Mr-Skill often baulks at situations requiring him to drill holes through tiles, simply because it is such a risky task. The alternatives are to use contact adhesive or two-sided tape, neither of which are ideal in the long term. Fred is one of our regular London tilers, and he advises that drilling through tiles is quite straightforward once you know what to do.Find a tiler on Mr-Skill

Your Choice

Essentially, there are two safe methods of making holes through your tiles. Well, you could add a third if you decide to rather find a tiler and leave the problem to them! The first method is to locate your holes precisely on the grout line that separates one tile from the other. The other way is more nerve-racking, because it involves drilling through the tile-face itself.

A somewhat nervous Mr-Skill says that before you choose one of these two options, make sure you have a spare tile to replace the broken or cracked one should things go wrong. Nothing is more eye-catching than looking at a broken or cracked tile, or having to use a mismatched replacement one.

Decision Time

Should you find that you have no back-up spares, you need to choose between using the grout line, and drilling through your lovely tiles. You could of course elect to get a tiling quote to sort the problem, but that could prove quite expensive when all you need is a couple of holes!

Enter Fred Again!

Fred is against using grout lines for drilling holes, and that is because you have limited space in which to work, and grout is not the ideal medium to hold a plug and screw either. He goes on to say, “Imagine the consequences of the bit jamming in the grout line as you drill. Rather mark up your holes as desired on the tile face itself. Then, you need to test to see that the tiles you plan to drill through don’t have air space where they attach to the wall. A simple tap with your knuckle will soon confirm if there are any hollow gaps to be avoided.” Thanks for the tips, Fred!

Easy Does It

Once your holes are marked (and checked), stick two pieces of magic tape over each marked hole in the form of a cross. This is to stop the tile from crazing as you drill. Gently tap a pointed punch to create a small guide hole for you to drill out further with a new masonry bit. Now drill slowly and make your hole to the desired depth. Once you have drilled through the tile – you should feel this happen – you can safely use the hammer function on your power tool.


 

Wise old Mr-Skill has often come across water-damaged ceilings, and he rightly advises that the first thing to do is to find and repair the source of the problem. It may be a leaking pipe in the loft, or perhaps a cracked tile on your roof. Once the cause of the problem’s sorted, the damaged ceiling should be allowed to dry out naturally. If it has suffered significant damage, you may need to replace that whole section entirely – simply find a roofing expert right here on Mr-Skill

Weighing your Options 

If you are going to go the route of a DIY repair, there are some important considerations. Maybe that’s all too difficult for you, in which case you can find a painter or decorator here on Mr-Skill. Ceiling and roof work in general are difficult areas to work with, and that’s why it is advisable to call in the experts. 

Steps to Ceiling Recovery Find a painter decorator on Mr-Skill

  • A proper repair of the damaged area is essential, as simply leaving the moisture to evaporate will not prevent further leaks. Assuming that the source of the leak has been eliminated – this could mean getting a painting quote afterwards – you can now commence the recovery process.
  • If you can access the area above the ceiling board, prepare to inspect the area from on top. Drying out the water-damaged area is important, and there is no real substitute for time and some movement of air in the affected space. Attempting to paint too soon will simply result in the water marks re-appearing through the fresh paint, no matter how many coats you apply.
  • If the damaged ceiling has severe blackening or water staining, try applying bleach to the area on a sponge or cloth. If the old paint starts to peel or crack, you must scrape the entire area until you get back to raw ceiling board.Find a painter decorator on Mr-Skill
  • Once the ceiling panel has dried out thoroughly, and you have removed as many of the water marks as possible, apply a liberal coat of universal undercoat. Allow this to dry properly too.
  • After a day or two, you can go ahead and apply a good quality ceiling paint with a roller. Allow to dry naturally, and apply as many coats as necessary to cover the old problem zone. 

Good as New 

One of our regular London painters tells us that he never ceases to be amazed at what water damage can do to a ceiling and how difficult it can be to put right. After all, nobody enjoys walking into a room with a blackened ceiling!


 

Mr-Skill loves recycling because it avoids over-filling our tips, and it saves on the pocket too, when there is no need to buy new bricks. Assuming your bricks are re-usable after demolishing your old wall, he also suggests that they will make for a rustic and creative effect as you build a new wall. Find a bricklayer on Mr-Skill

All it needs is an investment of time and the application of a little elbow-grease – imagine the feeling of accomplishment when it all comes together. If you don’t have the skills to lay bricks, you can still make a positive contribution by preparing the old bricks for re-use, while you find a bricklayer here on Mr-Skill. 

Old for New 

Set up a production line in a quiet spot in your yard. Then, examine each broken brick piece and decide which ones to keep, and those destined for the rubble pile. For those that are re-usable, it is a case of tidying up the broken face so that all sides are reasonably flat for the re-building job. 

