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Painting, decorating and home improvement tips blog

How to fix squeaky floorboards

Posted by admin
September 23rd, 2019

How to fix squeaky and creaking floorboards

You know how it is, you creep home late at night and head up to bed trying not to wake the family, then squeak the floorboards make a noise like the floor is falling through and wakes the family, not a good scenario but one fairly common I would guess.
Floorboards with support on joist

If you suffer from squeaky and creaking floorboards it can not only wake the family as I jokingly mentioned above it can just be annoying. Well thankfully it isn’t too much of a problem to fix them for any handyman or DIY enthusiast.
Floorboards not on a joist

What causes squeaky floorboards

Squeaky floorboards are caused mainly by badly fitting boards. If the boards are taken up to run electrical cables or pipework and are not put back properly, or the boards nailed back using the old nails in the old nail holes which means the nails don’t have a tight fit on the board and allow for them to move and squeak. Sometimes the end of the boards are not sitting on a joist and can move rubbing against the floorboards next to it.

Another reason for squeaky floorboards is simply that the boards have dried out and the nails are no longer holding the board down tight enough or the boards have moved and are rubbing together, whatever the reason you should be able to fix the problem.

How to fix squeaky floorboards

The first thing to do is to remove the floor covering, or part of it if you can’t fully clear the room. Once the floor covering has been removed you need to tread the boards, walk around and identify the squeaks and creaks and mark the boards where the noise is with a pencil. Do this over the entire floor.

Now go back and look at each mark you have made and identify what the problem is, for just boards that are rubbing together, you can either remove a board and plane a little off the edge, or try adding some talcum powder or chalk dust between the two rubbing boards to help movement between the two boards.

If the boards seem to be moving around the nails at the end of the boards, you need to screw these down. Don’t just put a screw in though as you may go through an electrical cable or a pipe, you may have to lift the board to see what is underneath first. Remove the nails and drill pilot holes next too the old nail holes so not to split the wood and then put a screw in making sure it pulls the board down tight.

If the board is split at the end, you may have to replace that board, or you may be able to lift it and turn it round so the other end is under the skirting board.

If the end of the board isn’t supported on a joist you will have to lift the board and put in a support. This can be done by lifting the unsupported board and fitting a length of 2×1 (50mm x 25mm) under the boards, ideally fixing it to a joist with screws. If a joist isn’t near, screw through the floorboards under either side of the unsupported one fixing the support to the underside of the boards, then re-fix the previously unsupported board and screw this board into the timber support you have fitted.

Do I need a new floor

Depending on how the floorboards have been lifted and cut will depend on if you need to replace boards or not, as mentioned above you may be able to lift a board and turn it around so the damaged end goes under the skirting, or even under furniture that doesn’t move. On the whole squeaky and creaking floorboards can be rectified.

Floorboards screwed down

How to lift floorboards

To lift floorboards you can use a club hammer and a wide bladed chisel such as a cold chisel or by using a crowbar. Prise the board up from one side then the other, be careful not to split the board, once you have the board slightly lifted up lay a piece of timber underneath to hold the end up and continue working along the board and moving the timber support as you go. If the floorboards are tongue and groove, you will need to cut the tongue off first in order not to damage the grove on the board next to it.

Safety First

Always remember to check under the floorboards for pipework and electrical cables before nailing or screwing down the floorboards, this will avoid driving a nail or screw through them. It is always a good idea to mark on the floorboards where the cables and pipes run under the floor, you can do this by using a pencil or better still a permanent marker pen. By marking the floor you will know where the cables and pipes run if you remove the floor covering or wish to run new pipework or cables in the future.

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Saving money on your energy bills

Posted by admin
December 21st, 2018

Saving money on your energy bills

Utility Bill

Over the past few weeks the UK has endured some very cold weather including strong winds and several centimetres of snow. The first thing people do when we get this type of weather is turn on the heating and turn it up, but could you be doing things to stop the cold draughts and heat loss from your home?

If you lose heat from your house you are literally burning money, badly fitting doors and windows are often a major contributory factor to heat loss as well as badly insulated walls and loft spaces. So what can be done?

By spending a little bit of time and money you can reduce your electricity, gas or water utility bills. Many things you can do yourself if your are a keen DIYer or Handyman.

Doors and windows

Draughts from around doors and windows not only let cold in but can allow heat to escape, you can fit a self-adhesive rubber or foam seal around the window or door to shut onto to reduce draughts, fitting brush draught excluders on the bottom of a door will reduce the cold from coming under the door. Even fitting a simple key hole cover over a door lock will reduce heat loss.
door and window

Ideally good fitting double glazed windows is the best option but these can be expensive to have fitted, but if you have single glazed windows you can still do more, such as fitting thick lined curtains and pulling them across mid afternoon as it gets dark and the temperature starts to drop. You could also fit secondary glazing throughout the winter months and remove it during the warmer summer months.

If you have a letterbox on your door consider fitting a draught proof flap on both sides, alternatively you can add a brush letterbox cover inside to reduce draughts and heat loss.

