Save Energy and Money with Your Existing Heating System

December 21st, 2009

If your radiators don’t already have TRVs (Thermostat Radiator Valves) they are worth adding to your heating system as they could potentially save energy and money. Giving you control over each room’s temperature and also having frost guard for unused / spare rooms. If you want to add TRVs to all the radiators in your home you will have to check that your system has an ABV (Automatic Bypass (pressure balancing)) Valve fitted. This will be located near to the central heating pump between the flow and return pipe. If you don’t have an ABV fitted then a couple of TRV say in a small cloak room or toilet should be fine, but don’t exceed 50% of the system in each zone (upstairs & downstairs). A major don’t is, don’t add a TRV in the same room as the main house thermostat.

A cheap and simple money saving method is foil backing your radiators, this is basically a foil covering that you stick to the wall behind the radiator; this stops the heat from the back of the radiator being absorbed by the wall and reflects it back into the room. Cheap, effective and easy to DIY and could potentially increase the air temperature by 1ºC in your home. You can buy this on rolls of foil backed with polystyrene for around £10 for 2.5 square meters, but for the more creative out there you could try use standard kitchen foil possibly stuck to bubble wrap.

Fitting Bathroom Cabinets

December 17th, 2009

Adding bathroom cabinets are the easiest and most effective way of increasing floor space in your bathroom. However, many homeowners seem reluctant to take on the work themselves, perhaps reasoning that they stand to spoil or damage the bathroom walls if they make a mistake.

This need not be the case; simply following a few basic rules will make installation cost-effective and incident-free.

The first thing to remember is that there are different bathroom cabinets for different uses. Choosing which is the right one for your bathroom is by far the most important consideration.

Firstly, determine exactly where you want to place the cabinet. Then mark off the area. Using wall studs rather than nails is a sensible choice, as you can never be sure just how heavy your cabinet might become and nails bend easily under weight.

Make sure everything is level. Once you have driven the screws in, there is little margin for error. Having to remove the bathroom cabinet to realign screws is frustrating and time-consuming.

Position your cabinet on the screws and hold. Having a friend to assist you at this point is a good idea. Working alone, it is impossible for you to make sure, for certain, that everything is straight.

Really that is all there is to it. Now, all that remains is to decide on a colour to complement the rest of the bathroom furniture. If you decide to repaint, think of the money you have just saved by not employing a handyman to install your cabinet.

How to Sand a Floor

December 16th, 2009

Whether you’re working to a tight budget in property development or just trying a DIY facelift to a tired room, one way of hitting the mark is to check the state of the floorboards.

If they’re grimy but intact, a good option is to sand them back. A room, or even an entire house, can be lifted with a hired sander without having to shell out on architects or master builders.

You won’t be building the Sistine Chapel; if you’re happy painting and decorating but not too chipper about plastering, you’re at about the right skill level.

Replace damaged boards and secure loose ones. Using a nail punch sink obtruding nail-heads 2mm below the surface. You’ll need to be painstaking about this - it’s a feel-your-way-along-on-hands-and-knees job.

Close the doors, sealing them with masking tape, and open the window – there’ll be lots of dust. Use the large sander, working diagonally across the floor. Begin with coarse sanding sheets for badly stained boards, before moving to medium.

Keep moving, slowly and steadily – the machine will sand ruts in the wood if you pause. Criss-cross with an opposite diagonal sand if the stain is really ingrained.

Next, move in the direction of the grain with medium, then fine, sanding sheets. Use the round edging sander to deal with edges and corners – but scrape dirt from corners with a chisel.

Carefully vacuum the dust from the surface, wipe over with a cloth dampened with white spirit, and apply the first coat of varnish. You’ll need two coats for ordinary areas and three for high-traffic areas, drying overnight between coats.


Picture courtesy of

Health Benefits of Underfloor Heating

December 12th, 2009

There are numerous benefits to having underfloor heating systems installed in your home. One of the key features that should never be overlooked is the potential health benefit. It is not immediately obvious that underfloor heating is any more beneficial to your health than having a warm house heated with conventional radiators, but when you stop and look at the facts you will see that is could just be the answer you have been looking for.