Using a pencil, mark up where you plan to cut out the damaged part of the old brick. Carry your marked line around all four faces to facilitate a flat face for the section you are about to level. Now you can go to work with your chisel, working methodically and safely – don’t forget the goggles and gloves! 

Laying out the New Course 

If you have decided this bit is not for you, you will have to get a bricklaying quote – remember to ask for some discount because of all the preparation work you have already done. If you are going ahead yourself: 

  • Spread out the prepared mortar evenly along the foundations of the new wall using a trowel. Find a bricklayer on Mr-Skill
  • Spread a decent layer of mortar on either side of the brick before laying it on the foundation – you could do this in your hand or once the brick’s laid in position, making sure to anchor the bricks firmly in the mortar. 
  • Continue along the new brick course until you have completed a row, and so on. One of our London bricklayer chuckles that the beauty of using old bricks is that you can trim them to all sorts of shapes and sizes to fit all the nooks and crannies. 

Mr-Skill adds that if you have reached this far without fuss, then you are a natural bricklayer, and you should look to joining up as a member!


 

 Mr-Skill says that oft times, you may want to consider building work around your home, and, if so, up to date floor plans will prove vital. He goes on to advise that getting hold of a copy is not that difficult, but more importantly, any substantial work is going to require planning permission to make it legal. One of our regular London general builders reminds us that planning and approval are vital to the homeowner’s interests. Find a general builder on Mr-Skill

Getting Started

 You will need to locate the archives office of your local municipality. You may also find that your local tax office could help point you in the right direction. Archive offices hold all the information since the original deed, including owners, building permits, and maybe even a set of blue prints. If your archive office draws a blank, proceed to the next level. Meantime, find your general builder here on Mr-Skill, and let them worry about all the legalities. 

Research Time 

Find out where the fire insurance maps get filed and stored for your local community. These important maps provide information on the construction materials used in buildings in the entire neighbourhood. Some go back as far as the late-19th century when formal records became a local government requirement. Plans will help you determine exactly what your home looked like when built, as well as all the legal modifications officially recorded down the decades. 

The Building Inspectorate 

This is an important office, as well as a place where you can find out all the do’s and don’ts when it comes to building regulations. Your builder will be required to make application for a building permit before commencing any work on your home. This will then provide you with all the guideline information and processes required. Building permits simply enforce the building restrictions, and alert your local building inspectorate to what is happening.Find a general builder on Mr-Skill

 Keep it Legal 

Mr-Skill is a stickler for doing things the right way, that way will be no come back. The role of the building inspectorate is to ensure that all parties involved report on progress with any building work approved. Each entity to the agreement will be held accountable and responsible for all work undertaken. You can be sure that each review stage will undergo close-scrutiny! Mr-Skill has several pre-approved members, so get your general building quote right now


 

Perhaps you have decided that your existing lawn is not as lush as you would like, and you feel something needs attention in this direction. Mr-Skill loves his garden, and he firmly believes that growing a new lawn from the seed of choice makes excellent sense, particularly in the autumn season. This time of the year is good because extremes of temperature are no real threat. Find a gardening-and-landscaping expert on Mr-Skill

Grass Roots Approach 

One of our regular London gardeners, Cindy, says that, “it’s a roots up approach when it comes to replacing a lawn or a section thereof.” She calls it sowing season, because what you do now will reap rewards when you most want to enjoy a lush new lawn – namely the spring and summer months. Cindy suggests that you get a garden quote from your local nursery or garden centre, as they will be able to advise on the seed type to use, depending on your region. 

Where to Start 

A good start point would be to remove the old lawn. This may seem a little drastic, but you don’t want your new lush mat strangled by the old weed-ridden excuse-for-a-lawn, surely? If your soil is very dry, you can try saturating it with the garden hose for a few hours. This will help to soften up the top soil and the root structure too. 

The Big Dig 

Once the earth is sufficiently moist, use a combination of spade and fork to remove the old unwanted turf, but you must excavate down to the root system too. You then need to level the surface into which you plan to sow the new grass seed. Use a rake, and don’t forget to apply a liberal volume of compost to encourage rapid and healthy growth. If you are tired-out already, you could find a gardener-and-landscaper right here on Mr-Skill

Follow the Instructions Find a gardening-and-landscaping expert on Mr-Skill

Read the manufacturer’s instructions on the packet of lawn seed carefully. Not just for planting purposes though – there will be follow up in the weeks and months ahead as you admire your new lush green carpet in your garden. One last word from Mr-Skill, try to avoid mowing too soon, in fact, follow the guideline instructions to the letter and you will not be disappointed!


