It’s enough to drive you knots

Christmas is over, and every householder worth their salt starts thinking of one of two things. Moving or decorating. It’s an automatic reaction when the decorations come down, the twinkly lights stop twinkling and you suddenly realise the rosy glow the Christmas time spread throughout your dwelling is no longer covering everything. So it is chez nous.

When we bought the house, it had pleasant enough if a tad dark walls in some rooms and a corporate cream colour woodwork throughout. What it didn’t have were additional detailing, viz brown blotches on the architraves and skirting boards. They came later. It would appear that the previous owners had a very distinct budget in mind when they made various alterations and the budget didn’t include either kiln-dried wood or someone who could make the best of cheaper wood. So we now have knots showing through in various places.

Trouble with acrylic-based paints as opposed to the old oil-based is they don’t cover knots, at least not for any length of time. They certainly do if you only want to hide them for as long as it takes to sell a house, but not if you actually want to live in it, you have to hatch a plan B. And sharpish. So anyway I tried undercoating and then glossing over the top which worked for longer than just glossing, but within a short time our little friends were back. So it had to be a rather more industrial solution. Speaking of solutions, I have never found that knotting solutions work all that well, and you certainly have to be careful what you paint on top.

It occured to me that I had used some fairly knotty pine in making some boxing and because it was only in the utility room, had used a coat of aluminium primer with acrylic-based quick-drying undercoat and gloss on top. After two years it still had not shown through, so worth a punt I thought. And it worked, or at least has done so far. OK, so well short of definitive proof, but I have high expectations! But why is it though that you only notice the bit you missed after you have cleared up and cleaned the brushes? There is one little bit of knot still showing on the

Fit for DIY?

So our new, new door has been delivered to the glaziers to have it’s double-glazed units installed, the exterior clear varnish has been purchased and it’s just a matter of waiting. Since in a former life I have hung a number of front doors, I did toy with the idea of hanging this one as well just to get it sorted. Probably just as well I kept my mouth shut. The cardinal rule of DIY is to make sure you know you can do what you are attempting, otherwise you risk having to bribe a friend or family member to apply to DIY SOS on your behalf just to get it done.

Now I’m certainly not decrying DIY as I still enjoy the general maintenance tasks and find them a pleasant change from the intense concentration which is part of my regular job. One thing you do learn as a jobbing maintenance contractor is to use the right tool for the job. Fortunately these days there are an enormous selection of tools and DIY aids which make the job a whole lot easier and are only a click away on the Internet. Very handy as we don’t have any large DIY warehouses in the town, needing to go to Southampton or Christchurch.

So assuming you have the right DIY stuff, there is one other thing you need. Realism. You may wonder why it is I should mention that specifically. Well, over the weekend our church had a sort of conference thing which included a kick around on an all-weather pitch at lunchtime. With visions of my youthful turn of speed and ball control I sallied forth onto the field of conflict only to be sadly brought down to earth. One skinned knee later, my legs just about given out, I realised there are good reasons why professional footballers only have a short career, and why mine had never got started. Fortunately my weekly swimming kept me from complete muscle failure, but I fear that my playing days are pretty much over. Realistically though, I know that hope springs higher than I was able to do on the pitch and the chances are that the side effects will have sufficiently receded for my delusion to continue the next time the call goes out.

So as the sergeant on Hill Street Blues used to say, “Let’s be careful out there” and only start the DIY jobs you are likely to finish, not the ones which are (now) beyond you!

The floor tiles gave me away

Any guesses as to what the tiler said as he left yesterday afternoon? Yup, don’t walk on the tiles. So naturally I did. But I had a good excuse M’Lud. See part of the roof in the room-with-no- name is made up of this plastic stuff which they make conservatory roofs from. Mostly see-through but prone to warming up and cooling down, and flexing in the process. When you use silicone gunk to seal the edge as per previous builder when he installed it, it eventually works loose. Simple equation, loose roof + torrential rain = wet floor. So my extenuating circumstances were that I didn’t figure a newly tiled, ungrouted floor should get wet so I crossed over to the other side and retrieved a bucket from the garage to be strategically placed.

Now as anyone who has had tiling done knows, there is a thin film of dust left where the tile has been wiped to remove excess cement and treading on this leaves footprints. So when tiler appears today to finish off cementing tiles he knows. I suppose I could have wiped the floor to remove evidence, but that would kinda give the game away. Having done some tiling in a previous life as a general maintenance guy, I knew that there was no real danger since the cement would have dried by this morning and I only stepped in the middle, but still got a mild rebuke. Not sure what he will say tomorrow when he sees the wife’s footprints added from when she went out to refill the bird feeders, maybe I’ll arrange to be busy when he arrives. Having cast and tiled a concrete step outside the backdoor, I get brownie points from the tiler as it is apparently a good job, so I may invoke the fellowship of the tile if things turn nasty. Incidentally, if you haven’t created anything from concrete and want to, you can find out all you need to know and soooo much more from Google. I look on it as a mark of how far our civilisation has progressed.

So by Friday we should have a tiled and grouted room-with-no-name and my considerable experience with a paintbrush will be called upon. We have decided it will be minimalist. Actually we decided to do it all in white since we couldn’t come up with a better idea, but that’s the same as being minimalist anyway.