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DIY Tips by Jenny - 2w ago

Some of you might not know that such a thing as fire retardant paint exists. There are different types of paint with different levels and methods of protection. They are not normally used in domestic settings however maybe they should be. If you are panting a public space or a business one you should probably consider using a fire retardant paint – certainly in key escape routes. We’ll be providing a summary below to better explain the fundamental differences and the benefits of these paints.

British Safety Standards

The British BS 476 safety standard is a regulation that sets out the rules to follow as it relates to building structures and the materials used within them. There are different classifications for the regulations which relate to paint.

The Class 1 is a paint coating that ensures zero spread of a fire. With Class 0, the surface areas are expected to have a limited ability to catch fire; used in high-risk places like access corridors and escape routes out of the building. There is another classification which is known as “fire resistance” which ensures that fire won’t spread for 30 minutes in the hope it will be enough time to evacuate everyone from the building.

Paint Types

There are two main paint types that resist fire propagation to a lesser or greater extent. There are fire retardant paints and fire-resistant ones otherwise known as intumescent paint. There are also separate sprays and varnishes that may be applied over paint to provide additional benefits.

Fire Retardant Paints

The fire-retardant paints are the strongest ones. The product is intended to prevent fire from spreading and in many cases, to put the flame out altogether. The fire suppression technology is achieved by a gas release that happens when the paint heats up. These paints must pass BS 476, part 7, one of the British safety standards. Public areas in restrooms, hotels and other common areas often use this type of paint.

Intumescent Paints

Intumescent paint doesn’t function the same way. Instead of releasing a gas, when the heat reaches a set level, the paint will burn and create a bubble over the exposed area to protect it. The idea is that a nearby wall that’s close to the fire but not actually on fire yet reacts to the growing heat level nearby and forms a protective shell over the walls. By doing so, the walls are protected and far less likely to catch fire too.

What Can the Paint Be Applied On?

Fire retardant paint may be applied to wood, MDF, chipboard, soft & hardwood, stone and brickwork, metal, plaster, and concrete. It is used on unpainted surfaces, pre-stained, already painted and varnished surfaces without difficulty.

Other Protections for Wood

For wood, it’s a good idea to apply a reactive paint as an initial layer of protection. After this is complete, a flame retardant paint can be applied with one litre of paint covering 6-10 square metres. The selected paint finish doesn’t affect its protective qualities. When using clear coatings, there are intumescent varnishes that offer fireproof benefits. These are applied liberally with one litre being used on 6 ½ square meters.

It is highly recommended that you personally check the suggested proper treatment with each protective layer solution and flame retardant/resistant paint or clear varnish. Formulations can change with individual product lines, so verifying the current correct application method is sensible in order to apply the coats correctly for maximum protection from fire.

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With winter just around the corner, it’s time to check up on your central heating system. Making sure your heating is running smoothly and safely is better done early—wait too long and before you know it, you’ll be freezing inside your home on a chilly morning and the heating engineers are all booked up!

By inspecting your heating system early, you’ll avoid any cold mornings, headaches, and high repair bills. To keep your home nice and warm, make sure to follow these 6 steps.

Check your radiators for cold spots

Switch on your heating, let the system run for a few minutes, and check all your radiators. Are all of them completely warm or are there cold patches? Cold spots indicate a build-up of air bubbles, scale, or sludge in the radiator pipes.

If the radiator is cold at the top, you’ll need to bleed the radiator by releasing the trapped air. If the middle or bottom is cold, you’ll need to clear out the accumulated scale or sludge. This requires a thorough cleaning after removing the radiator or a flush of the system.

Examine the pilot light

If possible, look at the pilot light when you fire up your boiler. Is it a blue flame? This means that the fuel is burning cleanly and efficiently. However, if the pilot light is orange or yellow, the flame is cooler and indicates that incomplete combustion is taking place. This could lead to soot build-up, smoke damage, and the release of carbon monoxide. In this case, you’ll need to call a heating professional for servicing.

Check your pilot light colour – yellow flames like this one indicate a problem

Prevent frozen pipes

When the temperatures drop significantly below 0 degrees for long periods of time, one issue is the risk of your pipes freezing. To prevent this, lag your pipes, which means adding insulation. Ready-made lagging is available for purchase and is fitted directly to your pipes. Not only will it help protect against freezing, it also keeps the hot water hot and prevents condensation. Lagging your pipes ensures you enjoy hot water and space heating throughout your house.

Maximise your insulation

Staying on the topic of insulation, it’s also time to insulate the rest of your house! Or at least make sure everything is properly sealed. This is because even though your heating could be running without any problems, all of this would be for nothing if your house is leaking that warm air easily.

