Small kitchen design and layout improvements that make a big difference!

kitchen fitters llandudnoMaking a real difference to your kitchen area can be a real head ache sometimes. When you don’t have bags of time, money and space, you may feel like the odds are stacked in your favour to make any meaningful change to your kitchen.

Thanks to expert advice from kitchen design specialists that have spent their lives improving kitchens, you can find out some fast and easy ways to improve your cooking space.

A kitchen should be considered the heart of your home. Whether you live with family, friends, a partner or alone, the proud ownership of a kitchen should be felt, enjoyed and utilised. It is the place you create tasty food, discuss your day’s events and quite often the houses main reception. Creating a warm, inviting, stylish and practical kitchen will not only earn you bags of compliments, but also allow you to feel content whilst rustling up some nice food.

Improve efficiency in kitchen processes

The kitchen is the space in the house where you are most creative and active. Make a point to group appliances, cupboard contents and dining equipment in a logical order and in an area that eliminates muddle around the kitchen when undertaking actions. Whether that’s cooking, finding bowls or simple covering some left over food, try and think carefully about where things should be for maximum convenience.

Use light colours in a small space

The most marketable colour is undoubtedly white. It is a colour that can never be challenged and is constantly ranked in the top Kitchen and Bath Associations annual survey as one of the most used. White is associated with purity, peace, happiness and new beginnings – all of which have good connotations. White is a very open colour and when combined with the light within the room can create a much more airy and bigger feeling than that of its real size. An extra advantage is that you’ll spot any dirt marks a mile off, so you’ll be able to act quickly and ensure a nice, clean and sparkling kitchen.

Give your kitchen an edge with a well worked focal point

A focal point can come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s a splashy tile, special fancy flooring, unique kitchen cabinets, busy counter top or a specially designed interesting wall, there are a number of choices. Pick one, otherwise it can get a much, and then work on designing your kitchen in a way that compliments it with other smaller and quieter eye catching details.

Greentree kitchen fitters Llandudno are a firm that can not only advise but also deliver exactly what you want in regards to your kitchen. From modern style kitchens to traditional, with bags of ideas and options, Greentree kitchens Llandudno can ensure you have a wonderful looking and practical use kitchen.

 

Learn More About Magnetic Plaster From British Gypsum

magnetic plasterOrdering Your Magnetic Plaster

Richard Williams Builder’s Merchants are proud to be stocking the extraordinary Thistle Magnetic Plaster from British Gypsum. It is now available to order from both their branches in Llandudno Junction and Ruthin, so simply pop in and chat to one of their friendly staff or contact them on 01492 583423 for Llandudno Junction and 01824 702475 for Ruthin and they can order it in for you.

What Is Magnetic Plaster?

For those of you who have not yet encountered the wonders of Magnetic Plaster you are probably wondering exactly what it is and what makes it so special. Magnetic Plaster is an innovative product from the renowned British Gypsum to help make homes and commercial spaces more interactive. It is essentially a finish coat plaster that contains certain properties which allow it to attract magnets.

The possibilities for application are endless but the most popular use for magnetic plaster since its launch is to design interactive areas in living spaces.

The Thistle Magnetic Plaster provides a smooth, inert and high quality surface which attracts magnets. The surface can be an internal wall or even a ceiling if it takes your fancy. It is a perfect base for adding creative decorative finishes. The product is a retarded hemihydrate, pre-mixed gypsum plaster. All you need to do for its preparation is add water, it is very easy to use.

Uses

Magnetic Plaster has become highly popular in schools to create interactive learning environments and in many other learning centres such as zoos or anywhere with an educational display. It is also making its way into office spaces for development planning meeting and demonstrations.

In the home the addition of a magnetic wall makes a great play time for the kids, it can also improve your creativity and increase planning room in your home office or study area. You can even just use a Magnetic Wall to create a stunning beautiful space in your home that can be easily changed to express the artist in you.

