hammer and nails

3 Simple DIY Fixes For Your Home

Are you looking to fix up your home but don’t know where to begin?

Leaks, squeaks and blockages often strike even the best of built houses. Don’t worry this is normal.

A lot of people get overwhelmed about doing manual work on their home. The good news is that many fixes and home improvements are easy to perform with little or no experience. So don’t worry, you can do it! I’ve put together three simple DIY fixes below to help you get started.

3 Simple DIY Fixes You Can Do

  1. Frozen Pipes

With winterly temperature, pipes often freeze or burst, spitting out water into your house. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps to thawing out pipes which are frozen.

Upon discovering a frozen pipe, switch off the main water valve, opening out all water faucets in your house. Apply some heat to that pipe with a hair dryer or heat lamp. Once the ice melts, partially turn on your main’s water and inspect again for leaks. If none, completely turn on your main’s water. If a pipe is ruptured, quickly turn off the main’s water and dial for your plumber!

  1. Clogged Toilet

Over time, toilets can often get blocked for a variety of obvious reasons. If you don’t have a plunger, you can loosen up clogs by pouring some dish soap right into your toilet. Allow the soap to settle in for 5 – 10 minutes. Then follow up with boiling water and multiple flushes.

  1. Scratched Wood Floors

Light scratches on any hardwood floors can be covered over with floor polish or wax. However, these polishes can have a dulling effect on wood if used repeatedly. Revival products for hardwood floors are more effective in wood renewal without the need for prior sanding.

Many more simple fixes…

These are just a handful of what you can do to fix up little areas around your house. Keep an eye on my articles for more tips to follow.

photo of nails

5 Steps To Filling Nail Holes – Correctly!

Are you sick and tired of holes left from nails in your walls? 

Whether is was poor workmanship or just the passage of time, holes often emerge from where nails have been hammered into your walls.

Often, people are reluctant to move pictures on their walls because of the nail holes remaining. Is this a familiar story?

Using the correct tool and good technique, you can artfully hide signs of any holes, from coat hanger hooks or indeed where wall-shelves once hung. The result is a beautifully smooth wall.

Tools required

  1. Spackling compound (for drywall nail holes)
  2. Filler compound for wood (for wood nail holes)
  3. Sanding block
  4. Putty knife (stainless steel)

5 Steps To Filling your Nail Holes

  1. Sand that surface

Proper preparation prior to spackling is essential for removing traces of any former holes.

Gently run a fine sanding block over the hole to remove any ridges. Moving in a circular pattern, rub over the drywall. If sanding wood, however, you should sand in same direction as the wood grain or you will leave marks.

  1. Choose the correct hand tools

For small-scale jobs, your putty knife should have some blade flexibility. This will facilitate an easy spread. The knife helps to push compound right into the hole, reducing any risk of surface scratches from the blade’s corners.

  1. Select and spread compound

Different surfaces require different formulations of compound. Please do ensure to select the correct one for your task at hand.

The best method for spreading involves a two swipe process: one either sideways or downward filling the hole, followed directly by a second swipe towards the opposite direction, wiping away any excess compound.

  1. Apply another compound layer

Different wood filler and spackling compounds shrink to varying degrees, however it is difficult to notice any shrinkage until painting over is complete. For this reason, it is best if you apply another thin compound layer. It might at first appear that your first application completely filled the hole but it is better to be safe than sorry. Repeat step 3 and allow to dry.

  1. Prepare for painting with one final sanding

The area surrounding the hole should be lightly sanded to get rid of excess compound from the second application. Inspect the hole.

Any extra filler that you see, do some spot sanding on it.

A hole free wall!

Paint the wall or wood surface and enjoy a blemish free wall for life!

wood siding

Wood siding – How to clean it

Is your wood siding looking aged?

 

A fresh paint coat can work wonders! Or perhaps, your wooden clapboard, siding shingle or lap simply are in need of a good clean.

Many homeowners choose wood for the unrivalled appearance. Similar to other siding materials, wood requires frequent maintenance. Particularly with wood, the challenge for you is to try to avoid doing any harm in your attempts to maintain your wood.

In any event, to pump a new lease of life into your wood siding, it’s most likely that water alone simply won’t get the job done — you’ll need to also get the elbow grease out and scrub the wood. A multi-featured

attachment for your garden hose might be a good option and would include everything you need to get that beautiful satisfying result.

