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Tips on Wallpapering, Painting and Decorating, Safety, Drilling, Screws, DIY, Home Maintenance and more.

Safety: Always use the correct Personal protective equipment when working in buildings especially older premises. Falling off ladders is not a laughing matter, when working at heights do not take chances.

Asbestos is already the second cause of death after - smoking, and ahead of road deaths in some European countries and is likely to take the same position in the US. So when doing DIY or working in old buildings use a dust mask that will be effective for very fine particles.

Easy Sawing. Use a candle to lubricate your saw, rub on both faces and you will find cutting a lot easier D.E.

Artex removal. You can remove it yourself with a preparation available from some DIY outlets, it is called X-Tex and you apply it, allow it to soak in and then scrape it off. Please note that some older Artex contains Asbestos so it is always a good idea to get a sample checked out by your local council. Ray Watkinson Canterbury England.  Caution with this material and under no circumstances should it be sanded off without a check to see if it contains asbestos. Asbestos is a deadly substance which can, in most people cause an incurable cancer called Mesothelioma -- Ed

Wallpapering Tip Don't throw away excess wallpaper when your room is finished. When it comes to your next job, this can be used to cover the pasting table, allowing you to rip it off when you're done, and no gooey mess to scrape off. Definitely makes a difference. --   Lorraine McCloud

Patching Walls: Use Baking soda and white glue; mix some white glue with baking soda to make a paste but not too thin or too thick just enough so it is spreadable consistency. This will harden in a few hours depending on the heat and humidity in your home, when hardened it can be repainted; works Great! -- Darrel

Clean Cuts. If, when  cutting fibreboard you want a splinter-free finish then use masking tape and cut thru the tape - a better  cut will result. -- Amin Newton. Birmingham England

Mixing Epoxy. Keep your lollipop sticks, they make excellent spatulas - for mixing two part compounds etc. -- Xavier Lorrimer London England

Taps  wrap your pliers with electrical tape to avoid scratches -- "Sacknoff"15 Oct 2002

When painting and decorating put old socks over the ends of the ladder --Vanessa Echols

Plastering. I find that plaster will set much quicker when I use warm water to make it. -- Barry Taylor

Sawing. To stop plywood splitting when I saw it I lay masking tape on the area I am about to cut. -- P.B., Atlanta.

Hinges: Use Vaseline rather than oil as it will not run and dirty the paintwork. – Anon

Window Putty. To stop birds from eating freshly set window putty I find that some black pepper mixed into it does the trick. I store unused putty wrapped up in foil and in a tub so it lasts longer as well. -- N.T.K. Shaw

Cleaning power saw blades.  For woodworkers who need to clean their stains off power saw blades, use Easy Off Oven Cleaner. No need to pay for an expensive product. --- Fred Minner Delavan, Illinois 


Building sites can be very dangerous places.  Never allow your children loose on one.   Holes in the ground are to be avoided. Our teenage son was found buried up to his neck when an excavation collapsed. Fortunately he survived almost unhurt - - Sam Catkin - Denver - Colorado

Electrics Always use a qualified electrician for any electrical work. Not a DIY subject.  -- "Dawn Parsons" 

Use RCD's or Residual Current Devices when using dangerous appliances such as lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, chainsaws, drills and sanders. These cut the mains electricity connection when a cable or flex is cut, or an electrical tool malfunctions, reducing the risk of electrocution. -- Kevin Albertson

Ladders Safety: The ladder rule is - the foot of the ladder should be one measure out for every four measures in height. Ladders should be placed on a firm level surface, and the top should be resting on something solid, and not on guttering or a window-sill.

Scaffolding: Scaffolding towers must be erected on firm ground. If the tower is more than 3.25 meters high for a 1.3 meter square base it must be tied to the building. -- Anon (UK Regulations - Ed)


Cleaning Oil Base Paint spills. When you use oil base paint, and you get as much on you as what you are painting. Instead of using paint thinner. Try using baby oil. -- Bonnie Smith, 

Removing Dry Paint From Skin  Before painting major projects, coat your hands & forearms with Vaseline. To easily remove dry paint from skin: Simply wash with a foaming brillo pad. Quick, cheap, simple & safe. They are softer than you would think. Mask eye areas with medial cloth tape or similar. Sam from The Hoosier State, USA. 18 Nov 2003

A piece of string tied across a paint tin can support the wet brush and it can also be used to wipe off excess paint - - Davie

No film on the surface of paint. I find that if you store partially empty paint cans upside down...the film that inevitably forms on the surface of the paint is then on the bottom when the paint is used again, making it much easier to keep film particles off of your finished project. -- "Shelia R. Heidel"


Loosening rusted screws, soak overnight in lemon juice.  A tissue wrapped round the area keeps the juice where it can do its work - - Davie

The bag of silica gel that you get with your next consumer electronics purchase  should not be thrown out.  Put it in your tool box and keep them shiny -- Andy Baxter London England

Rusty Bolts. Try Coca-Cola, the phosphoric acid in it eats away the rust. -- BB W  New Mexico. .

