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Author: Charlie White (page 2 of 4)

How to Remove Mould from Fabric

This blog is, I have to confess a little thrown together, as the content for it appeared completely by chance, but in connection with the research I was doing for my recent blog and video on how to remove condensation.

I borrowed a Karcher WV50 Window Vac from my friend Polly for the video I was preparing, and after using it (wow, what an AMAZING product – I so wish we had one of these), I dropped it back round at Polly’s house. starbrite mildew stain remover spray

We got talking (we both share a bit of a passion for DIY!) and she excitedly told me about a stain remover she had bought to remove mould from her roman blinds. Before replacing the windows in her cottage with double glazing she had quite a bit of condensation and as a consequence the back of her blinds, and her bathroom roller blind had gone very mouldy.

She told me about how this spray had completely removed the mould from her blinds, and excitedly said that we should give it a go on a bathroom roller blind that was completely beset with mould – and which she hadn’t yet tackled. Unfortunately I had neither my phone nor video camera with me, so all photos in this blog are kindly provided by Polly. I’m just a little gutted I don’t have a video to show you this amazing spray in operation.

roller blind mouldy

So off we went upstairs, and suspended the roller blind over the bath.  We liberally sprayed the Mildew Stain Remover directly onto the blind. The stain remover spray began to work almost immediately, and the mould started to turn paler and then disappear. After 10 or 15 minutes, we gave the blind a rinse under the shower to remove the spray and mould residue and resprayed a couple of areas where the mould had been heaviest. We then rinsed it again and left it to dry.

mouldy roller blind after mildew stain remover treatment And the finished result is, I think you’ll agree, pretty staggering! The blind, which I would have been tempted to throw away looked almost brand new!

Clearly not all products can be rinsed clean in this way, but we rinsed the blind because I knew a single layer polyester fabric like this would be fine to rinse.

I believe the manufacturers’ instructions don’t recommend spraying the product on clothes and other fabrics, but the reviews Polly read before buying it suggested she ignore this as other users had achieved such good results with it. For the roman blinds in the rest of her house, Polly had simply sprayed the lining on the back of the blind where the mould had formed. She didn’t need to rinse the fabric after applying the stain remover and is really pleased with the results.

 

 

How to reduce Condensation in your Home

The giant leap we’ve all taken (well, those of you who are lucky enough not to live in leaky old cottages!) in making our homes draughtproof over the last 15 years has led to a rise in condensation.

So those of you reading this blog might be tuning in because you’ve got water running down the inside of your windows this winter. You’ve possibly also got black spot mould in difficult to reach, unheated areas of your house.

Condensation happens when air that has become saturated with moisture comes into contact with a cold surface – eg window panes or an external wall.  There are some simple, DIY ways to lower the level of condensation in your home, and some slightly more sophisticated (dare I say it expensive) solutions (PIV or positive input ventilation systems) that I will come to later in the blog.

3 DIY Steps to reducing condensation in your home

  1. Reduce moisture in the air,
  2.  Provide decent ventilation; and
  3. Turn the heating up.

Cooking and boiling kettles, bathing and showering, and drying clothes inside are the obvious ways we inadvertently pump litres and litres of moisture into the air in our homes on a daily basis.

The above steps are pretty obvious, but I bet you (like I before I started researching this blog/ vlog) don’t do half the things you could so easily do, to keep condensation down in your home.

Kitchen

When you’re cooking in the kitchen, close all doors connecting the kitchen to the rest of the house, turn on your cooker extractor hood, and open a window as this makes the hood’s extraction much more effective. Cover saucepans with lids, and switch off your kettle just before it boils – rather than leaving it to billow steam into the room until it finally switches off automatically. I also pour cold water into the kettle straight after using it – that way it stops the remaining steam leaving the kettle and gets it ready for your next cupper later in the day!

Washing

Do use your tumble drier, ensuring this ventilates straight outside or is a condenser drier. Don’t simply hang your clothes on a drying rack, as all the water that evaporates off your clothes will go into the air, soon to be deposited as thick condensation all over your windows!!

