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.

How to change a tap washer

The sound of “drip…drip…drip” is not the lullaby you want or need when lying in the comfort of your bed after a long day at work. If you find yourself in this predicament, it’s likely that your leaky tap is a result of a worn tap washer.

This article will help you change a faulty tap washer, but if you simply don’t have enough time to spare to do it yourself, our team of plumbers in London can assist with any of your plumbing needs. So if you’re in need of expert help to fix a leaking tap, install a waste disposal unit or unblock a sink, we’ve got someone for the job. Simply give our team a call on 0800 0 12 12 12 or request a quote by filling in our online booking form.

At the Handy Squad, we recommend that you seek assistance from a professional when undertaking any DIY work at your home or office. For further information, please read our disclaimer at the end of this article.

Materials:

  • Towel
  • Plug
  • Flat-headed screwdriver
  • Adjustable spanner
  • Tap washer
  • Wire wool

Instructions:

1. Protect your bath or basin

Before starting any work, you’ll want to pop the plug in to prevent losing any small objects – e.g. screws or a wedding ring. It’s also ideal to put a towel in your bath or basin to protect it, in the event that you accidentally drop any tools inside of it – all you want to do is replace your tap washer, not fork out for a whole new bath or basin.

 

2. Turn the water off

Whether you need to access your mains water supply or simply use your isolation valve, you’re going to need to ensure that the water is turned off. We recommend that you also run your kitchen tap to ensure that any remaining water is drawn out of your plumbing system.

 

3. Take the tap apart

Using a flat-headed screwdriver, you’re going to remove the top of the tap – it’s likely that you’ll find a screw attached to the tap head. After loosening the screw, remove the head of the tap and expose the valve. Now, undo the valve using your spanner.

Note: If you’re struggling to undo it, you can always hold the tap spout for some extra assistance.

 

4. Replace the washer

After removing the valve, you’ll be able to see the worn washer – the culprit of all your troubles – in the flesh. Loosen the screw that’s keeping the old tap washer in place and dispose of it before you switch it for a nice shiny new washer of the same size.

5. Reassemble the tap

Now you’ve got your new washer installed, you need to put your tap back together. Replace the screw that keeps the tap washer attached to the stem of the tap. Also, if you wish, you can then wipe the taps interior and exterior down with some wire wool to scrub off any built up limescale.

To reassemble the tap, you need to insert the valve back into the seat of the tap and tighten it using your spanner. Then you can place and secure the head of the tap over the valve by twisting the head clockwise.

 

6. Put the water back on

Finally, all you need to do is turn your mains water supply on or twist the valve underneath the sink before you’re seconds away from washing any grubby hands or filling up the bath to cool down after a hot day.

If at any point you feel like you need a second pair of hands, don’t hesitate to get in contact with our team. Just give us a call on 0800 0 12 12 12 or fill out our online booking form and we’ll be on the way to your London home in no time – all you need to do is look out for our unmissable yellow scooters.

 

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 secure your front door

There is nothing worse than being comfortably tucked up in bed and the thought of someone breaking into your home popping into your head. So, to ensure that your front door is nice and secure and that you get a good night’s sleep, here are a few things you can do to improve your home security.

1. Have your own in-home Big Brother

Before we even get onto what you can do to your front door, there’s one way to deter an intruder from breaking into your home from the onset and that’s to install security cameras.

Having security cameras inside but more importantly outside of your home, will discourage burglars as they won’t want to risk getting caught on camera. You might even want to choose smart security cameras that can sync to your phone, meaning that no matter where you are you can keep an eye on your home.

2. Turn your home into Fort Knox

Choosing to install high security locks is imperative, as they provide the most suitable protection against the sneaky methods that intruders’ use to break into a home.

With that in mind, it’s important to do your research. Don’t just pick the first lock you find at your local hardware store.

Firstly, you need to make sure that you’re choosing a lock from a well-known and trusted brand as this’ll give you a peace of mind about the quality of their products. You’ll also need to find out which of their products are highly rated by other customers to make sure you’re getting value for your money.

We recommend buying a British Standards Lock as the British Standards Institution (BSI) establish the standards for the quality of goods and services across the UK. You can distinguish whether your lock of choice is a BSI approved lock or not by looking for the British Standard Kite Mark on the product.

