How Improve Garden Drainage, Backyard Drainage

April 28 2015 - DIY, HOW TO

With the end of the cold season we start to think of any outdoor project. One of the jobs to be done outdoors, in the yard or in the garden, can be the improvement of the drainage of the garden.

Backyard Drainage

Garden Drainage

We all love our garden, our own little green world in the backyard, with flowers and plants, a place where we enjoy spending some of our free-time in absolute relax, maybe reading our preferred book or listening some favorite good music.
The simple maintenance that this little treasure requires, includes the need to keep the ground dry, avoiding stagnation of rain water and the formation of excessive moisture. These factors that can make the garden less enjoyable, in a the long run may also compromise the healthiness of the basement or other premises and underground rooms, like cellars and taverns.
So let’s see how to improve the drainage system in the garden or how to drain the courtyard.
In fact it is not unusual to ear people complaining about problems related to the existence of moisture and condensation in the basement or even more for the presence of water on the floor or walls that are wet to the touch and show the bloom of mold in the corners, all of these problems drive from one side to the unavailability and little access to the rooms, and on the other may even create irreversible damage to the entire structure of the building.
If the composition of the soil is predominantly clay and therefore with poor permeability, there is the strong possibility that any waters present in the subsoil tent to flow laterally toward the lower slope and, if the water goes towards the wall of the house, then we are really going to heading a big problem. A problem that can be solved with the drainage of the garden or the courtyard.

Garden Drainage

Drainage Of The Garden

In this case, you can still achieve a good result with a relative small effort if you proceed with the construction of a kind of drainage channel along the entire perimeter of the house to force the water in a desired direction avoiding its dispersion. Once properly channeled the water can be driven far away from the building and even brought out of your property’.
This technique is known as ‘French drainage’ or French drain.
Let’s see what it is.
French Drainage
As we said, this drainage system consists in building a kind of underground gutter that goes around the perimeter of the entire building.
The channel should have a width of about 4 to 5 inches and it should be placed at a depth approximately 12 to 20 inches.
Once the canal is built, we will cover it with special perforated tiles or with a galvanized net over which we will pour a quantity of clean gravel to a depth of 2-3 inches and finally covered everything with other soil up to the surface.
The water flows out of the ground and is filtered through the perforated tiles (or through the net) and ends up in the gutter where it is forced to follow the slight slope that we have given, to the destination that we have predetermined.
In essence we can say that this drainage system works as with a normal surface drainage system, it means a plastic duct with a cover grid. The difference only consists in placing it a foot underground. Alternatively you can use a PVC pipe with the top perforated with lots of holes in order to collect the water and channel it.

How Drain Garden
After having discussed about garden drainage, we feel we should recommend another useful advice, infact it should be better always check first that the rainwater from the roof, usually piped down, it is not dispersed close to the foundations of the perimeter wall of the house, creating additional sources of moisture and condensation. If is the case, you may follow the same system above mentioned to drive also this water far away from the house and from the garden.

 

How To Build Rock Garden Trail, Make Your Own Walkway

March 27 2015 - HOW TO

Make a sidewalks around the house, build a walkway or set up a garden path, if well done is a work that is forever and year after year will be intact and  contributes to enhance the property’ value, giving a touch of personalization that makes it unique and special and lovable to you.

Traditional materials such as bricks and stones, normally used to build walkways and driveways, are always appreciated both for their appearance and for the duration, however the majority of these products are generally quite expensive and sometimes they require some practice for the installation.

A simple alternative, easy and downright cheap, is given by the possibility of building it with concrete or mortar that can be poured into molds and that forms a paved stonlike or imitates bricks of various shapes.

The result will be a nice complement of your garden, beautiful and personalized, blending the aesthetic fashion of old bricks or the beauty of natural stones with a long duration and, not last, at the only cost of the sole concrete poured into the molds.

TOOLS TO MAKE A DIY WALKWAY

  • Tools For the excavation and site preparation,
  • concrete stamp or mold,
  • shovel
  • level,
  • trowel
  • finishing trowel
  • paintbrush

MATERIAL TO BUILD YOUR ROCK TRAIL

  • Mortar or crack-resistant concrete,
  • liquid color for cement,
  • plastic sheets,
  • polymer-modified joint sand,
  • paintbrush for finishing.

Building a paved walkway in your garden is a good do-it-yourself work that requires some effort, but once finished, it will give you a great satisfaction.

First, if the work overlaps a pre-existing trail, it is necessary to trace with accuracy the outline of the new walkway (we usually name this as the project starting-up phase) then, after we have established the location and width of the garden trail and having maybe drawn a sketch on a piece of paper, we set the mold or stamp that we have previously built by ourselves or purchased.

Then we have to make a quite liquid quantity of mortar and pour it into the mold.

After that, while the mortar is still workable (means, not completely dry) we must finish the surface edges with a wet little spatula or a small trowel to make it more smooth as possible. Then, when the mortar will be just a little dried, but not completely dry (this is to prevent cracks), we remove the mold carefully and complete the finishing work by using a wet paintbrush to smooth the edges.

At this point you can place the mold to the next segment of your garden walkway and so on until completion of the route.

