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Category: Bathroom

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!

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!

 

How to make your own bathroom washstand

The DIY bathroom project has been rumbling on for a while now. We’ve been trying to create a traditional Victorian style bathroom, with a few contemporary twists (ie a walk in shower). We gave quite a bit of thought to the sinks, and decided we wanted a double door washstand preferably with two sinks.

victorian washstand with undermount sinks and granite top

The completed project – a pretty major upcycle of a victorian cupboard we picked up for £45 on Ebay!

But these are pretty expensive to buy new – for example Neptune are charging £1650 for their undermount double door washstand before customisations. So we started trawling the internet for something that we could adapt. We reckoned that if we could get hold of an old victorian washstand for not too much, it couldn’t be that hard to convert it – could it???

And that’s when we chanced upon a suitable cupboard on Ebay.  It was being sold for £45 by a local antique shop that was closing down. The dimensions (55cms wide x 120cms long) were perfect.

victorian cupboard

The old victorian cupboard before being converted into a washstand

sanding a victorian cupboard

The cupboard is sanded to remove the old varnish and provide a key for the paint to adhere to

The first job was to take the worktop off as we would be replacing this with a granite top. Then we (I say we, but in this case I was ably assisted by my better half!) set to work sanding down the cupboard. Why sand it? Well, there are a few paints on the market – such as Annie Sloan – which can be applied to varnish without sanding. However we found the Annie Sloan colours a little limited, and so we set about removing the varnish with an electric sander and some good old fashioned elbow grease!

Sanding a cupboard like this is a lot easier if you can get hold of some sort of sander. For this we used an old Bosch sheet sander I’ve had for a while, but you can pick up sheet sanders in your local DIY store for as little as £30. The best plan is to use a sheet sander for the large flat areas and then sand by hand the trickier, recessed and/or decorative bits.

painting an old victorian cupboard

Primer undercoat applied, we then completed the painting with a layer of eggshell

We primed the cupboard in (my favourite paint supplier) Johnstone’s Joncryl water-based primer undercoat and then applied a top eggshell coat in Farrow & Ball’s Charlestone Grey. I then had to dismantle the front off each drawer with a saw in order to make room for the undermount sinks.

The front of each drawer is carefully sawn through and removed to create room for the sinks

The front of each drawer is carefully sawn through and removed to create room for the sinks

The next step was to mark and drill holes in the base of the unit to allow the pipework (4 hot and cold feeds and a central waste pipe). I did this using one of the cutting circles in a Bosch six-piece hole saw set that I bought from Screwfix earlier in the project. It cost about £45 but has been a great bit of kit that I’ve used for drilling everything from new holes in the attic water tank (to accommodate a new 22mm feed to our power shower pump) to holes through stud work for the new pipework.

washstand plumbing

The inside of the cupboard is modified with the pipework for the new undermount sinks

With the holes drilled and the soon-to-be-washstand in place I could then set about sorting out the pipework. I read a lot on forums about the pros and cons of using flexible hose to connect the supply pipes to the relevant taps, but after much thought I decided on this project to do the job properly. I’ve really got to grips with plumbing over the last few months – armed with my Irwin Hilmor pipe bender and Rothenberger blow torch – I much prefer to solder my pipe joints rather than use push fit pipe, particularly for pipework under the floor as there is much less chance of any of the joints failing in the future.

So I decided to take the 15mm copper pipe right up to the taps using tap connectors, soldered onto the 15mm pipework (see photo above). This dispenses with the need for flexible hoses, but means you have to be a bit more precise with bending and soldering your pipework.

I’ve used 43mm solvent weld pipework for all the new waste pipes that take waste water away from the new shower, bath and sinks. This gave me a bit of a headache because I couldn’t initially find bottle traps for the new sinks that had the right thread for the sink waste on one hand and were able to connect to the 43mm solvent weld waste pipework on the other. The solution in the end was to use a bottle trap with connections that fitted the smaller diameter 36mm solvent weld pipework, which I then connected to the 43mm waste pipe with a reducer (the grey collar in the picture above).

Clearly this would have been obvious to your seasoned plumber, but as I had never done any plumbing before taking on the challenge of our new bathroom everything takes a bit of figuring out!

I fitted isolating valves to each hot and cold water feed so that these can be shut off individually should there be any future problems with the taps. The solvent weld pipework is great fun to put together in that you paint the solvent onto the pipe, push both ends together and it welds both pipes together in a matter of seconds. A word of advice though. In my case I constructed the pipework first then dismantled it all to apply the solvent, and despite putting tiny lines across each joint with a marker pen I still managed to glue a couple of joints together incorrectly! Luckily I had some spare.

granite washstand template

A template is prepared for the granite and then the underside of the granite is marked with the position of the sinks

We found a local granite company to make the top, and prepared a template, using the original cupboard top as a base, and cutting into this our desired position for the new sinks and taps. A quote of over £700 came back for our original choice of 30mm granite top which suddenly made all our efforts to achieve a high quality washstand for a reasonable price look a little futile. Luckily though we went back with a lowered spec – 20mm granite, in a different grade of stone with half bull nose edge and managed to get this for roughly half the original price. Lucky also because in hindsight 30mm granite would have been a bit much for a washstand of this size.

NOTE: if you embark on a similar project remember to allow for the width of the edge of the sink when working out where to have the tap holes located, as otherwise the fixing nuts of the taps may get in the way of the sink. You also need to make sure your taps project far enough into the sink.

DIY wooden support for undermount sinks

A piece of wood left over from the new bathroom floor supports each sink

Once the granite arrived, I drew a marker pen line the circumference of each sink around the underside of each sink hole, so that the sinks could be positioned in exactly the right place. I then piped a bead of clear silicone around the top of each sink and carefully pressed each sink into place on the underside of the granite.

When I purchased the undermount sinks I also bought some fixing bolts – which cost the best part of £20 for both sinks, which I thought was quite expensive. As the granite was only 20mm thick, and on advice from the granite company I decided against using these, and instead built two wooden supports for each sink to sit in. The sinks are glued pretty securely to the granite with the silicone but the wooden supports create that extra insurance against them ever coming loose in the future.

granite washstand with two undermount sinks

The taps and click clack (push operated) plugs are fitted to complete the washstand

Once the taps were plumbed in and each sink waste fitted, the final job was to silicone in place the splashback. I applied a bead of silicone to the underside and rear of the splashback, carefully laid it into place, and then completed the task by applying a bead of silicone to the bottom and top edge of the splashback before smoothing it off with a special silicone smooth out tool purchased from my local builders merchant.

 

 

 

 

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