12 articles Articles posted in DIY

Easy Home Improvements That Can Make Your Life Better

We all want to live in a nice home, which is why we spend so much time decorating and updating them. Some jobs take forever and do not really make a big difference to how comfortable we are. While, others, like the ones I am going to talk about below, really do make our life easier and more comfortable.

Install a heated towel rail

Heated towel rails, like this, are great. They look good, will not rust and ensure that you always have a nice, warm, dry towel to use. Often, you can use the pipes that are already in place for your existing radiator. So, installing one need not be too disruptive.

Update your shower

If you want to enjoy a more powerful shower, try updating the showerhead. Sometimes this is all that is needed.

It is also worth checking that the connection between your mains and home supply has been fully opened. Occasionally, this connection can get turned off during construction work and not get turned on properly again. If you suffer from low water pressure throughout your home, this could be why.

Enhance your lighting

Updating your lighting is a great way to improve the ambience of your home. This in-depth article explains what you need to consider when tackling this project. It also outlines the easiest approach.

Draught-proof your home

Draught proofing your home need not take long and it will make a huge difference to how comfortable you feel. Plus, it should also reduce your fuel and power bills.

Refresh your walls

Re-painting or wallpapering a room is a hassle. Fortunately, you can usually get away with taking an easier approach. Sometimes just hanging new artwork or wall hangings can be all you need to do.

Other times, touching up the paintwork will be enough. Just wallpapering one wall can also work. Or, if you could use stencils or wall stickers to change things up a bit.

Paint your front door

Painting your front door will make a huge difference to how nice your home looks from outside. It also worth power washing the path cutting the grass and spraying the weeds.

Renew your door furnishings

If your internal door handles are looking worn, just replace them. It is easy to do.

Sort out your flooring

If your floors or carpets have seen better days, cover them up or replace them. For some rooms, rugs will be all you need. If you do need to renew your flooring, use the easy to lay options. Lino or laminate flooring are too particularly good options. You do not need any special equipment to be able to lay them.

Renew your kitchen cabinet doors

Instead of ripping out your old kitchen and installing a new one, just replace the doors instead. This is far cheaper. Plus, this is the kind of job that you can do gradually, which makes it manageable for most DIYers.

Many of the suggestions I have made, above, are not expensive. So, if you want to make your home more comfortable why not try one or two of them.

Engineered vs Solid Wood Flooring

wooden floorIn a previous blog post, the advantages of wooden flooring were discussed, but some of you may still be wondering whether solid wood or engineered wood flooring is best. With the help of Luxury Flooring & Furnishings, we have analysed the advantages and disadvantages of each to suit the needs of every home.

The Basics

So what’s the difference between these two kinds of flooring? Solid wood is exactly what it says on the tin – planks of solid timber, commonly oak, walnut or bamboo, cut into a certain length and thickness. Engineered flooring is a bit more complicated. Although it uses solid wood on the top layer and therefore looks identical, it has many plywood layers beneath this for support and greater practicality in certain types of home.

Which Do I Choose?

Each type of wood floor has different benefits. For example, solid wood cannot handle fluctuations in temperature, high humidity, or moisture, and shrinks and warps under such conditions. Engineered wood can handle this due to its construction however, making it more suitable to areas with underfloor heating, spillages, or lots of natural light.

On the other hand, solid wood has much greater prestige associated with it, putting up the value of your home, and can last longer. This is partly due to its ability to be sanded down and refinished more often, which should take place every 10-15 years when the floors starts to look worn. This means with solid wood, your floor can look just like new for longer, which is vital in homes with children, pets or high footfall. Engineered flooring can handle 1 sanding per mm of wear layer (e.g. 3mm wear layer means 3 sandings), whereas a solid floor can handle around 8 in its lifetime – if you plan on long term improvements, this is the best choice.

What Else Should I Consider?

Of course practicality isn’t the only thing to consider. Solid wood will set you back cost wise by quite a bit more, but considering they both look the same and install the same way – and install easily for any DIY fan – there isn’t that much of a difference in your decision. In homes with high footfall, children or pets, we recommend solid wood for more restoration opportunities, whereas in kitchens where spillages occur, it is engineered that will go the distance.

So, which would go best in your home?

Upgrading our Bathroom on a Budget

A few months back, our landlady visited to take a look at some things around the house that we were having issues with, and while she was here she said a sentence that sounded like music to my ears:

“You could probably do with a new bathroom, couldn’t you?”