Probably the easiest is using molds of a size of about 2 feet but, here the discussion could be extended because if you are going to buy the mold, then there a verry wide choice available in the best shops and stores, DIY). However, with a little effort and a very little cost, we can make one by ourselves, a mold personalized and unique .

There are several kind of molds or patterns, can be made of

  • plastic,
  • metal,
  • wood

and, especially on the latter type, you can make one by using strips of wood to get geometric pattern, preferably with straight sections. Instead, if you want to get rounded shapes (to mimic the stones’ shape) you can use plastic strips or even better you can find the metal strips used in gardening to demarcate the land of the flower beds.

In this post we want to describe the basic steps to help you to create your garden walkway as well giving some tricks in order to easily make the curved parts of your garden trail.

Please also note that if you light to give a special look to the entire work to personalize your own walkway, you can change the type of finishing at your own or use special dyes to color the concrete according to your own personal taste.

Here’s how to proceed step by step.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN GARDEN WALKWAY

  1. The first work to be done is the preparation of the fund. So we have to level appropriately the ground preparing the base on which we will draw our trail relying on the little project that we mentioned before. We will therefore eliminate the plates and, if necessary, we remove a certain amount of soil to get room enough for the concrete base.Better would be to dig all the way, to a depth of about 5 to 10 inches and then fill it with gravel well compacted. We must press very well, compacting the layer of gravel so that it will be flatten and smooth.
  2. Prepare a quantity of cement or mortar, by mixing a bag of dry cement with gravel following the manufacturer’s instructions. At this stage, if you want, you may add the pigmentation.
  3. Place the mold at the beginning of the walkway.
  4. Pour the liquid cement into the mold mortar carefully filling well every corner
  5. Wait about half an hour and then with a little trowel round toe, moistened with water, try to smooth the edges of each shape and flatten the surface. Allow to dry a bit (about 2-3 hours, depending on moisture of the air)
  6. When the concrete is a little solidified, but not completely dry, remove the mold and gently wipe the finish with the aid of a moistened spatula or wet brush. If you want to get a non-slippery surface, you can gently brush the surface creating a ‘sandpaper’ (using a dry brush).
  7. Place the mold in order to proceed to the next section, repeat steps 2 to 6 and continue so until completion of the work.

If you want to give an additional effect you can turn the mold 90 degrees to each section to avoid the repetition of identical boring design.

After finish, keep the entire walkway covered with a plastic sheet for about 2-3 days to prevent the rain wash away your work and direct sun dry it too quickly, creating cracks on the surface.

HOW TO CREATE A CURVE TO YOUR WALKWAY

If your design of the track provides one or more curves, you can proceed as follows.

After removed the mold of the straight section of the driveway, risposizionate the mold in the direction of the curve that you want to make and press down the mold to cut away the inside corner (in this case to be able to cut more easily it’s better to intervene before the concrete is too hardened).

Finish the edge of the cut shapes (as said before), then repeat the process as above and continue so. (In theory you might also make a circle with a bend of 360 ° to surround, for example, a fountain or an ornamental well or even just a flowerbed .

Once finished the work and after the concrete forms are duly dried, you have to pour over the entire surface a compound of sand and cement powder and stucco or, better yet a filler for joints exterior synthetic resin, doing so with the trowel to fill the joints still leaving a ¼ inch for water drainage and for aesthetics aspect.

HOW TO COLOR CONCRETE FOR YOUR ROCK GARDEN TRAIL

A further effect pleasant and personalized it’s certainly given by color. Indeed coloring helps to give more natural aspect to stones of concrete or fake bricks or effect ‘cooked’, adding charm to your work.

Although you can always paint later with a brush the shapes, stones or bricks, the best result is obtained by coloring the concrete itself.

We will not dwell too much on this point cause in the products readily available on the market the manufacturers provide adequate instructions on the procedure to be followed.

In any case, as an approximation, we say that for every 50 lb bag of concrete mix should about 8-10 oz of liquid dye previously dissolved in 5 qt of water. Once the dye added to the dough you must mix well until mixture is smooth, then add clean water to achieve desired consistency.

After filling the joints with filler material, as described above, pour in the joints some sand and mortar mixed with polymers to mimic the appearance of the stones or bricks handmade. Then wash with water without insisting too much on the joints to allow time to polymers to act.

Another effect that gives a rustic look you may obtain by pressing on the surface of the templates (when the mortar is still fresh), small pebbles, pebbles gravel or other (such as the so-called ‘Sandwash’ widely used around swimming pools).

 

 

Moisture In The House, Rising Damp

March 6 2015 - DIY

Let’s talk about a topic that interests many and that is often a big problem not simple to solve. Moisture, Humidity and particularly Rising Damp.

You must first make distinctions about what is meant by moisture, in fact here we are not talking about an aspect related to the seasonal climate and even a problem related to the geographic location (although these factors, indeed, have an influence and concur to worsen it), but rather a type of moisture the cause of which is inherent in the house structure itself as well as in the subsoil composition and that, unlike the temporary moisture, has the feature of being constant and independent from seasons or weather. We’re talking about the rising damp.

In fact, the rising damp is fed by water in the ground that can affect the walls of foundations and extended across the basement of the building sometimes imbuing the entire thickness of the walls and creating big problems for the healthiness of the building.

