Mix equal parts of cement and fine sand to fill small cracks in cement-rendered walls. Work the mix with water until it has the consistency of a thick paste, and then work it into the cracks with a firm brush. Smooth down, if necessary.


When buying ceramic tiles for use outside, make sure the tiles have been treated to make them frost-resistant. This process, which is usually carried out during manufacture. Seals the porosity of the clay so that any moisture within the tiles cannot expand when frozen and crack the glazed surface.


To repair a worn or damaged area of linoleum or vinyl sheet flooring-patch a new piece into the old. Lay a square of the replacement material over the damaged area. Allow for a generous overlap and make sure that any pattern is matched exactly.

Tape the square to the floor covering and. Using a trimming-knife and a straight-edge, cut through both the patch and the floor covering. Remove the cut pieces and scrape away any old adhesive from the floor.

Check that the patch fits the space, trimming it with the knife or giasspapering the edges, if necessary. Then apply adhesive to the underside of the patch and. To help the patch adhere, weight it down while the glue is drying.


When building- a brick wall, it is vital that bricks are laid both level horizontally and evenly vertically. Start laying- the courses by building both ends up first and then infilling-. During the first stage, regularly check that the vertical alignment is exact by holding a spirit level against the bricks, or. If the wall is too high for this to be accurate, use a plumb line.

When infilling, use two L-shaped corner blocks and a line to check the horizontal alignment. To make each block, screw two small 50 mm 2 in cubes of softwood on to one side of a larger block of the same thickness, leaving a gap between the two smaller blocks.


Some mirror and aluminium tiles are self-adhesive – fixed to a surface by sticker pads, usually positioned behind each corner of the tile. To remove such tiles without damaging the surface or leaving part of the pads behind, drop lighter fuel behind the tile and over the pads. Allow the fuel to soak into the pads for two or three minutes before removing them. Then clean the surface.

Hammer a nail halfway home in the back of the larger block.

To use the line, tie one end to the nail on one of the blocks. Pass the line through the gap. Position this block at one end of the wall. Pull the line taut and attach it to the other block at the opposite end. Again passing the line through the gap and winding any excess line around the nail to keep it taut. By doing this the tension of the line will hold the blocks in position.

Lay the bricks so that they are approximately 19mm away from the line. If the line is any nearer the brickwork, it can snag-on the surface and cause even a short course of bricks to be as much as 6mm out of line. Repeat the procedure, course by course, up the wall.


The quickest way to strip paintwork is to burn it off with a blowlamp or blowtorch, but there is a right and a wrong way of tackling the job. The right way is to always strip minor areas, such as mouldings and rebates, before tackling the major areas around them. The aim is to remove the paint without damaging the surface beneath it. But if the main areas are stripped first, the exposed wood can be badly scorched when trying to deal with the smaller ones.

When stripping mouldings, always work from the top downwards. As the paint melts, remove it with a scraper or – in awkward places – with a shave hook. Collect the melted paint in a container on the ground, taking care not to let any fall on the hand.


When a batten cannot be fitted to support the length of a shelf – where, for instance, it would take up valuable space or look unsightly – support the length invisibly by plugging screws into the back wall.

Start by placing the shelf against the wall and scribing the positions for the screws on both shelf and wall at 225 mm 9 in intervals. Then fit the screws into the wall, leaving about 19mm of their length exposed. Cut off the heads with a hacksaw.

Check the marks on the shelf against the final position of the screws and then drill holes in the shelf to a depth of 25mm 1 in at each marked point. When the shelf is placed in position, the sheared-off screws will fit into the holes, providing an extremely rigid fixing along the shelf’s length. Screw battens, or other supports, to the side wall to take the main weight of the shelf.


Always hang unbacked fabrics. Such as hessian or decorative felt. On a surface that has been lined – never on a bare surface. Then apply the recommended adhesive to the lining paper, and not to the fabric, when hanging it. This prevents stretching and avoids the danger of overlapped edges soiling the fabric underneath. Overlap the edges by 25mm. And when the adhesive has partially dried make a butt joint by cutting along a straight-edge through both pieces of fabric down the centre of the overlap.


The simplest way of fixing a loose slate is to renail it with aluminium alloy nails. Alternatively. Bend a strip of lead into the shape of a Zand position it so that one end secures the edge of the slate and the other is fitted tightly around a roofing batten. If a slate is cracked, seal it with a proprietary bituminous mastic, obtainable from builders merchants


Before tiling over a porous plaster surface, always apply a coat of a solvent-based primer to it. Otherwise. The tile adhesive will dry out too quickly, weakening the bond between the tiles and the plaster.