DIY Door Jamb Repair
to Victorian Front Door Frame





The front door frame of my Victorian house is the original frame, although the door is a replacement. The door jambs (which are the side sections of the frame) had rotted at the bottoms. One side was a lot worse than the other.



This was the worst side, although the rot went up a lot higher than this hole suggests. You can see the bulging line up the jamb. That shows where the rot went up, due to damp wicking up the wood. 

I cut out the rot using an old chisel and was contemplating just patching up the jamb using a two-part filler, as everyone else seemed to have done on Youtube. However, the missing area was too big for filler so I knew I needed to get some woodwork done. I couldn't find a carpenter who was free to do a small job and I also knew it would cost a few hundred pounds, so I accepted that I had to fix it myself. Winter is coming and this hole, big enough for rats to get through, had to be closed.



I did buy some two-part filler for the gaps before I realised the extent of the problem and I could have used it for the left hand side jamb, which had a smaller hole. However, I thought I'd save it and, instead, use some leftover tile adhesive. I thought of using the tile adhesive because I knew it would dry rock hard, wouldn't shrink and was water resistant. I also knew that if it was applied a bit drier it would be easy to sculpt. One drawback is that it needs to be finished off, more or less, when applied as it can't be sanded very much, unlike filler. It can, however, be chiseled and lightly sanded.

Above is the worst side, minus the rotten jamb section and with new wooden parts fitted. I cut out the rotten part at an angle using a normal saw. I then cut again to remove a 90 degree section and then chiseled the last section of the jamb, which my saw could not reach. This new wood is tanalised timber from the gardening section of B&Q, bought in two different sizes to match the remaining jamb. I left the staples in the bottom end to allow a millimeter or two of space to reduce the risk of water wicking. I first removed any loose stones and crumbled mortar, dampened slightly using a spritzer and stuck the timber into place using leftover tile adhesive. It's now rock solid and I didn't need to fit screws through the pilot holes I'd drilled.


The gap left had to be filled using two pieces of pine as I couldn't find either tanelised wood or hardwood in the right sizes. You can see the two pieces of wood on the floor in the photo above. I applied lots of wood preservative though and also pushed in some tacks to the bottoms to lift the wood off the floor slightly.



Luckily, the rectangular shaped wood was a perfect snug fit and didn't need any adjustments or adhesives. If this part does rot in time, it will be easier to remove and replace. The protruding corner had to be cut off slightly to match the form of the original jamb above. I applied another coat of wood preservative for good measure.



The dowel was slightly smaller than the form above but I knew I would be able to match it with the original form sculpting tile adhesive next to it. The original jamb was made all in one piece of timber so each shape flowed into the next anyway. I used my finger, sculpting tools and a small paint brush to sculpt and match up the new parts to the old.



After some more filling (with the two-part filler this time), sanding and undercoating, hopefully no-one will ever know that this Victorian door frame has a wooden leg, so to speak.

Watch this space and Youtube for more updates on the renovation
of this faulty towers by me, House Fairy.







Rectified Porcelain Floor Tiling
Using Self-Levelling System

RECTIFIED PORCELAIN FLOOR TILING USING SELF LEVELING SYSTEM
Hurray! I finally tiled my floor with rectified porcelain floor tiles using a self-levelling system...and did it well! What a relief! I've lost sleep over the last six months worrying about having to do this dreaded task and fearing I'd make a total mess of it.

I put my success down to using Mapei 'Super Flexible' tile adhesive and me having some experience in icing cakes!

I spent months searching for the right floor tiles, ordering about twenty samples. I discounted this one straight away as it was too smooth and straight-cut (rectified). I didn't know at the time how hard rectified tiles are to lay: I just didn't think such a clean-cut tile would look good in a Victorian house. However, several samples later, I had another look and had an epiphany: it complimented the grey and brown colouring of the exterior stone and, as it was plain, would compliment the busy texture of stone. I'd had the right tile all along and it also happened to be the cheapest at £10/m from Walls and Floors. It was on offer when I bought it but it's shot up to three times that price now. So I really did get a bargain!