Check that your windows are in excellent condition, and any gaps are sealed off. Draught-proofing strips are cheap and easy to install for windows, doors, and loft hatches. Your fireplace is also a big culprit when it comes to draughts—a chimney draught excluder should fix that. Put filler in cracks in your walls or floorboards; use a filler that can expand, contract, and move with the floorboards.

Regular servicing

You should have your boiler and heating system serviced once a year by a certified engineer. This is to make sure that everything is working properly and to prevent any problems, both big and small. With a regular service, your heating engineer will inspect all parts and fix any issues, providing the level of expertise that’s needed when dealing with something as complex as your central heating.

Winter is usually when heating companies and professionals are at their busiest. That’s why it’s so important to arrange for a servicing as early as possible, if you have not done so already. Beat the rush and you’ll make sure to avoid the hassle of finding an engineer if you encounter a boiler or a heating malfunction!

Boiler Maintenance

Look for ways to increase efficiency

In some circumstances, you might be looking to improve the efficiency of your heating even more after completing maintenance. There are several small things you can do that, altogether, will boost the efficiency of your heating significantly.

Install a magnetic filter inside your heating system to keep rust and sludge build-up to a minimum. Place radiator reflector sheets behind the units to ensure that the heat is not lost through the wall. Time your heating to match your schedule—have heating and hot water ready when you wake up or arrive home, and lower the temperature while you are away.

Finally, you might even want to upgrade to a more efficient model. Modern boilers reach efficiency ratings greater than 90%, saving you more money. You might even get some help with government grants that are pushing for more environmentally friendly heating systems!

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If you were hoping for an Indian summer this year, I’m sorry to say that it’s not going to happen. Winter has most definitely arrived! Now is the time to check you have prepping your garden for the colder months so you are ready for the worst of the weather.

So make the most of any dry, warmish days to get out in the garden and get yours in shape for the winter months. Here is a list of some of the most common and important jobs that you should focus on.

Tidy Up Your Flower Beds

Those plants that still look good will look even better if you tidy up everything around them, and give them a last chance to shine. Thin out any plants that have outgrown their space, dig up anything that needs to be protected from the frost (such as Dahlias), cut off any dry dead plant matter and loosen compacted soil around and between plants. A border fork is ideal for getting in between your plants in a closely packed flowerbed.

Now’s also the time to divide herbaceous plants, collect seed from perennials and annuals and sow seed for next year. Now’s the time to plant out spring bulbs and give yourself something to look forward to in the new year. A hand towel with a telescopic handle makes planting bulbs in hard to reach corners much easier.

Not got the right tools for the job? This will make the task a lot harder, it will take longer and in some cases, you risk injury. It is worth investing in decent quality garden tools for those jobs that you are going to have to do regularly. Blades should be sharp for any pruning. If they are not you increase the risk of introducing disease. If you don;t have the right tools or you can;t cope with some of the harder jobs then consider using a gardener.

Protect Your Veg!

If you have a vegetable patch it will be a prime target for slugs, snails and birds as other sources of food die back. Harvest any vegetables or fruit before you lose them, and net your cabbages, brussel sprouts and other leafy greens to keep the pigeons off. While you at it prepare your veg patch soild for next year by double-diging. Autumn and winter are the best times to do this so grab a spade and start working up a sweat!

Clean Out Your Greenhouse

Before moving tender plants into a full size or lean to greenhouse, give it a good tidy up and clean out so that it’s ready for the new growing season. You may also like to add some insulation over the winter months; bubble wrap is a popular DIY choice.

If you don’t have a greenhouse now is a good time to get one installed and prepared for Winter and early Spring plantings. You can buy then fairly cheaply off the shelf from the usual home stores and garden centers and you can also buy a posh greenhouse online. However there are some basic greenhouse adjustments you should make in order for it to perform well and be easier for you to use and keep tidy.

Protect Your Tools

As well as cleaning out your greenhouse your gardening tools will also need some TCL. Clean off mud and soil and lubricate blades with vegetable oil. You can also oil your wooden handled gardening tools with linseed, or paint metal handles with hammered enamel paint.

Protect Your Pond

Stretch some netting across ponds and water features to prevent autumn leaves collecting in them. Make sure netting is securely fastened around your pond so that wildlife doesn’t get stuck underneath. Metal garden pegs are perfect if fastening into the soil around it.

