How to keep rainwater away from your home

With April showers on their way, it’s important to ensure your home is safeguarded from the rain. Not only can the rainwater put a damper on your gardening activities but it can also have a big impact on your home.

Water damage can create mould, wood rot and foundation cracks, so it’s vital to prevent water from entering your home. Here are some ways to ensure that your home stays dry this Spring.

Waterproof your exteriors.

Start by looking at the exterior of your home, can you see any cracks or openings where water could come through? Start by sealing those. Inspect the rest of your exteriors and properly maintain them. After all, the exterior of your home is the first line of defence against rainwater.

Related post: How to winter proof your home.

Seal windows and doors.

If you feel a cold breeze coming through your windows and doors, it means that these are not properly draughtproof. If wind can pass through these openings, so can water. If you are not sure how to draughtproof your home or if you simply don’t have time, the Squad can help. Our London handymen will be right at your door ready to seal your windows and doors.

Clean gutters.

It’s important to clean your gutters every year. This will ensure that your gutters won’t get clogged and that rainwater can smoothly flow down the drainpipe.

Mind the roof.

Take good care of your roof by hiring a professional to have a look at it from time to time. An experienced person will be able to check if there are any repairs to be done as well as any small issues that need to be addressed.

Check the drainage.

It’s also essential to have proper drainage. This will guarantee that water will be diverted away from the base of your home.

In case you need a helping hand with any of these tasks, our skilled tradesmen are one call away. We’re polite, friendly, highly-experienced and CRB checked, so you know that your home will be in safe hands. Request a quote today by filling our online booking form or give our team a call on 0800-0-12-12-12.

Easy home improvement projects for the winter

Are you looking out of the window, staring at the rain and wondering what you could do to give your home a bit of an upgrade? Or perhaps on a cold winter night, you’re binge-watching the Homebuilding & Renovating Show and are inspired to give your home a quick makeover? We’ve put together a few home improvement projects to cheer you up on a cold winter day.

  1. Give your interiors a new lick of paint.

If you’re tired of the same white coloured walls in your living room or bedroom, maybe it’s time to choose a brighter and more exciting colour. In case you don’t want to paint the entire room, you can simply paint an accent wall. Trust us, a simple change of colour will transform the overall look and mood of your home.

Does this sound like too much hassle? Get the Handy Squad to do it. We’ll be able to paint your home interiors, paint an accent wall or if you don’t want something as permanent, we can hang up wallpaper too.

  1. Change out your kitchen cabinet hardware. 

Replacing cabinet hardware couldn’t be any easier and you can even do it with a cuppa in one hand and a screwdriver in the other Changing these small details can have a huge impact on the overall look of the kitchen. Go a step further and paint your kitchen cabinets for a full kitchen makeover.

  1. Look at your bathroom.

Are you happy with your bathroom or is there something missing? Maybe the silicone around your bath or grout in between the tiles is getting grubby – time for some changes. Replacing silicone and re-grouting tiles should be an easy task to complete during a weekend.

If you want to completely change your bathroom, we would recommend calling a professional. At the Handy Squad, we are able to replace bathroom tiles, change bathroom fixtures and much more.

  1. Follow Maria Kondo’s footsteps.

And declutter, declutter and declutter a bit more. If you are waiting for Spring to come so you can do your annual home declutter and cleaning, don’t. Get some decluttering out of the way now, so then you can enjoy the warm(ish) Spring weather.

If you are not sure how to declutter, follow Marie Kondo’s method and ask yourself “Do I love it, do I need it?”. And don’t try to tackle your entire home at once, start small and go slowly.

  1. Give your entrance an uplift.

If you feel brave and determined, put on your raincoat on and head outdoors to the entrance of your home. Is your door handle looking old and worn out? Is the paint on your front door starting to chip? If so, maybe it’s time to replace your door handle and maybe repaint your entrance door.

These home improvement projects are guaranteed to keep you active and to cure the winter blues. If you need a helping hand completing any of these projects, don’t hesitate to ring the Handy Squad – we’ve always got your back. Simply call 0800-0 12 12 12 and let us know how we can help. Alternatively, request a free quote by filling our online booking form.

How to unstick a door

So, you’ve got a stubborn door that keeps getting stuck to the door frame, making it very difficult to open. This is the last thing you want to deal with, even more, when you are running late for work or school, but you simply don’t haven’t had the chance to fix it or don’t know how to do it.