Below, I have outlined the 5 steps for how you can safely clean wood siding in an effective way, and all using a few simple tools!

5 Steps To Cleaning Your Wood Siding

  1. Preparation

Before you go cleaning your wood siding, protect anything that may be prone to water damage. Safety First! Any light fixtures or power outlets should be covered.

Make note of any particularly bad or dirty areas to return to.

  1. Start spraying

Point your multipurpose hose tool, finger on the trigger and start spraying water to cleanse against the dirt on your wood siding. From the roofline, work downwards.

  1. Tackle that mold

If you encountered old only our initial spraying, you need to get rid of it now. Using a cleanser, treat the mold. Many people use white vinegar as an alternative to a shop-bought product.

  1. Scrub that stubborn dirt

For any stubborn dirt engrained into the wood, use a scrub brush to really lift that dirt out of it. This will get right into the crevices and allow your wood to breathe again.

  1. The finish

Rinse off any wood where you applied a mold treatment. If you only used water throughout the whole clean, then consider yourself complete, once you have sprayed the entire wood exterior.

Finally, remember!

  • Don’t use a pressure washer unless you are very familiar with it’s use and power!
  • If using a pressure washer, allow yourself enough distance not to be too close or you will damage your wood
  • Treat the mold properly as you find it.
  • Rinse down and enjoy a new lease of wood siding life!

How To: Cut Through Concrete

The reasons for cutting concrete

You may want to cut through your sidewalk pavement, solid countertop, outdoor patio or BBQ wall.

Following correct safety precautions, you can cut through concrete using a diamond blade.

For cutting through slabs with a thickness of six inches or more, it would best to leave the job to a professional. A depth below this, which usually includes most walls, sidewalks and patios can be cut by anyone handy with DIY at home.

The most essential tool is the diamond blade. While these blades do the job well, they quickly wear out, and so may need to be replaced a number of times throughout a project.

man cutting concrete

Safety note: Abrasive blades like the diamond blade may lead you to effectively “force” the saw. This is a dangerous action which could result in you losing control and sustaining a potentially life-threatening cut. So don’t risk it, purchase a high quality blade.

Cutting concrete with diamond blades

Stage 1

Choose the type of blade based on the job: dry-cutting diamond blade or wet-cutting diamond blade.

Stage 2

Prepare your workspace.

Stage 3

Where you need to cut, mark it either using a chalk line or chalk. Ideally, run water on the concrete to minimise dust.

Stage 4

Adhere to all personal safety precautions: guards for your shins, pads for your knees, steel-toe capped boots, in addition to protective eye wear and ear plugs. A correctly fitted filtration mask is a must-have! 

Stage 5

Where possible, allow some water to trickle over the line you wish to cut.

Stage 6

Beginning at either end of your cut, place a guide board (any 1 inch deep scrap piece of wood) along the outer chalk line.

Stage 7

With the saw completely off, set the blade depth by the depth lever so it will cut half of an inch deep. This ensures that you control the saw better for the shallow cuts.

Switch on the saw and set it at the lowest RPM setting, beginning your initial cut along the chalk guide line.

Cut for 30 – 45 seconds.

Stage 8

Remove your saw from the cut line, letting it freely spin; this provides the opportunity to spit out dust clogging up the saw. Alternate between 30 – 45 seconds of cutting and cooling off until you finish the project.

Dust will gather during cutting, despite you trying to keep your concrete wet. Take regular breaks to clear out dust.

Stage 9

For a deeper cut, switch off the saw and increase your blade depth by half-inch increments with the saw’s depth lever. Resume your cut by following the technique outlined above in Step 7 and 8.

And Finally…

Once the concrete around the cut line is knocked away, go back over it and gently tap away any excess concrete for a much cleaner line. If you’ll pour new concrete to replace a cracked concrete driveway or patio slab however, leave the edge jagged and jutting out a bit, giving the new concrete something to bond with.

4 Ways You Can Improve Your Home

Costs. Dispelling the myth.