Lawn Care

There won’t be many more opportunities to mow the lawn so give yours a final cut. It’s also a good time to lay turf, so if your lawn needs some repair work – do this now. Your lawn can still look smart during the winter months so use an edging tool to complete an end of year tidy. An adjustable lawn rake makes light work of clearing leaves from your lawn, without damaging the turf. Or try some garden leaf grabbers for moving your raked leaves into the compost bin.

Pruning, Trimming and Lopping

Hedges and shrubs will also need a last trim before the winter sets in. Have a good look at any trees and large shrubs to see whether they have any dangerous branches: lop them off before they do any damage in windy weather. Cut out any dead wood or branches that are damaged. Thin out frees and shrubs by removing crossing or overgrowing branches. For little jobs that don’t require a tree surgeon pruning saws and loppers are useful tools to have in your garden shed. When you have finished lopping and pruning be sure to correctly dispose of all this garden waste responsibly.

Decking Treatment

Treating your wooden deck and garden furniture is another job for this time of year. Make sure the rot doesn’t set in so you can enjoy your garden in the warmer months.
Prevent slipping by giving patios and decks a good clean with a stiff brush to clear moss and other debris off them and then use a pressumaterials to remove any moss or other organic materilas. Consider using a decking oil to preserve your deck boards.

Heating

Get the most out of your garden in the winter months by introducing some heating! Patio heaters and fire pits can help create an outdoor room that extends the life of your garden even when the first frosts bite.

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We were sent a set of STAYHOLD™ Boot Organisers for review. What follows is our honest review of the product.

What Are They?

STAYHOLD™ Boot Organisers are a bit like book ends for your boot. They are L-shaped and use VELCRO® Brand Technology on their base to securely fix them to the carpet of your boot. The idea is that you can reposition the supports to secure pretty much anything. If you only have a couple of bags of shopping or two bottles of wine to transport in your cavernous boot then these come in real handy! They come with a couple of different straps to help secure items too. The straps can be used to strap bottles, plant pots or other small items directly to the STAYHOLD™ Boot Organisers to provide the best security for delicate items – see below.

STAYHOLD™ Boot Organisers with straps

Our Review

The Stayhold™ System

We got a couple of bloggers to test the STAYHOLD™ Boot Organisers. One lives in the countryside with two large dogs and the other lives in a town with two kids. What follows is a summary of their findings.

Dog Owner: I have been moaning to my husband for years about the lack of boot organisers. Cars come fully loaded with every conceivable gadget but lack a simple boot organisation system. Most cars don’t even have places you can secure a bungee rope! As I have two large dogs I have an SUV with a large boot and I can fold down the back seats to create a single hanger-like space. However, if I put two dogs in the boot I don’t have anywhere for my shopping to go! If I leave the dogs at home to do a bit of shopping my three or four carrier bags go in the boot and then proceed to empty themselves and roll all over the place during my trip home. Hence the moaning to my husband. I couldn’t believe my luck when STAYHOLD™ sent me these bad boys to try out. They are very high quality and sturdy,

Handy Straps!

however, I was concerned that the VELCRO® Brand hooks wouldn’t stick firmly to my filthy boot. Not only is there a thick layer of several years worth of dirt there is also a heavy ‘garnish’ of dog hair. However, the VELCRO® Brand technology stuck like magic to the carpet. For me, it was brilliant because I could secure my shopping to the left-hand side of the boot and one of the dogs could inhabit the other half with no risk of being pelted by a flying can of tomatoes.

Working Mum: I also loved these gadgets. I transport rubbish bags, sports equipment, cakes, shopping, laptops, paperwork…….You get the picture. I never know what I am going to be carrying from one day to the next. I have at times filled my boot with a complex arrangement of stacking boxes which then have to be removed and stored when you transport anything large. The STAYHOLD™ Boot Organisers are small anyway but they stack together and take up no space. They also require no planning to use as they live in the car stacked out of the way until you need to use them. It only takes about 30 seconds to separate and stick them into place. You need another minute if you are going to use the straps. I was concerned that they might wreck the carpet of my boot however even after a week’s constant use and lots of repositioning I couldn’t see any damage. They were great, I could keep rubbish bags away from my work stuff and protect the kid’s sports equipment from heavy shopping bags. For me, the most fantastic application was for a dinner party. It was one of those bring a course nights and I always get asked for my cheesecake (because I am a cheesecake god). There has never been a safe way to transport it so it has been sat on my knee often putting grease marks on my dress. As my hands are occupied the two bottles of wine I am also taking, roll around on the carpet collecting fluff and dirt – nice!. However, that is all now in the past. I used the STAYHOLD™ Boot Organisers to fix my cake tin to the back right of my boot and their delightfully easy to use straps to fix my wine to them. How fantastic.