You’ve finally taken some time out of your busy schedule to repair your door, so you can stop having to think about it and stumbled upon our blog post. That’s perfect, continue reading to find out how to unstick doors. In case you don’t have time to do it yourself, call the Squad on 0800-0-12-12-12 and we’ll send our London carpenters to unstick your door.

  1. Identify the problem.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the reason why your door is not opening properly before looking into the solution. Closely examine the door to find the problem area.

    • If there is any dirt or grime built-up on the door you might just need to clean it.
    • In case you can hear the hinges squeaking it might mean that they need to be oiled.

The most common reason for doors to stick is actually the weather – there might be an abundance of moisture in the air due to rainfall which can cause wood to swell.

  1. Fixing a swollen door.

If you can easily access the problem area with the door open, you can sand it down using a coarse-grit sandpaper. However, you might have to remove the door from the door frame by removing the hinges, and then sanding the problem area, in case you can’t easily access it.

Once you’ve sanded the door enough so it’s closing and opening smoothly, don’t forget to repair the finish by painting or staining the area to match the rest of the door. Let it fully dry before closing the door.

Don’t have time in your hands to fix your door? At the Handy Squad, we have a team of carpenters in London who will be able to give you a helping hand with any door-related task you might need, from hanging new doors and repairing door frames to planing doors.

How to get your home ready for the holiday season.

Looking forward to the festive season ahead and to having your friends and family around to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year? If you are looking forward to it but haven’t had the time to get anything done around the house or don’t even know how you will find time to do so, don’t worry – the Squad is here to help. Take a deep breath because we’ve put together a list of how to get your home ready for the festivities to make everything easier. However, if you simply don’t have time or don’t want to get your hands dirty, call the Handy Squad and we’ll get your home ready for Christmas in no time.

  1. Declutter, organise and clean.

Decluttering your home is highly important and it should be on the top of your list this Christmas. The last thing you want is for your guests to feel cramped and uncomfortable in your home due to the lack of space, so get it to it!

Go around your home and grab anything you don’t need or want and make three piles: sell, give and throw away. Once you’ve cleared out all these unnecessary belongings, it’s time to organise the ones you decided to keep and to clean everything.

  1. Winter-proof your home.

So, it’s Christmas day and you’re having your family around when your radiators start to make a strange noise and stop working. Your home starts to get home and the only thing you can do is to hand out blankets to everyone.

Before this happens to you, make sure you have your home ready for the cold months and that you’ve serviced your radiators and boilers. Also, don’t forget to draughtproof your windows, doors and other small gaps to ensure the warm air stays in and the cold air stays outside.

Related post: How to winter-proof your home.

  1. Get Christmassy.

Now it’s time to decorate your house. Get all your family members together (because that’s the best way to do it) and put up Christmas lights on the bannister and wherever you feel like they will look good, put up the Christmas tree and any other Christmas decorations you’ve around. Don’t forget to decorate the front garden and your entrance door!

Related: Help to set up your Christmas tree and decorations at home or in the office

If you are more of a Grinch and Christmas is not your thing, we make your life easier as well – we can block up your chimney, so Santa doesn’t stop by yours. However, in case you absolutely love Christmas but can’t find the time to prepare your home for the season, give the Squad a ring on 0800-0-12-12-12 and we’ll be ready to help (no matter if you’ve been nice or naughty this year!).

How to save energy during the winter

The cold days are here to stay, and much as it pains us to type this, they are here to stay for a long time (and you know it). This means that it’s time to start layering clothing, drinking mulled wine, listening to the sound of a burning fireplace and thinking about ways to stay warm at home without worrying about the energy bills at the end of the month. To give a helping hand, we’ve put together some low-cost tips on how to save energy during these colder times.

Seize the sunlight.  

During the day, open the curtains on your south-facing windows, so that natural sunlight warms up your home. Once the night comes, close the curtains to help keep the heat inside and cosy up.

Drafts? No, thank you.

Any gaps on windows and doors can easily let warm air out and cold air in. To tackle this problem, try installing draft proofing strips or draft excluders on both your windows and doors. Don’t forget to also cover letterboxes, keyholes and cat flaps. If you don’t have enough time on your hands to do this by yourself, give the Squad a call on 0800-0-12-12-12 and let us draughtproof your home.