Bathrooms

You’ll get a lot of condensation in the bathroom – especially on external walls, cold tiled surfaces and of course the windows. A heated towel rail and/or radiator can help by raising the temperature in the room, although this will also help increase condensation as most of us hang our wet towels on the radiator to dry, after our bath or shower! So this being the case it’s really important to keep your bathroom well ventilated.

shower window

If you can bare it, open the window when you shower or bath as this will let out a huge percentage of the steam that you’re generating. In our new bathroom, the entire family is actually in the habit of doing this now, and our son actually takes pride in keeping the bathroom condensation free, bless him – so it is possible, and when you’re standing under a nice warm shower you really don’t notice the window’s open, so give it a go!

Again, as with the kitchen, keep the bathroom door shut when you’re using it, that way the steam generated won’t spread to the rest of your house.

Install a decent extractor fan, and turn the in-built timer switch if you have one to the maximum time, so that the fan keeps working hard to remove moisture from the air long after you’ve left the room. I bought an Enviro-vent Silent 100 fan for our new bathroom as I was very impressed with the online reviews. I have to say though that the humid-stat on it wasn’t nearly effective enough (it just didn’t kick in as often as I would have liked) so I rewired it to turn on whenever the bathroom light is switched on. I’ve set the timer to the maximum so when the light is switched off it continues for 20minutes or so.

Wall insulation

As condensation forms on cold walls, if you dry line your existing walls, preferably with an insulation board behind, you will reduce the risk of condensation forming.

plaster boad with ecotherm 25mmm insulation board

12mm plasterboard with 24mm ecotherm PIR insulation board – as used to insulate my bathroom walls

Double glazing

The same goes for double glazing. As you’ll see from the above video, my cottage has a mix of double glazed windows (not argon filled as I couldn’t afford these) and 1970s single glazed leaded windows. The difference as we gradually replace the single glazed windows with double glazing has been extraordinary.

I’ve got to admit we do still get small beads of condensation along the bottom edge of the double glazed panes, but nothing compared to what we get on our single glazed windows.

Spare rooms

If these are unheated, keep the door shut, so that damp air doesn’t get in from other parts of the house.

PIV (positive input ventilation) Systems

For a total, belt and braces solution, in addition to taking the above steps you might consider installing a PIV system if you’re struggling to tackle your condensation problem.

NUAIRE DRIMASTER 2000

The nuaire Drimaster 2000 PIV System provides whole house ventilation

A friend got me onto this recently when he mentioned he had installed a Nuaire PIV system in his house. Positive input ventilation systems  ventilate your entire property with one single fan – which either ventilates straight outside (appropriate if you live in a flat) or alternatively into the loft space. To quote Nuaire’s website, “Positive Input Ventilation gently supplies fresh filtered air into a property, ensuring that the moisture laden air is continuously diluted, displaced and replaced with good quality air”.

Removal of Condensation

The way you remove the condensation that has formed on your windows is also incredibly important. The worst thing you can do is to mop it off with a towel and then put the towel on the radiator because then all you’re doing is reintroducing the moisture back into the air for it to wreak its havoc on your windows the following night!

By all means use a cloth as you can effectively remove the moisture by wringing it out into the sink. A quicker and more effective solution though is to use a squeegee – which you can get from any DIY or homeware store, or better still a window vacuum.

karcher window vacuum

The Karcher WV50 window vac in action on my windows this weekend.

I borrowed one of these from a friend to do my video and I was amazed how effective it was. Even though the squeegee was wider than the leaded panels, it sucked away all the condensation leaving the glass immediately bone dry!

Depending on which one you get, it will set you back about £50, but I would say this is a great investment considering how quickly and effectively it removes all your condensation, and who knows, it’s such fun using this little tool you may even manage to persuade your children to do it as a bit of a treat!

Fixing a roof leak with lead soakers

I got an awful feeling of dread when I recently looked up at the upstairs corridor ceiling  of our Victorian cottage to see a dark grey damp patch forming in one corner. We had a leak.

Our cottage was originally two cottages, and the leak was coming from somewhere up on the roof, around the parapet wall between the roofs of the two cottages (below). Most of the roof dates back over 100 years, and is not felted under the tiles, so this sort of thing is something I always dread.

leaking victorian roof

The leaking roof – shown with the old lead flashing stripped off

So as with all leaks I set about looking for the cause. The roof was luckily easy to reach, as a central valley runs the length of the (now one) cottage, and it was into this central valley and the ceiling below that the water was leaking.