Conclusion

They are sturdy high-quality items that really do the job. They stuck firmly to even the dirtiest most dog hair covered carpet. However, they were very easy to lift up and move around the boot. They didn’t move during transit even on rough farm tracks or on firm braking. They were incredibly helpful and frankly we don’t know how we managed without them. The only downside is that we now fighting over who gets to keep them – we might have to agree to some sort of shared custody deal!

Cost and Where to Buy

STAYHOLD™ Boot Organisers are available at www.velcro.co.uk and in-store and online at Amazon, Bunnings Warehouse, Homebase and Robert Dyas.

Products and prices:
• STAYHOLD™ Superpack (includes one large and two small cargo organiser panels, plus STAYHOLD™ straps) – £24.99
• STAYHOLD™ Cargo Organisers – £4.99 – £8.99
• STAYHOLD™ Utility Straps – £3.99 – £4.99

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The good people at Gerber sent us one of their redesigned multi tools, the Gerber Centre-Drive, and sponsored us to write a review. A couple of the writers at DIY tips used the tool for a week and we also gave it to our handy man for a professional’s opinion. We have pulled our thoughts together here.

What The Chuff is ‘Multi-Tool’?

Basically, this is a clever device that combines lots of functions into one small device. A Swiss army knife is a good example of a multitool. These tools can be easily carried in a pocket, wallet or bag so it is practical to carry them with you where ever you go. In comparison, it isn’t very practical to lug a toolbox up a hill or up a precariously balanced ladder.

Multi-tools are varied because they are designed for different users. Firemen love versions in which the wire cutters can be used easily whilst they are wearing thick gloves, soldiers like ones where the components can be flicked out in a millisecond and the rest of us like the ones with bottle openers and a corkscrew.

The Gerber Centre-Drive we are reviewing is designed to cover the bases for DIY jobs. You tighten screws (flat and Philips head), cut, strip and twist wire, pull out nails, cut stuff, file things and yes you can open bottles too. Its quality means that it is suitable for professionals too; it will work alongside a plumber, builder or electrician for decades.

Who Are Gerber?

In 1910 Joseph Gerber was working in his families Oregon advertising company and he posted 24 sets of handmade knives out to a selection of their clients. Abercrombie & Fitch were so impressed with the blade quality that they asked for more to sell in their catalogue – and lo Gerber Legendary Blades was borne! Over the years Gerber has moved away from cutlery and specialised in knives; hunting, survival and military blades. In addition, they expanded their range to include axes, torches and multi-tools.

The brand is a household name in the US but not so well known in Europe so you are forgiven if you haven’t heard of them. Gerber multi-tools have been on the U.S. armies kit list for years, soldiers and ex-army personnel being some of Gerber’s most fervent fans. The fire service and police also use them.

The US Armies Gerber ID Kit

First Impressions

Wow, it weighs a tonne! There is no doubt that this is made with some pretty impressive and quality materials. There is nothing limp, lose or wobbly about this thing. The mechanisms are smooth and the grip good.

The writers scrabbled about looking for instructions but there weren’t any so we sent an email to Gerber to ask for some. Sadly none were forthcoming! The handy-man tester laughed at us when we told him. Apparently, most people know how to use them already or just work it out in a few minutes. He was almost right. After a quick look at the image below we worked out to get all the tools out and back in again pretty quickly – see the next section for some pointers. We strongly recommend familiarising yourself with the tool before you dangle out of a window or climb a ladder to do a bit of DIY.

Tools: How To Access and Put Them Away

Piers/Wire Cutters. You can’t open the arms of the tool without using the slider to push out the plier/wire cutter attachment. This is easy to do one handed using your thumb however if you have small lady hands you can’t do it in one go. Our handyman with his big spade hands could do this in one motion. Getting the plier/wire cutter head to slide back into the housing was not easy because the mechanism seemed to be a stiff at first. After a couple of uses it eased up hugely and it became easy to do single handily. First of all, close the arms and then place your thumb across the slider. There is a small square raised bit – press it in. This removes the lock then slide it back down which re-houses the pliers. IMPORTANT – Don’t pull the arms together tightly when you are sliding the pliers in or out, this freezes the mechanism. Just close then arms without pulling them together as far as they will go.