Also a high humidity inevitably has a negative impact on the energy bills as a damp wall can result in heat loss of around 50% with negative effects on our attemps to reduce the energy costs.

We have more repeatedly argued in our articles that the comfort of our homes largely depends on the thermal comfort, i.e. a balanced rate of moisture.

In fact, if the rate is high, the rooms of the house are heated with difficulty and are less healthy, the walls of the rooms seem wet, the glasses of doors and windows are cold to the touch and, it must be stressed, it is absolutely useless to raise the thermostat if the original cause have not been solved.

Rising Damp, Capillary Moisture Ascending

Rising damp is the phenomenon that very often we have to fight and that is hard to eradicate.

It is a physical phenomenon that is highlighted by exfoliation of the plaster and typically starts from the bottom and propagates upwards to an extent that depends on the type of material with which the wall was built, its porosity, the process of evaporation and, ultimately, the quantity of water present in the soil.

In fact, the wall acts like a sponge that absorbs until all its pores are saturated with water and, to give a better idea of ​​the mechanical lifts, just imagine the absorption that occurs with a sponge rectangular placed in a puddle in the vertical position, the sponge will absorb all the water until it will not be totally impregnated.

From the scientific point of view the mechanism of the ascent of water to an higher level is possible for the difference in atmospheric pressure and the phenomenon of evaporation tends to balance this difference.

That said it is evident that some coarsa remedies that many people instinctively are used to put in place, such as repainting the wall surface with waterproof paint, does nothing but worsen the situation rather block the humidity rising.

Also the natural remedy which consists of the evaporation which, though insufficient by itself to solve the problem, at least tends to contain it.

Indeed humidity ‘not finding an outpouring it will try to find another one higher up, giving over to the phenomenon of rising damp.

rising damp

Remedies Against moisture problem ‘Of Rising Damp

The solution to this eternal and annoying problem is not simple. It is essentially to intervene to try to

  1. cut your way to lift moisture
  2. increase the possibility ‘of water evaporation
  3. reduce the amount ‘of water in the basement (where possible).

There are several solutions and remedies against rising damp, both chemical and mechanical or physical, we want to try to list a few but not limited to:

  • usage of chemicals that are injected into the wall and which form a kind of barrier impermeable upstream, in the absence of vent upwards, in some way forces the humidity to a greater evaporation
  • cutting horizontal masonry wall in order to insert a kind of waterproof diaphragm which can be made of different materials, from PVC to metal or sheets of synthetic fibers, all in order to literally cut the road to moisture. At the same time, given that somewhere the water has to go, you can intervene with
  • application dehumidifying plaster which by their porous structure increase the surface area and therefore the ability of evaporation of the wall.
  • inclusion in the wall of tubes (usually PVC) positioned perpendicular to the wall, in order to increase the exchange surface and then promote evaporation of a bigger quantity of water. This system is a good solution even though it has obvious negative aspects related to the aesthetics of the building.
  • inclusion in the wall of a system of low-voltage electrical cables to determine the phenomenon of electroosmosis in order to create a barrier to the upwelling of water formed by the magnetic field that is formed.

If you not able to intervene at the origin of the problem and that means on the flow of water from underground, trivially the brainwaive is to find the way to ensure that the amount of water coming from underground is in a lesser quantity than the disposal ability of the wall surface.

Measures To Avoid the Rising Damp

We have so far made reference to problems present in an existing building, but if the house is instead under construction or renovation, it would be desirable to use building materials more suitable to avoid the problem in general and moisture and specifically the rising damp.

Today in the market there are fabulous products that possess insulation properties, waterproofing, or to disperse moisture and prevent condensation and mold.

In particular are very effective breathable mortars in place of the classical mortars exclusively cement or acrylic compounds.

In any case, the classical ventilation of the house is definitely a good and healthy habit and joined other intelligent behaviors, as to avoid the stagnation of cooking vapors and stagnation of water in the bathroom and kitchen, as to keep at home wet laundry and other things such, helps to keep the house healthy.

In the house there are many factors that contribute to moisture even when there is not rising damp. Poor insulation of external walls (no coat insulation), the lack of an effective insulation of the roof or windows, but also the failure of some elementary rules of domestic practice as frequent cleaning and drying.

 

How To Paint Walls, Painting Interior House

September 16 2014 - DIY, HOW TO

Proceeding with the work of painting your house‘s walls is a job pretty easy, even for those who are not experts in DIY activities. You just have to follow a few simple rules, have a bit of patience and time and you will make it like a piece of cake.

In addition to the above, what you need is just brushes and paint colors, but it is better to keep in mind that probably more than 80 percent of a success job lies in its preparation.