I thought back to a leak I had in a similar cottage I lived in down in south east London several years previously. The roofer I found back then had told me that the leak was partly due to water sinking down through old mortar between the bricks on the parapet wall (“we have a lot more rain today than the buildings were designed for back then” he said), so he installed coping stones on top of the parapet wall and that seemed to fix the problem.

I had some old tiles lying about (it’s amazing the stuff that the previous owners left behind – these were half buried under a tree at the top of the garden!), so I covered the parapet wall with these and also put a new render bead on the course of bricks that protruded out from the sides of the parapet wall (above left).

The next bout of rain arrived and the damp patch on the ceiling got bigger, so it was back to the drawing board.

The next thing I did was spread polythene across the lead valley directly above the damp area, tucking it under the roof tiles on both sides – to see if the lead valley was the cause. No it wasn’t, and the damp patch got larger.

So now I knew the roof itself was to blame, and a bit of digging around in the roof confirmed this – water was dripping down the bricks of the parapet wall inside the roof. Before you start wondering, I hadn’t immediately thought this was the cause as there was a huge piece of lead flashing running down the roof, rendered into the parapet roof.

I tried to call the roofers who had done a bit of repair work when I bought the cottage, but I couldn’t get them to return my calls, and with money tight as ever, I decided I would have to fix it myself.

The first thing I did was to research on Google to find the the methods of butting tiles up to a parapet wall or chimney so as to make them watertight.

soakers and flashings

Different ways to butt tiles up to a parapet wall or chimney

I’d seen the roofers previously repair another roof at the cottage with lead soakers, so I thought I’d give this a go) because it seemed a little less complicated than creating step flashings, and ii) because I figured I’d need to render the wall afterwards anyway (which I think you probably need to do to prevent rain water getting in between the parapet wall brickwork and the top of the lead soaker.

So I needed to buy a roll of lead, and some new tiles, as the tiles under the lead flashing were broken and disintegrating.

code 4 lead flashing

A roll of 240x3000mm lead flashing set me back over £45!

Buying the lead was the easy bit (picked up from a local builder’s merchants), but at over £40 I was a little horrified at the price!

I decided to buy the tiles directly from the manufacturer as Dreadnought tiles were reasonably near by and I was able to buy 100 or so (with some tile-and-a-half-tiles to create the staggering effect) machine made clay tiles and pick them up on my way back from a work trip in London. The tiles were another £150 or so, and I’ve since found out I could have saved a bit of money by buying recycled tiles, so do a bit of Google-ing if you find yourself in a similar position!

So on the next available sunny day (few and far between recently) I flung a few dust sheets and blankets on top of the lead valley to protect it and set about stripping off the old tiles.repairing battens on a roof

Once these were gone, the next job was to repair the wooden roof battens that had either gone rotten due to the leak, or just disintegrated with age. I cut some strips of treated wood I had left over from a fence repair to the right size and screwed these in place. If you have to do something similar you can find battens in any good DIY store (Wickes, B&Q etc).

Then it was back down the ladder to make the lead soakers, which I did by rolling out the lead flat, and then following the dimensions I had seen in the diagram (above) on the internet, I marked out and cut the lead with a stanley knife, and then bent it round a plank to the required shape. DIY lead soakers

I was pretty pleased with the end result!

The next stage was the really satisfying bit of laying the new tiles, interspersed with my new lead soakers.parapet wall with lead soakers

Whilst laying the tiles and the soakers was straight forward, the difficulty came in linking these into the existing roof, as the new Dreadnought tiles were hard as granite, and difficult to cut with my rather small angle grinder.

The important thing was to ensure that there was a decent overlap as the old and new tiles dovetailed into each other up the roof. Where possible I inserted new tiles and trimmed the old ones down with my Bosch4-1/2″ angle grinder as these were much softer to cut than the new Dreadnought tiles.

DIY roof repair

The tiling is complete and the parapet wall rendered

With the tiling finally complete all that remained was to tidy up the old stepped lead flashing at the top of the roof around the chimney and with only a couple of hours of daylight left, I hastily prepared a sand and cement render mix (4 parts sand to 1 part cement with waterproof PVA waterproof the render and make it easier to work with) in my wheel barrow, mixing it up with a spade, and troweled it onto the parapet wall.