You can also buy, or make a draught excluder for the bottom of the door, these are often ‘sausage dogs’ if you buy them but can easily be made from and old pillow case and filled with old rags, whatever they are made from or the style they can reduce heat loss from the bottom of the door.

Lofts and Loft hatches

Heat rises so ensuring the loft space has enough insulation, current recommendations for mineral wool insulation is 270mm but other types of insulation may need more or less, check with the manufacturer. Also don’t forget flat roofs, they also need to be insulated.

Having a well fitted insulated and draught proofed loft hatch also can not be overlooked, no point in insulating the loft space then not doing the loft hatch. Attach insulation on the inside and fit a rubber seal for the hatch to shut onto, just like any other door.

Pipes and pipework

You can buy pipe lagging very cheaply and is easy to fit, it is often made from foam and can be fitted over the pipes, both hot and cold. You can also buy felt insulation but is harder to fit over installed pipework. If you buy the foam type just ensure you but the correct bore size for the size of copper pipe, normally either 15mm or 22mm.

Often an overlooked area is the outside, if you have pipes going outside, make sure the gaps around them are filled in, this includes plastic pipes such as waste pipes as well as copper pipes. If you have copper pies outside, lag these to stop them from freezing.

Radiators

Radiator

If you have radiators, make sure you bleed the air out of them, to tell if they need doing feel the top, middle and bottom, if the top is colder it is more than likely filled with air and need bleeding. This is a simple job and all you need is a bleed key, then open the bleed valve on the radiator a small amount until water comes out, then do the bleed valve up tight again.

If you have cold areas in your radiator you are not using the radiator efficiently and if you turn the heating up to compensate for the cold area on the radiator you are using more energy to heat the bottom of the radiator, bleed them and turn the heating down a bit.

Hot water tanks

Your hot water cylinder is where you store your hot water, if this isn’t insulated properly and you lose heat from it you will need to keep re-heating the water, so using more energy. The insulation should be at least 75mm thick, if it isn’t you can buy a hot water cylinder jacket to wrap around it.

Walls

Cavity and solid wall

If your walls are not insulated but you have a cavity between the inner and outer walls it is worth insulating them, this will reduce the heat loss from your walls. If you are unsure if you have a cavity in you wall or if you are unsure if your walls have cavity wall insulation, if you can see your bricks, look at the pattern if it is regular you will more than likely have a cavity, if the bricks have alternate, that is if you can see a full length brick, then the end of a brick you may not have a cavity but a solid wall, check with a cavity wall insulation firm in your area.

If your house was built before or up to the 1920’s it is most likely to have solid walls, after this time it should have a cavity and any house built from the 1990’s will most likely have a cavity wall with cavity wall insulation.

As for the inside of the walls, you can line them with a thermal liner, this only really needs to be done on the exterior walls as it is fairly expensive, but can be done on all of the walls. By having a thermal liner it will help even more with the heat loss through your walls.

Solar Panels

If you wish to go a step further, you can install solar panels on your roof to help with your electricity bills, and even reduce your bills by feeding the grid with your unused electricity. Although initially expensive to install it is a long term investment.

Finally

Please remember that houses need to be ventilated to stop mould growth, wet and dry rot and to keep a healthy environment inside the house so please do not block any air bricks, window trickle vents or air vents such as those near a boiler.

With many of the ways to save money on your energy bills mentioned above, you may be able to get Government grants, financial support and even earn money such as if you install solar panels, so have a look around to see what you can get help with.

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Painting pipes and Pipework

Posted by admin
January 31st, 2017

Painting pipe with paper behind

Painting Pipes and pipework

From time to time we have to paint pipes or pipework, this can be inside or outside a property. It could be plastic PVCu drainage pipes from kitchens or bathrooms, or maybe copper water pipes for heating etc.

What ever the situation un-painted pipes can look unsightly, pipes look better painted. They maybe in a different colour, sometimes a different finish such as gloss or satinwood.

To get a good professional finish you don’t want to get paint from the pipes onto the surrounding area, such as walls. A good trick is to put cardboard of a sheet of paper or old wallpaper behind the pipes to protect the area behind getting splashed or the brush touching the wall as you try to get the back part of the pipes, once done you will have beautifully painted pipes and no paint on the walls behind.

This tip works for all types of pipework, interior and exterior.

How to paint pipes and paintwork

To paint new copper pipes you need to ensure they are free from any plumbing flux and grease, so a wipe over with soapy water, methylated spirits or white spirit should remove this. With the pipes clean you can prime the pipes and then topcoat. I prefer satinwood but you can use gloss or emulsion. Oil based paints can yellow on hot water or heating pipes due to the heat.

To paint previously painted copper pipes, give them a quick wipe over to remove any dust etc, gently rub down to give a key, prime / undercoat and them topcoat with your preferred paint.

To paint plastic PVCu pipes, such as soil pipes, drainage pipes etc, ensure they are free from dirt and debris, including any plumbing grease etc. Give them a rub down with a fine grit sandpaper to give it a key, then prime, and paint with topcoat of choice.

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