The tools and materials you need to paint wall of your house, are:

  • some brushes
  • some fine o special brushes for touch-ups
  • drop sheet. Is a kind of thick canvas sheet, perfect to protect floors and furniture from paint spray.
  • sand paper. Fine grade sand paper sheets or foam are good to smooth surfaces before painting and also in between coats.
  • painters tape. It should be used to outline painting edges. We suggest do not use cheap or super cheap tapes which often peel off your paint ruining your work and wasting time and money.
  • wood filler. Very good for restoration when you works on wood walls with surface imperfections. As we said before, preparation is very important, so take right time to do that, to prepare the surface smoothing out dents, small cuts or notchs with the wood filler and you will appreciate at the end the results.
  • primer. Before starting to paint, in order to protect the wood surface and to improve the adhesion of the colors it is advisable always give a primer coat and then, when is duly dry, lightly smooth with sand paper until the whole surface is perfectly smooth.
  • paint tray. Very cheap, but useful tool, the paint tray can be any plastic container.
  • paint roller. Very important for wall painting, makes easy to paint the high part of the walls or the ceiling. It can be used with the paint try to avoid spraying out paint. There are many types of paint roller and can be used, depends of the shape, to draw different effects on the wall.
  • a scale or a scaffold

To start painting, the first thing to do is, obviously, isolate with the tape any object or space that you do not want to be painted, like witches and sockets (even tough it would be easier to remove them from the wall), frame doors, radiators, etc.

In case the objects are big, it would be more appropriate to wrap them with sheet of newspaper or cellophane and then fix everything with a little bit of tape.

Also necessary to cover doors, furniture and floors with plastic sheets, newspapers or cardboard.

Another useful advice when you paint a wall or a ceiling should be to leave, if possible, the window open or, in any case, having the room well ventilated.

If the walls are covered with tapestry it would be advisable to take it out because if you dont do that, you will encounter, soon or later, serious problems of humidity and mold.

Today it is easy to find flat paint that we may wash and scrub. This kind of paint is a little more expensive because of the cost of the acrylic resin, necessary to make the surface easy to be cleaned. This kind of paint is suitable and more appropriate to be used to paint bathroom, kitchen or any wet environment .

Just one more advice: remember that no matter the brand of the paint, it is important to buy enough material to cover the entire surface so you do not be in trouble when you buy more color which could be not the same.

One more point: the choice of the colors. That’s one of the most important tips and you must think seriously because from this depends a good result of your project, the colors have a different impact and effect according to the environment in which you use them and also depends of what you are looking at.

 

Let us suggest few tips, that can be usefull if this is your first time with brushes.

As you can see, we did not spend too much words about quality of the brushes, that’s because we think that is more important the care you have for them, washing them after having done any work. The important is that the brushes dont’ loose bristles.

When you start painting, if you are not expert, it would be a good idea to start painting from a less important room, just like the bathroom or the kitchen, in order to gain some ability and then easily go to paint the others rooms.

For the ceiling it would be better to use the paint roller with a long handle. To paint behind the radiators you can use special shped brushes, pointed, sharp, curved, round, etc.

Between the first and the second and third coat it is advisable waiting until the previous is completely dry.

Usually it is a good rule starting to paint from the corner opposite to the entrance door, painting down from top vertically while with the second coat you may proceed horizontally.

Finally there are other simple techniques that can help to obtain excellent results. We are talking about the use of contrasting colors that will produce great effects as the combination horizontal-vertical as well as the combinations of colors or shapes that create effects of expansion or increase of the height of the rooms, but for this we refer to another article.

 

Sliding Doors For Wardrobe, How To Install Sliding Doors

September 10 2014 - HOW TO

We have already discussed in another post the problem of replacing an internal door of our house with something nicer and smarter than a commun door: the sliding door which is a usefull and smart system to close a room or a closet.

Today instead we want talk about a locking system for a wardrobe, a sliding door for your wardrobe.

As we said, the installation of a sliding door it is not a deep complicated work, just it needs to be made by following simple advices and advance step by step..

To install a sliding door on a wardrobe can take no more that 3-4 hours.

What we need to install a sliding door on our wardrobe:

  • a power drill
  • wood drill bits
  • a screwdriver
  • a bradawl
  • a tape measure

Sliding doors system has the great advantage of fitting well the whole space, wall to wall, saving space and making your wardrobe more pleasant and at the same time more efficient.

There are a wide range of sliding doors, from modern to traditional, with glasses or without, some with mirrors, not talking about materials, wood, plastic, metal. You can be sure that you will find the model that you like and that enhance your place.

It is not necessary having a big large room to install a sliding door, as the purpose of a sliding door is primarily to enhance and rationalize your space and, at the same time, make your room innovative and unique.

Under this last point, must be said that there is also the possibility to have your sliding door made-to-measure to fit perfectly any kind of space your may have, no matter the size of your room.

INSTALLING A SLIDING DOOR

Installing sliding doors is not really difficult, it is just better to have someone that help you. The work is made easy as, usually, this kind of doors are not particularly heavy and the producer make it easy to install.

There are several types of utilization of sliding doors and therefore also different are the systems to install these sliding doors. If you want to install sliding doors for wardrobe, ceiling to floor, the job to do that is even easier.

You must be sure that the floor is effectively parallel to the ceiling (which is not always like that) and in case you have to keep arrangements to correct the gap. You may use a wood lath over the door, filling the redundant space between the lath and the ceiling with a wood panel.

Normally sliding doors work by scrolling through roller on trails fixed on the upper door jamb.

Therefore after taking careful measurements of the compartment door, you will have to fix the horizontal mast on which, as we have just said here above, it must be fixed the track. This can be fixed trough dowels on the wall and must be twice the length of the door to fit the sliding door when the door is open.

