Saturday, 2 March 2013

painting radiators

Giving an old radiator a fresh coat of paint can often give what was once an eyesore, a whole new lease of life. If you are going to paint an old radiator, then you will need suitable solvent-based radiator paint, a chunky paint brush and a dust sheet to avoid getting paint on your carpet or flooring.
Before painting a radiator it is important to turn it off and allow it to cool down. Rub the surface down with 'wet and dry' abrasive paper and warm water with a little detergent added. Rinse, clean and dry. Any bare areas should be primed. This will provide protection from rust and provide excellent adhesion for subsequent coats. You can then paint the radiator with solvent-based paints. Special radiator brushes that have a long handle and angled bristles are very handy for painting any hard-to-reach areas.
Once painted you should allow the paint to fully dry before turning the radiator on again. When you do so for the first time you may experience a paint smell - this is normal and will quickly disappear.

Decking treatments

UV light causes the greatest degree of breakdown in wood products. Failure to treat your deck will result in deterioration to the appearance. Ultra Violet (UV light) is a form of high energy, which is of a particular wavelength that is able to penetrate the surface of wood. Because it is high energy it actually breaks down and destroys the cellulose structure of timber. Over a period of time depending on how long the exposure is and how concentrated the UV is, wood turns grey and eventually you will find the surface powders.
Depending on traffic volumes and weathering you will need to apply a maintenance coat which will involve washing down the surface with a light detergent soap and then re-coating.

Water based decking stain are formulated to colour and protect pre-treated, pressure treated or preservative impregnated timber. It may also be used over wax pre-treated decking. The combination of acrylic and polyurethane alkyd resins provide the ultimate protection for decking timber. Stain waterproofs and protects the decking, whilst providing a durable scuff resistant surface which will resist cracking, peeling and blistering. The stains would have darker pigments than the oils. The advantage of a stain and seal decking product over a straight stain is that your wood is coloured and protected in one single treatment.

Oils tend to preserve wood better as they penetrate & strengthen, whereas stains do not. The oil would be a clear material with no pigments added, they would enhance the natural grain without adding colour. A good quality decking oil will protect your deck at the same time as reviving and restoring its colour. Decking oils can also come in a range of colours, including clear. The colours can dramatically change the colour of your decking if you’re not careful.

Depending on the condition of your deck and your desired look, with a bit of planning, decking paint can be a good solution. The main issue with painting a deck is keeping it looking good as weather and time take their toll. If not properly finished, a painted deck has a tendency to peel and look worn quicker

Decking preservative is the generic term used to describe any specialist decking product which is designed to protect the wood. Generally speaking the list will include oils and seals. Which you choose will depend to a large extent on the final finish you’re hoping for and the condition of your deck. is the quickest way to have decking installed and protected.

wood or laminate flooring

One of the most sought after amenities in a home is wood flooring. From its natural appearance and warmth underfoot, wood is beautiful and timeless. Older traditional homes with their original hardwood floors are one of the pros of buying older homes. Assess the traffic load and wear and tear on flooring in your home. How durable your wood flooring is will help with maintenance and keep it looking great for years to come.
Take into consideration the cost of laminate and hardwood flooring to determine what is best for you.
Laminate wood flooring is made from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures. Since laminate wood flooring is made from pressed wood it is more durable and resists scratches, moisture and wear and tear better than hardwood flooring. Laminate flooring is also easier to clean on a routine basis. Even though laminate is more durable it is not as visually appealing and lower qualities of laminate may have artificial looking wood grain textures. Laminate flooring doesn’t repair easily. If you buy flooring that comes in individual pieces and snapped together, you may be able to replace. Although, depending on sunlight and age, the new piece may not match properly.
Hardwood flooring is made from harvested trees and depending on how exotic the trees are will depict the pricing. Hardwood is considerably higher to buy and to install. Hardwood is susceptible to scratching, can get damaged from excessive moisture and will show wear, especially in heavy trafficked areas in your home. Hardwood is the ‘real deal’. It is gorgeous to look at and depending on the variety can add considerable value to your home. Hardwood can be repaired by sanding and refinishing out imperfections. This advantage gives hardwood a plus over laminate, in that it will last for years into the future.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Materials for Garden pathways

Mulch and gravel are the cheapest path materials you can buy, and they make construction simple too. You can also construct paths from paving slabs, bricks, blocks, decking and concrete as well as other materials.