Coverage

Thistle Magnetic Plaster coverage is 5.1m2 for 3mm coverage and is sold by the bag. It is recommended by the manufacturer that you aim to get the plaster on between 3mm and 6mm thick. It is important to be aware that any thickness less than that will result in a less effective product. If you make it much thicker it will not be more magnetic just a waste of material. 3 – 5mm is optimal.

Is it Easy To Apply?

You will find Magnetic Plaster is easy to order and use. Simply buy by the bag, add water for prep and it goes on just like any standard plaster. (8.5 per bag approx, please always read the instructions on your bag before beginning)

The Magnetic Plaster is easy to customise and you can paint it any colour you like. When it first goes on it will be a very dark striking black but when dry it fades to a dark grey which is very easy to cover with paint and this won’t affect its magnetic quality. It is important to let it dry fully so it becomes hard and durable. Try not to touch it while frying as it will not yet be hard and is easily marked. You can also choose to put wallpaper over Magnetic Plaster but this will lessen the effect of its magnetic properties.

It is as easy to cover as Multi finish and as hard as Multi finish when dry.
Keep in mind that the product should not be worked to a polished finish.

Essential Information

  • Conforms to EN13279-1
  • A minimum thickness of 3mm is required to enable magnetic attraction
  • The product does not interfere with wi-fi or electrical items
  • The magnetic attraction of a wall coated with Thistle Magnetic Plaster is determined by the thickness of the material applied and the strength of the magnets used
  • This product is certified to BES 6001 achieving a rating of ‘Excellent’
  • Very occasionally some small red spots may appear on the surface once the Thistle
  • Magnetic Plaster is dry. These will have no adverse effect on the decoration and will be covered by normal paint application.

Fun Ideas For Your New Magnetic Wall

  • Hang pictures and picture frames
  • Magnetic Christmas decorations
  • Hang a Clock
  • Add a dart board
  • Posters

British Gypsum

British Gypsum is the UK’s leading manufacturer of interior lining systems. With a very long history of experience in the world of plaster they have made it their mission to develop incredible, smart products that improve everyday life from their Magnetic Plaster to their sound proofing and lifestyle walls.

The British Gypsum research, development and test facilities are among the best in Europe and this is why Richard Williams are so pleased to stock the most creative projects from this top manufacturer.


Why Create Magnetic Plaster?

You will never have to use Blu-tack or drawing pins again, which is fantastic as we all know these can leave a mark and ruin the look of your walls in time.

Why Not Just Buy Magnetic Paint?

Magnetic paint is not nearly as strong or magnetic as Magnetic Plaster and it is only available in a small number of colours.

Click here to head to Richard Williams and find out more about the applications for Magnetic Plaster or see the product in action on their Youtube Channel.

K Rend Roughcast Texture Application

k rendK Rend not only offers a high quality, durable finish with great natural looking results it also gives a wide choice of textured finishes to choose from.

Richard Williams Builder’s Merchants in North Wales are the main K Rend suppliers for the region and know just how popular K Rend has become. One of the reasons builders love it is that it is easy to apply. There are different techniques to get the best results for each texture option but all are relatively straight forward.

Roughcast Texture Application

Naturally you need to start with a base coat before you begin your application technique for the roughcast texture.

The thickness of your base coat may vary depending on the product you are using so always be sure to read the specification on the product container. Take care to straighten with a darby or straight edge so this level is uniform ready for the next coat. Leave to dry for about a day.

Then apply a single coat of dash receiver about 6mm thick. Allow it to firm but not set.

To achieve a uniform colour in roughcast always mix enough for the area to be rendered into a bath or box. Do not add any further water into the gauging box on the scaffold. Through the Roughcast onto the dash receiver layer while it is still green using a dashing spoon.

Refrain from going over semi missed areas with the spoon as this will lead to intensity of colour. Protect from water while drying.

There is a spray applicator available for purchase with this product.

All the K Rend products deliver a stunning finish for your exterior render and the K Rend brand is synonymous with quality. Contact your local North Wales K Rend suppliers Richard Williams for more information.