When it comes to securing your front door, it’s the deadbolt within the lock that does all the hard work. With that in mind, you’ll need to make sure to choose a deadbolt that can withstand intense levels of force – especially in the event that an intruder may attempt to kick your front door down when breaking in.

Not sure how to work out how strong your deadbolt is? No worries. You can determine how effective the lock is going to be by finding out which metal it’s been made from and the quantity of metal used to make the lock.

For example, even if a lock has been composed of hardened steel it may be significantly hollow inside. This means that the empty space in the lock outweighs the amount of metal used which results in the lock being notably less robust than a thicker lock.

To ensure that your lock provides you with the maximum amount of security, we’d recommend you get it installed by a professional, which is why the Handy Squad have a team of experienced London locksmiths who can take the task off your hands and complete it efficiently to ensure your front door is secure in no time.

As well as this, having a first-rate door combined with high quality door furniture – the screws, strike plates and hinges – will help to improve the security of your front door significantly.

3. Catch them red handed

Now as long as you’re not attempting to sneak in after a late one, installing motion sensor lights seems like a good idea, right?

Well, having good lighting is crucial when it comes to improving the security of your front door as it acts as an alert for whoever is home. It also increases visibility for security cameras to capture intruders like a deer in headlights.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that any hedges or bushes you have are well-maintained to avoid making your front garden or drive overly dark and to also prevent obscuring any of your security cameras.

4. Make sure you’re notified

 Securing your front door goes beyond making sure you’ve got the correct lock for your door or installing security cameras to capture any attempted break-ins, especially when you’re out of the city. The Handy Squad can install an intruder alarm at your London home to ensure that if you do have any intruders that the necessary people are notified – whether that just be yourself or the police.

There are various types of alarm systems to choose from including auto-dialler alarms, monitored alarms and smart alarms.

Smart alarms

Smart alarms detect unusual activity in your home and will notify you or a selected family member of the situation.

Auto-dialler alarms

You’ll need to install an auto-dialler alarm if you’re in the market for an alarm that automatically calls a specified number – either a chosen friend or an automated message can be selected – when your alarm goes off.

Monitored alarms

If you’d like your alarm to be connected to a monitoring centre that can contact the police for you – if necessary – monitored alarms are perfect for you.

If any of those options sound like something you’d like to be installed in your home, call our team today on 0800 0 12 12 12 and we can book you in for an intruder alarm installation appointment.

In the event of a break in

If you arrive home and your front door has been damaged, contact the police immediately using 999 and file a report – this way the incident is on record for any of your insurance claims. Also, make sure not to touch anything in your property as you may accidentally tamper with evidence.

If this has happened to you, we’re sorry to hear that. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with our team who can make your home feel safe again, whether you’re in need of one our carpenters in London who can repair door frames and if necessary, undertake an emergency door replacement if the damage is irreparable. As well as this, our emergency locksmiths in London can repair door locks and even replace your old door lock with a better one. Simply give our team a call on 0800 0 12 12 12 or request a quote by filling in our online booking form.

 

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 get your garden summer-ready

It’s June, which means the hot weather should be just around the corner (or we’d hope so!). As we all know, warm weather in England is a synonym of beer gardens and garden parties. You can start (or at least thinking of) pulling out the barbeque, dusting off the furniture and cleaning the patio. There are also a few other things you can do to get your garden ready for summer and all its glory.

  1. Mow the lawn

It’s the obvious one, however, it’s probably one of the most important things to do when the weather starts getting better. Yes, mowing the lawn can be a tedious chore, but not only will it help prevent weeds from growing, it will also instantly make your garden look tidier. Additionally, you can use a trimmer around the edges and bases of any trees to neaten things up a bit.

If your lawn has patches where grass won’t seem to grow, then you may need re-seed those bare patches. If all fails, you can always buy artificial turf, which will reduce the overall maintenance time of your garden to a minimum.

  1. Clean the Patio

Just like mowing the lawn, cleaning the patio has an instant impact on the look of your garden, making it appear immediately better than it did over the winter months. Depending on what your patio is made of (bricks, decking, slabs) a jet wash is usually a good option. This will remove any dirt and debris left on your patio and will make it look more visually appealing. If you do not own or want to purchase a jet washer, we offer various pressure washing services all around London.