Don’t get me wrong, our current bathroom is functional, but there’s nothing nice about it, and I’d be ecstatic to have a newer one fitted. She’s planning to have it done over the summer which gives me plenty of time to fantasise about what I’d love to be done. Here are a few of them:

New Shower

Our current shower runs off of the taps, which is fine, but the water pressure isn’t hugely high and our heating relies on LPG deliveries, meaning that when we ran out in the dead of winter we were stuck for two weeks over Christmas without being able to have a shower or bath! I’d love her to replace it with an electirc shower, so it wasn’t reliant on gas, and I’m hoping her plumber will compare a range of shower pumps at Pump Sales Direct so that we end up with decent amount of pressure!

Re-Enamel the Bath

Our bath is actually a really decent old cast-iron bath and while there’s nothing wrong with the structure, it could really do with a new coating of enamel as the surface has gone a little patchy. Re-enamelling a bath is a great way to update an old model without needed to spend masses or do tricky plumbing work.

Tiling the Walls

At the moment, we have tiling around the splash-back of the sink and on the wall that the bath adjoins to, but I’d love for the tiling to cover all of the wall surfaces in the bathroom. This would make it super easy to keep clean and looking nice, and would also help to hide the problem we have with mould in the rooms upstairs. I also have a huge thing about white tiles with grey grouting, so if I could manage to convince her to do this, I’d be one happy tenant!

Replacing the Floor

At the moment, we have carpet in the bathroom, which means it’s pretty warm in the winter but I find it a really impractical as it gets wet all the time. Also, who wants to vaccum the bathroom?! If I had my way, I’d go for some beautiful blakc and white checkerboard tiles on the floor to give it a classic, clean look which can be dressed up with accessories of any colour.

Storage

At the moment, we have one, very small, bathroom cabinet which offers very little in the way of storage and I spend my life trying to find places to discreetly stack the masses of bathroom products that we seem to accrue. I’d love a cabinet around the pedestal of the sink or even a sliding bath panel so that we could utilise that empty space under the bath.

What would you add if you had the chance to design your dream bathroom?

The Advantages of Wooden Flooring

As you’ll know if you read Mum’s the Word, we’re currently looking for ways to upgrade the house and make home improvements. You’ll also know that we recently got a puppy, so a lot of our ideas revolve around making things easier and more pleasant with a new pet around. We’ve come to the conclusion that wooden floors would be a really good idea, and I thought I’d give you five reasons why, in case you’re currently trying to make a decision about your own flooring options:

1. Durability

Engineered oak flooring is so durable and hard-wearing; go into any hundreds-of-years old Manor House in the U.K. and you can guarantee that the floors will be wooden! If we lay wooden floor now, it should last a lifetime with proper care.

2. Maintenance

One of the things that really appeals to me about wooden flooring is that it’s easy to maintain. If something scratches it or gets spilt, it just needs a little rub down and re-varnish to get it back to looking it’s best.

3. Warmth

Wooden flooring not only looks warm, but it feels warm, too. Unlike other flooring like tiles or laminate, wood actually retains heat and given the fact that our house gets really cold in the winter, having something to increase our heat would be a huge bonus!

4. Look

Let’s be honest, there aren’t many floor coverings which look as good as solid oak flooring! Going into a house which has wooden floors gives the overall impression of good taste and high quality, and it can also add lots of value to a house if you’re planning to sell.

5. Versatility

One thing I really love about wooden floors is that they’re so versatile. When you go for coloured carpet or tiles, you’re constantly at the mercy of finding things which co-ordinate with them, whereas wooden flooring goes with basically anything. You also have the options to use area rugs which can add a totally different feel to different parts of your house.

Do you have wooden flooring in your house? What’s your favourite thing about wooden floors?

Making Our Home Work for Us with Karndean

Karndean OpusAlthough Husband and I rent our home, we’re lucky in the respect that our landlady is pretty easy-going about what we do to the place (providing we don’t tear down walls or paint the whole place black!). We’ve been thinking lately about what we could do to make the place work a bit better for us, and we think that starting with the floors would be a good idea (puppies and carpets are NOT a good mix!).

One of the options we considered was Karndean, as I’ve heard lots of people saying how much they love it, and to my surprise there are a whole load of varieties of Karndean to choose from. I thought I’d ask my friends who have it what they thought of Karndean flooring and how well it fits into their life. Here’s what a few of them said:

My friend Emily said “We had it at our old house and it was our selling point. It looked like real wood and was easy to sweep, and it was warmer under foot than other hard flooring”

Cat from Cat’s Yellow Days said “We have Karndean across nearly the whole ground floor. It looks great and cleans easily but the biggest selling point for me was that they had such a big range I could get exactly the shade I wanted.”