The reason underfloor heating is better for your health is down to dust or to be more precise, the lack of dust. Such a system means that the initial heat is being generated at a floor level, which prevents the moisture content in the floor increasing. As dust mites need moisture to breed and multiply, by drying out the whole building, from the ground up, you are making it much harder for these mites to survive in the first place. This is excellent news for anyone who has an asthma type condition, where dust can be a massive irritant and cause breathing problems if not controlled efficiently.

With underfloor heating, the warmth rises from the floor and circles the room, before hitting the walls and ceilings. With conventional wall mounted radiators, little heat ever reaches the area between floor level and the first couple of feet in the room, so dust mites are in heaven, as it is a lovely little moisture trap.

Power Showers and mixer taps

December 10th, 2009

Showers come in all shapes and sizes. Although most households tend to opt for an electric shower, there is no reason not to choose one of the alternatives on offer.

A mixer shower utilizes a simple shower valve to mix hot and cold water to the exact temperature you find most comfortable.

They operate by drawing on both hot and cold water from your domestic supply and are therefore ideal for homes that have a ready supply of stored hot water. Most products can also be employed with a combination boiler or multipoint water heater, although it is always a good idea to first check with the manufacturer.

Mixed showers are available in either a manual or thermostat model, with the thermostat maintaining an exact and even temperature - even if the water used is drawn from another point in your home.

Similarly, most manufacturers offer models with either one or two control levers. This allows you the freedom to control the temperature and water flow either simultaneously or independently.

Although mixed showers generally offer a stronger water flow than electric showers, the power shower is the strong man of appliances.

Power showers combine a mixing valve with a pump, all stored in one unit placed over the shower enclosure or bathtub.

The valve mixes both hot and cold water, whilst the pump boosts the flow of water to give a powerful, invigorating shower. Power showers are ideal if you have a ready supply of stored hot water, but are unsuitable if your house runs a combination boiler.

Fitting decking in your garden

December 9th, 2009

If you’d like a nice, clean space to sit in the garden in the summer, but don’t fancy the backache of building a patio, here’s a DIY project that should suit.

Putting decking in your garden space is probably somewhere between painting, decorating and plastering as far as skill-level is concerned, but you won’t need architects or master builders. It’s not exactly property development, but it will transform your garden.

Start by marking out the area for your decking with pegs and string, remove grass and weeds and level the surface using a spade. Then lay a weed-proof membrane and shovel gravel over it.

Next, mark the positions of the floor joists on the frame (400 mm apart) and saw them to the required size. Assemble the deck bearer from the frame and joists, using the countersunk screws in pre-drilled holes (there should be three screws at each joist end).

Now you can lay the deck boards at right angles to the joists, beginning at the front of the deck and making sure the first one is level with the outside edge of the frame.

Fix the deck board to the deck bearer at each joist using two of the supplied countersunk screws (there’ll be pre-drilled holes again). Repeat with the remaining boards, leaving a gap of 3-5 mm between them.

Don’t forget to seal the cut ends of boards and joists with wood preservative, or you’ll be inviting dry rot to set in.

Finally, face the exposed end cuts with spare deck boards, get a few nice plotted plants, put your feet up beside the table, and chill.

Where is Travertine made?

December 6th, 2009

Travertine is not man made, but is a wholly natural product that is formed through centuries of geothermal heated supersaturated alkaline waters, and is a natural stone material from the limestone family. It is made of calcium carbonate and is usually found in the form of deposits near warm or hot springs; it was frequently used in ancient times as a building material. Because travertine is such a porous material, it should be sealed before use in construction or renovation projects. It is most commonly used for countertops and flooring, but may also be used in showers and tub surrounds as well as in exterior decor and is an extremely versatile and attractive building material.