It wasn’t due to rain that evening but the temperature was lower than I would have liked to apply render in, so I covered the parapet wall in an old sofa throw to protect it from any frost during the night.

The job was complete, the roof water tight, and the leak fixed, and more importantly, with an old roof that doesn’t have the added protection of roofing felt, regular maintenance is very important and I now know how to do it myself. Bring on the next DIY project!

 

 

 

 

 

 

An ambitious DIY bathroom project!

Without doubt my most ambitious DIY project to date, and all credit to my long suffering family who have waited patiently for over two years for me to complete it – but our new family bathroom is finally finished!

DIY bathroom project Charlie DIYite

After more than 2 years (mostly weekend) work, my DIY bathroom is finally finished

We moved into our Victorian cottage in 2010. The cottage had undergone quite a lot of renovations in the 1970s, leaving some classic howlers from the period – wood chip ceiling paper (yet to be removed…), and two bathrooms next to each other on the upstairs corridor – one hallucinogenic pink and the other avocado green.

The pink bathroom had a small walk in shower room next to it. Whilst this worked, it had that disconcerting smell of damp. I bought a new shower tray, intending to somehow remove the existing one, check the plumbing, insert the new one and make good. But this never happened because in removing the tray the tiles started falling off the walls, and so my son and I enthusiastically removed the tiles and render beneath, and the shower room sadly sat idle pretty much until a couple of years ago when I finally managed to muster the money to think about installing a new bathroom. By this time we had decided to knock through the pink bathroom into the separate shower room to create a larger family bathroom.

Looking back from that point to today, I now have a huge respect for builders in general, and more specifically bathroom installers (or the good ones at any rate).

The list of what needed to be done was endless, and most of the tasks I would be undertaking with no previous experience: re-rendering brickwork,

removing hearth in bathroom Charlie DIYite

Reducing the level of the old hearth was just one of many jobs that needed to be done

strengthening floor boards; complete re-plumbing which included re-routing the waste for two toilets and creating two new holes in the external walls for drainage; a new power shower pump plus associated modifications to existing pipework to and from the hot water cylinder and loft tank; sound insulating the floor; laying a new floor; insulating and boarding the walls, new wastes for the bath, shower and wash stand; new shower tray; tile backing the shower enclosure; tiling the shower enclosure; building a new airing cupboard; replacing both windows; turning an old cupboard into a wash stand, and the list goes on…. The only job I got someone in to do was the electrics.

DIY disaster

I clumsily fell through the ceiling the weekend I fitted the new bathroom window!

Clearly I can’t describe in detail every single step, but here’s a summary of the significant steps that took me from a brick shell to the finished bathroom, above.

With the old bathroom ripped out and the floor removed I was able to start planning the new pipework. The existing pipework needed re-configuring to suit the location of the new bath, washstand, toilet and shower. The trick to this lay in looking closely at the old pipes, working out what jobs they were doing, and then planning how they needed to be modified for the new  bathroom suite.

stuart turner 3.0 bar monsoon power shower pump

The new Stuart Turner power shower pump sits on top of a DIY anti-vibration pad

As the pipework was going to be hidden under the floor I decided to stick to soldered copper pipework rather than push fit joints that might fail in the future. To do the new plumbing I bought an Irwin Hilmor pipebender (capable of bending 15mm and 22mm pipework) and a new Rothenberger Rofire Pro Gas hand torch and canister, which had a built in ignition – I was finding it a real pain trying to light my old torch with a lighter each time I was ready to solder.

I was concerned that the new shower and roll top bath would not get sufficient pressure from the existing gravity fed hot water cylinder so after much research I fitted a Stuart Turner 3.0 bar power shower pump (see left). This required a new dedicated 22mm feed from both the cold water storage tank in the loft, and the hot water cylinder. I fitted a Stuart flange to the top of the hot water cylinder to provide this feed, and a 22mm tank connector in the cold water storage tank in the loft.