Tara from Sticky Fingers said “I had it throughout my new kitchen/living extension. Bloody love it. Easy to manage with the dog and muddy kids, warm underfoot looks fabulous. Had tiles before and it was cold and everything that came within sniffing distance of the floor broke!”

In terms of the different ranges, there are three to choose from:

Karndean Art Select

“Karndean Art Select is a range of vinyl flooring featuring exciting hardwood, stone and marble designs that will render a touch of elegance to any space. With an overall thickness of 3mm, and a wear layer of 0.70mm, the Karndean Art Select is super soft and warm under your feet. Completely washable and waterproof, the Art Select collection is perfectly suited for any room in your home.”

Karndean Van Gogh

“The Karndean Van Gogh range is manufactured from highly durable vinyl from the world’s number one producer of luxury vinyl flooring. Available in a variety of sizes and colours, the Van Gogh flooring range is available in a wide range of solid wood effects including walnut, oak and birch.”

Karndean Opus

“The Karndean Opus range of luxury vinyl tiles is a relatively new and a quite popular range of luxury vinyl tiles. It features wood finish as well as traditional stone tile finishes. With an overall thickness of 2.5mm that includes a 0.55 mm wear layer, the Karndean Opus range is available in an array of sizes.”

Do you have Karndean flooring in your home? I’d love to hear our opinion, so please leave me a comment below!

Do More Than Just Spring Cleaning!

It’s that time of year where the clocks have gone forward, the nights and mornings aren’t so depressingly dark and we’re FINALLY starting to feel like we;re throwing off the blanket of Winter and saying hello to Spring. For many of us, this is when we start to think about spring cleaning, having a good sort-out, getting the garden usable after all the bad weather and all those other things that help us to shake of memories of dreary days. However, I’ve been thinking about other, bigger things I can do to get the house and garden back to looking their best and I thought I’d share them with you:

Replace Curtains and Blinds

When we move in here, we didn’t have any coverings on any of the windows and I don’t know about you, but I hate that curtain-less, ‘living in a fish bowl’ feeling, so I went and bought cheap blinds to fill the gap. However, two and a half years on and the blinds are looking really tatty now, so I’m looking to upgrade to something a lot nicer. It will make the whole house look smarter and will hopefully help to keep the cold out if we choose thermal blinds. I’m a big fan of grey so will probably be opting for grey curtains or blinds.

Paint the Front Door

Our front door is wooden and painted gloss white, but it’s seen better days and is starting to look really tatty. As soon as we’re due to have a couple of nice days, I’ll be sanding the door, frame and doorstep and repainting the whole lot – I may even go for a colour instead of just stark white to give the house a bit of a brighter look.

Tidy the Garden

Thanks to months of snow and wet weather, our lawns and flower beds have been totally neglected and need a really god tidy up. We invested in a petrol mower so that we could still mow on damp days but it’s still been far too wet, but now that the sun has been out a little bit, we’re really hoping to be able to get out there and get it done. We get a lot of walkers going by our house and it must look such a mess!

Clean the Windows

I must admit, this is one that I probably leave far longer than I should, but because we’re surrounded by farmland we’re constantly getting dusty winds blown at us, so even if the windows have just been cleaned, they can look mucky again quite quickly. We’ve also got quite a lot of windows (I think I counted 15) so it’ll definitely be a case of getting someone in who’s got all the right tools and equipment to do it for us.

What jobs are you planning to do to get your house in order? Leave me a comment below.

Must Know Plumbing Tips For New Homeowners

Must Know Plumbing Tips For New Homeowners

As a first-time homeowner, you have a lot to learn about the care of your home. In terms of your plumbing, you need to protect your home from disastrous and costly problems. You must deal with plumbing problems as soon as you notice them to avoid costly water damage issues.

Here are some tips that will help you become a responsible homeowner:

Get Heating And Plumbing Inspection

You can find heating and plumbing inspections at a relatively cheap price – these inspections will help you avoid water damage. Inspections are beneficial because they unearth problems within your heating and plumbing system and give you time to fix them before they escalate. This inspection will bring pressing and not-so-pressing issues to your attention.

Once the inspection is over, you will be given a list of items you need to buy, allowing you to come up with a budget. You can also pay for a camera inspection, where a camera is sent into your sewer system to check for clogs.

