you put on the drill before it exits the wood.

It is important that you measure twice before you make any cuts.  While there is often a temptation to measure once and get on with it, measuring twice will ensure that your measurement is accurate, and save you a lot of time in the long run.

Be careful when using any type of saw or sander, as they can be very dangerous to yourself and others around you if not used with caution.  Make sure other people and objects are out of the way and that you wear safety goggles and any other protective gear that is required.  Always read the manual carefully before proceeding to use any equipment, or get an experienced person to supervise.

When you are cutting wood, ensure that you have another person supporting the remaining piece to avoid it falling off and being damaged as it hits the ground.

Planting a Tree

October 11th, 2011

Trees add beauty and shade to properties.  To successfully plant a tree so that it can grow to its full potential, several steps should be followed. 

Firstly, you should plant your tree ideally in the early spring or fall.  Planting at this time allows the tree to establish itself somewhat before the summer heat takes its toll.  Before purchasing your tree, also take into account your climate and what tree thrives best there.  Investigate your neighbourhood and observe those trees that seem to grow best. 

Choosing the right place for your tree is also important.  Take into consideration the tree’s eventual full-grown height and width.  Make sure it has plenty of light and space to grow. 

Next, you should dig your hole.  Ensure that the hole is as deep as the tree’s root ball and two to three times wider.  Sprinkle the recommended amount of fertilizer around the hole and then place the tree within it.  Fill the hole with soil, all the while checking that the tree is remaining upright.  Pack the soil in firmly. 

Water the tree at once.  Once your new tree has had a good drink, apply a thick layer of mulch.  However, do not place the mulch directly against the trunk of the tree as this can encourage rot.  Water your new tree again. 

It will take some time for your new tree to establish a healthy root system.  Until that time you will need to water it frequently, especially if it is dry and hot. 

Roller Blinds - Affordable Window Coverings

October 8th, 2011

One of the most important aspects of making a house a home is deciding which window coverings to install.  There are many factors to consider when choosing window coverings, including the style of décor in the home, window size, and most importantly, one’s budget.  For those who desire a more affordable option, roller blinds offer durability and functionality for a very reasonable price.

Most roller blinds are available in a self-assembly pack.  They usually include simple fitting instructions and are generally quick and simple to install. In most cases, a roller blind consists of a roll of fabric on strong aluminium centre rod, and a sidewinder mechanism for adjustment. Typically, the fabric will be eight feet wide to fit the widest window, and can easily be adjusted to fit almost any window size. The fabric used is specially treated to create a hard wearing surface, easily cleanable with a damp sponge.

For those who desire a more customised look, the fabric can be changed to suit an individual’s taste. The fabric chosen must be colourfast, closely woven and lightweight.  It will need to be stiffened to ensure the durability of the fabric and to encourage the fabric to hand correctly from the centre rod.  This can be accomplished with a specialist aerosol spray or a coating of stiffening solution before installation.

Roller blinds can be adjusted in many ways to fit the size of the windows and the taste of the consumer.  Their affordability and versatility make them a welcome addition to any space.

Clearing a Blocked Drain

October 5th, 2011

Depending on where the blockage is located, it may be your responsibility to clear it. This article tells you how to locate and clear a blocked drain.

Locating the Blockage

The first task is to find out where the blockage is located. To do this, open the inspection chamber in your garden. There may be more than one and if there is you will need to open them all until you find a clear one. Once a clear one has been found you need to go back to the one before it, which is where the blockage will be. 

Using Drain Rods

In order to remove the blockage you will need to use drain rods. To start with you must screw two of the drain rods together and then attach a work-screw head. Push the rod to the bottom of the chamber and feel around for the channel, which is located at the bottom. You should then slide the rod along the drain leading to the clear chamber. You might need to add more rods as you go. Rotate the rods until the water level drops in the chamber. Once this has happened you will know that the major part of blockage has been cleared, but it may still be necessary to use a plunger to remove any remaining debris from the pipe.

Remember Safety

Before removing the inspection cover from the chamber, make sure there are no animals or children around who could fall into it. Always wear protective gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after working with drains and toilets.

DIY Tips - How to Lay Laminate Flooring

October 2nd, 2011

A laminate floor saves on the expense of buying solid wood flooring and is something you can easily lay yourself.

