Simplify the cutting of ceramic tiles by using a wooden base board slightly larger than the size of the tiles to be cut. Secure a taut length of galvanized wire across the board with nails or screws. Score through the glazed surface of the tile and place it – glazed surface uppermost – on the board with the scored line over the wire. Press firmly on each side of the scored line to snap the tile cleanly. When cutting off a narrow strip of tile, place a piece of wood on the narrow strip and press down on it. This ensures that pressure is evenly applied along the complete length of the cut. For a very narrow strip, use pincers to nibble off the waste material and smooth down the cut edge with glasspaper or a file if necessary.
Felt wall coverings come in wide rolls – measuring as much as 1.85 m 6 ft across. To help support the roll when fixing the felt to the pasted wall, insert a batten through the roll and suspend it between two step ladders. This makes the felt easy to unroll.
Use a hacksaw to cut a quadrant tile. First, cut halfway through the tile from the back. Then, resting the tile on a level surface, tap the back sharply with the handle of a cold chisel on either side of the cut lines to complete the cut.
When fixing ceramic tiles that are not manufactured with fitted spacers – lugs on their edges used to separate the tiles in preparation for jointing or grouting – use spacers cut from a sheet of card about 1.5mm thick, or use matchsticks. Fit two spacers below each tile to ensure it remains horizontal, and two in each vertical join. Remove the spacers before grouting the joins.
Never use wire wool to rub down surfaces that are to be painted with emulsion paint. As emulsion is water-based, rust spots may appear if small strands of the wool become embedded in it.
An inexpensive new paint brush should be soaked in linseed oil for at least a day before use. This helps soften the bristles and lengthen its life. All brushes should be broken in by first using them to apply undercoating. This helps remove any loose bristles. Which may otherwise work free during top-coating and spoil the finish.
A paint brush should always be held by the handle – never by the metal band around the brush. This can make all the difference between ending up with a smooth finish or a rough one.
Apply gloss paint in vertical strokes and emulsion in horizontal ones. Then -without recharging the brush – criss-cross lightly across the surface. Finally brush back into the paint to lay it off. When cutting-in along edges, hold the brush between the thumb and forefinger. Keep it well charged with paint and work it slowly downwards.
Always leave a newly screeded concrete floor for at least a month before covering it with floor tiles. This gives the floor time to dry out thoroughly. If the tiles are laid before this, the mortar bedding which is used as a key for the tiles may fail.
Use a medium-grade glasspaper for general rubbing-down work when painting walls or wood, and a fine paper for the final smoothing. Use a coarse paper only when a surface is badly flaked.
To prevent a twist-bit slipping when drilling a hole in a glazed ceramic tile, use a felt pen to mark the point at which the hole is to be drilled and stick a strip of clear adhesive tape over the mark before drilling.