If you buy a set of sliding doors and you want install it probably you do not encounter any trouble as these doors are realized into standard sizes.

Another talk is when you are looking at a so called pocket sliding doors. In this case we are talking of a system in which the door scroll inside an internal wall and it is hidden inside. This system is even better because allows a better use of the available space.

Obviously for this kind of installation it should be better to revert to a professional because the work needs a good knowledge in the masonry field or constructions.

Nevertheless on the market, you can find kits ready-to-install for pocket doors which make almost everybody able to install himself his pocket door.

 

How To Change Your kitchen, Ikea Metod Kitchen System

August 29 2014 - HOW TO

The kitchen is without any doubt one of the rooms of your home more customizable and Ikea, the giant of the distribution made in Sweden allows us to do so likeable, innovative and …more of all not expensive.

In addition to the functionality of the kitchen, which is, of course, the first requirement among the priorities, the aesthetic appearance and the personality come immediately after.

In fact, often the kitchen appearance reflects the character and personality of the people who live in the house.

Time is gone, when you are used to go to a Department Store or Furniture Shop and bought right a way this or that kitchen ready to be installed in a pre-assembled package.

Today, as we have mentioned before, everybody is willing to create his own unique and unrepeatable home environment to feel good and in which he wants be comfortable and relaxable.

So, if you are living in Europe and are thinking to replace, change or remodele the kitchen, well Ikea comes to you by proposing a new concept that feet right for your need, the line Ikea Metod.

But what is this new concept?

Let’s say that from a certain point of view that it is not it would not be just a novelty as the Swedish giant has always acted as a distributor of cheap furniture, easily adaptable to various living situations and, in general, furnishings to be assembled.

This mentioned aspect allows us don’t go off topic while dealing with Ikea products. In fact, although it must be said that to assemble Ikea furniture it is something everyone can do (as long as he is not totally unable in any manual activity), the articles of Ikea can be used to create furniture components, being assemblable with one another and so on.

The spirit that animated the creation of the new line Metod simply consists to provide modular elements available in various sizes in order to allow the user to create his own kitchen environment with the maximum of flexibility, adapting the various cabinets and bases to each different situation making full use of available space in the most rational way.

As the name itself suggests, the new line of Ikea kitchens is even more than a new method, it is a new concept of assembling a kitchen. Hopefully the beloved Ikea will make this new line available soon also in the U.S. And, as we heard around, this wlould happen within months!

 

It is obvious that Ikea has deeply analyzed what could be the new requirements of its customers before propose this new line Metod Kitchen Ikea.

However we must say that since now it is already possible to create our own kitchen by choosing the materials, the finishes, the accessories, the models and so far, but with Ikea Kitchen Metod we will have a wide availability of sizes width, depth and height to allow us to prepare and equip our kitchen bypassing any wall irregularity and every special situation by fitting all the space available.

Ikea Metod Kitchen will offer more layout, more combinations, more style and storage possibilities than ever before in a way that you are going to have more freedom to create your dream kitchen.

Another innovative element which is implicit in the new Ikea Metod Kitchen will be the possibility of converting your kitchen to possible changes in family status that may occur or, more simply, to your changing of taste or point of view.

In fact you will be able to change the whole appearance of your kitchen by changing only some component to adapt it to your new requirements.

 

 

To Plaster a Wall, How Plastering A Wall

May 27 2014 - HOUSE

Working as a mason in our house makes us feel a creator of something new for ourselves and overall this is a beautiful feeling.

Talking about works for house improvement DIY, among the various works that give great satisfaction, there is the work on the walls like to plastering a wall.

We have already talked about beautiful type of wall finishing, like the Venetian Plaster, but let us say that there are also plasters more modest, but equally valid and pleasant.

THE PLASTER, HOW TO PLASTER A WALL

In order to well plaster a wall it is necessary first of all making a good preparation of the wall surface, whether we have a surface of normal plaster or a surface of rustic plaster .

The plaster is a layer of mortar or other plastic material used to cover a rough wall. That work does not have only the function of giving a better appearance, but also is made to protect gthe integrity of the wall from atmospheric agents .

The work of plastering with cement mortar can be a bit difficult for a DIY beginner, especially if the surface to be covered is quite wide.

However, for DIY lovers, on the market there are many products easy to apply, such as plastic plasters ready-to-use that are much more workable and very simple to use (these products are readily available in shopping Centers specialized in home improvement and articles for the house and garden or even in stores that sell products and construction equipments).

To get a good job there are some simple rules to keep well in mind in order to have the plaster well fitting to the wall, specifically:

  1. the wall does not have to be recently built. In fact it is better to wait at least 30-40 days before working on a new wall, otherwise you will always see the signs of underlying bricks (and this means that the wall was not was not completely dry when it was plastered).
  2. the wall surface should be well wet and, if it’s made of stone, it would be better to hammer adequately the surface to ensure a better grip.

The two general rules above mentioned have just one exception, when the wall is made of concrete. In this case, in fact, it should be more appropriate (and so advisable) to apply the plaster immediately taking advantage of the gripping effect of the damp concrete .

Going back to the generality, we must say that the composition of the mortar should be related to the type of wall that you have to plaster, type of plaster and the general context (geographical area , altitude, average level of humidity, etc.).