Seal the deal.

Find and seal leaks around chimney gaps, recessed lights in insulated ceilings, unfinished spaces behind closets and cupboard or even around utility cut-throughs for pipes.

Push the button.

Some appliances, such as televisions, chargers, hairdryers, and irons continue to use up energy even when they are not turned on. So, instead of wasting energy, when you are not using your appliances, remember to switch them off. Also, don’t leave your phone on charge all night, it won’t need that long!

Light it up.

Switch your lightbulbs for energy-saving LED bulbs. These bulbs use much less energy than normal ones plus, last much longer than non-energy-saving ones. Our London electricians will be able to replace your lightbulbs in no time!

Change it around.

If your radiator is being blocked by a sofa or a bed, it means that the heating is getting absorbed by the item in front rather than warming your whole room. Change the placing of your furniture, so you’re the one benefiting from the warmth. Need an extra pair of hands? The Handy Squad can lift and shift your furniture – leave the heavy stuff for us!

Also, if you’ve noticed that your radiator isn’t working properly it might mean that it’s time to bleed it or repair it. We’ve written a whole blog post about how to fix issues with your radiator, so if that’s what you’re looking for, hop on to that page.

If you need a professional to ensure that you have a cosy and warm winter at home, our team will be happy to help! Request a free quote today by filling our online booking form.

How to paint kitchen cabinets

It’s been a few years since you’ve moved into your house. When you first moved in you had all of these ideas about renovating the place and a large collection of Pinterest images of your dream kitchen. Now, you’ve made up your mind and are ready to start renovating your kitchen. At this point, nobody can stop you.

But then, you start to think if you really want to go through all the trouble of a full revamp and feel like a refresh might do just the trick. Even better! We think that giving your kitchen a small refresh, like painting the kitchen cabinets, will actually have a big impact on the overall look. Now, all you have to do is put your sleeves up and get to work. Wonder how to do it? Keep on reading.

  1. Pick a colour, any colour.

When it comes to choosing the right colour for your own kitchen, there is no right or wrong answer. However, it is important to pick the right colour the first time around, as the last thing you want is to re-paint your cabinets right after painting them. The easiest way to see which colour suits your kitchen is to get a few colour samples, tape them to the current cabinets and see how you feel.

  1. Preparation is key.

Start by removing the doors, drawers and all hardware (hinges and door handles). Don’t think that you can skip this step and decide to paint over the hinges and door handles – trust us, it’s not a good idea.

Make a quick sketch of all the doors and drawers in your kitchen and number them. Then, label the doors and drawers with the corresponding number. The last you’ll want to be doing after all your hard work is to be guessing where everything goes.

Next, time to clean! Wipe everything down with a grease remover. This is a very important step because paint won’t stick to greasy cabinets.

  1. Sand it down.

Sand everything with a medium grip sandpaper. This will help the paint stick to the surface. Fold the sandpaper in half to get into the detailed areas on doors, drawers and door frames. After sanding, don’t forget to clean all the surfaces with a vacuum cleaner. 

  1. Don’t forget to prime.

Primer will also help the paint stick to the surface plus, it will cover any imperfections.

Top tip: if you have oak cabinets and are looking for a smooth finish, we would recommend filling the open pores before painting with several coats of primer or with spackling paste.

  1. Embody Bob Ross.

This is our favourite bit. Use a paint roller on larger surfaces to speed things up and then use a paintbrush lightly over the surface to ensure there are no roller marks. If you prefer to take your time, use a paintbrush all around. Whilst applying the paint, finish with top-to-bottom strokes along the wood grain.

  1. Assemble and admire.

Finally, let your masterpiece fully dry. Then, follow the sketch you did earlier with the positioning of your kitchen cabinets and put everything back in place.

If all of this seems too much, too time-consuming or you simply don’t want to get your hands dirty, don’t worry – the Squad will come to the rescue. Our team of highly experienced decorators in London will be able to give your kitchen cabinets a new lick of paint whilst you put your feet up and enjoy a warm cuppa. Request a free quote today by filling our online booking form or give us a call on 0800-0-12-12-12.