How to fit flooring and wall tiles

TilingFitting flooring and wall tiles are two tasks that are commonly encountered by everyone at one time or another.

When it does, it is common to call up a local businesses to have them complete the job for you. Little did you know, with a little bit of research, gathering of the right equipment and motivation towards the job, those with little DIY experience can have a good go at fitting the floor and tiles of their dreams.

These tasks may be harder for some, so you will have to judge your confidence and ability, as only you know if you are capable, but for those ready for the challenge, we have devised an easy to follow ‘how to’ guide to take you through the steps of fitting both flooring and tiles.

1. Measure up!

It is important that you take accurate readings as it will influence your whole project and the outcome. Measure the length of the area that you are intending to tile, and then divide it by the length of the tile you are going to use.
Measure the width of the area you will cover and then divide it by the width of the tile. Round up the number of tiles for length and width, then multiply the two results to find out how many tiles you are going to need to complete your job. To allow for any breakages or poor cuts, add an extra 5% for wall tiles and 10% for flooring.

2. Plan your tile layout

Floor Area
Planning will allow you to avoid uneven spacing and poorly aligned rows of tiles. Use a consistently sized spacer between tiles to keep things evenly arranged. Such objects as a matchstick or plastic spacer will do this job nicely, allowing you to successfully grout later on.

The most visible row of tiles will be the one along your room entrance, so this can be your starting point. Take a pencil and draw a line vertical to the main entrance. Lay dry tiles along the line to the other side of the room and fill the small section with a 1 inch thick piece of wood the signal the small gap that will be left. You then lay against this block.
Bear in mind that tiling a floor will raise the level, so consider this in regards to your door, which may need its length changing.

Wall Area
Mark up one wall at a time, and ensure horizontal lines match up by creating a base line running around all your walls. Take into account the items on the walls, such as window sills, door heads, bath tops and work tops. Think about the area you are tiling, and which side the full tile should be placed on. For example, if you’re tiling the bottom half of the wall, mis-cuts are better on the bottom, by the floor.

If you are working around a door frame or window, think about the effect of starting points, as it is best to have even tiles on either side of your window or door, consider the effect at either end of the walls.

3. Marking up!

Measure the height of the wall you are tiling and divide it by two. Mark this height on the wall. Using a spirit level, draw a horizontal line across the wall, marking out what will be the bottom of the lowest row of whole tiles. Secure a batten to the wall, which will signal the base of which you will start tiling from. To ensure you are measuring accurately, and tiles stay vertical, use a gauge rod to measure and mark at one metre intervals.

Marking tiles for cutting
You will likely need to do some modifying to tiles to make them fit your area in corners and bottoms. Place tiles upside down so it overhangs the other tiles and touches the wall. Mark tile on the bottom where It overlaps, taking into account room for grouting, and then proceed to the cutting stage.

4. Cutting up!

First, we want to remind you to always wear safety glasses and gloves to do this. Depending on the thickness of cut and how awkward the shape may be, you may need custom cutters or blades. Cutting wall tiles should be done as follows:

-Hold the straight edge on the cut line and run the cutter along the surface, score the surface.

– Place small wooden batten on the floor and hold a tile over it, ensuring that scored lines are in line with the batten, apply pressure to the sile one each side to snap the tile.

– If you are creating a curved or L-shaped tile, score the surface on its line where you will trim, and remove the excess with pliers in small, carefully manoeuvred pieces.

5. Preparing the surface

Ensure the tile is dry and clean. Ceramic tiles can be laid on concrete and timber flooring however you need to screw down a layer of exterior grade plywood to the floor. When the concrete is uneven you can apply a self-levelling compound and let it dry overnight. If there are any ridges left over, you should smooth them off with a medium sand paper.

6. Picking adhesives

The type of adhesive used will depend on where the tiles are going to be laid. You’ll require waterproof adhesives around such areas of baths and toilets. It is normally advised to spread your adhesives on the area, until you are doing the corners, where you back of tiles.