After pouring a layer of self-leveling compound onto my kitchen floor (see video), I primed it twice with Setcrete primer from Screwfix.




I credit Mapei 'Super Flexible' tile adhesive for my tiling success because it takes hours to set, meaning I had plenty of time to get it right and that made all the difference. I think, with rectified tiles, you have to either have a perfectly pool-table flat floor and help with the mixing, or you need to use a self-leveling system to ensure there is no lippage. Given most tile adhesive is rapid set and goes off after 45mins, there's no time to make a mistake or make corrections. That's fine if you're sure all factors are going to be perfect. But with an imperfect floor and a one-man job, it's going to be a nightmare. See my video on Mapei Super Flexible tile adhesive here to see why I liked it so much.

I spent a lot of time doing dry-runs with various tile layout patterns, including brick, basketweave and herringbone but, in the end, I gave up trying to be clever and went the easy route...'stack bond'. Sometimes the simplest method is actually the best and I think that's true for my kitchen floor as it feels right now it's all finished. With the brick layout, which is popular at the moment, you have to be sure your tiles are completely flat or you'll have lippage in the middle of each long side. One way to find out if they're flat is to put them on a flat surface and push on the corners one at a time to check for any rocking....then turn it over and test again. I thought mine were flat as I did test them but discovered a bit of curvature with some tiles as I was installing them, so it's good I didn't go for the brick layout.

RECTIFIED PORCELAIN FLOOR TILING USING SELF LEVELING SYSTEM

Once I'd decided on the layout, I then had to decide on the positioning. One aspect of this is whether to lay the tiles horizontally or vertically. There were three factors that helped me to choose a wide look from my front door. Firstly, my house is almost a 'shotgun' house, meaning it's not wide but very deep and you could almost fire a shotgun from the front door to the back door. In fact, you could almost fire it right to the back of the garden! It's a very thin but long plot. So laying the tiles wide would give the illusion of width. Secondly, I knew the focal point of the room was going to be the chimney breast where my cooker will go. A small breakfast table will go opposite the chimney breast wall and, therefore, that wall will be even more of a focus. It's better to lay rectangular tiles so they look wide as you look at them from the place you're most likely to be. Thirdly, I wanted them to compliment the layout of the exterior stone wall so that there was no jarring from wide to long.

RECTIFIED PORCELAIN FLOOR TILING USING SELF LEVELING SYSTEM

My layout pattern and orientation chosen, I then had to locate my starting point.  As my kitchen is not 'square' in any direction, I had to find a compromise that didn't create a noticeable diagonal line along any of the four walls. This was quite a balancing act! I probably didn't do this part the correct way but, as luck would have it, the result could not have been better. All the lines running alongside the walls look right and there are no trapezium shapes as you look down the walls. I did a lot of measuring with my tape measure, put one tile down in the middle of the room, did a lot of measuring again, did dry-runs to see how the tiles would look at each wall, at the front door and at the living room doorway and settled on my starting point. I then marked around the master tile with black marker pen and then marked a line from that tile down to my exterior wall to help as a straight edge. You have to be careful your master tile doesn't move or all your lines will be out.

RECTIFIED PORCELAIN FLOOR TILING USING SELF LEVELING SYSTEM

One decision I made, which is probably not standard, was to not go from the middle of the room but go from the middle of the chimney breast, which is going to be the focal point. It's not in the middle as I have room width on one side for the exit area to the stairs and living room. I'm happy I decided to offset the center-point as I think, once all the kitchen furniture is in, it's going to feel right and that's what's important.

I only installed about eight tiles at a time because that's what one bucket of adhesive covered and I liked to wash out the bucket after each mix. It took a lot longer than you would think to lay eight tiles and get them as damn near perfect as you would want to have to live with! It's tiring too...for an old girl!