The plumbing ended up being the most satisfying job I undertook in the bathroom. Armed with my torch, flux, wire wool and solder it was like putting together a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle!

bathroom copper pipework

The old copper pipework is reconfigured to suit the location of the new bath, washstand, toilet and shower

With the plumbing complete, I was keen to get the new floor down, after narrowly avoiding serious injury when I put my foot through the lath and plaster ceiling one weekend whilst fitting the new bathroom window (see above, right!). I sourced a new tongue and grooved 220mm wide engineered oak floor from a wonderful company, JFJ Wood Flooring  .

home made floor clamp

Two pieces of wood cut at diagonals make the perfect tool to clamp the floor boards tight to one another

After insulating between the floor joists with soundproofing I laid the floor, and after some research decided that tongue tite screws (rather than investing in a porter nailer) would be the easiest and cheapest method of screwing the flooring down to the joists.

I then made a special clamp out of a piece of 2″x2″ timber cut along the diagonal. When hammered together (see photo right) the clamp drove the floor boards firmly together enabling me to screw them down with no gaps in between each board.

shower waste

Noggins are inserted between the floor joists so that the shower tray is perfectly level

At this point I inserted noggins between the floor joists along the length of the shower tray to ensure the tray was perfectly horizontal, and well supported. In the foreground (left) you can just see the ply sheet that was then screwed down to the joists, to provide support for the shower tray.

To mirror the Victorian oak floor in our hallway, I mixed two colour tones from Treatex (1/3 ebony, 2/3 victorian oak) and then enlisted the help of my enthusiastic son to apply the stain and hardwax oil top coat.

 

treatex colour tone for engineered oak flooring

With the floor laid, my son helps to apply the Treatex colour tone stain

With the floor now finished and covered in cardboard and bubble wrap to protect it, I battened the walls and inserted ecotherm insulation in between the battens, before screwing plasterboard onto the battens with drywall screws.ecotherm wall insulation

In the shower area I used tile backer rather than plasterboard – a glass reinforced gypsum board ideal for areas exposed to water and moisture. I don’t intend for any moisture to penetrate through the tiles into the wall behind, but tile backer is the belt and braces approach to shower enclosures, and provides an excellent key for tiles.

A local handyman then plastered the walls and ceiling for me – something I have come to regret as this is the one job other than the electrics that I didn’t do, and I am not very happy with the finish of the plasterwork. I would have been better to have done this myself, or enlisted the help of a professional plasterer instead!

It was now time to open the various boxes that had been building up in the spare room – containing toilet, sinks, bath, bath and shower mixers, towel rails, and to gradually assemble these.

bathroom shower tiling

Getting my hands dirty with tile adhesive and tile cutting

This was the fun bit after all the hard work and at this point, after a build of nearly two years – mostly during spare time at weekends – I began to feel that the end was truly in sight.

malborough tiles in shower enclosure

The Malborough tiles in the shower enclosure prior to grouting

In the shower area we had a recessed window and three recessed shelf areas for towels and shower products. With so many exposed edges I decided to use hand made Malborough tiles – which have one fully glazed side edge. I bought a Plasplugs electric tile cutter and set about the laborious task of tiling the shower area over a couple of weekends.

I opted for a powdered tile adhesive as I was told this would provide better adhesion than the premixed adhesives – a must for these tiles, as with their uneven edges it was very difficult to use tile spacers – so much of the spacing had to be done by eye.

So that there was no diminution in pressure to the bath I plumbed the 22mm copper pipework right into the bath mixer rather than using flexi hoses which I’ve learnt aren’t full bore. You’ll find loads of forums on this conundrum but I decided I was confident enough by now with my pipe bending to be able to produce my own feed into the bath mixer!

DIY victorian washstand

We took an old victorian cupboard, and added a marble top to create this beautiful washstand

For the washstand, we took an old Victorian chest we bought for £35 on Ebay and converted it into a double (undermount) basin washstand with marble top sourced from a local marble company.  I also made the oak mirror pictured above from a reclaimed oak floorboard.

