Vinyl is the best paper to use in kitchens and bathrooms because it is extremely resistant to water and steam. If non-vinyl paper is used, it may bubble from the wall after hot water has been running. This is the result of steam getting through the porous paper and softening the paste behind it.

Cure this by applying two coats of varnish to the paper when it is dry to make it waterproof. Remember, however, that if the colour of the paper is important. The coats of varnish will tend to darken it.


Use a smooth-grade file to finish off metal. To avoid the danger of the file’s teeth scratching the surface. Rub a stick of chalk over the file as required during the smoothing process. Use a single-cut file for hard metals and a rasp-cut file for soft ones.


When making- up plaster for the finishing- coat, mix cellulose filler with the plaster powder. Adding the filler not only makes the plaster mix much easier to work with – giving- it a creamy consistency that dries out very smoothly-but also retards the setting- process for half an hour or so. This allows more time to complete the job which is particularly helpful when handling- plaster for the first time.

Add about 225g Alb of cellulose filler to every 6kg 141b of plaster. Dissolve the filler in water before adding it to the plaster powder.

Fitting uprights to support shelving To ensure that shelving uprights are fitted correctly, first draw a horizontal line to mark where the top of each upright is to be fixed. Then place the first upright in position and check its vertical alignment with a plumb line. Screw it to the wall.

Next, cut a piece of wood to the same length as the proposed distance between the first and second uprights. Square off its ends and use it as a spacer bar to establish the distance between the two uprights and the vertical alignment of the second. Do this by placing the bar at right angles first to the top and then to the bottom of the fitted upright and fix the second accordingly. Repeat as necessary.


Before plastering a surface, always apply a plaster undercoat or a mortar rendering to it. Make sure to check with the supplier that the undercoat is the correct type for the plaster.

When applying- a plaster undercoat to a small area use a wooden float and work in thin layers of plaster – about 3mm 1 in thick at a time. Build these up to a maximum thickness of about 12 mm though this will depend on the type of plaster being used. Never try to apply this thickness in one operation: this will cause the plaster to fall from the surface under its own weight as fast as it is applied. On larger areas work between two 12 mm thick uprights and level the plaster with a straight-edge pressed against the uprights.

When using a mortar mix. Make the mix weak – one part of cement. One part of lime and six parts of sand is perfectly adequate. A stronger mix will prevent moisture being absorbed and lead to damp patches on the wall.

Before the undercoat dries. Roughen up the surface slightly with a scratcher. This provides a key for the final coat.


Only tackle small areas when plastering; leave complete walls or ceilings to the professionals. Having prepared the surface, make up the mix by pouring plaster powder into a clean bucket and adding water until the mix has the consistency of whipped cream. Heap some of the mix on a hawk. Then, using a metal float – or a wooden float if applying a plaster undercoat – slice off enough mix to fill about half the float’s blade. Hold the float level and shake it gently so that the plaster settles evenly.

Apply the plaster with the leading edge of the float at an angle of 30 to the wall’s surface. Do not hold the float flat, or the mix will stick to it. Spread the plaster by sweeping the float backwards and forwards across the surface. Making sure that the float is thoroughly wetted before picking up more plaster. Use a firm pressure to level the plaster at the point of application, reducing the pressure as the plaster spreads.

When finishing off. Lightly brush the plaster with water to help even out the drying time of the whole surface. Finally, smooth across it with the float.


A cracked and slightly uneven concrete floor can be made suitable for wood-block flooring or tiles by smoothing it with a 3mm 1 in layer of screeding. Various compounds are available and are normally sold in powder form to which water has to be added. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to make up the mix. Wash the floor with water and detergent to remove any dirt and grease and pour the mix over it. Work from a corner of the room towards a door and spread the compound with a metal float to a thickness of about 3mm 1 in. Do not worry if slight trowel marks are left in the surface – these will disappear as the compound settles and dries. Allow at least two hours of drying time before walking on the surface, and at least twenty-four hours before starting to lay wood blocks or tiles.


