DIY Calendar

  • Your 2014 Calendar

    Welcome to the UK Oak Doors' month-by-month plan designed to help you transform your home in just 12 months; whether you're a DIY novice or a renovation veteran. Use the links below to skip to a particular month, or get the downloadable, printable PDF version here.

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  • Your 2014 Home Improvement Calendar - Download the FREE eBook Now!

    Whether you’ve been following the UK Oak Doors blog for years, or minutes, you may have noticed that our DIY calendar series was finally completed in December! That’s twelve months of DIY projects, home improvements, maintenance tasks and advice spread out across the year!

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  • UK Oak Doors DIY Calendar: December

    The year is almost over!  December should be a month for celebration and relaxation, so put away those paint brushes and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.  You will, of course, spend some time putting up the tree and the other decorations, but you can do this at your leisure.  If you've been working hard on renovating your home over the last few months then you should have a house to be proud of, and this is your chance to show it off. Continue reading

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  • DIY Calendar: November - How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

    By the time November comes around, you're probably ready for a holiday - not only from interior decorating, but work and day to day life too! The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and it's tempting to just curl up in front of the TV with a hot drink and try to forget about how dreary it is outside.

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  • DIY Calendar: October - Hanging Wallpaper Like a Pro

    With the changing of the seasons, many people find themselves craving a change of scenery in their homes too. One way to achieve this is by sprucing up the wallpaper in their kitchen and living room. Washable wallpapers can last a long time, but eventually you will want to get rid of your old designs and replace them with something a little different.

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  • DIY Calendar: September - Stripping Wallpaper and Painting Safely

    September is a good time to head indoors and start looking at doing up your interior in preparation for the festive season. It's a good idea to start painting your interior in September, while the weather is still good enough for you to leave your windows open for ventilation. This month, we'll look at repainting your home safely and efficiently.

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  • DIY Calendar: August - Painting the Exterior Of Your Home

    For most of us, August is the height of summer. The weather is glorious, the holidays are in full swing, and we all want our homes to look great so that we can be proud of them when people come round to enjoy the annual barbecue.

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  • DIY Calendar: July - Fixing Rotten Woodwork

    July is the perfect time to start doing some outdoor DIY work.  If the exterior of your home has some problems - such as rotten window frames or cracked fences, then you've probably been itching to tackle these jobs. It's a bad idea to do those kinds of tasks in the spring, however.  You can be sure that no sooner than you apply the "needs 12 hours to dry" varnish, the heavens will open and your hard work will be ruined.

    Of course, you can't trust the weather in the summer either, but by waiting until July, and watching the weather forecast carefully, you can increase the chances of the job going well.

    Finding the Cause of Rotten Woodwork

    Before you even think about fixing rotten woodwork or cleaning up mould and repainting areas damaged by damp, you should try to figure out what has caused the problem

    Common causes of water damage are:

    • Leaking roofs
    • Blocked drains
    • Clogged gutters
    • Leaking pipes

    Sometimes, the cause will be obvious - if you have a leaky roof there should be signs of plaster damage, for example.  Sometimes, you might have to take a look in the attic, or crawl around under counters to see if there are signs of damage hidden away in rarely seen places.

    Leaking Roof Leaky roof after a storm. Photo: Paul McCord Jr.

    Repairing Rotten Woodwork

    Once you have identified, and fixed, the cause of your problem, you can focus on fixing the issue at hand.  In some cases, the damage is superficial and you can just sand away the peeling paint, treat the good wood underneath with a water-resistant sealant, and call that a job well done.

    For cases of more serious damage, however, you may need to remove large sections of damaged wood.  To do this, follow the instructions below:

    • Using a hammer and chisel, chip away at the rotten wood until you get down to a layer of healthy, yellow coloured wood.
    • Using a ¼-inch drill bit, drill holes ½ an inch deep into the healthy wood.  Drill several of these holes approximately 2 inches apart across the frame.
    • Clean up the wood shavings using a stiff bristled paint brush
    • Fill the holes with an epoxy consolidant, and cover the entire surface of the wood with it.  Once the first coating has dried, apply a second coating.
    • Apply more epoxy coatings until a hard layer has formed.
    • Now use an epoxy filler to fill in the area that you've chiselled away - mould the filler with your hands until it matches the shape of the frame.
    • Use sandpaper to sand down the filler so that the frame is smooth, and repaint the frame so that the filled-in area is almost invisible.

    If the rot has spread too deep for you to be able to just chisel away the damaged area, you may need to replace the entire frame.  Consider investing in a hybrid wood/aluminium frame or a UPVC frame that is more weather resistant.

    If the damaged wood is part of a fence, it may be easier to just remove that one piece of wood and replace it entirely.

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  • DIY Calendar: June - How to Lay Tiles

    By June, the weather is getting a lot warmer, and this gives you more scope for the sorts of jobs you would want to work on, however, there is more than just weather to consider when planning DIY jobs.  If you have school-aged children, then June is the last month during which you'll have entire days to work uninterrupted for quite a while.  The summer holidays feel like they're getting longer every year, so if you have any major jobs to get done, and don't want children underfoot while you're doing them, then now is the time to start them!

    Bathroom related jobs are one good example of DIY tasks that are best done when the house is nice and quiet.  Children and plumbing don't mix, so tackling the bathroom before the summer holidays is a good idea.

    Tiling and Grout

    Tiles are not particularly challenging things to lay, but they do require patience and planning.  If you rush the job, they're likely to look messy and un-even.  If you work slowly and carefully you can achieve great results.