Picture courtesy of jakesmome
Travertine in its natural state can be seen in many areas of the world and some of the most spectacular are to be seen in the U.S.A., Yellowstone Park is a fine example of where some of the most beautiful examples can be seen as the Park is rich in Travertine deposits. In common with many wholly natural products, Travertine is a popular building material and due to its formation and natural colour variation, Travertine when used as cladding for a building, both internally and externally, enhances the beauty of it.

In the United Kingdom, designers and architects are increasingly using Travertine tiles and cladding, especially in bathrooms, but also kitchens too. For internal use Travertine tiles are usually supplied in two distinct qualities, premium, or supreme and you should take guidance from your tile supplier as to which is the most suitable for the area where it is to be installed.

Wooden gazebos – ideal for any garden

December 3rd, 2009

Purchasing a garden gazebo is a sound investment if you want to have a spot in your garden where you can go to relax.

A gazebo sited in a spot, out of sight of the house and with a beautiful aspect is the perfect place to escape the stresses of modern living.  Hidden from prying eyes, you can sit in the fresh air and admire your garden and watch as plants flower in different seasons bringing an array of colours and perfumes to you.  Or maybe you can curl up with a favourite book and read for hours undisturbed far away from the impatient ring of the telephone.

A gazebo is indeed a retreat from modern life.

Gazebos come in an enormous range of designs.  Once you have decided on your personal style be sure to pick the best spot in your garden to site it.  Make sure that you have the best views of your garden or surrounding landscape and that it also is provided with some shade.  Although gazebos do have solid roofs, the open walls will allow direct sunlight through that may cause irritation if it is strong and blinding in your eyes.

A gazebo can be focus of the garden design, a central structure that flowers, trees, a walkway, a bench or a pond can be added to create a little bit of paradise in your garden.

Customising your Bath

November 30th, 2009

For many people, the popular image of a bath as a white object with two taps at one end and a plug is deeply rooted.

However, even a cursory look through any catalogue is sure to throw such conceptions out of the window.

Baths are now designer objects, an investment that allows you to demonstrate your taste and individuality, flaunt your financial status, or express your ergonomic expertise.

Take for example the widespread idea that baths need taps incorporated into the fixture.

There are now many floor-standing taps on the market that ideally complement freestanding tubs. This allows the actual bath to stand as an object in its own right while providing a practical advantage in keeping it clean.

A double-ended bath looks ultra-stylish with taps mounted in the middle, or why not position a floor-mounted tap off-centre?

Or choose a water supply that lets water in through the overflow or from a wall-mounted mixer?

And if you really want to impress, then a hydrotherapeutic whirlpool can be incorporated into your tub. Even aromatherapy is being included into the bathing experience.

For a fresh look, modern freestanding baths can be clad in a host of surfaces: copper, wood, leather or even faux leopard skin. While it is true that these will increase the price of the average bath, it may not be as much as you think. Take your time. Search around. You never know - customising your bath to your own exacting standards may well prove worth every penny you spend.

Travertine for building a long-lasting, beautiful home

November 29th, 2009

One of the most prominent ancient architectural masterpieces is the Colosseum in Rome, which never fails to fascinate the human eye.

Built long ago, it still exists despite the earthquakes that have shattered some parts of the structure.

Its beauty and strength are testimony that the materials used to construct it are just as elegant as the structure itself. One of the most remarkable elements of this ancient building is the travertine stone, which makes up 100,000 cubic metres of its exterior wall.

Travertine can also enhance the tone of a home, is one of the best materials for flooring decorations, and is very durable.

This geologically formed material can also add appeal to a home exterior, bathroom, flooring and walls.

Travertine looks best when selecting the right colour to perfectly fit the particular home. This rich stone comes in shades of ivory, beige, gold and even deep reddish brown, depending on the iron level in the stone.

Travertine tiles have also been of interest to many because of the fine appearance they provide to a house’s whole interior. These tiles can be used to enhance a living room, kitchen and bathroom.

This stone can also be used in other establishments or commercial structures to enhance interior and outdoor appeal.

Moreover, travertine tiles are also very cost effective. Travertine stone is a less expensive material that can be used to bring more beauty and durability to one’s home.