LAYING CERAMIC OR VINYL FLOOR TILES

Always start from the centre of the room when laying ceramic or vinyl floor tiles. Prepare the surface first and then work from the point where two chalk guidelines bisect the room and intersect at right angles.

Lay one row of tiles – without adhesive – at right angles to one of the guidelines. If the gap between the last tile and the wall is less than half the width of a tile-by 25 mm 1 in or more – move the whole row away from the wall to leave a half-width tile gap: mark a new chalk line accordingly.

Repeat the procedure to establish the second row of tiles at right angles to the first, this time moving both rows back by half a tile width if the gap between the last tile and the wall is too small. Mark the second guideline, checking the right angle most carefully. With the two guidelines established on the floor, lay the tiles, covering one half of the room and then the other. Remember to leave a 3mm 1 in gap between ceramic tiles to allow for grouting. Apply the adhesive stage by stage.

To ensure that the rows are not distorted and will compact better. Lay the tiles in the shape of a triangle. Having laid one complete row against one of the guidelines fit the next row one tile shorter at each end. And so on until no more rows can be laid. Then start again in one quarter of the room, working outwards from one edge of the triangle, starting with the shortest possible row and progressing to the longest.

Repeat the procedure in the opposite corner and then on the other side of the guideline. Leave those border tiles that need cutting to the end.

COPING WITH CRACKS IN PLASTER

Sizeable cracks can often appear at the weakest points in plaster-where walls and ceilings meet. Treat the problem either by using a proprietary filler or fitting coving over the area

DECORATING NEWLY APPLIED PLASTER

New plaster can take at least six months to dry out, so only decorate it with water-based emulsion. The paint will not seal the surface and therefore will not affect the drying process.

TAKING CARE OF TWO-PART ADHESIVES

Never mix the caps on two-part adhesives. If this is done, the caps will seal up. And it will be impossible to remove them.

FITTING ROUND-EDGE TILES INSIDE REVEALS

RE (round-edge) tiles fitted inside reveals cover the cut edges of tiles on the adjoining wall surface. Always lay the tiles with the round edge facing the outside of the reveal. Some tiles are not manufactured with round edges. But instead have two glazed edges. As with any tiling job. Plan the work in advance. In particular, if it is necessary to trim the length of any of the tiles, decide where this will look the most attractive.

GIVING CEILINGS A STIPPLED APPEARANCE

To create a stippled effect on ceilings, first paint the ceiling with a proprietary plastic compound. Then wrap a plastic bag tightly around a sponge and, while the compound is still wet, bounce the bag gently on the ceiling. On each bounce the bag pulls at the compound and leaves an attractive stippled effect.

Wards, make more chisel cuts every 3mm. Stop 3mm short of the end of the final cutting line. Reverse the chisel so that its bevelled edge is facing in towards the centre of the mortise and make similar cuts from the middle in the opposite direction, again stopping 3 mm short. Chop out the cuts with the bevelled edge of the chisel facing downwards, and continue as before with vertical cuts to the required depth. Finally, cut away the 3 mm of timber left at each end of the mortise.

REDUCING CONDENSATION ON WALLS AND CEILINGS

Fitting sheets of expanded polystyrene to walls and ceilings before papering helps reduce the effects of condensation that often occurs in kitchens and bathrooms. Use sheets of 2mm thickness polystyrene, and hang them in a similar way to wallpaper.

STORING VARNISHING BRUSHES IN FREQUENT USE

To avoid cleaning varnishing brushes that are in constant use. First drill a hole through the handles of the brushes. Then suspend them from a wooden or metal rod in equal parts of linseed oil and turpentine substitute.

The bristles of the brushes must be completely covered by the liquid without touching the bottom of the container. If the bristles rest on the bottom, they will pick up the residue of the varnish that settles there and will also become permanently curved. The mixture will need to be renewed every two to three weeks.

CUTTING LARGE CIRCULAR HOLES IN TILES

Because of the crumbly nature of ceramic tiles, it is impossible to cut a large circular hole without breaking the tile. The best way to overcome the problem is to first select a coin that is nearest to the size required, and, placing it in position on the glazed surface. Score round it with a tile cutter. Make a clean cut across the full width of the tile, bisecting the circle, and with a pair of pincers gnaw out each of the semicircles. Finally fit the tile in place, rejoining it along the cut line. Provided that the cut is clean, the join will hardly show.

DEALING WITH MOSS STAINS ON STONEWORK

Green moss stains on stonework can be removed with a wet scrubbing brush occasionally dipped in hydrated lime. Rinse off all traces of the lime afterwards.