Many people think that home improvements are an expensive luxury but they don’t have to be. There are lots of great ways to improve your home, giving it a new lease of life, freshening it up to make it look as good as new and help you feel like you’re in a brand new home. Without needing to re-mortgage your home, you can work with the resources you have to make those desired improvements. I’ve put together four ways that you can get started on improving your home today, that won’t break the bank!

diy

  1. Paint Your Walls And Ceilings

Equipment that you will need:

  • Ladder. You should have a good solid ladder with good rubber grips on its feet. Using a ladder safely is crucial. Depending on the height of your walls and/or ceilings, a short two-step ladder might do or you may need something a little longer to allow you to reach those high corners without over-reaching.
  • Airless paint sprayer. This is a great invention and can dramatically speed up your painting time. If this is your first time to use an airless paint sprayer maybe do some practise sprays beforehand.
  • Paint brushes. Good quality paint brushes are essential for getting a fine finish on cutting in at edges and reaching those places that require finer detail.
  • An old sheet or lots of news paper. Having good protection on your floors is so important or you could end up painting the floor too with little polkadots!
  • Painter’s/decorator’s tape or masking tape. You’ll need to tape down your floor protection mentioned above. This may also be required to prevent paint from getting on your ceiling.

Erica’s Tip: Completely clean the surfaces and let them dry before you start painting.

  1. Give Your Carpets A Good Deep Clean

Equipment you’ll need:

  • You can go over your carpet before giving it a wet clean, in order to remove and big dirt and dust particles.
  • Powdered carpet cleaner or carpet shampoo. You can apply the powder overnight allowing it to do its work, then simply vacuum it up the next morning. For shampoo, use just enough to cover the area. Scrub on the stained areas with a hard bristle brush. Let the carpet dry and then vacuum it.
  • Steam cleaner. This is a more professional grade device and a lot of people probably don’t own one but you can always hire one out for a day or two.

Erica’s Tip: If you are not comfortable cleaning your own carpet or require more professional equipment, you can hire an expert like 580 Carpet Cleaning in Livermore, California. Check out http://www.livermorecarpetcleaners.com for your carpet cleaning needs.

 

  1. Retile Your Bathroom

Equipment you’ll need:

  • Electric grinder. You will need this to cut the tiles from the wall or floor. Using this requires some experience and it is very loud so is probably not suitable for night time use!
  • Hammer: Hammering away any bits of tiles and grout will help you clear the surface.
  • Chisels: Chiselling away at the tile adhesive and grout will help you to level off the surface and prepare it for the new adhesive, grout and your lovely new tiles.
  • Grout sealant. This is basically a preventative measure to stop water and liquids from penetrating the grout. This is not needed if you are using an epoxy-based grout.

Erica’s Tip: You should use two coats of grout sealant.

  1. Clear Out Your Storage Rooms and Wardrobes

Equipment you’ll need:

  • Four-wheeled dolly or box dolly: This will save your back! Some of your items may be heavy or bulky so using a dolly to transport stuff is a good idea, especially if you have a lot to move.
  • Storage boxes. Either a strong cardboard box or a plastic storage box would be ideal for storing your belongings. Try to get ones with good handles and don’t pack too much weight into any one box.
  • Suitable transportation vehicle. If you have a van that is great. You might need access to a truck or larger vehicle depending on what you are moving or disposing of. You can minimize your transport to and from your storage location. Hiring a driver to do this might suit you better.

a clean carpet

Erica’s Tip: Sort and create an inventory of your belongings before moving them into storage.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

So there you have it, four cost effective ways to improve your home by using many tools and resources which you may already own. Some of the above may require you to learn new skills or to seek some expert advice or even hiring someone for a more professional job. Remember, if you don’t own some of the tools mentioned and you aren’t sure of what to do, it’s ok to ask for help!

How To: Get Blinds Installed. Improve Your Privacy!

Why blinds?

So you may have come to the realisation that your neighbours or random strangers are looking into your living room as they walk by. That is not an ideal situation for you. One way to deal with this would be to get yourself some blinds. This will help by filtering out light that is entering your rooms and will control your privacy level. Simple-to-adjust slatted window treatments can be completely pulled aside for an unimpeded view or alternatively they can be completely closed, giving you total privacy. Blinds come in an array of sizes, different materials and cater for a range of budgets. I’d like to give you some insight in how to decide on the perfect blinds for you – and of course how to install the blinds.

  1. Select the right style of blind

Blinds are manufactured from hard materials like vinyl or wood. Whereas, shades are made from fabrics. Vertical blinds consist of “vanes,” the slats that hang vertically while horizontal blinds feature individual slats. Vertical and horizontal blinds can be stand-alone window treatments or they can also be paired up with curtains to give you a more soft effect.