The glass shower screen was sourced from Ebay and, although it was 1900mm high rather than the 2000mm advertised I was very happy with the quality of the screen and the chrome supporting bracket. The screen also came with a free chrome wiper, which we now use after every shower to keep the screen free from lime scale.

bathroom airing cupboard

The airing cupboard gradually takes shape – made from a combination of pine and mdf

The last job was to make the airing cupboard – which you can see from the photo above we were by this stage already using! I constructed this from a combination of timber and mdf. The timber formed the framework for the front of the cupboard, and the sides and the cupboard doors themselves were made with two layers of 12mm mdf, layered on top of each other to create the rebate for the decorative moulding. The decorative moulding itself (bought from B&Q) actually cost more than the rest of the wood put together!

So I hope you found this post of interest or use for your own bathroom projects. If you have any questions about the tools I used, or the products I sourced, please do leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

 

Ryobi RCD12011L cordless drill/driver

I was recently preparing for a week long trip to Verbier, Switzerland to fit out a chalet with curtains and other soft furnishings we had made. And for this, I needed to put together a travel tool kit.

With a 25kg weight limit on hold baggage I needed something light weight, and that’s when I decided I had to have the Ryobi RCD12011L 12v cordless drill driver as my travel companion.

ryobi RCD12011L 12v cordless drill driver

I’ve seen this drill driver before – it first caught my eye when I was wandering around B&Q researching the perfect tools for a starter tool kit for my blog. I reckoned at the time that this lovely little piece of kit would be the perfect starter drill driver for someone putting together their first tool kit. Why? because for the first time DIY’er putting up the odd shelf, you don’t really need an 18v power house. You want something relatively small, light weight, but decent quality.

So what do I love about the Ryobi RCD12011L?

Price: well, at £57 you’re getting a lot of power tool for your money. At just over 1kg it feels weighty enough for you to know there’s a lot of good quality engineering in the tool whilst obviously being incredibly light weight when compared to the 18v combi drill driver alternatives. In short, when you grab hold of this little tool, you know you’re holding a quality tool.

Specs: Ryobi have pretty much packed into this tiny bundle everything they offer in their larger 18v drill drivers.

  • You’ve got 22 torque settings (the settings that you adjust when you’re powering home screws, and you want the power to be just right).
  • the keyless chuck has a capacity of 10mm – so in layman’s terms it will fit a maximum drill diameter of 10mm
  • An LED illuminates the area that you’re drilling or screwing into. I always thought LEDs were a bit of a gimmick, but out in Verbier I really benefited from it, and even used it as a temporary torch when I was screwing up into a dark space behind a curtain!
  • A fuel guage on the side tells you how much battery you’ve got left. Again, I found this incredibly useful. For a little 12v battery (the black bit you can just see at the base of the handle), I have to say I was a bit sceptical about how much usage I would get between charges. Admittedly most of the time I was only screwing into wood, but I was really impressed – charging it up only a couple of times whilst I was out there. The fuel guage is great, because with Lithium ion batteries you don’t get any warning when they’re running out of juice – they literally just stop, so the fuel guage gives you invaluable warning.
  • the 12v 1.3Ah Lithium-ion battery comes with a charger – as you would expect (or hope!)
  • Electronic variable speed – with both forward and reverse gears gives you all the versatility you need – particularly when using the RCD12011L as a screwdriver.
  • Canvas case – incidental but still very important, it comes in a great little canvas case, which as you can see from the picture below, formed the perfect carry case for my miniature travel tool kit.

Ryobi RCD12011L drill driver in case

So if you’re thinking of buying the Ryobi RCD12011L – perhaps as I did, for a lightweight tool to take on your travels, or maybe for your household tool kit, you’ll need some drill/ screwdriver bit accessories, and again strolling around B&Q my day just got that little bit better when I caught sight of Ryobi’s 40 piece drill/screwdriver bit accessory set – pictured below.

Ryobi 2-8mm 40 piece drill bit accessory set

The 40 piece accessory set comes in a roll out fabric case

I couldn’t take my enormous, unwieldy Makita 252 piece accessory set with me on the plane and so the 40 piece set pictured above was perfect in that it had every conceivable accessory bit I would need for my Verbier project, all beautifully packaged in a fabric tool belt that rolls up into a tiny little package that fit neatly into the drill driver case.

So that was it. All I needed to do was add a couple of other tools to my kit – spirit level, multi tool and wire cutters – see photo above (plus some screws and wall plugs – not pictured), and I had everything I needed for my trip – in a tiny case that weighed in at a mind bogglingly light 2-3kg!

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