7. Laying tiles

Before any laying or fixing takes place, check that your tiles are consistent and there are no colour variations.

Floor Tiles
Fix ceramic tiles into place using adhesive area, ensuring that consistent spacing is used. Check that each of them is kept level with one another, with a spirit level always proving a useful tool for this. To make a tile lower, hammer it through a block of wood to force it down a touch. On the contrary if it is too low, pull it up, and reapply the adhesive. Allow sufficient time for setting.

Wall Tiles
Ensure the first tile is fixed against horizontal batten running along the bottom of the area to be tiled, before lining up the tiles side with the vertical mark you set as a starting point. For the first column of tiles, it might be helpful to fix a vertical batten in place. Press down the tile against the adhesive, ensuring it is flat and fixed, before allowing grouting space. Ensure each tile is relative to both the wall and previous tile. Before removing the batten, ensure that the tiles have set in position, or you risk movement. Finally you can remove the batten and fill any remaining spaces with your cut border lines.

8. Grouting tiles

There are a range of different grout substances, but remember that you should leave tiles for 24 hours before you proceed to grouting. Use a rubber edged squeegee at 45 degree and to fit spaces with grout. Work on small areas at a time, so it doesn’t end up drying before you have it in its final place. To smooth grout in the joins run a piece of dowel over each join, removing any excess before it dries up. Wipe off any grout when you are finished and remove the thin film off of the tiles. Clean the floor every day for the first few days to ensure that the grout will be harder wearing through the rest of its life.

How To Lay Artificial Grass Correctly

Artificial GrassArtificial Grass is becoming increasingly popular with those looking to undertake both domestic and commercial landscaping projects.

Although there is some controversy amongst gardeners for preferences over natural and artificial grass, it seems that artificial grass is taking off and becoming more widely used for a variety of reasons:

  • It is low maintenance and therefore perfect for those who do not have time to mow or water lawns
  • They are easy to keep neat and tidy and do not produce mud even after high rains
  • They are safer for pets and children to play on

There have also been a number of improvements in recent years with regards to the quality and appearance of artificial grass. Many people who dislike artificial grass are not familiar with the modern options available. They will visualise a very false looking product but these days artificial grass is very hard to tell apart from the real deal. There is a wide range of choice out there in terms of price, quality, length and appearance with some varieties obviously appearing more natural than others.

Experienced Manufacturers who produce the best artificial grass use techniques to mimic real grass fibres such as mingling shades of colour, even subtle elements of brown to create a highly realistic natural appearance.

If you are looking to lay your own artificial grass as part of your next big landscaping DIY project then follow our simple guide to help you along the way.

The first thing to consider is are you laying on a solid or permanent base or is your artificial grass for a temporary installation?

If you are only laying a temporary installation then you simply need to make sure that the surface you are covering is clean and smooth. Then all you need to do is apply a self-levelling compound before rolling out the required amounts. If you are just placing your new artificial grass on top of decking or another timber surface, then a combination of adhesive and carpet tracks will do the job of fixing the grass down nicely.

For a solid or permanent base:

You will require artificial grass rolls, Stanley knife, high quality outdoor tape or glue, sand mix, rake, vibrating plate or roller (if you are replacing natural grass), weed killer, geo textile weed barrier, pins.

1) Calculate in square metres the area you wish to cover with artificial grass and always buy slightly more rolls of artificial grass than you need as wastage may come in handy depending on your garden design shape.

2) Make certain the area is clean and smooth. A self-levelling compound should be used to remove surface imperfections. This is especially important is you are laying out a very short artificial grass product.

3) Lay down your artificial grass on the clean, smooth area. Be sure to allow 50mm of grass overlapping the sides of the area you want to cover to ensure a perfect edge. If you leave the grass for a couple of hours to settle you will find this removes creases.

4) Take your Stanley knife and neatly trim your grass to match the edges of your chosen covered area.