Locate The Main Water Shut Off Valve

In the event of an emergency, you should know where the shut off valve in your home is. During a leak, the last thing you need is to start running around looking for the shut off valve. You need to shut the main water supply off to prevent your home from flooding, which will cause water damage. To find your shut off, you might have to crawl under your house or check your basement.

Clean Your Shower Drain

Ignoring your shower drain can lead to clogs, which will make your bathroom a no-go zone. According to Plumbing Fix, hair is the leading cause of blockage in bathroom drains. Cleaning up debris such as hair from your bathroom drain, your pocket and pipes will thank you. You need to set up a routine maintenance to ensure that no problems occur. To make things easier, install a hair strainer in your drain to prevent hair from going down the drain and clogging it.

Do Not Use Liquid Drain Cleaners

Liquid drain cleaners usually leave you with more problems than you bargained for because they reduce the life of your pipes. Instead of using liquid cleaners, which eat up your pipes, invest in a snake. We’re not talking about a real snake here. You can buy an inexpensive snake from the nearest home improvement store and use it to keep your drains free of debris. If a snake does not remove the clog, try using a plunger. You can buy this cheap item from the nearest store.

Cover Outdoor Pipes During Winter

If the water going through your pipes freezes, they can burst and cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. How do basements end up flooded after the winter? When water freezes inside the pipes, it expands and because there is nowhere for ice to go, the pipes crack to accommodate the new size. As the cold weather dissipates, the ice melts and seeps through the cracked pipes, flooding your basement. If this occurs while you’re on a vacation, you might come home to a flooded house. To avoid this, you need to winterize your house before the cold season arrives.

Emergency Numbers

You need to have several phone numbers handy for home emergencies: plumbers, HVAC contractors, and electricians. Having a plumber’s number handy is especially important because plumbing issues such as leaks should be addressed immediately.

 

EcoAir Dehumidfier (Review)

When we moved into our current property, we had an inkling that it may have had an issue with damp because although the walls and ceilings were fairly newly painted, there was a wallpapered feature wall in the main bedroom and it was bubbling quite badly in one corner. However, we loved so many things about the house and the location that we decided we’d just deal with the damp as and when it became a problem for us…which was basically six months after moving in!

We spent the best part of two winters bleaching the walls and ceilings when the mould grew through and did our best to keep the rooms well aired; we didn’t dry washing on the radiators and kept the windows on vent all year round but it was starting to feel like a bit of a battle. The landlady did her best to help as well, paying to have an extractor vent installed in the bathroom and eventually having a whole new roof on the house! Husband and I also spent a week treating the walls and ceilings with a special mould-resistant paint and a paint which contained volcanic ash to stop cold spots, but none of this would be any good if we didn’t tackle the condensation problem. EcoAir DD-3 Classic dehumidifier

In stepped the EcoAir DD3 dehumidifier. EcoAir sent it to us to try out and I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am that they did. The main time that we experience condensation on the walls and windows is in the morning and leaving it to soak into the walls throughout the day was obviously causing the mould to grow. Now, we put the EcoAir on as soon as we get up and leave it on a 2 hour cycle (or sometimes a 4 hour cycle when the condensation looks particularly bad) and we’ve been measuring how much water we collect each time. The results are genuinely mindblowing.

On a 2 hour cycle, we collect 500ml of water and on a 4 hour cycle, we colect around 850ml of water. That’s half a litre to almost a litre of water PER DAY which isn’t soaking into our walls.

When I first emptied the collection tray out, I was properly astounded by just how much water was in there and I won’t lie, I’m just as impressed every single day. So far, between the treatments we’ve given the walls and the dehumidifier working so hard, we’ve had almost three months of being completely mould-free, which is a HUGE deal for us. We were starting to worry about the effects that it may be having on our health and were really considering our options in terms of whether continuing to live in this house was viable, but this has much such a huge difference that it no longer even feels like an issue.

Damp Before and After

One thing we loved about the EcoAir DD3 is that it’s so easy to use. The collection tray just slots in and out and it even has an emptying spout on the bottom to make it even easier to empty. It also comes with a hose which you could run into a plughole and leave on constant if you had a massive damp problem to deal with. Also, and I’m sure this isn’t a feature that EcoAir promote, the air it blows out is slightly warm, so if you were to run it for an hour before you got in bed on a winter night, you’d make the room feel warmer, too!

I know it seems like bloggers are often effusive in their praise when they’ve been sent something for a review, but I’m being totally honest about the fact that it’s made such a big difference to our lives, and I would honestly recommend it to anyone who was battling against damp. It’s small enough not to feel like it takes up too much space, it’s easy to use, easy to empty, and works BRILLIANTLY. If I had one minor criticism, it would be that it’s ever so slightly noisy, but given the fact that I never run it when I’m in the room, that really is a minor issue.