 

The mains pipe that connects your home to the water utility supply should always have a functional shutoff valve. Since this stopcock is normally located outside your property, it is subject to the elements and can rust over time. Mr-Skill says that the last thing you need when there is an urgent requirement to close off the water supply is a non-functioning tap! All water-main pipes are either 1-inch or ¾-inch, so you should check before you order a replacement shutoff valve. Find a plumber on Mr-Skill

One of our regular London plumbers warns that this is a moderately difficult task, because you don’t know what you are going to encounter when you get going. He insists that this is a job best left to the experts, so perhaps rather find a plumber and leave the guesswork out of it. Mr-Skill has a number of pre-screened members just waiting to be at your service. That said, it certainly does not hurt to know where your shutoff valve is, so that you can check its condition from time to time. 

Why Maintain or Replace? 

Actually, there could be a number of valid reasons for wanting to shut off your water supply: 

  • The Hot Water Heater has developed problems and needs to be repaired  
  • Any one of the plumbing joints in your home could be weak and leaking 
  • The toilet is overflowing and does not switch off when the cistern is full Find a plumber on Mr-Skill
  • There will be times when you need to shut off the water to replace a hand basin, sink or even a bath 
  • You hear a dripping sound on one of your ceilings, which, on checking, turns out to be a leaking pipe in the roof 

When any of the above problems present, get a plumbing quote right here on Mr-Skill. Always remember that there is a good reason why it takes so long for a plumber to qualify. If it were that easy to fix plumbing problems, you can bet a penny to a pound that most of us would be instant DIY plumbers!


 

There are several different models and designs when it comes to bathroom cabinets, so if you are tired of your old one, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Mr-Skill stresses the fact that bathrooms and kitchens tend to sell properties, so any enhancements you make can only improve the outlook. In this article, we deal with mounting a handsome double-mirrored cabinet above your hand basin, and it will look very elegant too. 

What You’ll Need: Find a bathroom fitter on Mr-Skill

  • The cabinet – most come as knockdown kits
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil for marking
  • Paper template
  • Screws, plugs and screwdriver
  • Drill and bit
  • Spirit level 

Better to play safe than sorry, so if you don’t have the skills or confidence for this job, rather get a bathroom fitting quote. You can find a bathroom fitter right here on Mr-Skill, just remember to ask for the best price. 

Decide on Position  Find a bathroom fitter on Mr-Skill

Having assembled your purchase using the manufacturers instruction, decide where you want the cabinet. In the case of our mirrored-door cabinet, centring it neatly above the bathroom hand basin is a good position. Make up a template of the back of the cupboard, and use this for precise positioning and marking. Check the tiled surface onto which you will be screwing the new cabinet – ideally, you should anchor the cupboard with four screws, one close to each corner. Be careful not to drill anywhere near water pipes, and preferably align your screw holes to the grout line. 

Mock it up 

One of our regular London bathroom fitters advises that it is always best for two people to hold the cabinet in its final position before drilling the holes. Get the family to agree with the location, and the height needs to be such that you can see your reflection without bending or stretching your neck. 

Up She Goes! 

Once you have marked your holes on the back of the cupboard, drill through the back section using a carpentry bit. Offer up the cabinet to its final position on the wall and use the pencil to mark the holes on the wall, via the holes already made on the back of the cupboard. Make a final check for correct alignment using your spirit level. Use the right masonry bit for drilling your wall holes to the correct depth, then place the plastic plugs in the holes. Ask someone to help hold the cabinet while you locate the four screws through the cupboard backing. Mr-Skill says that if you have reached this point without any incidents, you can chant these words: Mirror, mirror on the wall.


 

Many homeowners, and a number of businesses too make use of jobbing skills offered by informal tradespeople called ‘handymen’ – perhaps that should be ‘handypeople’, because there are both men and women at work out there! Mr-Skill has a number of expert members that fall into this category, and our ‘handymen’ are waiting to quote on the handyman job you need to have done. Their role is to carry out repairs and maintenance, and they could be registered to work with plumbing, electrical and construction type work too. Find a handyman on Mr-Skill

How Handymen Find Work 

Quite a number end up in full time employment, and have on-going contracts assigned to them by their employers. However, many prefer to remain independent and go it alone. Initially they have to advertise their services and build up a network of regular clients to get continuous work. These self-employed workers are usually multi-skilled, and may also rely largely on word of mouth referrals to fill their diaries. 

What to Expect 

This is one area of the trades sector where practically anything goes. The work can be small once-off quick fixes, or large projects involving several workers with different skills and experience levels. It could be labour intensive, or highly skilled project work. One of our regular London handymen tells us that to thrive in his line of business, he has to work to a consistently high standard. This not only produces the work for today and tomorrow, but well into the future too. Ideally, a handyman needs to be in great demand and highly sought-after as well. 