Among the various types of plasters, two are the most popular:

  • Ordinary Plaster which is applied with two coats of mortar (2 parts hydraulic lime, 3 parts fine sand. Mingle first then dry and add water gradually until dough is firm)
  • Roughcast (Rustic Plaster) that is applied with only one coat of mortar and that it is suitable for exterior walls or uninhabited rooms (such as basements, attics, garages, etc. )

Over the years, several types of internal plaster have been used for the walls. The basic types were plaster on timber framework, plasterboard or dry lining plaster on masonry wall,

It should be said that a repair of an internal plaster wall must be done with the same materials and used to build the original wall. In fact, for instance, the traditional lime putty plaster of the old buildings is often far softer and pleasant than recent  gypsum plasters and it is unappropriate to mix the two techniques.

If the surface to be covered is very extensive, to obtain an homogeneous plaster’s thickness it is necessary to have two reference lines that can be obtained by making vertical strips of mortar for approximately ten inches wide and 1/2 inch thick and then, with the trowel, we throw a small quantity of mortar between one strip and the other and then level them off with a clapboard by sliding it downwards resting it on the two guides with the movements to the right and left.

For the first times you do this work, instead of making mortar stripes, you can use strips of wood ½ inch thick to be nailed temporarily to the wall as ‘ guides, over time and with practice you may go to the method indicated before, which allows you to proceed much more quickly.

For the leveling work (also said smoothing) you may use a flat plastering trowel and, after having duly wet the plaster with a brush, proceeding with a twisting motion until the surface becomes very well smooth.

In the case of a rustic plaster roughcast, the work can be here considered ended.

Instead if we want to obtain a fine and smooth plaster (for the internal walls) we must make a second coat of plaster and then give the eventual plaster finish. In this case, the plastering trowel should be used with an inclination of 45° with respect to the wall, using a plaster’s dough rather liquid (remember to prepare only small quantity of it, because it’s a product that becomes dry very soon) and spread it from the bottom upwards.

For the final touch you may use a sandpaper to obtain a perfect smooth surface of the plaster wall.

At this point it is preferable waiting at least 40-45 days before paint the wall to prevent that permanent stains of humidity appear.

 

Build Understairs Storage, How To Make An Under Stairs Closet

April 24 2014 - HOUSE, HOW TO

There are various methods to take advantage of the space under the stairs in a rational way . Often in the understairs space we are used to leave, temporarily various things, from the bucket mop for washing floors on a chair that becomes a table top for anything that you do not know where to put , but also for paint cans, children’s toys, vacuum cleaner and more you have more you put there.

Result: the word ‘ temporarily ‘ often becomes ‘ permanent ‘ and the space under the stairs becomes , in effect, a space difficult to keep clean and no nice to see.

UNDERSTAIRS CLOSET

We are all aware that today’s homes are getting smaller and smaller and that there is often no space to store tools, toys or things that you do not use every day, and therefore, why not make space under the stairs more functional and usable by building an understairs storage?

To achieve this we can build a cabinet under the stairs, making a shelf or a drawer to fit the space under stairs. We will have the advantage of using rationally that space and at the same time to make that area aesthetically pleasing.

 

WHAT TO DO TO BUILD AN UNDERSTAIRS WARDROBE

Let’s say that, basically, there are two solutions that also depend on the shape of the space under the stairs.

  • Understairs closet with side access.

Basically you create a walk in wardrobe by applying a wooden wall or plasterboard that closes the triangle under the stairs providing access from the top of the scale below (you can tell from the vertical side of the triangle) with front access , i.e. with a set of drawers or shelves placed in front , xxx that you can open or that are sliding on tracks or wheels.

In the first case, the job is just to install the wall and the gateway to the walking closet .

Inside the cabinet , then we can prepare, depending on the size of the compartment obtained , shelves or a bar for hanging coat rack .

In the second case , once you’ve decided what you prefer, library – type shelving , drawers under the stairs or removable modules ( such as those USED for kitchens) , you will have to proceed step by step.

  • Understairs Closet in shelving or drawers.

Do not dwell too much on building a shelf as it is all too obvious how you should proceed , we limit ourselves only to say that we will have to cut the boards (thickness 1.5-2.0 inches and a maximum depth equal to the size of the steps ) to be placed vertically and horizontally to create spaces of cubic or parallelepiped that will be used to store books or ornaments, but also music records , CDs, DVDs etc. .

The way to fix each element of shelving as ‘ hive ‘ is left to the imagination , so that, as an alternative to the classic office shelving, it will be possible to create asymmetric spaces giving a special and personalized effect.

You have to start by building a frame with wooden slats smooth 1.3 / 4 -2.0 inches x 2 inches and then realize 1/4-3.0 individual drawers.

In any DIY Center you can find spare parts as well as several unit components and various solutions that can adapted to your needs.

UNDERSTAIRS CUPBOARD DRAWER

Construction of an understairs drawer or cupboard with pull-outs from is an interesting and valid alternative to understairs drawer and it is represented by extractable elements, similar to those used for kitchens.

These are components that run on wheels or tracks and allow easier access to the contents of the drawers (which is not always so easy, especially when the width of the staircase is remarkable).