Do let me know if you have any questions about the EcoAir DD3, do leave me a comment below or hit me up on social media.

(Affiliate link)

My Top DIY Tips

Before we begin, I should probably confess that I am by NO means a DIY expert. By the same token, we’ve been doing a fair bit of decorating and DIY recently as we had a few bits in the house that needed doing and our landlady asked us to do them. Between painting, damp-proofing, repairs and improvements, it’s been a real baptism of fire as it’s years since I’ve done anything like this, and I was probably a kid helping my parents the last time I did any of it. Jumping in at the deep end means that we’ve learned a few things along the way so I thought I’d share some of my pearls of wisdom with you:

It Doesn’t Matter How Careful You Are, Your Clothes Will Get Dirty

You can be the neatest, most careful painter and DIY-er on the planet but there’s still a better than average chance that you’ll end up getting SOMETHING on your clothes! Wearing old clothes for decorating in is all well and good, but using dedicated workwear if you have a big renovation project to complete is a really good idea as not only will you not mind if you get it dirty, you’ll also feel more in the DIY mood if you’re all kitted out. Take a look at the Engelbert Strauss’s website for some great options.

It Can Make or Break a Relationship

Decorating is one of those things which can be really fun and a great exercise in teamwork but it can also be massively stressful and a source of conflict for many couples. Husband and I are lucky enough to be really good at working together as a team when we’re doing practical things like decorating or furniture building, but it has also caused some fairly big rows in the past, so be prepared for potential tiffs! When doing DIY make sure you prepare a skip for all of your un wanted waste. Check out this skip hire company in benfleet for more information on quality skips.

It Might Not Always Go To Plan

Having a vision of what things will look like is all well and good but tempering your expectations will do you a favour in the long run, rather than allowing yourself to be disappointed if it doesn’t go your way. Husband and I recently decorated our bedroom and I had my heart set on a wallpapered feature wall, only to realise that the wall was just too damp to hang paper on. Although we’ve treated the damp and painted over it, it’s still pointless hanging paper which could ultimately be ruined but that didn’t change the fact that I was VERY disappointed for a while!

Have you learned something from a renovation project recently? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear about it!

Making Your Garden Surfaces Kid Friendly

It might seem utterly bonkers to say that grass could be ‘out of fashion’, but there’s been a definite shift in recent years away from the traditional lawn and towards more modern solutions which can be used all year round. Grass is great in many ways, but is probably the single-most high maintenance flooring for a garden as it needs to be mowed, edged, fed, watered and weeded on a regular basis. Also, if you have pets it can be hard to clean up after them if their main toilet area is grass. Today, I thought I’d show you some really great alternatives to a grass lawn so that you can be inspired for your own lawn makeover.

Rubber Mulch Play Area

You know those squidgy rubber floors that you see in play parks, usually beneath apparatus like swings and slides? Well, it’s possible to use those on a more domestic level, too. It’s clean, safe, easy to maintain and will give your kids a safe area for playing on. It also comes in different colours and textures; find yourself a rubber mulch play area specialist and they’ll be able to advise you on all the options available.

Astroturf

Astroturf or fake grass is a great option if you still want to maintain the LOOK of a lawn, without all the maintenance. It’s a little on the expensive side but we know several people who’ve replaced their lawns with fake grass and they feel like it’s one of the best decor decisions they’ve ever made.

Bark Chips

Bark flooring is also something you see a lot in parks and playgrounds and it can be a great option at home as it’s largely something that you can buy and lay all by yourself. It can be expensive if you have a large area to cover and you’ll probably need to top it up every now and again to account for chips which get washed away in wind or rain, but it can look really nice and give the area a rustic feel, if you aren’t a fan of the super-modern.

Shingle

Shingle is a great choice if you are trying to cover a large area on a budget, but it’s not so great for play areas of if you have pets. It’s good for people who just want to make a relatively under-used area look a bit smarter and is easy to top up with an extra bag every now and again, making it a popular choice for people who are trying to sell a house and smarten up the exterior.

Slate Chips

Slate chips are really popular at the moment because they are usually grey, a colour which has soared in popularity for decoration and masonry in recent years. Slate gives a really premium look to a driveway or patio area and although it’s not cheap it doesn’t need to be topped up as often because each chips is heavier and doesn’t get brushed away as easily.