 

Disclaimer

At the Handy Squad we strongly advise that you always take safety precautions into consideration when undertaking a DIY project. We also strongly suggest that you closely read and follow the instructions, that are provided by the manufacturer, of any building materials, products or tools you use for your projects.

Our aim is to provide you with clear and correct instructions, so that you can easily complete any DIY project you desire. However, please note that the information we provide should only be used as a guideline and that some information within the text may not be entirely accurate.

When using our articles for information and advice, please note that it is your own responsibility to determine whether you are capable of undertaking and executing the task you wish to complete.

Before starting a DIY task, it is essential that you inform yourself of any existing building, gas, water and electrical works regulations. If you were to have any further concerns, we recommend that you complete additional research and/or contact the necessary professional body.

We also strongly recommend that a qualified tradesperson completes the relevant safety tests and checks on any DIY work you have completed. 

How to repair a broken tile

Tiles are known for their durability and low maintenance. However, tiles can eventually crack when exposed to pressure changes, normal ageing or a sharp blow from a heavy object.

Maybe you were minding your own business making dinner and dropped your large Paella cooking pan on the floor. Thankfully, the food is still intact and smells amazing, but there is some bad news… a crack on the floor tile. Some good news is that it was only a hairline crack.

Even though it was such a small crack, you kept thinking about it and it even felt like it was looking at you every time you walked by. It’s time to do something about it. That’s where we come in – continue reading to figure out how to make this sight for sore eyes gone for good.

How to repair a hairline tile crack

If the tile in question simply has a small hairline crack, there is a temporary solution – to cover it with paint.

  1. Find a paint that matches the colour of the tile and mix it with tile filler.

  2. Clean the tile with a cloth and soapy water, rinse it and allow it to completely dry.

  3. Carefully paint the crack with a small brush or a cotton bud.

How to repair a deeper tile crack

If the tile crack is deeper than a hairline or if the tile has broken into two pieces, we would recommend removing the tile and replacing it for a new one.

      1. Place tape around the surrounding tiles to prevent any damage.

      2. Remove the cracked tile’s grout with a grout remover.

      3. Carefully drill holes into the tile. (Don’t drill too deeply, you only want to loosen the tile)

      4. Gently chip the damaged tile away and remove any old adhesive from underneath.

      5. Clean the area before laying a new tile.

       

      6. Put adhesive on the back of the tile and fit it in place.

      7. Fill the joints with new grout, wait for it to settle and then clean any excess off.

      If you don’t feel confident enough carrying out this task, we are here to help. At the Handy Squad, we have a team of highly experienced London tilers who will help you with any tiling needs you require. Request a free quote today by filling our online booking form or give us a call on 0800-0-12-12-12.

       

      Disclaimer

      At the Handy Squad we strongly advise that you always take safety precautions into consideration when undertaking a DIY project. We also strongly suggest that you closely read and follow the instructions, that are provided by the manufacturer, of any building materials, products or tools you use for your projects.

      Our aim is to provide you with clear and correct instructions, so that you can easily complete any DIY project you desire. However, please note that the information we provide should only be used as a guideline and that some information within the text may not be entirely accurate.

      When using our articles for information and advice, please note that it is your own responsibility to determine whether you are capable of undertaking and executing the task you wish to complete.

      Before starting a DIY task, it is essential that you inform yourself of any existing building, gas, water and electrical works regulations. If you were to have any further concerns, we recommend that you complete additional research and/or contact the necessary professional body.

      We also strongly recommend that a qualified tradesperson completes the relevant safety tests and checks on any DIY work you have completed. 

How to unblock a sink

After a long day at work, you get home and are ready to eat a comforting meal and put your feet up. However, when you get to the kitchen, something is not right – there is an extremely unpleasant smell coming from the sink. You’ve decided to run the tap for a while and the water is taking a good few minutes to drain plus, there is this strange gurgling sound… We’re afraid you have a blocked sink.

We know this is the last thing you wanted to worry about when you got home, but you’ll have to do something about it. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to tackle this problem.

  1. Get out the plunger.

Guess what? This is the perfect moment to use that plunger that you thought you throwing out a couple of times because you haven’t used it since you’ve bought it. Dig it out from your appliances room and get to work.