As a first thing, as mentioned above, we must begin by constructing three or more frames that go to divide the space into parts of equal width and which serve a bit ‘as a guide for the sliding of the columns.

Also for the construction of these frames can use wooden planks finished smooth section of 1.3 / 4 inches x 2 -2.0 1/4-3.0 inches.

The frames must be made of depth slightly less than that of the steps of the ladder to leave those 1 or 2 inches necessary to make an abutment to the front doors so that then these remain flush with the edge of the stairs.

On the wooden slats of the lower sashes will mount the wheels or you can think a method of sliding on rails laid on the floor.

In both cases, both for the drawers as well for the sliding elements, you can go to stores that sell DIY stuff  to buy front doors for the cabinets, the type used for modular kitchens, that are perfect for we need.

It will only be necessary to cut obliquely the upper part of the doors in order to give the appropriate shape to fit to the inclination of the stairs.

 

There is a wide range of choice for these front panels, in terms of material and also for the type and quality of the finish. In fact it goes from the enamel, resin, chipboard, wood in different colors or, if you prefer, you can choose rough wooden doors and then give a coat of the color you think more appropriate.

Also in the mentioned Do-it-yourself Centers you may find several handles of various shapes and sizes suitable to be installed on your understairs drawer or cabinet, making it a very personalized and exclusive part of your house.

 

How To Furnish A Terrace, Solutions Decorate a Terrace or a Deck

March 28 2014 - HOUSE, HOW TO

Having a terrace, perhaps on the roof of the property (what now everyone calls an attic) it means for you to have the chance to enjoy an outdoor space that, despite having the features of the garden, is much more easily manageable.

You can create a comfortable and elegant environment where you can invite friends or relatives in absolute freedom and pleasantly entertain and relax with them.

The advantage of a beautiful terrace is also increased if the building is located in the middle of a crowded and busy city giving to you that sense of freedom, calm and quiet for which you should otherwise drive for many miles.

However, each type of environment has its own strengths. Imagine a terrace of a penthouse overlooking the sea with a chance to enjoy a drink with your friends in the evening, perhaps looking at a gorgeous sunset. Almost the same emotions will be those offered by a dinner on the terrace in a beautiful summer evening with behind the skyline of the mountain landscape with snow-capped mountains.

PAVING THE TERRACE

If our terrace has already a finished floor, we could keep that as it is and avoid further expenses, or maybe we can think of a new floor with wooden interlocking tiles that can be easily installed by ourselves and that are available at any warehouse or DIY store where you can find several kind of types and sizes. (12×12 24×24 12×24) or planks of wood to cut and fix. The prices are not high and the result is fantastic.

HOW TO DECORATE OUR TERRACE

In order to benefit most of having a nice and beautiful terrace or a deck , it is mandatory to furnish the terrace and decor it in the right way to make it a pleasant and comfortable ambience. There are many solutions to decorate a terrace or a deck, from the installation of awnings or curtains.

An important part in making a pleasant terrace it is certainly represented by the plants. Well selected, according to the context, the climate and the style of our terrace and expertly placed will give a touch of personality.

As we said above, many and differents can be the environmental and contexts of the terrace and it should be taken into account when designing the furniture to decorate our terrace. Obviously, these aspects must then be reconciled with our personal tastes in order to create a setting adequate, but that matches our way of being.

A minimalist décor, perhaps in light colors like white or blue in combination with accessories or draperies contrasting white or yellow for a terrace with a touch of marine style .

Beautiful are the sofas and armchairs in lacquered wood, beach type. Maybe with pillows coordinated with the curtains fluttering by a white gazebo. The furniture must of course be made of materials resistant to the elements.

Also, having enough space, you may think to install on your terrace a small pool or a hot tub, around which we could have some loungers or chairs to create our own private solarium.

Since, as we allways say, we are environmentally conscious, therefore it would not hurt to make the entire terrace power need supplied by a small photovoltaic system to run pumps, lighting and everything else (grill music etc.).

The plants, as we have said before, are very well suited to create a lush setting, but also, especially if there are others around the building of the same height, to create a barrier to protect your privacy on your terrace.

The use of climbing plants can give a very trendy look to your terrace, perhaps you can make them growing close to the walls, climbing on the gazebo’s poles or along the railings .

We have talked of a gazebo, but it could very well be used even a simple garden parasol, those with lateral support and the opening by handle. Both are available in almost all department stores in shopping or DIY centers.

Since the terrace of a penthouse is the ideal venue for fine luncheons or or for an intimate dinner with friends, a nice table, preferably extensible, complete with chairs, preferably folding chairs, is undoubtedly something necessary.

An alternative, certainly less expensive, but that can produce its good effect could be to build some chests (made of wood or also with bricks) to be put along the deck sides, covered with a soft and colored cloth with nice cushions scattered on it, that works very well as a sofa and will surely be appreciated by your friends. In addition you may use the inside of the chests as storage from the weather for the pillows and other accessories)

LIGHTING THE TERRACE

Another important aspect to be taken into account is without any doubt the lighting. In fact, in order to benefit the terrace after dark, in addition to the romantic candles (usefull only to create a sweet atmosphere, but that provide a poor light … ) we should design an electrical system, simple and effective.

