Building Screen-block Walls

A screen-block wall should not span more than 3m without intermediate pillar supports. You cannot cut screen blocks nor the pilasters, so check the exact dimensions when planning. Blocks normally measure 300 x 300 x 90mm thick, and pilasters 195 X 195 x 200mm high including joints. Foundations For a low wall, foundations should consist…

How Lay Paving Slabs

How Lay Paving Slabs

Choose your paving according to type of construction, colour, surface finish, shape, and size. Hydraulically pressed slabs are about 37mm thick and are strong enough to support the weight of a car provided that they are laid properly. Cast concrete slabs are about 50mm thick and are heavier but their method of construction makes them…

Guttering Repair Tips

Guttering Repair Tips

One of the most useful improvements in house construction in recent years has been the widespread use of plastic gutters and downpipes, which need virtually no maintenance or decoration and which are easy to install and remove. Their predecessors, mainly cast iron, can corrode away, and once cracked or broken can be difficult to repair….

How To Do Roofing Repairs

How To Do Roofing Repairs

As with repairs to chimney stacks, only the competent and confident handyman should attempt roof repairs. Safety is even more important in this case, since you will be working on the roof slope without even a friendly chimney stack to hold on to. Roof ladders are essential unless the repair needed is within easy reach…

Chimney Repairs

Chimney Repairs

Chimney repairs should be undertaken only by competent and confident people, using the correct access equipment. Depending on the scale of the repairs, it may be necessary to haul up mortar, bricks and even new chimney pots, and a variety of bricklaying tools may be needed. The job will be a comparatively lengthy one, including…

Ceiling Décor Tips

Polystyrene tiles both decorate and insulate. Although they can be used in any room they are especially suited to kitchens and bathrooms where they combat condensation. They are an ideal covering for a poor, though stable ceiling. Sizes are normally 300mm and 600mm square. A clean, dry, sound surface is needed so any paper or…

Floor And Stair Repairs

An uneven wooden floor is best levelled with a floor-sanding machine, which can be hired. Ask your hire-shop for clear instructions as to how to use this. Walking about and observing the noise of bare boards will show if there are any gaps between boards and joists. Warped boards may be pulled down by driving…

Gutter Repairs

Gutters are intended to collect water from a roof and take it to downpipes. These may meet at funnel-shaped containers, called hoppers, and from here the water flows down to a drain. A surprising amount of other debris is washed down with the water and hoppers may become choked with nests and growing plants. Before…

Pointing Repairs

The mortar between bricks may break away and become uneven. The visible edge is called pointing and keeps a wall both weather-resistant and attractive. If pointing is necessary, use a narrow cold chisel to chop out the old pointing to a depth of about 10 mm (2/5 in). Be careful not to damage the bricks…

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Entertaining With Food

DINNER PARTIES Skilful hosts will choose a menu which has been tried out before, successfully. For preference, choose a main course which can be prepared in advance. Balance flavours, colours and textures, using fresh fruit and vegetables in season. Where possible, offer a choice of dishes. A simple. Cold starter is best served before an…

Pathway Materials

Pathway Materials

GRAVEL This is the commonest form of utility path, as it is comparatively cheap and, if kept in good condition, long lived. A thorough preparation of the foundation is essential and it should be rolled periodically. It has the disadvantage of becoming weedy, unless it is continually treated with weed killer, and is inclined to…

Building A Brick Wall

Building A Brick Wall

To bond bricks together, spread the mortar over the foundation with a bricklayer’s trowel, and lay a brick on top, the frog (hollowed-out part) uppermost. Many amateurs and, indeed, some tradesmen prefer to lay with the frog downwards because, they say, the mortar will squeeze into the hollow part and obviate the risk of tilting….

Types of Solid Floors

Types of Solid Floors

We have so far dealt with coverings for hollow floors where boards are nailed on to joists which in turn are nailed on to plates standing on low sleeper walls so that air can circulate through airbricks let into the side walls of the house. An alternative is solid floors built up from concrete laid…

Suspended Illuminated Ceilings

Suspended Illuminated Ceilings

Suspended illuminated ceilings are available in various kit forms, all of which use more or less the same components and installation procedures. Although more traditionally associated with kitchens and bathrooms, illuminated ceilings are equally suited to other rooms in the house. Besides creating improved lighting economically by giving a maximum amount of soft, shadow-free illumination,…

Maintenance of Stairs

Maintenance of Stairs

While most of the stairs in houses are of a closed or open-riser timber variety in either a straight flight, quarter-turn or dog leg form, there are other stairs found in domestic use. For example, stairs could be constructed of concrete or steel; where there is not enough space for a conventional staircase, a spiral…

Wall types

Wall types

Solid brick wall This is a wall built entirely of bricks fitted closely together. It may be 41 or 9 inches in thickness, depending on whether a single or double bricking is used. Walls of this kind were commonly built between the wars. Their main drawback is that rain fairly easily penetrates them and they…

Wall Maintenance

Wall Maintenance

Although there are several different kinds of walls that we may find in our homes, for interior work the differences are not very important. Nearly all of them end up with a plaster surface to which our decorations are stuck. This plaster may be applied in the traditional manner as a wet plastic mass smoothed…

Adding a front porch

Adding a front porch

Adding a front porch to your house gives these advantages: 1. It serves as a barrier against bad weather. 2. It prevents dirt and debris from being carried into the front hall or lobby of the house: on a rainy day wet coats and muddy shoes can be shaken, scraped, discarded under shelter before you…

Alterations to pitched roofs

Alterations to pitched roofs

In certain circumstances it may be possible to convert the roof space into a room. This, of course, needs Local Authority consent, as it involves structural alterations as well as altering the appearance of the building. Normally, planning approval is nec- essary only for dormer windows inserted in the roof structure in the front elevation…

Repositioning a staircase

Repositioning a staircase

Repositioning the main staircase may both free wasted space in the house and result in a safer design. Many staircases in pre-1940 properties were badly designed with an uneven pitch, unequal treads and narrow and steep winders. As such they have caused innumerable accidents. A repositioned staircase must comply with building regulations. These require: 1…

Blockwork partitions

Blockwork partitions

Blockwork partitioning is usually used only on a solid base such as a solid concrete ground floor. If the blockwork is to be built on a timber floor, it is advisable to check and see if it runs in the same direction as the floor joists. In this case, the joists would need strengthening in…