The knife blade and screwdriver are on the same arm as the plier slider. You can access these tools when the arms are closed. Simply pull them around on the hinge so they point in the opposite direction the pliers. To re-house them; look at the arm just the other side of the hinge that the blade or screwdriver rotate on. There is a long thin bit of the handle with some etching on it (it says unlock and there is a padlock symbol but you will be forgiven if you can’t read it!). Use your thumb to press it in towards the handle and this frees the hinge so you can rotate the attachment back into position.

Gerber Centre-Drive Multitool

The other tools are on the inside of the other arm so you need to slide the pliers out so you can open the arms. The attachments simply rotate out in the same way as the blade and the screwdriver. To re-house; On the same arms as the tools look on the other side – there is a large ridged black rubber thingy which kicks out at the end. Use your thumb to push it up the arm. It won’t move very far but it will release the lock allowing you to rotate the attachments back into their housing.

The Best Bits

1. By far the most impressive design feature was the screwdriver. This was loved by the writers and the professional alike. It has something called a ‘Centre-axis driver’ which means the screwdriver end aligns perfectly with the rest of the tool allowing you to use maximum force. With other multi-tools and even compact screwdriver sets, this alignment of the body combined with a decent handle length is missing. This means it is impossible to create the torque necessary for a lot of jobs. If you can’t create enough torque (force) the screwdriver simply wears off the etches in the screw – once that happens it is very difficult to remove the screw making a difficult job virtually impossible. Hence why this feature on the Gerber is so good.

2. The wire cutter and plier blades can be opened one-handed. The wire cutters are great but if they get a lot of use they will inevitably wear out and you can’t sharpen them like you could a knife blade. Never fear these are replaceable on the Gerber Centre-Drive!

The screwdriver- see how the centre-axis design gives excellent grip and torque?

3. Quality is a real feature. It’s no good having one of these emergency tools only for it to break or a blade to wear out at a critical time. Our handyman assessed the quality as very good and he would definitely give it space on his tool belt.

The Worst Bits

To a homeowner, the tool is not instantly intuitive. You need 10 minutes of fiddling to work out how it all works. It should really come with proper instructions or better yet there should be a decent (and short video) on the Gerber website.
It is quite heavy and this might put some people off carrying it with them everywhere.

Conclusion

This is a top quality gadget and it did do all the jobs expected of it well. The range of attachments is good and useful for most tradesmen and DIY’ers. It also looks impressive and the weight makes it feel high quality. This is would make a good gift.

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The UK has a wide range of DIY shops. Each has their own unique selling points, strengths and weakness. There is a surprising range of opening times and geographical coverage even from the biggest chains. So if you really need a widget at 5.30pm on a Sunday how can you find out who is open and how far they are from you? You can go through each chains website individually (see below for a summary of their coverage and their store finders) but it takes time and is not very efficient. Have you ever come across the brilliant www.opening-times.co.uk? You can simply enter your town name and the category of shop you are looking for and it produces a list of options with a map, contact details, directions and opening times. You can even use it to search just for a particular chain such as B&Q shops. Simpler and faster!

B&Q Shops

B&Q is still the nationals most popular DIY shop and it has a massive 270 shops throughout the UK. Opening hours are long; 7am to 8pm or 9pm however not all shops are open on Sundays. Their store finder is fast and easy to use presenting a helpful area with your nearest shop locations so you compare their opening times and how far away they are.

Wickes Shops

Wicks have over 200 shops around the UK. Their store finder is fast with a postcode search or alphabetic drop down. However, the resulting display is not well designed and it’s hard to read the opening times quickly and without lots of scrolling. Lots of the shops close early, however, there are always a few of the larger stores that open until 8pm so make sure you check if you are going to arrive after 6pm.

Screwfix

Screwfix has a whopping 536 shops. The store finder is fast and easy to use and most of the shops have consistent opening times; Mon-Fri: 7am to 8pm, Sat: 7am to 6pm, Sun: 9am to 4pm. However a few shops don’t open until 10am on a Sunday.

Homebase

Homebase has very good coverage throughout the UK and Ireland – over 250 shops. Their store finder is easy to use and fast and it also has an ‘Other Stores Near’ feature which is handy. Opening hours are 7 days a week and long; 7am to 8pm. They were bought by the Australian company Bunnings.

Bunnings Shops

This company is the leading DIY retailer in Australia and New Zealand. They have entered the UK market by buying Homebase. However, they have also opened 9 UK stores under the separate BUnnings brand. At the moment these are all located in the South of England. Their store locator does not include an interactive postcode search or maps so you need to transfer their street address into another website or app like google maps to work out which is the closest shop to you and how to get there.

Robert Dyas Shops

This chain has 95 shops in the South of England. It is open 7 days a week but closes relatively early on weekdays (5.30pm). Their website has a very well laid out and easy to use store finder which includes a map and exact opening times for each shop.