Rusty Screws. If you are trying to remove a very rusty screw, use the tip of a very holt soldering iron to heat the head of the screw. The heat should expand the screw head and loosen the rust. -- Andy Baxter, London England

Stuck Screws. If a screw was too tight and the slot gets ruined don't worry, because there is a little trick to rectify this. If the screw head is above the surface use a junior hacksaw blade to cut a new groove. -- J.R. Tippins, Springfield.

Rusty Bolts If you are trying to remove a very rusty bolt, and you don't have wd-40 or anything like that to loosen it, then you can use Tabasco sauce. Just shake a small amount on the bolt and wait for a few minutes then you should have no problem taking it off. --  Gerry 

Glass jars - Storage. The ones with with metal screw tops make excellent storage for screws and other small parts.  Drill a hole in the top and screw it to the underside of a shelf, the jar is then screwed up in to the lid, Voila! --   Davie,  


Try not to run a line of nails along the same wood grain, otherwise the wood could split. -- Anon.

If you have to then I suggest that you drill several guide holes in advance -- Davina Martin

To stop nails from splitting wood drill a small guide hole beforehand. -- H Corbett

Nails. To help stop a nail from splitting the wood drill a pilot hole or turn the nail over and tap it with a hammer putting a blunt point on it. This helps collapse the wood rather than split it. -- Theresa & Jim Grace

The blunted point works well but if you are really near the edge of the piece of wood you should drill pilot holes before hammering in the nail -- S Dust

Woodworking. Hammering in a nail? avoid bruised fingers by putting the nail in to a piece of cardboard first. --  Richard Burchill Detroit


Stripping Wallpaper. Don't bother using expensive stripping agents, I find that using a small amount of wallpaper paste mixed with warm water, and a bit of washing-up liquid works just as well. Soak the paper in this for a while, the washing-up liquid acts as a wetting agent, and the paste holds it in place. -- A Kaviani

Wallpapering: An angled nail in the end of the paste brush will stop it falling all the way in to the paste can -- Ian Richards

Reading the tip about how to stop the brush falling in the can I thought I would give you my tip. Tie a piece of string through the middle of the can from handle base to handle base so that it is across the can through the middle. This way you can place the handle on the side of the can and rest the brushes on the string support you have just made. -- Declan Keegan - Kent, England  -- "Signe"

When papering over old wallpaper, I find that I have to add varnish or lacquer over any greasy spots to stop them coming through to the new paper.   -- S Clarke

A cheap and easy way to strip wallpaper is to add vinegar to warm water, the acid in the vinegar reacts with the wallpaper paste making it easier to scrape off.  -- SAM "Gareth Price"  

If you need to apply a patch of wallpaper, tear the paper rather than cutting it.  The join will be much less noticeable that way -- Sam Clark  London  England. 

If you want to remove old wallpaper try this. Use a squirt bottle and fill it with 3/4 warm water and 1/4 fabric softener and it will not hurt the paint. Let it soak for about five minutes and don't let it dry, you have to use a plastic scrapper to just peel the wallpaper away. To remove some glue off of some surfaces use Windex with ammonia and that will do the job. Let it soak. If you have a Window and it was tinted this excellent to use for the glue just wiped off with a paper towel.-- Margaret :) ;)


Drilling. To help judge how deep you are drilling I find that you can mark the drill bit so that the exposed part is the size of the desired depth of hole. You can mark the drill with pen or crayon, or use a bit of masking tape. -- Jim McIlroy Yardley-Gobion England

If you are drilling ceramic tiles or other glazed surfaces I find that it is best to mark the spot to be drilled with clear adhesive tape. This helps hold the drill in place. Never use a hammer action drill. -- Robert H Fahey, Ohio

Drilling Masonry: When drilling masonry always withdraw the tip every 5 seconds or so to stop it overheating. If you don't keep the tip cool it damages the drill. -- Mat Hyde, Georgia.

It is even better if you can squirt water in the hole.  As well as cooling the drill the water actually helps the drilling process -- Ed

Drilling sheet glass/mirrors Mark your spot with a felt tip, then make a small well from putty over the marked spot. Fill this well with a touch of light oil. Drill slowly using a carbide tipped drill bit. The oil keeps the drill bit cool and makes the job that little bit easier. If you are drilling through glazed tiles it helps if you use a masonry nail to score the point of drilling. The bit will not slip off the glazed surface. Finally, if you have drilled a hole through a glazed tile and inserted a rawlplug, make sure the plug passes through the tile before you insert the screw. This way the tile will not crack. Happy DIYing -- Alan Brighton" 


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