5) Now for making the joins we recommend using a high quality outdoor tape or glue. Push any grass edges together then when satisfied peel back the grass and apply the glue, tape or adhesive. Fold the grass back and if you have used glue or adhesive be sure not to squeeze too hard as this will push the glue into the grass strands.

6) Using ground pins you can nail the perimeter down every 200mm to keep it extra secure.

7) Bear in mind your new artificial grass area may require an infill. If this is the case you will need to lay down a sand mix, which has been compacted in advance.
8) Avoid leaving any vegetation underneath the new grass.

Replacing an existing Natural Lawn with Artificial Grass:

1) In the case of replacing existing grass it is very important to work out the height you wish your grass to be before you begin.

2) Take up your turf and also some subsoil depending on the height you wish your new grass to be and the height of your topsoil. It is not a good idea to add a base on top of the topsoil.

3) Try to remove any big stones from under the turf.

4) Compact the ground using a hired roller then proceed to spray down weed killer as you don’t want weeds growing up through the artificial grass.

5) Place down your geo-textile weed barrier to prevent the weeds returning across the area you wish to be covered by artificial grass.

*Note that water runoff is important. Artificial grass does not absorb water in the way a natural lawn does so you want to hinder run off as little as possible. This means that if you desire a timber edging around the artificial lawn it must not be higher than the end result of the grass line.

6) You may want to put down roughly 75mm of fine type stone aggregate and compact it down.

7) Lay down a coarse sand to a depth of approximately 20mm – 40mm. Or you can use a finer stone aggregate if you prefer.  Again compact this down.

8) Lay your new grass carefully on top without dragging the sand around too much.

9) Leave for the settling time as with other methods.

10) Finally cut, trim and make the joins just as you did for a solid base.

* Remember that if you are laying artificial grass on a roof be sure it will bear the weight and be careful not to puncture your waterproof membrane.

You can purchase in store or order artificial grass for delivery from Richard Williams Builder’s Merchants in North Wales. Call 01492 583423 for their Llandudno Junction branch or 01824 702475 for their Ruthin branch.

Gardener’s Secrets – Top Tips

Garden MaintenanceGardening is one of life’s most therapeutic and rewarding tasks. Cultivating your own garden gives you somewhere to get back to nature and reflect.

Gardening is not only good for the soul it is in fact proven to be beneficial for your health. It relieves stress and depression symptoms while also being great for your blood pressure while giving you a bit of exercise too.

Gardening is great for everyone and provides a beautiful escape you create yourself. You do not need to be an expert to get involved with gardening but as a novice you may encounter some irritating aspects that horticulturalists have learnt to solve. Deterring plant eating insects like slugs and snails is just one of many little annoyances that experience gardeners know how to solve so follow these simply garden care and garden maintenance top tips to keep gardening as relaxing and productive as possible.

1 – Planting

When you are involved in the task of bulb planting you may find that sometimes your prizes flowers are dug up by wildlife before they even have a chance to germinate. To avoid this try covering bulb areas with chicken wire, that way mice and squirrels will be put off.

2 – Deterring Pests

There are two great ways to repel slugs and snails without having to poison them. Putting down slug poison can harm other animals and is inhumane but if you scatter some totally organic crushed egg shells in your plant pots, slugs and snails will be deterred and the calcium in the egg shells is good for the soil.

A second way to repel slugs is to attract other animals to your garden such as amphibians and birds, which are their natural predators. A wildlife pond or log pile will be beloved by amphibians and bird feeders, bird baths and bird boxes will attract a variety of birds to enjoy your garden.

3 – Watering Plants

In summer, particularly on warmer days try watering your plants in the evening so they have time to absorb the water before it is dried out by the sun. Midday, morning and afternoon on hot days is not an ideal time to water as the sun can evaporate it faster than the plants can drink.

4 – Weed Control

If you leave empty spaces in your gardens hardy weeds will naturally fill so try not to fear overcrowding and plant flower bulbs in all gaps even if they bloom at different seasons to prevent weed taking root.