    To lay tiles, you will need:

    • Some grout
    • A bucket
    • Water for mixing (some mixtures require latex)
    • A sponge (for the grout)
    • A rubber grout float
    • An old toothbrush (for use as a grout tool)

    You should also have some rubber gloves to protect your hands, and you may want to wear safety goggles too - check the instructions on your grout package, and follow whatever it recommends.

    Prepare the wall by brushing it down to make sure that it is clean and free of dust.  Measure the wall so that you know the number of tiles you will need to cover the area you're planning to tile.  Lay the tiles carefully and let them set overnight, then use a rubber float to scoop up the grout.  Hold the float at a 45 degree angle to the tile joints and let the grout fill the joints.  After the grout has set, use a sponge to clean the front of the tiles.  Smooth the grout using the handle (not the bristles) of the toothbrush.  Give the grout some time to set, then polish the surface of the tiles again.

    Tiles and Grout Tiles. Photo: Cole Henley

    Top Tips For Fixing or Repairing Bathroom Fittings

    If your bathroom, sink, or toilet is looking a bit tattered, why not replace them?  You can get new plastic baths quite inexpensively these days, and even the basic models look nice.

    Before you invest in new bathroom fixtures and fittings, take care to measure all of the pipes, including the waste pipe and the one feeding the taps.  You should also measure the bath itself, to make sure that the new one will fit.  If everything fits easily, then you can do the job of installing the new bath, toilet, or sink yourself.  If the pipe measurements don't quite work, then it may be a more complicated job.

    When fitting a bath, measure everything up carefully and mark the positions of the pipes on the wall. You should also draw a line near where the top of the bath should be, so that you can make sure that the bath is level.

    Fit the taps and the waste overflow before you put the bath in place - this may seem counter-intuitive, but trying to do it when the bath is already in place is extremely difficult.

    Chrome taps Bathroom Taps. Photo: Boris Mitendorfer Photography

    When you're working with bathroom fixtures and fittings, it's essential that you make sure everything is watertight.  A leaky bath could cause you some serious problems in the long term. Make sure that all of the pipes are securely attached and that they are tightly sealed.  Where most people go wrong is by not properly sealing the area where the bath meets the wall. Make sure that all surfaces that you're sealing are clean and dust free. Wipe down the area around the bath, and then apply a watertight sealant to the bath and the wall tiles. You can shape the sealant to make it look neat and tidy by using your finger, or the handle of a teaspoon.  Once you've applied the seal, leave it to dry for 24 hours before you use the bath.

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  • DIY Calendar: May - Preparing the Interior Of Your Home

    If you're planning on redecorating, you will want to make sure that you have a good base to start from.  You spent the first few months tidying your home and cleaning the exterior, now you need to prepare the interior.

    Most homes have some cracks on the walls or the ceiling and around chimney flues.  Homes with a significant amount of plasterboard can have cracks or chips in the walls caused by previous DIY projects gone wrong.  Most of these problems are minor, however, and can be easily fixed.

    Diagnosing Cracks

    Before you start patching up your damaged walls, you need to make sure that you aren't simply sticking a band-aid over a more serious problem.

    Small cracks across the ceiling are usually nothing to worry about, as are cracks around chimneys, and in plasterboard walls.  However, if you have a crack that is more than a couple of centimeters wide, or that appears suddenly and gets wider and wider over a short space of time, then this could be a sign of subsidence.  You should get this looked at by a qualified surveyor immediately.

    crack caused by Subsidence Subsidence. Photo: Matt Gibson

    Become a Plastering Expert

    Plastering is actually a complex skill, and to be truly good at it takes a lot of practice. Professional plasters require careful mixing, and must be applied quickly otherwise they could set before you're finished working, producing uneven results.

    There are DIY grade plaster mixes that are far easier to work with, and if all you're doing is smoothing out some cracks or fixing up a couple of small holes, then you should use those mixes.

    Prepared plaster Plastering. Photo: Icerunner


    For plastering work you will need.

    • A bucket to hold the plaster
    • A stiff bristled brush
    • A plasterer's hawk
    • A plasterer's trowel
    • A straight edge
    • Some joint tape

    Absorbent Surfaces

    Before you start applying plaster to a surface, you must prepare that surface properly.  If you apply plaster to a surface that is dirty or damp then you could end up with some serious flaking problems.  To prepare a surface for plastering, brush it thoroughly with a stiff-bristled brush to remove dirt and dust.  Next, splash some water over the bricks.  If the water stays on the surface, then you can apply plaster to that surface with just a little dampening.  If the bricks soak up the water immediately then they're too absorbent to take plaster in their current state, and you should prepare them by brushing them with water before plastering.

    Highly absorbent surfaces such as concrete blocks will need further preparation with a bonding agent before you can use plaster on them.

    Preparing Tiles

    Tiles, especially ceramic tiles, need special treatment.  Prepare a mix of two parts sharp sand, one part cement, one part bonding agent, and one part water. Mix this together until it forms a fairly consistent slurry, and brush this over your tiles.  Allow this application to dry before you start applying the regular plaster mix.

    Achieving a Smooth Finish

    You should work quickly but methodically when applying plaster.  Put a generous dollop of plaster on the hawk and then load a small amount of that plaster on to the trowel.  Spread the mix on to the wall in a sweeping arc, keeping the trowel slightly angled.  Never push the trowel directly in to the wall.  When the plaster has dried out slightly you can smooth it with the trowel.

    If you're working in a small area, use the straight edge to level the plaster off.  If you're working on plasterboard, you can cover the joints with joint tape if you don't want to fill them with plaster.  This works best if you will be papering over that area.

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