The Range

The Range has over 140 shops in the UK and Ireland. Their store finder starts with a map of the UK and all their locations marked which is a helpful overview. Their opening times seem to be the most consistent between stores which is helpful – Monday to Saturday 9am to 8pm and Sundays 10.30 to 4.30pm.

Maxwells DIY

Maxwells have 10 shops all in the North East of England. Their store finder lacks maps to it is not very user-friendly. They also have relatively short opening times and few shops open on Sundays.

Toolstation

Toolstation is a Travis Perkins brand. It has over 200 locations throughout the UK. Their store finder starts with a map of the UK and all their locations marked which is a helpful overview. Their store finder only gives you a single result, there is no nearest alternatives. Opening times are long and relatively consistent.

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DIY Tips by Jenny - 2w ago

Laminate flooring has completely transformed millions of homes and, in addition to any aesthetic values, a major attraction of this type of flooring is that it is easy to fit by any competent DIY enthusiast and it is extremely hard-wearing with the potential to outlast almost any other form of flooring. In some cases, this has led to some complacency with householders believing that their new floor is completely indestructible and maintenance free. Unfortunately, laminate flooring can and does suffer from wear and despite its toughness, damage can occur. There are a few simple steps which can help to ensure that a laminate floor keeps its good looks and fully lives up to its reputation for longevity.

Cleaning

Everyone thinks that they know how to clean a floor but many of the traditional methods can be both ineffective and even potentially damaging so it should always be remembered that laminate flooring has a very hard upper surface but a more vulnerable sub-structure. Due to the very fact that these floors are made up of separate planks, water can penetrate beneath the surface and cause serious damage. Wet mopping of these floors must, therefore, be avoided. All that is required is first to remove any dirt, especially sharp particles, with a soft broom or vacuum cleaner with a suitable attachment.

Rotating beater bars should be avoided as, even though they may be set high enough not to physically make contact with the floor, any fluff or dirt sticking to the rotating brushes, as it inevitably does, can transform a vacuum cleaner into a power sander!

Cleaning with a damp (not wet) cloth or mop is then the best way to keep the floor looking good. Plain water is often adequate or a cleaner recommended by the makers of the floor. Normal household cleaners such as detergents and especially soaps should be avoided as these have a tendency to creep into the joints between the boards.

An ideal laminate floor cleaning cloth

For particularly stubborn dirt, simple spot cleaning can be carried out and marks such as tar or paint can usually be removed by the careful use of acetone-based nail varnish remover which must then be thoroughly cleaned away. Chewing gum is best removed by firstly being chilled with ice to make it harden and then simply scraped away with a plastic scraper such as a credit card.

Preventative Maintenance

Prevention is always better than cure and in order to minimise any chances of wear or damage a few simple precautions are needed. Heavy furniture, especially with small metal points of contact, such as metal castors, can result in dents. The use of castor cups and pads under heavy furniture can prevent this. Many scratches are caused by grit particles being brought in on shoes.

Strategically placed door mats and rugs can minimise this risk. In time, laminate floors can fade as they age and, whilst this may not be a problem provided the fading is uniform, It can ruin the appearance of the floor if the fading is patchy. Regularly rearranging furniture and relocating rugs can avoid such problems and providing protection from bright sunshine will also help the floor to keep its new appearance for longer. Furniture should never be dragged across the floor and scourers or abrasive cleaners should never be used.

DIY Repairs

Even with the best care and attention, some damage can occur often leaving householders wondering whether an expensive replacement is necessary. Fortunately, some simple repairs can provide a very cost-effective remedy.

For surface scratches, furniture makers can be used to simply colour in the scratch. Choose the colour match you can but an exact match is not necessary for a small area. For holes and deep scratches, putty/wax filler sticks can be used which quite simply fill any indentations. These are available in a range of colours and it is even possible to mix them to get the colour absolutely correct. Once the filling is completed, the textured grain pattern can be added by carefully using a knife and or furniture markers.

Deep Scratch Repair on a Laminate Floor

A wood scratch marker to hide surface marks.

For larger holes, a replacement piece of laminate flooring may be required. If the damage is close to the edge of the room, it may be possible to remove a damaged board by disassembling the floor in the reverse sequence as to which it was laid but in most cases, the damaged section will need to be cut out in-situ. This needs to be done very carefully and, as the boards usually fit together in a tongue and groove arrangement, the damaged section needs to be removed in several pieces. A circular saw, drill and chisel will be required. Refitting the new section necessitates the modification of the tongues and grooves to enable it to be dropped into place. It should be glued into place and then held with suitable weights until the glue has completely hardened.