If we opted for the gazebo, we can install wall sconces on it : there are of every type and price at any DIY store or Brico Center. Otherwise we can install spot lights for external use or for the garden, having fun to create special effects by placing spotlights exterior close to the plants , facing upwards , possibly also with colored lamps , to increase the decorative effect. And don’t forget to put the sockets, because when you need one, are never enough!

 

 

HOW TO BUILD A FIREPLACE, MY DIY FIREPLACE

February 17 2014 - HOUSE, HOW TO

Fireplaces are something that always capture the imagination of each of us, they are nice, they change the look of the house and there is not doubt that create a sweet and relaxed  atmosphere. But how to build a fireplace it is a good job that you can afford only with caution and due diligence.

FIREPLACES , HOW TO BUILD A FIREPLACE

Build a stone fireplace can really give character adding value to the entire house. Obviously the design of the fireplace must be in harmony with the style and decor of the rest of the house.

If you are working on planning construction or remodeling of your house, you might be pleased to figure out and see, through a simulation, perhaps using a cardboard fireplace model, how your room will look with a built in fireplace. You can play with it, making changes of location, style, shape, size and color of your fireplace, and all of this without doing any work and without spend a cent.

When you are watching at a stone fireplace it is almost impossible not to feel a strong and intense emotion, whic is probably partly due to ancestral invocations that come to us from the past, handed down over centuries an centuries.

The same heating we are watching is substantially the same heating system that was used in the first human gatherings age prehistoric. At those times, but also until a few decades ago, in the castles and houses, especially in rural areas and towns, the fireplace was the center of the house and it was built in the most important room of the house, the meeting room, the room were the family could interact and socialize with its community exchanging opinions and experiences.

So today, the original heating function of the fireplace become less important with respect to the decorative value and, let’s face it, the sentimental aspect.

In short we can say that it is out of the question that a fireplace creates a romantic atmosphere. This is the reason why today the orientation is more addressed to the search of the artistic or even just aesthetic aspect, even at the cost of neglecting the more rational effectiveness and efficiency of the heating caloric leaving the task to really heat up to other heating systems.

Years ago I happened to see in a Nice Resort in California a very nice fireplace, but at a better watch I realized that it was completely artificial, it means with fake wood logs made in plastic, with a pipe connection to the gas system which provided the necessary fuel for the little flame that, of course, was having a decorative function only. And the best of all was that it was only necessary to switch on to get the firplace to light on. Greit efficiency and poor sentiment!

By contrast, in the country homes, mostly in Europe, it is not infrequent to find beautiful typical fireplaces built in the center of the room of these ancient and characteristic homes, surrounded by wooden or stone benches where once the family members were used to sit to warm up during the cold winters.

STONE FIREPLACES

It is interesting to understand how the fireplace construction techniques depends on many variables often, especially for those not luxury, from the materials available on site.

Therefore you may find fireplaces built in granite or stone with inlaid wood , with small rounded boulders or coarse portions of volcanic rock. It was only a matter of style, taste and preferences.

It should first be said that if you are going to build a barbecue or an outdoor fireplace this is a demanding job but it is that it is doable even by those who are not an experienced builder, a diy, the construction of an indoor fireplace requires a knowledge of building techniques and it is not definitely recommend to lovers of amateur or DIY, instead it is better to revert to professionals. This is in order to avoid danger and damage to your home as well to injury to people.

When you start to design a fireplace, especially if it is a stone fireplace, you should keep in mind that, for example, with a low ceiling it is not good using large stones that would make the result as stuffy and cramped room.

In addiction it is a good advice is to use durable and resistant stones, without cracks or veins. Limestone, granite and metamorphic rocks are suitable and durable, while the soft rocks should be avoided like the slate and those that crumble easily as dolomite.

To build ad indoor fireplace, it is very important to use appropriate materials and particularly the refractory bricks to be fixed with specific refractory mortar. This is to be recommended especially for the furnace inside the fireplace, to avoid breakages because this is the part where the temperatures rich highest levels. Care being taken to increase the density of the dough in relation to its proximity to the fire. A helpful tip would be to make sure that the joints between bricks is thin in order to avoid the crumbling also because doing so the strenght is increased by the progressive vitrification of the joints at each switch.

Another useful suggestion may also be to go to an hardware store or in a DIY shop for building and carefully observe the patterns and characteristics of fireplaces exposed to get some ideas.

Alternatively you can buy the structure of the fireplace in prefabricated, it is easy to find several types of construction kit, and once assembled, provide to give the coating that is something that will give you plein satisfaction due to the wide offer of possibilities granted by the market.

Frankly is up to you, is just a matter of imagination and you are having a really rewarding job and to great effect.

BUILD A FIREPLACE

In this regard it should be noted that an important part of the work of installing a fireplace is definetely represented by the chimney. This element is of primary importance and we would say that this is certainly a job reserved for professionals, therefore it is inadvisable to attempt any different, unless you are very very expert.

Even the use of a pre-existing chimney can be dangerous if it is not a chimney suitable for this use, if it is not completely clean and free and if it was not built in a workmanlike. In fact, in the case of non perfect execution we can have a fire hazard .

 

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