You may find that weeds have grown, in which case you will need to remove them. You can pull them up from the roots to prevent them from returning or you can contact our team to get completely rid of them with our jet washers. Simply call 0800-0-12-12-12.

  1. Purchase some plants

Whether you already own some or have never cared for a plant in your life, purchasing plants is a great way to make your garden look livelier and more colourful. Plants can be used as ornaments around the garden by using pots in different colours and sizes. There are many types of plants to choose from, including bright red flowers, leafy green plants or even some small trees.

  1. Garden Furniture

The most important garden furniture to have would be some form of seating. Whether you just want to sit and read a good book or have some guests over, seating is key. If you have old furniture then that’s great, even if it’s looking a bit shabby. Sand it down and maybe give it a lick of paint to have it looking as good as new. Too much of a hassle? Our team can also pressure wash garden furniture to bring it back to life.

If you are planning on buying new furniture, think about whether you have a specific colour scheme in your garden. Minimalistic colours are usually the best to go for as they won’t draw too much attention away from your plants, but still become the centrepiece of your garden.

 

A garden table to match your seating is another important purchase if you haven’t already got one. Whether it’s for eating a meal at or just to put down your drink, it’s another thing that will bring your garden together. Again, you don’t necessarily have to go out and buy a brand new one, you can spruce up your old table and make it look as great as when you bought it.

If you do not feel you have the time to liven up your furniture, then you can contact our handymen in London who will give you a second pair of hands with your furniture. We can treat wooden furniture and even repaint furniture. In case you’ve bought some new garden flat pack furniture, call our team to assemble your flat pack furniture.

  1. Lighting for your garden

Lighting is a lovely touch that can make your garden seem that much more interesting. Solar powered fairy lights are a great idea, you can get some to go along the edge of your fence or across a wall of your house, depending on what works for you. Fairy lights create a cosy ambience in your garden and if they are solar powered it also means that you don’t have to worry about changing the batteries or finding some way of wiring them into your home.

You may need to get some stronger lights if you are planning on staying in your newly refreshed garden later into the night. Some wall lights may be what you need. These can be solar powered as well, or you can get ones that require wiring in. If you do not know where to begin then our team of London electricians are more than happy to help.

If you don’t have enough time in your hands to give your garden the spruce-up it needs, then don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know what it is we can assist you with. Whether it be pressure washing, installing outdoor lighting or assembling your garden furniture, the Squad is always happy to help.

How to fit outdoor lights

Tired of coming home at night and using your phone’s flashlight to help you see the keyhole space in your front door? Or maybe you simply haven’t had enough time to call a professional to change the light fixtures on your entrance door? Perhaps you want to make your home more welcoming with some outdoor lighting? No matter why you’ve decided that it’s time to install outdoor lighting – the Handy Squad is here to help.

Outdoor lighting has many benefits, some of which you might not even have thought about. Besides illuminating your entrance door or your patio, outdoor lights can help you identify any strangers who pass by your house at night and can even deter burglars from your home.

Safety Note

Before proceeding to install your outdoor lights, you must take hazards and safety into full consideration. Before you begin anything, follow these safety precautions:

  • Switch off the main power at the consumer unit/fuse box.
  • Attach a note to the unit to advise you are working on the circuit.
  • Get yourself a socket tester (or voltage tester for lighting circuits) to confirm whether circuits are dead and safe to work on.

Never take risks with electrical safety, any electrical work must be installed in accordance with local Building Regulations and must comply with the latest IEE Wiring Regulations. Please see more information online or from your local authority. If you are ever in doubt of any electrical work, we would highly recommend contacting a professional electrician. At the Handy Squad, we have a team of experienced electricians in London who will be able to carry out any electrical work you require.