5 – Compost

Most of us store compost in the corner of the garden as we feel it is unsightly but if it is too hidden away you will forget to use it, try storing it out in the open as it will prompt you to make better use of it for your plants.

6 – Vegetable Water

If you love recycling and reusing try making the most out of water you use to boil vegetables as this water will be rich with nutrients. If you leave it to cool you can water your plants with and give them an extra boost but be sure it has fully cooled before doing so.

How to Guide: Grouting

Grouting How To guideGrouting is a skill that is not just for those familiar with DIY. If you have a tiled shower you will probably need to redo the grouting at some point thanks to the damp.

Mould and mildew are more common in these areas of the house and if not successfully cleaned off regularly you can end up with permanent stains between your tiles or worse, water can start to seep through if the grout is so old that it has become loosened or cracked.

Grouting can seem like hard work if you are not fond of DIY but if you follow this simple how to guide it will be a breeze.

Materials & Tools You Will Need:

· Grout Float
· Sponge
· Soft cloths
· Small paintbrush
· Caulking gun
· Grout
· Sealer
· Caulk

First things first, before you get stuck in with the grouting, it is important to use the right grout. You need a high quality product to ensure a professional looking finish easily that will also last as long as possible meaning you have re grout less often. A grout job needs to look attractive but it is also important that it is robust and durable. Dunlop is a fantastic, reliable brand of tile adhesives and grouts. They have a great range of grout including wall grout, flexible wall grout, floor & wall grout, flexible floor & wall grout, anti-mould grout with microban and ready mixed grout with microban.

If you head to your local builder’s merchants in North Wales they should have an extensive stock of this fantastic grout. Be sure to ask which is the best grout for your job as the different varieties perform better in different environments.

Step 1: Mixing Grout – The first phase of a successful grouting job is mixing your grout until it has a nice even colour and consistency. Try not to get your grout too thick or thin in its consistency. If your grout mixture is very thin it may be unsuccessful at adhering the joints but if it is too thick you will find it very hard to spread.

Step 2: Spreading your Grout – This is where the use of your grout flat comes in. Simply hold the float at about a 45 degree angle then spread your grout across your tiles. Using a sweeping, arching motion will help spread it evenly. Be sure to press into all joints so they are adequately filled and pack the mixture in to avoid any gaps.

Step 3: Remove Excess Grout – To remove excess grout, just take your grout float again at a more sever angle, about 90 degrees and sweep across the area you have previously grouted. Removing excess ensures a neat and attractive finish. Your grout will soon start to harden.

Step 4: Cleaning – The first step in the cleaning process is to gently wipe your newly grouted tiles with a damp sponge without pulling out your grout work. If you notice a slight hazy quality to your freshly grouted tiles you should buff them quickly with a dry cloth to return their shine.
Every brand of grout is slightly different to be certain to read the instructions, particularly concerning the amount of time to leave your work to dry before you add a sealer.

Step 5: Sealing – Once your grout has properly dried you can use a paintbrush to apply sealer. Clear away any smeary marks before it dries. After you have completed the sealing process, leave your handiwork alone for at least 24 hours.

Step 6: Caulking – the process of caulking means to seal joints. Caulk can also be used as an expansion joint. This is useful because floor tiles particularly can change in different weather conditions. Caulk is particularly useful in wet grouting areas like the bathroom tiles.
If you follow these easy instructions, grouting will not seem like such an imposing chore but a quick and easy DIY job.

Image Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/13384589@N00/

How to Lay a Lawn

LawnsIf you are looking to radically change your garden space there are plenty of options. Two of the biggest are to add lawns or paved areas. Although these two are opposites they both create a different attractive aesthetic effects. Some of the most beautifully landscaped gardens are ones that combine different styled spaces and different areas dedicated to lawns, decorative gravel and paving.

If you are looking to add a patio of paved area to your property click here for our helpful paving how to guide.

If you are looking to brighten up your garden with a new lawn you can save money by laying it yourself.  It is a task that can be carried out by anyone with some careful planning and determination. Here is a helpful guide on how to proceed.