Installing Bricks and blocks Usually the main stumbling block is making the path smooth and flat. Keep in mind that we designed our paths for foot traffic and other light use. Don't try to drive on it. We have 2 ways of laying a path. One way to lay a path is set only on sand, it won't stay as flat and smooth as a traditional paver walk set on a compacted gravel bed. It's ideal for narrower secondary walks in a garden or back yard, where slight imperfections and undulations add to its character. And if an edge stone gets loose from a wheelbarrow bouncing over it, you can reset it in minutes. Expect to pull an occasional weed growing up in the joints. Or if you prefer an English cottage look, encourage moss or other ground covers to grow in the joints.

Mulch and gravel paths can be meandering, wood chip–covered trails or carefully planned designs, and range from casual to formal depending on the design and edging material. You can choose from a wide variety of loose materials including coarse bark, decorative mulch, washed stones and crushed gravel or shells.

Bark, wood chips and other types of organic mulch make soft paths that blend well with natural settings. Since these path materials are lighter than stone, they’re easier to haul and spread. Mulch is also a bit cheaper than gravel or stone pebbles. Remember, though, that organic paths decompose over time, so you’ll have to rejuvenate them every two to five years with new material. Also, don’t use bark, wood chips or mulch for paths that run through areas with poor drainage or that are wet. It’ll lead to a soggy path.

For a path that’s more formal or longer lasting than a mulch path, consider washed gravel, crushed stone or crushed shells. These materials last indefinitely and only need occasional weeding to look their best. If you want to run a wheelbarrow or lawn mower along the path, choose crushed stone rather than smooth pebbles. The jagged edges of crushed stone lock together to form a firm surface. Crushed stone is also less likely to get kicked out into the yard.
Gravel paths do have a few limitations, though. The stones can get tracked into the house, so don’t use them near entries. And gravel paths are a bad choice in areas where you have to shovel snow off them. The gravel can end up in your lawn or flower beds.

You can use garden decking to create a beautiful path which with certain lighting can look modern or blend in and give a natural feel and look. The natural warm colour and texture of wood will compliment any garden design and even the smallest of paths can change how the area looks.

Borders and edging
Gravel or mulch paths require edging to keep the material from spreading out onto your lawn or flower bed. You can also add a border or an edge as a design element. Here are some common types of edging you can use:

Plastic landscape edging is cheap. And it’s fast and easy to install. If you object to the look of the rounded top edge, hide it with a border of plants.
Steel or aluminum edging forms a crisp edge that gives the path a neat appearance. It costs more than plastic, though, and is less forgiving on sloped terrain.

Brick and stone borders are attractive and versatile, but they’re more expensive and a lot more work to install.
Concrete edging is less expensive than brick or stone but has the same advantages. Newer types that look like random pieces of tumbled stone are a great lower-cost alternative to a real stone border.

Stepping-stones are the fastest, easiest way to build a path. There’s very little digging involved. And although the stone is heavy, a little goes a long way. Since there’s distance between the stones, you don’t have to worry about leveling them with one another. Stepping-stone paths also cost less because you’ll cover more distance with less stone.

There are quite a few perennial plants that can withstand foot traffic and will grow between stones. Check with your local nursery to see what’s available that will grow in your area. Here are some ground cover plants that can tolerate some foot traffic: Creeping Thyme, Blue Star Creeper, Brass Buttons, Creeping Mazus and Sedum.

L & L are happy to give you some ideas and install paths for you.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Arbours, Pergolas and Gazebos

Arbours, Pergolas and Gazebos
The arbour has developed multiple meanings and uses. A basic definition would be it is a trellising structure, with an arched or flat roof. their primary function is aesthetics; to form an entrance way or make a stand-alone feature.
Arbours can be used as outdoor seating areas for either dining with either garden furniture or picnic blankets they can be used as a secluded hidey-hole for either reading, relaxing or for play time.