Place the plunger over the plughole in your sink and cover with water to create an airtight seal. Grip the handle with both hands and pump it up and down – this will suck the air out of the pipe and force it back in. Fill the sink up and if it drains quickly, you know the blockage is clear!

If you don’t have a plunger and it’s too late to go to your nearest shop to get one, move on to the tips below.

  1. Blast it with water.

A high-pressure blast of water might be able to push out whatever is blocking the sink. Simply take a 2-litre drink bottle and fill it with warm water. Tip it upside down and place the open end down the plughole. At the same time, quickly squeeze the bottle to force the water out of the bottle as fast as possible. 

  1. Use a drain cleaner.

If the plunger and the water pressure didn’t work, it might mean that the blockage is dense and greasy. This means that you’ll need something to break it down.

There are many chemical drain cleaners which work wonders, however, if you don’t have any at home or have no time to go outside to purchase one, you might have to use some items which you’ll find in your kitchen cupboard.

  • Baking soda and vinegar.

Add two teaspoons of baking soda to a cup of white vinegar, then pour the mixture down the plughole. Leave it for a few minutes and then flush the blockage with some hot water.

  • Bleach and hot water.

Pour some bleach through the plughole at night before going to bed and then flush it with hot water in the morning.

  1. Clear out the blockage by hand.

Be aware that you’ll have to get your hands dirty for this one plus, a tough stomach will definitely help. If you are not happy doing this job, give the Squad a call on 0800-0 12 12 12 and we’ll be there in a jiffy.

If none of the methods above have worked, you will have to dive into your kitchen cupboard and wrench off the U-bend of the sink to clear it out by hand.

Firstly, put on a pair of rubber gloves and put down some old towels and a bucket under the U-bend.

Then, use a wrench to slowly unscrew the threaded caps from each side of the U-bend.

Take the U-bend and any dismantled bits to another sink or outside tap. Clean them thoroughly. A wire coat hanger can also help to clean out the inside of the pipe.

Finally, re-attach the U-bend and run the tap to make sure everything you’ve just fitted is watertight.

Still have a blocked sink? Maybe it’s time to call a professional. Our London plumbers are experts at unblocking all plumbing fixtures, from unblocking basins, unblocking baths to unblocking showers and unblocking sinks. Call today on 0800-0 12 12 12 or request a free quote by filling our online form.

How to remove wallpaper

Maybe you finally took some days off to renovate your house and decided that the wallpaper (which only looked good in the ‘70s and should have stayed there) in your living room has to go! However, you didn’t think much of it and started to peel it off, after all – how difficult can it really be?

Four hours later and you’re sitting on the floor staring at the wall and thinking “after all that scraping, peeling, how do I still have more than half of the wall with wallpaper?” We feel your pain. Take a deep breath and ring the Squad on 0800-0 12 12 12, we’ll take care of it, so you can actually enjoy your time off and relax.

If you are not ready to quit and want to tackle this job by yourself (good on you!), continue reading below as we explain the best ways to remove wallpaper. We’ve written all about “how to hang wallpaper” and “tips on how to hang wallpaper” but we’ve noticed that we haven’t covered how to remove wallpaper. With our instructions, we are certain that you will be able to remove your wallpaper as painlessly as possible.

Start with some prep work.

Before starting any type of peeling, scraping and asking yourself “why didn’t you just call the Handy Squad?”, you will have to prepare the room. This means, removing everything off the walls, moving or covering nearby furniture and covering the skirting boards.

Also, you will have to determine the type of wallpaper you have plus, whether your walls are plaster or drywall. Plaster is most commonly found in homes that were built more than 50 years ago, whilst drywall has been used in homes for the past 50 years or so. This is important to identify because drywall is more delicate than plaster, meaning you will have to be more careful when removing wallpaper.

To determine the type of wallpaper you have, use a putty knife to loosen a corner of the paper and try to peel it off. If you are one of the lucky ones with strippable wallpaper, it should just peel right off. If the wallpaper peels a bit but leaves a paper backing, then you have peelable wallpaper. If the paper doesn’t peel at all, means that you have a traditional wallpaper that will require some more work, water and a wallpaper stripper (don’t worry, you can do it).

Remove strippable wallpaper.

Step 1

Use a putty knife to loosen the corner of the paper. Use your hands to pull the paper from the wall. You should pull as close to the wall as you can to avoid tearing the paper (if the paper rips, lift another corner and start again). Repeat around the room.