First of all, you need to choose the landscaping materials you’ll use. You should choose the topsoil according to its and your soil’s quality. For example, if you have a low site quality or you aren’t sure about it, you should get highly fertile topsoil with a fibrous base. As for the turf, it should be very dense to obtain better results.

Steps

1.    It’s important to prepare appropriately the ground. You can hire a rotavator to achieve this goal or you can turn over the soil with basic hand tools. Either way, the soil must be screened as much as possible because larger stones etc. may impede drainage.

2.    Now that the base ground is ready, you need to distribute the topsoil. While you’re deciding the thickness, you should keep in mind that it will compact later. If you notice an area with low soil quality, pile more soil and when it has filled up the site you have to level it out as much as possible. You can use a piece of spare timber, for example. After that you can trample down the areas of weakness by walking across the site. It can be also useful to jump on the spare timber you used before to both level and compact your new soil.

3.    Before you lay the turf, you’ll have to water the topsoil to make it moist and lightly rake it so they can bind. Abut the top of the turf tightly to the one above it to ensure there is no gap and then slowly roll out the turf. Another person needs to hold onto the top of the turf to prevent it from moving. You can also use the piece of timber to make sure that you’re not kneeling on levelled soil.

4.    Initially you may want to cut out the turves to reduce wastage during the laying but the real shaping should be the last thing to do. The turves should now be lightly pressed down to connect with the soil (for example, you can hold vertically a rake and press against the turf, but don’t use a roller on it while it’s new). You should water your new lawn very often and keep off it for approximately three weeks; if you have to walk on it, try to use a plank. Don’t forget to mow the turf regularly – you can start to mow a week after laying it.

How to Install a Timber Fence

Timber FencingWhat will you need?

• 8 foot posts in either 3×3 inch or 4×4 inch sizes if you are installing a six foot fence
• Fibreglass post hole digger, with which you can dig the post holes easily
• If your fencing is going near trees, you’ll probably need a cutting tool, like a special fencing bar
• A post hole usually requires a 25kg bag of ballast mixed with cement at a ratio of 4:1. The cement comes in bags of 25kg so you’ll need a quarter of a bag of cement for each bag of ballast
• Wheelbarrow, shovel, rammer
• Handsaw/circular saw/jigsaw

9 steps to install your new fence
1. You should have a clear area where you will erect the new fencing so the first step is to remove the old fence. If the old fence posts are still standing, dig out the first and last posts of the fence run and cut the other posts as low to ground level as possible. Concrete posts can be reduced to the ground level by breaking the base of each post using a sledge hammer and using a hacksaw to cut through the steel.

2. Mark out the fence run with a line or string between the first and last post positions. Hold the first post against the line and make sure it is vertical using a spirit level and make a mark on the ground where the hole needs to be made.

3. If using 4×4 inch posts, make the hole 12 inches square by 2 feet deep; if using 3×3 inch posts, make the hole 9 inches square by 2 feet deep.

4. Place the post in the hole and fix the fence panel.

5. Now you should mix the concrete for the fence posts. Using the wheelbarrow and shovel, mix the cement and ballast together whilst dry, then add the water gradually and mix well.

6. Check the vertical position of the post against the line you set up earlier. Throw in a shovel full of concrete. Compact the concrete and then check the level and position of the post. Throw in another shovel full of concrete and compact. Repeat this process checking the post with a spirit level constantly and bring the concrete up to just below ground level.

7.  Once the second post hole is ready, drop the post in and nail the panel before you begin to add the concrete.

8. Repeat the procedure for the remaining posts and panels.

9. The last step is to mark and cut the fence panels to size making the cut panel a few millimetres narrower than the gap size. Then remove the edge battens from the off-cut using a small pry bar and trim the staples flush with the batten. Finally, replace the edge battens with woodscrews of the correct length.