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Want to personalise your home? Not sure how to go about it? Then read on to discover a few ideas for how you can add a personal touch to your home without breaking the budget.

Get crafty

Want to add a personal touch to your home? Then get creative to add style that’s one of a kind to your home. Patchwork, knitting and crochet can all be used to add chic soft furnishings and accessories to your home, from cushions to throws and more.  If you are new to crafting there’s lots of advice available online including helpful craft tutorials. Also take a make do and mend approach to upcycling existing pieces in your home with paint, decoupage or fabric.

Vintage chic

Give your home an idiosyncratic style by adding elements of vintage chic, scour local charity shops, car boot sales, auctions and architectural salvage yards for distinctive pieces for your home. Interiors with an industrial look have been popular recently, and it’s a trend which shows no sign of going away. Light fittings, work tables and cable spools – could all add an industrial edge to your interiors. Moreover, if you’re lucky enough to find vintage shop fittings such as sets of draws from ironmongers or haberdashers, you’ll have stylish and practical pieces of furniture to add to your home. Alternatively, look out for pieces of vintage G-plan or ercol furniture for some mid-century style.

Paint effects

Try out different paint effects to give your home a new look, try rag rolling, stippling or marbling. If you’re handy with a paint brush and eager to let your inner artist out, then consider painting a trompe l’oeil effect on a wall. Remember you could simply project an image onto a wall and paint around it – you don’t need to be a great artist to have a go at this. So get your paint brushes out and get creative.

Gallery

Create a gallery effect on a wall in your home by putting up lots of small picture frames, filling them with family photos, art, embroidery work, pieces of vintage wallpaper or even pretty gift-wrap.

Alternatively group several mirrors together, in different shapes and sizes to reflect light and add a distinctive focal point to a room. You can find mirrors at affordable prices in charity shops or on the high street often in a vintage-inspired style.

Revamp your windows

Revamping the way your windows look doesn’t have to be expensive. You could personalise your home by giving your windows a new look, with a fresh coat of paint or by simply dressing them differently. Use voile panels to give your windows a fresh, subtle look while keeping light levels high.

Alternatively, simply frame your windows differently by tying back your existing curtains in a new way – look out for distinctive pieces of cord, braid or ribbon, or a coordinating fabric to change their look. If you have a larger budget, consider installing or updating your patio doors to transform a reception room in your home. By installing patio doors you’ll increase the natural light levels in your home and bring the outdoors indoors, so you can enjoy your garden whatever the weather.

So there you have a few ideas on how to personalise your home – now all you need to do is get started.

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The bathroom is the bane of every proud homeowner’s life. It’s a constant battle against dirt and grime, but are there any extra tips that will help you to keep things feeling fresh in-between those regular cleaning sessions? Of course, and in today’s post you’ll find out the top seven…

Throw out the curtains

Shower curtains are constantly subjected to a lot of moisture and are rarely dried properly. They’re a breeding ground for bacteria and mould, so it’s much better to swap them for a simple, modern shower screen (such as those here) which can be wiped clean after every use. Get yourself a window cleaners squidgy too to prevent limescale building up on the screen.  You won’t have to keep replacing them and the large glass panes will make the room seem bigger. Window curtains in shower rooms can also wind up mouldy, so swapping these for easy-to-clean blinds will keep the room feeling fresher.

Stick to white where possible

Whether you opt for new tiles or simply re-paint your walls, using white and other pale tones instantly makes a space look clean and fresh when you walk in. Plus, it will never date, and you can simply change the theme by swapping the accessories and colour highlights as your taste changes.

Plenty of plants

There are tonnes of benefits to using plants in your bathroom. Many varieties thrive in moist environments, and they give off more oxygen whilst removing toxins from the air. Freshly cut flowers also give off a wonderful fresh scent to impress visitors.

Re-think the soap

Not only can hard soap leave a gunky mess that dries to the countertop, but soap dishes can also harbour bacteria. Opt for a sweet-smelling liquid soap instead which has anti-bacterial properties, and they’ll be no more mess every time you wash your hands. Attach a wall mounted soap dispenser and your cleaning job will be greatly simplified.