Step 2

Once you’ve removed all the wallpaper, clean the walls with water and soap.

Remove peelable wallpaper.

Step 1.

Peelable wallpaper has a top layer which comes off just like strippable paper, simply loosen the corner with a putty knife and pull the paper off.

Step 2.

Once you’ve removed the top layer off, you’ll be left with the paper backing. To remove this layer, follow the directions below for removing traditional wallpaper.

Remove traditional wallpaper.

Step 1.

Mix hot water and the wallpaper stripper according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pour this solution into a spray bottle.

Step 2.

Apply the solution to the wall, letting it sit for several minutes.

Step 3.

Use a putty knife to peel off the paper. Work from top to bottom a section at a time. Once you’ve removed the paper from this section, move on to the next section.

Step 4.

Clean the wall with soap and water to remove any residue.

Still no luck? Try a wallpaper steamer.

A wallpaper steamer can be a godsend when your wallpaper seems to refuse to peel off no matter how much you scrape and spray. Simply follow the manufacturer’s directions and you will have a wallpaper free wall in no time.

If you don’t have time to remove your wallpaper or you simply don’t want to get your hands dirty – call the Handy Squad on 0800-0 12 12 12. Our London decorators will be able to remove your wallpaper and paint your walls after (if required). Let us know how we can help, and we’ll be happy to do so. Request a free quote by filling our online booking form.

Tips for optimising the space in your kitchen

In the kitchen, there are a lot of different items that need to be stored and kept tidy when they are not being used. This area of your home is certainly not the place you want to be filled with clutter and loose objects as it might be quite dangerous. There are many ways to optimise the space you’ve got in your kitchen, making it fully organised, thus tidier and neater.

Go big or go home.

If instead of working with the space you’ve got, you want to go all-out and have a full kitchen renovation, our team can give you an extra pair of hands. Our team can install new kitchen units, install new flooring and even redesign the whole area.

Less is more.

Have you been stacking and storing kitchen gadgets that you’ve only used once? The thought of “I might need that again someday” makes you not want to get rid of whatever that is. However, let’s be honest, you end up never using it again and it’s just wasting precious space in your kitchen. It’s time to declutter.

Decluttering might sound quite daunting to many but it’s actually not as bad as it sounds. There are some simple ways of decluttering your kitchen, including:

  • Get rid of unused kitchen utensils. These can be given to charity shops or even sold for a quick buck (if still in good condition and working order).
  • Throw away any expired food.
  • If you have drawers filled with cooking magazines, maybe it’s time to pick your favourite recipes and add them all up in one folder.

Divide and conquer.

After going through your cupboard and drawers, you will be able to sort out the items you want to keep. Then, you can begin to think about how to store them. Drawer dividers and cutlery trays are very handy when organising drawers. They will keep you from spending ages rooting around a drawer full of knives to find your teaspoon.

Make it personal.

Ready-made kitchen furniture might not exactly suit your space the way you dreamt it would. However, custom-made furniture will. Of course, bespoke furniture may be on the more expensive side, but it will help you optimise your space to the maximum. Our carpenters in London are able to create custom-made shelves to help you do just this – optimise space.

Shelves are great pieces of furniture to have in your kitchen. They will take up less space than cupboards and are perfect to show off your favourite kitchen utensils and appliances. You can also place various other items on your shelves, such as spices and condiments, which can be easily reached when you are cooking your world-famous paella.

Size doesn’t matter.

Small kitchens can be decorated to appear larger than they actually are. Colour coordinating, plus using light and neutral colours will help expand the space, giving it the appearance of a larger room and making it look brighter, thus neater. You might be doubting your painting skills or you simply may not want to get your hands dirty with paint? Our London painters are ready to help.

Let there be light.

Keep your windows free of clutter to ensure as much light comes into the room as possible. The absence of clutter will visually create extra space and the additional light will ensure that your kitchen is well-lit, giving it a tidier appearance. In case your kitchen doesn’t have many windows, perhaps installing more lamps or other types of lighting could help immensely. If you need a professional for the job, simply call our electricians in London today.

Our team can help you with many tasks around the house or office. Request a free quote by filling out our online booking form or give our friendly team a call on 0800-0 12 12 12 and let us know how we can help.