I used the plastic self-levellers to help reduce lippage. I bought 500 clips and 200 wedges as the latter can be washed and reused. THIS is a good buy with the same product at the same volume as I bought. I didn't buy pliers so did all the pinching my hand, which was ok but a bit painful after a while. I could tighten them just as much as pliers could by clicking back, sliding the wedge further in, clicking back, etc. The next day, you can pull off the clips and wash the yellow wedges.

As I completed the installation in stages, I couldn't use the self-levellers on all edges all of the time. These levellers didn't work miracles but they did help, mostly by eliminating the risk of the tile sinking too low. However, you still have to lower the tile down to the right level yourself as the self-levellers will not do it all for you, unless your adhesive is very thin, which is not a good idea. I used various methods for levelling; pushing down, sliding from side to side, hammering with a plastic hammer and standing on the tile if it was really stubborn. Once I'd got the tile level with its adjacent tiles and level itself, I then fitted the plastic wedges and, lastly, the 3mm spacers I bought from Screwfix. You can use smaller spacers with rectified tiles but I wanted a noticeable grout line.

RECTIFIED PORCELAIN FLOOR TILING USING SELF LEVELING SYSTEM

Once I'd installed the middle of the room, it was time to cut the edges. I tried using an angle-grinder with an expensive diamond disc but it took a long time and the cut was quite wide, removing too much tile. So I invested in a table-top water-cooled tile cutting machine. I'd used one before to install 130m of ceramic floor tiles so knew what to expect.



I bought a Ferm 180mm 600W Wet Electric Tile Cutter Saw which came with a free diamond cutting blade. I quickly chose to scrap the plastic blade cover, leaving the blade completely exposed, because it was very fiddly and hindered my view of the cutting. It's much better without the cover, although you do get wet! Make sure you wear goggle as shards of tile will hit you in the face. The cutter was excellent and the blade was still working well after 16sqm, although it was starting to chip a bit. I didn't break a single tile while using this cutter. In fact, not one tile was wasted during the entire installation. I think that's in part due to the fact the tiles had a 5 hard-wearing rating.

RECTIFIED PORCELAIN FLOOR TILING USING SELF LEVELING SYSTEM

I didn't use the self-levellers on the edges but just relied on feeling with my hands and using my small vintage spirit level. I didn't fit the last two tiles at my living room doorway as they can wait until I've sorted out my living room floor. I did, however, finish off the edge at the front door by making a rounded-off slope out of grout to match in the very old and badly worn stone threshold. I used grout from the bottom of my bucket so it was more like modeling clay. It's probably not ideal but I'm happy with it. I might, in time, think of a way to improve my step and bring it into line with my tiling.



Once the tiling was complete, I cleaned out the gaps using a small flat-head screwdriver. I grouted with Mapei Anti Mould Tile Grout and found it to be easy to use and I got a nice finish with no pinholes. I think the water ratio is a bit out as it was better with less water. It went a long way though...1.5 bags for 16sqm. I didn't clean off the grout residue as much as I should have done as I was totally exhausted, so had to use a tile cleaning liquid from QEP at B&Q. I used it neat and it fizzed to work straight away. A quick rub with a plastic scourer and all the tile adhesive was wiped off. I had tried caustic soda to no avail, so this cleaner really is powerful stuff. I will probably put some sort of polish onto the floor to bring out the taupe colour and add a bit of a sheen.



I've now got a very clean tiled floor with no lippage having done all the work myself using tricky tiles in a sqewiff room for an absolute rock-bottom price. I'm pinching myself it all worked out well and delighted to see how beautifully it matches the exterior stonework. It's such a relief it's over and I didn't make a big mess of it. I must admit that I didn't enjoy taking on this daunting task but I had no other choice but to tackle it myself. I'm so glad it's over and floored with the result.....boom boom!



Watch the video of me installing the rectified porcelain floor tiling using the self-levelling system.


 Visit my vintage shop for beautiful vintage housewares.