Skills Development Find a handyman on Mr-Skill

All handymen learn from the work they perform. They have to be virtually all-things-to-all-people, which suggests the need for excellent communication skills. Handymen also must possess the necessary skills to complete the mechanical and technical tasks assigned to them. In exchange, a handyman can normally negotiate his own hours of work – bearing in mind that the customer always comes first. The variety of work on offer demands that a handyman should keep a well-stocked tool box to carry out the work that comes their way. 

Negotiating a Contract 

Mr-Skill recommends that when you find your preferred handyman service, you should draw up a fair agreement to protect your interests. This not only avoids unnecessary squabbles, it also safeguards the interests of both parties too. When you choose one of our handymen, you can rest assured that you will not only get a good price, but that you can look forward to a great job as well!


 

Our Mr-Skill has many talents, but, by his own admission, painting is not one of them! He far prefers to find a painting and decorating specialist when any serious decorating needs doing. Even painting straight lines is a bit of a mission for our well-informed handyman, and that’s always a worry because anyone looking at the finished job will spot his errors for sure. Find a painting-and-decorating specialist on Mr-Skill

Sidney is one of our regular London painters, and he is prepared to part with a couple of trade secrets to help you achieve the perfect painting job, when you decide to redecorate: 

  • Always paint the trim before covering the walls – that may be alien to most of us already, but Sidney says it is not that difficult to touch up a plaster surface later if you have managed to apply trim paint or varnish to the wall.  
  • If you are masking a surface you want to avoid spilling paint on, then let the trim paint dry completely before removing it. Otherwise the newly covered surface could peel off like a skin. 
  • Sidney also recommends masking the area where wall meets skirting baseboards. However, when you paint the tops of your walls, you can safely elect to key in nicely using the correctly sized brush, and the straight edge of the cornice as a guide. 
  • Sid goes on to warn, “Don’t overload the brush with paint, because inevitable and ugly paint runs will result for sure!” 
  • Our painting guru goes on to advise “rather paint using your shoulders and not your elbows or your wrists, and take long smooth strokes. The quicker you paint, the more chance of splashing you will have from the brush or roller.” 

Even Sid concedes that painting is not everybody’s forte, so he suggests you get a painting and decorating quote, and then sit back and watch the experts at work. He rounds off with the following sage advice: Find a painting-and-decorating specialist on Mr-Skill

“Always try to clear a room before painting it, as this facilitates a quicker and safer job with less downtime through moving things around. Use proper ‘spot sheets’ to collect spills, and don’t move from room to room without checking what may be stuck to the soles of your shoes.” Mr-Skill wishes you a happy painting experience!


 

Mr-Skill was very interested to learn that the LED Light revolution began as far back as 1962, when they started out as semiconductors that generated light when electrons reacted in electron holes. Essentially, the interaction releases energy – which we call photons – which in turn create basic light through a process referred to as electroluminescence. Now it is never our intention to get too technical in our articles, so we will attempt to keep things as simple as possible from hereon. If you want more technical data, find an electrical specialist right here on Mr-SkillFind an electrical specialist on Mr-Skill

Different LED Colours 

The P - N  junction of the diode determines which colour the LED light will turn out to be. It could create white, red, green, blue or even amber light. The junction controls the mixing level of positive and negative power. This in turn uses variable energy gaps that we measure in specific wavelengths to identify with the different colours of the spectrum – to the human eye, this translates to visible light.

Do LEDs Save Energy? 

Certainly they do, especially when compared to conventional incandescent bulbs, which are renowned for their energy inefficiency. In fact, around 90% of the energy consumed by a traditional bulb converts to heat – hence the scorch marks often visible on a ceiling above an electric light bulb missing its shade! LED lights consume around 75% less power by comparison, and produce 3.4 BTUs per hour as opposed to the 85 BTUs put out by an old-style bulb. 

The Proof of the Pudding 

The good news is that LED lights draw around 2 to 10 watts of electricity when in use. This equates to around a third to one-thirtieth of the power drawn by a conventional bulb. Add the fact that LED’s last between 35 to 50 times longer than a traditional bulb (and up to 5 times longer than fluorescent tubes) and you should get an electrical quote to change all your lights without further delay. Mr-Skill is a magician rather than a mathematician, but even he can see the enormous power-saving potential across the National Grid in years to come. 

Cherry on the Top Find an electrical specialist on Mr-Skill

One of our regular London electrical experts tells us that LED lights perform at their optimal brightness the moment you switch them on. Very useful for the vehicle, railway and aircraft industries, and that is for sure!