The first step is to prepare the floor. A laminate floor needs a level concrete base beneath it, so you should carefully brush the floor to remove dust, dirt and debris. Use a spirit level to check that you have a flat surface; any bumps or dips will affect the laminate laid on it, potentially causing bowing or damage. You may want to consider using a layer of self-levelling concrete to remedy any unevenness. Laminate floors should also have a layer of underlay to protect it and ensure spring. This should be measured to the necessary size and be firmly secured before you begin to lay the laminate.

You should begin from the longest clear wall and work outwards. The lengths of laminate should be applied in rows and cut to fit as necessary. Each new row should be started with an off cut to ensure that end seams do not match up and create a weak point. Use a wood block and mallet to gently tap each new length into place, ensuring that it correctly fits into the slot on the edge of the previous row. Depending on the type of laminate being laid, it may be necessary to glue the sections together, using an appropriate wood adhesive. Check the instructions on the packs for further information.

When it comes to awkward areas, such as pipes and doorways, plan ahead. It is a good idea to make templates from card and cut the planks to shape, as required.

DIY Tips - Measuring for Blinds

September 29th, 2011

The majority of window blinds (e.g. Roman blinds or Venetian blinds etc.,) are installed either on the wall surrounding the window or on the window frame itself.  When measuring a window for a blind, there are two main measurement types: exact or recess fittings. 

Exact fitting measurements are those taken if the consumer wishes for their window blind to hang outside of the frame (or the recess) and overlap the window itself.  Measurements should be recorded in millimetres to ensure the greatest level of accuracy is achieved in choosing and fitting a new blind.

Recess fitting measurements are those taken if the consumer wishes for their window blind to sit within the window frame (recess) and it is recommended that once again these measurements are recorded to the nearest millimetre, in order to be confident of a correctly measured blind.  In measuring a recess fitting, the width and drop of the window must be taken into account.  In recording the drop of the window, the customer is advised to measure the height of the window itself in the centre, and on its left and right hand sides.  The shortest measurement recorded should be used.  Similarly, in measuring the width of the window for a recess fitting, the bottom, middle and top should be measured and the thinnest recorded measurement of the windows width (in millimetres) is to be used.

Ridding Your Garden of Snails and Slugs

September 28th, 2011

Snails and slugs can be a gardener’s nightmare.  They feast on flowers and plants that you have spent time and energy to establish.  There are steps that can be taken to rid these pests from your garden or yard without the use of toxic pesticides. 

The first and most obvious tactic is to pick up any slugs or snails you find, put them in a plastic bag, seal it, and throw them away.  You would be surprised how effective this can be.  The best time to hunt for snails and slugs is in the late evening.  Watering the ground during the day before doing this will attract them even more as they like moist areas.  Try this for about two nights in a row and then reduce it to once a week.  You will be surprised what a difference this will make. 

You can also make barricades around your garden flowers and plants using copper strips or copper tape.  Snails dislike passing over copper, so this measure can be quite effective.  You can put copper tape around flower pots and at the base of tree trunks. 

Garden cloth can also provide a useful barrier to snails and slugs.  Cover the plants you would like to protect with a light-weight garden cloth that can be purchased at DIY stores or garden centres.  Garden cloth allows water and sun to reach the plant while providing it with protection from pests, such as snails and slugs, as well as other insects and birds.

Paint Rollers – choosing the right ones

September 26th, 2011

Rollers are great for not only covering a wall or ceiling in a fraction of the time taken by a brush, but also for creating interesting effects.  Rollers come in all shapes and sizes, with the sleeves being made from materials appropriate for the surface being painted.  Masonry paint is best applied with long pile sleeves, while short pile sleeves are very effective when used with emulsion paint.

Foam paint rollers are also available and they are ideal for use with varnish and gloss paints, to create a professional finish.  Cleaning rollers can be a problem, but only if you leave the paint to dry out on them.  The foam sleeves can simply been thrown away, because they are designed to be disposable.

Use a normal roller for the base colour of a wall and then switch to a textured sleeve to create surface patterns.  With a little imagination a roller can even be customised; for example, you can create an interesting striped pattern by tying lengths of string around it, at intervals, to compress sections of the foam sleeve.  Tie the string randomly for more unusual patterns.  You could even remove whole chunks of sleeve for a really unusual effect.

Smaller rollers are available for special decorating applications and they are often made from moulded rubber with specially textured finishes.  They are used in the same way as normal rollers, but can produce unusual and striking patterns.  These rollers are typically manufactured by attaching cut out shapes to the base of the sleeve and it is these that produce the desired effect.