Have ample storage

The better the storage solutions you have and the more you try to keep order, the less spillages you’ll have. Plus, if you have dozens of products out, it can make those crowded areas more difficult to clean and you can get dust build-ups fast. Use tiered storage to make the most of vertical space and reduce the amount of clutter. Have a good clear out too. Why are you holding onto those old fashioned talcs, creams and hair products that no one has and ever will use? Get rid of them and just keep the products you use regularly. If you don’t use a pot, tube or gel every day tidy it away into a drawer or cupboard. Store similar products together in a container so it is easy to find and access what you need. Even if you don’t have the storage to put them out of site, putting htem in a container will amke your bathroom appear tidier adn make it easier for you to move things when you clean.

Store Similar Products in Containers

Ventilation is vital

Showers and baths produce a lot of steam, which often settles on the walls to form condensation, which in turn can lead to a mould problem. Proper ventilation can prevent this, so if you have a bathroom window, always open it after the use of cleaning products, chemicals or the shower. If you don’t have a window, remember to install an extractor fan and regularly clean it. Although this may seem like a big job it is essential. A damp bathroom will always be unpleasant, dirty and unhygienic.

Do away with air fresheners

If you think that by spritzing an air freshener that you’re cleaning an area, you’d be wrong – that smell quickly sinks to the floor and is gone within minutes. Instead, buy essential oils and reed diffusers, which will emit a fresh scent constantly throughout the day.

We hope you found this article useful – do remember to leave your own tips in the comments section below.

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Summer is here! Of course, the typically unpredictable British weather can put a spanner in the
works for any gardener. But how can you go about keeping your green space in the best condition
for when the sun does make an appearance?

Here are a few things you can do to make the most of your garden this summer.

Lawn Magic

Keeping your lawn well fed and watered can help lift a garden above the mundane. A decent
lawnmower is a must, it doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, though having those stripes up and
down your grass does add an air of sophistication.

During the drier parts of the year, it’s recommended to water your stretch of grass at least once a
week to keep it looking lush and green and a sprinkling of lawn food every now and then won’t go
amiss either.

Bring the indoors, outdoors

It’s time to get that patio nice and clean, so that you can make the most of your outdoor space. A
pressure washer is the ideal piece of equipment for this task, but a hose and a solid brush will also
get your area clean.

Got a big garden? Try zoning the area to add depth and interest. Painting sections of your fence in a
bright, geometric pattern will instantly attracts your eyes to a certain space. Ensure you add a
selection of seasonal shrubs and flowers, carefully choosing plants of different heights to add visual
stimulation.

Keep It Simple

You don’t need a complex planting design. Simple repeating patterns can be very beautiful and much easier for a novice gardener to plant and maintain. Pots and feature plants can interest and colour whenever you have the time and energy! The image below is of a very simple garden however it is still lovely. You could add a few tall tulip bulbs in purple or yellow to give some spring colour and agapanthus or dahlias for summer colour. A riot of colour would not fit such a simple design – choose one highlight colour that compliments the colour like yellow or purple. You could select yellow tulips for spring and purple or peach dahlias for summer giving you interest and little to no additional work.

A simple garden design – it’s still beautiful though

Small yard? That’s not a problem. Using outdoor wall décor like mirrors creates a feeling of vastness
and having wall-mounted solar lights ensures you’re not taking up valuable floor space, while still
maximising the room that you do have. Hanging baskets are a great option for those short on space
and can be filled with colourful blooms such as Petunia, Viola and Fuchsias.

It’s time to get planting

Produce clever displays using pots of differing heights to add a visual feast for the eyes. Trailing
plants work particularly well, with Geraniums, Fuchsias and Begonias all featuring a stunning
cascading variety. Adding perennial Lavender and Salvia into the mix will waft a gorgeous scent throughout your garden – and they’ll attract the bumblebees too.

Container flowers will need feeding once a week during the summer and aim to water them every
evening once the sun has started to set as this prevents scorching. Investing in a water butt to collect
rainwater is a smart move for any keen gardener.

Wildlife Wonders

Attracting wildlife into your garden is one of the most rewarding parts of creating your own Eden.
It’s easier to do than it first appears and there are a lot of products on the market that can help in
tempting animals and birds to your outside space.

When it comes to birds, it’s simple. First, you’ll need a table and a decent quality seed. The pigeons
will arrive first, but soon you’ll be seeing Finches, Blue Tits, Wrens and maybe the odd Woodpecker
too.

Bees love lavender

Bees love fragrant plants like Lavender and Salvia. You could even go the extra mile and invest in an
insect house, as with many species of bees now featuring on “endangered” lists, you’ll be doing your
bit for the environment too.

Simple actions like cutting a small circular hole at the bottom of your fence means that hedgehogs
will have easy access to and from your garden, as well as that of your neighbours. A hedgehog house
is also a nice resting place for the animals

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