Characteristic of a gazebo is that it has a covered, dome or turreted roof, with open sides. They are often octagonal, like pavilions but can be any shape.

Pergola have flat rafters, with an open roof.
Neither should be confused with a pagoda which is actually a Chinese tiered tower.

A pergola, arbor or arbour is a garden feature forming a shaded walkway, passageway or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars that usually support cross-beams and a sturdy open lattice, often upon which woody vines are trained.

Pergolas may link pavilions or extend from a building's door to an open garden feature such as an isolated terrace or pool. Freestanding pergolas, those not attached to a home or other structure, provide a sitting area that allows for breeze and light sun, but offers protection from the harsh glare of direct sunlight. Pergolas also give climbing plants a structure on which to grow.

If you want a covered, domed structure, you’re looking for a gazebo. For a flat roofed, open structure to grow plants up, it’s pergola. Arches, like pergolas, can be joined together and used to cover walkways or grow fragrant grape vines from. And if you want a stand-out stand-alone aesthetic element in your garden – well, then you need an arbour.

Make a design statement with an arbor made of metal, or use a wooden arch with special details to dress up a walkway to a garden. Many arbor, pergola, and trellis projects will solve a variety of problems in your garden. Many arbor, pergola, and trellis projects work well with other landscape elements, such as a trellis in combination with a fence or screen.

L & L Home Improvements are very happy to install and create your dream hide away.

Benefits to having a pond

Building a pond in your garden creates variety. Not only are you getting a different experience by welcome new plants and wildlife into your garden, but you are also going to learn new things about the environment, and experience it all up close and personal. It adds beauty to your garden and will be an attraction to your friends and neighbourhood.
It can be used as a key selling point when trying to sell your house, and will often dramatically increase the value of your property. Most property evaluators look at external features that you have added to your garden and will often increase the value if you having something worth their while.
The visual delight of a shallow sparkling pool or a spouting fountain creates a real focul point and brings a garden to life, while the creation of a new natural habitat helps attract new wildlife to the garden.
One thing that few people in this world have is a sanctuary - a safe place to hide from the rest of the world. By building a pond in your garden, you are building your own relaxing place. Listening to the running water can be soothing and relaxing, and learning about nature through the plants and animals you include can be an invigorating experience.
If you have frogs and newts in your area and they are in most places in the UK then before long you should find that some find their way into your pond, at which point you can enjoy the annual process of frogspawn, tadpoles, and then seeing the little frogs that they develop into!
If you have fish, then you can also keep for instance goldfish in a fishpond. Depending on how much food there is in the pond naturally (it takes time to build up) then you can leave them pretty much unfed during Summer and Autumn, then feed them through the Winter and the start of the Spring too.
Goldfish are useful for eating the small insect larva and so on that build up in the pond from gnats lying their eggs and the like; if you keep goldfish then you should ensure the water is of good quality and clean - a fountain can help with aeration here, but most of all you will find that pond weed or oxygenating plants of some kind are essential to stop the water going stagnant or green.

Consider the amount of time, space, and effort you’re willing to dedicate to this project, and it will help you determine whether a pond is right for you.

Ask L & L Home Improvements to help you create your dream.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Fasica and Eaves Repairs

One of the spots on the exterior of a home that can sustain water damage is the fascia. The fascia is a board nailed across the ends of the roof rafters and upon which a gutter hangs. Water overflow from gutters stuffed with leaves can cause damage to a fascia, which can lead to replacement.

Taking off the gutter is a good time to check and see if the gutter itself needs repair. Repair or replace it, if necessary

Eaves are a vulnerable part of your house, exposed to weather and damage by falling limbs. Luckily, they aren't too hard to repair when the inevitable happens and repair is needed. So, if your eaves are wooden, and you have some damage to your fascia board call L & L.

"Fascia?" That's the name for the vertical board or panel on the front of your eaves. Its complement is the "soffitt"--the board that forms the bottom of the structure--and technically, that's the only part that's really supposed to be called the "eave."

The first thing is getting to the eaves, which means using a ladder. That's the dangerous part, especially if the ground where you need to work is uneven or sloping. It's important to find or create an even, level surface for the ladder.
Life is easy by using L & L