Five all-purpose adhesives will cope with most D-I-Y jobs:

Contact adhesives Economical and strong adhesives, mainly used for gluing timber veneers, plastic laminatesandceramic tiles. Their chief advantage is that they provide instant bonding, so avoiding the need to cramp materials for long periods. The adhesive is applied to both surfaces and left to become touch-dry before they are bonded together, using a firm pressure.

Epoxies Very strong and versatile adhesives, used when a permanent bond is needed. They are heat-resistant and waterproof and adhere well to glass, china, stone, concrete, rubber and many plastics. However, their expense makes it uneconomic to use them on large jobs.

Epoxies are made up of two compounds – a hardener and a resin – which must be mixed in equal quantities. Setting time is up to six hours, but, in some cases, this can be accelerated by gentle heat.

General-purpose type adhesives Although general-purpose adhesives are not permanent in all circumstances, they are excellent for small and light household repairs. They are moderately waterproof, heat resistant and have the advantage of being quick-drying and transparent.

Natural latex This has a strong, flexible bond and is excellent for fixing carpets and fabrics. It dries quickly and can be washed.

PVA The most practical and frequently used adhesive for general indoor work and household repairs. It has the advantage of being clean and easy to use – but the surfaces being glued must be cramped together during bonding. It is not waterproof and so should not be used outdoors.

There is also a wide variety of proprietary special-purpose adhesives for fixing perspex, tiles and wallpaper, etc. As the range is so wide, ask the supplier’s advice.


Usually cellulose-based, used for filling holes and cracks in walls. Ceilings and other plaster or wood surfaces. There is a variety of special-purpose fillers that should be selected according to suitability for a particular job.

Ordinary cellulose filler is suitable for most indoor plaster repairs. A ready-mixed filler is often more convenient and easy to use and will give an extra smooth finish. A special-purpose filler is also available for filling cracks in walls and ceilings – flexible enough to keep cracks covered even if movement occurs. It is self-texturing and one coat is enough to give a good decorative finish. Another special-purpose filler is designed for use on chipped or scratched paintwork.

Exterior fillers are specially formulated to give extra strength and resistance to wear. They can be used for a wide range of outdoor repairs, including work on concrete. Stone, brickwork, cement screeding and rendering.

The specified type of wood filler should be used for interior and exterior repairs. Exterior wood filler will withstand bad weather and is particularly suited for repairs in and around woodwork where the material is subject to a degree of movement.

Grout: Cement-based material, used for filling gaps between ceramic or clay floor tiles. It can be bought in powder form and mixed with water, or as a ready-mixed compound. Always use water-resistant grout on exterior work or where tiles will be exposed to running water, as on the floor and walls of shower units. Note, in addition, that some proprietary grouts contain white pigment. Which gives a better decorative finish than ordinary grout.


Used for sharpening tools. Although natural stones, such as Washita or Arkansas, can be bought, the artificial stones such as India, Carborundum and Alox-ite are more easily obtainable and have the advantage of constant quality. There are three grades of oilstone – coarse, medium and fine. A coarse stone is used for removing a chipped cutting edge. Medium-grade stone for the intermediate sharpening stage and a fine-grade stone for the final cutting edge .


Decorative finish given to an exterior wall, and frequently used to disguise irregular wall surfaces. Fine pebbles or crushed stone are scattered on to a cement-rendered wall while the cement is still wet. The pebble dash should be painted with a protective waterproof paint to give added protection against erosion.

Sum, and ready-mixed brands can be bought for undercoats and finishingcoats. The type of plaster required will vary, depending on the condition of the surface, so always ask the advice of the retailer. When mixing plaster, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as it is vital to achieve the right consistency to get the correct finish. Plastering is a skilled job. So large areas such as complete walls and ceilings should be left to a professional, but repairs and small areas are well within the scope of the handyman.