Self Levelling Floor Compound

20 Tips For DIY Installation




Watch the video of my DIY installation of self levelling floor compound.

After giving it a go and getting a good, albeit imperfect, result, I feel I've learnt some things you could benefit from.

Here are my tips...assuming you have already primed your floor. I used Setcrete liquid primer, watered down 1 part Setcrete to five parts water. I only primed once but maybe twice would have been better.

  1. You can do it on your own. You don't need someone to do the mixing as you do the pouring/spreading. It would give you more time to work the compound, but it's not essential.
  2.  If you work alone, you may as well have just one mixing bucket. I had two but realised the second bucket was redundant. 
  3.  Buy one rigid plastic 25ltr bucket (from Screwfix) if you're working alone or two if you have a helper. It needs to be a rigid bucket and even though you're only adding 5ltrs of water, it needs to be this 25ltr size bucket or you will spill.
  4. Have another bucket nearby full of water. It could be a 30ltr rubber bucket. 
  5.  Have a measuring jug ready if you don't have measures on your mixing bucket.
  6.  Put the water into the bucket/buckets before adding the compound.
  7.  Add half of the compound to one bucket.
  8.  Mix with a normal drill...you don't need a proper mixer. However, to reduce the stress on your drill, start off the mixing by hand. Just stir with the whisk bit until the majority of the dry material is submerged.
  9.  Add the other half of the mixture, mix manually for a few seconds and then mix electrically, but not for too long or you will warm up the mixture.
  10.  Leave the compound for two minutes, then mix the mixture once again, being sure to stir up all the sediment at the bottom.
  11.  Quickly pour some pools of compound onto the floor, starting with the furthest corner, wall or doorway. If you start at your front door, start with it open, spread out the mixture at the doorstep, close the door and lock it before moving out. You won't be able to get back to your door for hours.
  12.  Use a plasterer's trowel to spread out the mixture. Self levelling floor compound will not move about on it's own. Think of buttering toast. You have to first spread out the butter all over the toast and then it will melt down. Self levelling floor compound is the same. It will melt down but it won't move out very much, unless you pour a large amount in one spot, but it won't spread out enough before it starts to set, and you'll be left with a hump. The roller will not spread the compound.
  13.  Cover the floor with the mixture one area at a time, trying to not leave an edge to dry out. 
  14.  Roller over with the spiked roller to burst the bubbles. 
  15.  Once you've covered the floor, and assuming your compound hasn't started to dry, walk over it with spiked shoes and roller over it with the spiked roller to burst the bubbles. 
  16.  If you laid a very thin layer, it will dry a lot faster and you probably won't be able to go over it all again with the spiked shoes on to roller it. 
  17.  You won't need more than the bag says you'll need unless you have a sloping floor or noticeable peeks and troughs. Buy extra though just in case but don't be too sparing when applying.
  18.  Any edges can be blocked off using a wooden baton glued down. Remove after a few hours before the adhesive has dried. 
  19.  Leave to dry out and sand off any dimpled surface.
  20.  Prime two times before tiling.
Self Levelling Floor Compound
 Above is my kitchen floor after the self levelling compound installation and after two coats of Setcrete primer.

Self Levelling Floor Compound
 The floor ended up very flat but it did have some orange peel surface patches. This could have been for a number of reasons. One could be that I could go over the floor for long with the spiked roller as the compound was drying very quickly (it was a very warm day) and I didn't have spiked shoes, so I left footprints making walking on the compound impossible.

Self Levelling Floor Compound
 Another reason could be that as the layer was so thin, the original concrete floor was exposed in the highest areas. This is fine by me as it levelled out the floor. But if you need a perfect surface finish then be sure to not scrimp on the compound as much as I did. I was afraid I wouldn't have enough having read lots of accounts of people needing several times the recommended numbers of bags. In the end, I used less than the recommended amount so needn't have worried.