Head to your local Builder’s Merchants in North Wales and enquire about using a cutting service. If they have a timber yard they may well be able to cut your panels to the correct size for you. If you are new to DIY you can avoid the headache of messing with concrete by buying spike or bolt format post supports. This will enable you to put up a fence much faster and save money. Ask your local Builder’s Merchants in North Wales which type of post support will be right for you. It will depend on where you want your fence to go.

Hints and tips: make the bottom of the hole flat, you can drill pilot holes to take the fixing nails to prevent the fixing batten splitting, fix the panel so the top capping is an inch below the top of the post.

Image Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/armconprecast/

Paving How to Guide: How To Lay Block Paving

PavingBlock Paving looks great on a patio, for a driveway or a garden path. Paving is clean, neat and gives your outdoor spaces a professional look. There are so many different choices when it comes to paving depending on your paving slabs, their colour, texture and size. Laying your own block paving can save you money but we do not recommend it for a DIY novice. If you have had some experience in DIY before be sure to follow instructions carefully and if you are unsure consult your local builder’s merchants for more details before embarking on the project solo.

The below is merely a guide please consult your local builder’s merchants for specific amounts of materials required and for detailed instructions and best methods.

Materials and tools you will need: 1 spirit level, bricklayers tools set, timber offcut (just the one), a plasters float, sharp sand, concrete and mortar, edging blocks, angle grinder, fine dry sand, a rubber mallet and of course your chosen block paving.

You can get all these products for great prices from your local builder’s merchants in North Wales.

Preparation: Before beginning you need to prepare and excavate the area. Always have a detailed plan in mind before you break the ground. Be sure you know exactly how many paving slabs you will require and the equivalent concrete and mortar. Draw a detailed diagram before you begin and be sure of the shape you want your paved area to be. It is best to have more slabs than you need so you can cut extras to the correct shape for the edging slabs. Make sure you know where all the gas, electric and TV cables are before you start excavation.

If you are unsure how deep to make your excavation the standard typical depth for a domestic driveway is usually 200mm-250mm. Bear in mind this is based on a 100-150mm sub-base, a 40mm sand bed and paving blocks of 50mm. Always check the depth of your paving blocks.

Before you even begin laying paving you need to lay a sub-base of concrete. You must spread, level and compact this bas a minimum of 100mm and allow it to dry. Try to make sure there are no voids and use sand to fill any voids.

To Lay a Retaining Edge: When your sub-base is dry you need to lay your edging blocks on a bed of mortar. Use your spirit level and builder’s line to make sure the blocks are level and correctly aligned. Use the rubber mallet or similar utensil to make sure the blocks are pressed down firmly. Continually use the spirit level to check for blocks being level with the string line. To keep the edging blocks firmly in place in can be beneficial to build up extra concrete around their outer edge. Be sure the concrete has completely hardened before moving on to the next stage. It may take up to three days to be properly dried.

Using Sand: When you are certain the edging is in place, dry and level you can cover the sub-base with sharp sand. You will use your timber offcut to help position boards at each end so that the sand is level and to the correct depth for your patio, path or driveway.
Start by dampening your sand and spreading to a depth of roughly 65mm. Do not over dampen the sand. Compact your sand down another 10mm then go back and carefully loosen the top layer slightly.

With your plaster’s float smooth the sand down.

Laying your paving: Finally you are ready to lay your paving blocks. There are so many patterns to choose form so try laying a few dry first to check your pattern works, especially at the edges and that you are happy with the design. Always start laying from the corner. Be sure to lay them tightly against one another with minimal gaps. While you work kneeling on a timber board will help you not to disrupt your paving blocks as you lay them. You will probably need to cut some blocks to size so mark these using a straightedge. Lay the blocks on a firm surface for cutting and always use protective clothing.

Fine Sand: Fine sand can be used to fill in the joints of your newly paved area. Brush the joints with a broom to make sure the sand gets in evenly. Press all blocks firmly and levelly at the end with a compressor.

Now you have a beautiful new patio, driveway or garden path to brighten up your outside areas.

Image Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/53783050@N07/