  1. Measure accurately and precisely*

You need to precisely measure the area that your blinds need to cover. Your blinds need to be able to function smoothly and block out any light. Decide whether it is inside-mount blinds (which will be installed within your window frame) or outside-mount blinds (blinds which attach to the wall) that you want.

*Please note: If you are ordering a custom blind, the company will just cut the blinds exactly to your specifications.

Safety Note: Long pull cords do pose the risk of strangulation to small children or pets. Most blind manufacturers have decided to move away from the pull chord design however some models may still be found on the market. Depending on your family situation and if you have pets, maybe the cordless blinds option would be best for you.

installing blinds

  1. Installation basics

Any hardware you require, including screws and brackets should come with the blinds you purchase. Generally, you will need a drill and also a Phillips head drill piece for the installation. The standard process is:

  1. Attach the brackets to hold your blind. Particularly wide blinds may come with additional center support brackets to prevent sagging in the middle of the blind.
  2. After your brackets are securely in place, fit the upper blind rail into these brackets. Vertical and horizontal blinds can often be sold with a finished front piece for the top rail that snaps on, covering the brackets while also giving a nice finished look to the blinds. Please bear in mind that installation will vary by blind type and brand, so do follow the instructions carefully!

Blinded by simplicity?

As you can see, installing blinds is a pretty straight forward home improvement you can do. To recap, please be mindful of the safety risks associated with pull chords, be careful using the drill and do enjoy the privacy you’ll have with your new blinds!

3 DIY Outdoor Home Improvements

The great outdoors

As brighter evenings approach, a lot of you will start planning improvements that you could to with the exterior of your home. These might include your garden, driveway or simply the outer walls or roof of your house. These outdoor improvements can be fun to do. The level of improvements you want to make is really bound by your imagination, budget and time.

I’ve put together three different outdoor home improvements that you can do today.

  1. Tidy up your garden and plant some flowers

Equipment and resources that you will need:

  • Shovel: You can use a shovel to dig any weeds or unwanted wild flowers. You can find a shovel in most good DIY department stores.
  • Sweeping brush. Maybe your paths just need a good sweep after the winter.
  • Rake: Raking your grass to rid it off any stones and leaves is a good starting point when cleaning up your garden.
  • Topsoil and flower/plant seeds. Planting some seeds in a designated area is a nice way to brighten up your garden with flowers and plants.
  • Garden hose. This is something that most people have and is relatively inexpensive. You can use the hose to wash down your garden paths and of course to water your newly planted flowers.

ladder photo

  1. Build a new driveway or refurbish your old one

Equipment and resources that you will need:

  • Rake. You can go over your carpet before giving it a wet clean, in order to remove and big dirt and dust particles.
  • Sweeping brush. Depending on what type of surface you have on your driveway, you can sweep it to clean it up, especially if you are laying down a new surface or power washing it down.
  • Garden hose.
  • New pebble stones. If you have a pebble stoned driveway, you may want to purchase some new stones to lay down to give it that fresh, new stoned look. Over time, stones may wear away from cars, people walking on them and of course the weather. A new bag or two will work wonders for you.
  • Cement. Maybe you need to fill some cracks or your driveway has some pot holes in it. Filling these cracks and holes with cement is a solid solution and mixing cement is quite easy to do.
  • Tar macadam. This is a more professional improvement and will require an expert. Make sure no children are near the tar macadam as it is extremely hot while it is being laid and thereafter until it sets in.
  1. Wash your outer walls or roof

Equipment and resources that you will need:

Over time, roofs can build up fungus and surface dirt from the elements. Roofs would be considered as horizontal flat surfaces and since they usually cover a large area, you will need some more sophisticated gear in order to make your pressure washing job that bit faster and more efficient. Walls are obviously easier to wash with a pressure washer as you are on the ground! So if you have a fear of heights then maybe hiring a professional roof cleaner is the way to go for you.

  • Pressure washer. Roofs would be considered as horizontal flat surfaces and since they usually cover a large area, you will need some more sophisticated gear in order to make your pressure washing job fast and efficient

That’s just the beginning!

So there you go, three great ways to improve the outside of your home. The above are just a taster of what you could do. Some require more experience and involve more health and safety than others but most of them won’t break the bank and the more expensive ones are much longer lasting anyway.