Self Levelling Floor Compound
 The floor has ended up a lot flatter and smoother than before, so tiling is going to be a lot easier. I sanded out most of the orange peel finish.

Self Levelling Floor Compound
 Diddy the dog is really happy with the floor too.

Self Levelling Floor Compound
 Some areas were like a pool table they were so smooth and flat.

Self Levelling Floor Compound

This is the worst of the dimpling. I'm pretty sure it was due to it being thin in these areas. 

Self Levelling Floor Compound















The photo above is a snip from my video taken to show the fibres in the compound in the areas with the orange peel surface. The fibres were visible in all of the orange peel areas. They were quite spiky and stuck out by up to half a centimeter. I don't know if they contributed to the orange peel surface or if they only came to the surface because the skim was thin in the higher areas. However, Mapei 3240 does say it can be as thin as 3mm so these fibres are too long and certainly too spiky. If you were wanting to paint your floor then you would have trouble painting over them and they didn't sand out either. I don't know why they use such thick and spiky fibres where they could use very fine ones. I did some research into these fibres to see if other people had experienced the same problem but couldn't find anything. If you know about it then please leave a comment.

That's it....If you have any additional tips for self levelling floor compound installation, please leave a comment below.



How to Paint a Straight Edge

'Cutting In' Walls

How to Paint a Straight Edge - 'Cutting in' Walls

How to paint a straight edge - How to do cutting in on walls...

I know a lot of people will know how to do this and this post is therefore not for them. However, I also know that a lot of people don't know how to do cutting in as I have seen enough wobbly and blobby paint lines, hence why I always do all my own painting.

I didn't know how to paint a straight edge or line before someone taught me. It was always something unnerving and perplexing....how do you put the brush onto the wall and end up with a nice neat edge?! One of life's conundrums. 

Well, it's not difficult once you know how and, once you have learnt the art, you'll feel much more confident in your DIY skills and will save yourself a lot of money when painting your home.

Watch the video below to see me doing some 'cutting in'. But, in short, all you need to do is load up your brush well (but not dripping or clumpy), squash the brush onto the wet paint, slowly drag the brush along the edge at a slight angle so one side of the brush creates the line and go over the area again until the line is well defined. You can go backwards too to fill in any crevices. 

This skill will enable you to paint straight edges between different areas of wall, between wall and ceiling, between wall and skirting and between wall and skirting board.

To paint neat corners, creates the edges as well as possible and then poke the brush into the corner and twist a little to create a point. I will make a video doing this when I next do some painting.





Renovating Old Wooden Stairs Handrails


Renovating old wooden stairs handrails is easy if you can remove them...

I tried paint stripper but I soon realised it would take ages, I'd use up a lot of paint stripper, it was really messy and I'd need to do lots of sanding afterwards anyway. 

Then I tried sanding the paint off, but that wasn't much better.

In the end, I realised the paint was so thick and badly adhered to the wood that it would scratch off easily. I'm using a metal file in the video above but the edge of a chisel would work well too. I stripped the entire handrail using this method in about twenty minutes, it cost nothing to do it, it used up no materials, no chemicals were involved and the mess was easy to brush up.

My kind of DIY job!


Renovating Old Wooden Stairs Handrails 

This is the handrail put back in place in the attic. Instead of using a brush to apply the varnish, I used my hand. That way there's less risk of getting varnish on the wall, there's no brush to wash afterwards and you can easily reach all the way around the handrail.

Renovating Old Wooden Stairs Handrails 

This is the wooden handrail on the first flight of stairs, having been stripped down. This handrail was much more difficult as it wasn't possible to remove it and, therefore, I couldn't scratch the paint off. I tried using paint stripper but it took ages so I switched to a hot air gun. This, also, too ages but was marginally faster than the paint stripper. It was, however, hard work and stank the house out with the smell of burnt paint and was tiring as I had to balance on our very steep stairs and regularly reposition the extension reel. It took a whole day, more or less.

Once I'd removed the majority of the paint with the hot air gun, I went over it all with paint stripper and wire wool. This process leaves a silky finish, so there's no need for any sanding.

I wanted to make the pine wood look a bit more colourful so that it would match the warmer plywood in the kitchen. I used a little trick I've discovered.....painting on strong coffee. It works every time and you can apply more coats until you achieve the colour you like. Plus, it doesn't involve any chemicals, it's almost free to do and it's not at all messy.

Renovating Old Wooden Stairs Handrails 

Renovating Old Wooden Stairs Handrails 

This is the downstairs handrail, all finished.

I applied a few coats of water-based colourless vanish.

Renovating Old Wooden Stairs Handrails 

Renovating Old Wooden Stairs Handrails 

Having grown up in a Victorian house with lots of stripped down wood, I wanted to recreate a similar look, so stripped down this shelf on the stairs and the wood at the bottom of the wall over the stairs. I know the Victorians would never have left pine uncovered as it was a cheap wood and not something to show off, but I don't mind it being cheap.

I also stripped down the tops of the stairs skirtings....but the stairs are for another post!

Renovating our old wooden stairs handrails was not pleasant job and I'm very pleased it's over.

One more job done!



Boxy Shelves in Alcoves

Boxy Shelves in Alcoves
The boxy shelves in the alcoves in the kitchen are coming along nicely. I've extended the shelving to go all the way over to the left hand side wall, so it creates a lowered ceiling at the entranceway. I boxed in above this doorway shelf to hide the wonky doorframe behind. All of a sudden, everything looked nice and level.


Boxy Shelves in Alcoves
All that's left now to do with these shelves is to trim the fronts, possibly with dinted copper, fill in the edges with flexible filler using a gun and varnish them. As they're oak, I think they will match the design. If, once finished, I decide they don't match, it will be easy to paint them.

More to come on these alcove shelves!





DIY Woodwork


DIY Woodwork - anyone can do it!

Yes, anyone can make things out of wood - you do not need to be a professional carpenter. Having said that, I wish I had done woodwork at school with the boys rather than housecraft because I would know a lot more than I do. If only they'd not all stared at me - the only girl in the class - I would have stuck it out for longer than one lesson!

Despite never having been taught woodwork, I somehow manage to get by and have made and renovated many things. In the video above, you can see the alcove shelves I made recently. They're not finished yet as they need to be trimmed at the front. I'm going to do the same on the lefthand side of the chimney breast.


DIY Woodwork 

I decided to create a stud wall on the left rather than have tapered off shelving. All you have to do to make a stud wall is assemble a rectangle out of wooden batons and cover it with board. This stud wall will support the shelves as well as the worktop. I'll add horizontal batons to the wall when I'm making the shelves. I screwed this framework to the wooden beam on the ceiling and to the wall, checking where the cables are first. I've blown myself up once - never again!


DIY Woodwork 

I don't have a workbench other than this table and I don't have anything to help me cut things straight or align things at right angles. I just use my eye. One thing I couldn't do without though is a spirit level because your eye needs a bit of back-up with bigger things. Of course, it does help to have a little dog supervise your work.

After hand-sawing the baton to the correct sizes, I drilled pilot holes and glued and screwed at all together.


DIY Woodwork 

Two clamps fixed to the baton and table are indispensible for this job.


DIY Woodwork 

One tip when fixing baton to a wall for shelving is to first drill pilot holes into the wood with a thin wood bit. Align to your straight line, which you create with a spirit level, and drill through one hole (the right in this instance) to make a mark on the wall. Change drill bits to a thicker masonry bit, drill your first hole, plug and secure the baton to the wall. Then get the baton perfectly level using your spirit level and drill through the other holes using a thin bit to make a small mark on the wall. Change to the bigger masonry bit again and drill the other holes, plug and fix to the wall. It's more work this way but it ensures a perfectly level baton and also eliminates the risk of misaligned holes.

More DIY woodwork to come.....