Installing an outdoor light on a wall

If you are looking to install an outdoor light on a wall near your front or back door, please follow the guide below. When fitting outdoor lights ensure that the chosen lights are waterproof and solely for outdoor usage. To successfully install wall mounted lights outdoors, follow these steps:

  1. Start by drilling a hole in the area which you desire for the light to go. After doing so, line the hole with a plastic conduit and push the cable through.
  2. Once you’ve pushed the cables through, connect their cores to the destined terminals within the unit. After doing so, wrap them firmly in PVC electrical tape to prevent any water or damp.
  3. Position the light to the wall and use a small amount of silicone to prevent any moisture from entering.
  4. Go inside the house, run the light supply cable back to a decent position for cutting into the main circuit table using a four-terminal junction box.
  5. Fit in a switch and run a length of 1mm² two core-and-earth cable back to the placement of the junction box
  6. Segregate the circuit and ensure that the power is off with the help of a voltage tester. Proceed to then cut through the main circuit cable and make the appreciate connections needed in the junction box.

How to fit garden lighting 

Another type of outdoor lighting is garden lighting. This kind of lighting is used to illuminate back gardens, as well as to illuminate the pathway to your entrance door. We would recommend low-voltage garden lighting as it is the easiest and safest lighting to install. These types of light units often are on spikes which are simply pushed into the ground.

 

If installing outdoor lights seems like too much of an intricate job for you, contact our professional London electricians today. We offer many services to help you illuminate both the exterior and interior of your home, including changing light fittings, replacing hard-to-reach lightbulbs, installing spurs from existing sockets, among many other services. Our electricians will be more than happy to assist you to install all and any lights at your home, quickly and efficiently!

While our electricians are installing your garden lighting, why not ask them to help put up some string lights across your patio or on your trees to give your whole garden a stylish and magical atmosphere? Request a free quote today by filling our online booking form.

We hope that you have enjoyed this guide and that it has been helpful. In case you have any inquiries regarding our services, feel free to contact our friendly team on 0800-0 12 12 12.

How to decorate a small garden

Having a small garden doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot decorate it to your custom liking, small backyards can, in fact, have a big impact. With a lot of creative thinking and smart planning, you can transform your small garden into something you never imagined it to be. Allow us to present our ideas to help you transform your small outdoor space into something amazing!

Planning and choosing a focus

Before getting dirty and decorative, it’s important to choose a focus and to thoroughly plan what exactly you intend to do. That way, you’ll find decorating much easier as you’ll have a secure plan to follow. You should also try to avoid doing too much within your small garden space as it may become and feel overworked.

To pinpoint your focus, think of the kinds of things/activities you plan to do in your garden and your favourite ways to spend time in your outdoor space. Once you’ve figured out your focus, proceed to design your space! Think about the essentials you need to consider, for example:

  • Which decorations you’d like to give life to your outdoor space.
  • The types of versatile furniture that complement your outdoor space.
  • What colour theme and designs you’d like to work with.

But don’t limit your creativity! These are just a few ideas to help kick start your imagination.

Mapping the base and shape of your backyard as well as marking out the boundaries of the plot is a method that can help you keep track of the amount of space you have to work with. Once you have everything outlined, you can begin to try out different designs to see what can be included in your outdoor space, such as sheds, outdoor couches, a patio or versatile storage boxes.

Choose space-saving garden furniture

If you like spending most of your time in your outdoor space or maybe dining in your garden, then having comfortable furniture is a necessity. Furniture, however, can be space consuming, so be sure to choose furniture that is space-optimizing. If you like dining outdoors, perhaps opt for a bistro table set with foldable table and chairs. If you like entertaining, go for stackable furniture and storage benches to help make more room for your guests.

When it comes to putting your new furniture together, it can be pretty daunting and time-consuming, so, we are happy to offer you our garden furniture assembling service! This service among our many other furniture assembling services gives you the opportunity to sit back and relax while our handymen do all the hard work for you. If you’d rather spend more hours relaxing than putting together garden furniture, book online today.

Re-using old garden furniture

The furniture you use in your garden doesn’t necessarily have to be brand-new, there are many ways you can re-use old/stored away furniture! Perhaps you have an old bench or garden chair that’s sitting away in a storage place, if so, what’s the harm in renovating it and re-using it? Not only will this save money, but you’ll have more storage space when you decide to use it again. During the time your furniture was stored away, it probably collected a lot of dirt, stains or cobwebs (which could be another reason why you decided not to use it), if you fall into this category – don’t fear, the Squad will come to the rescue! We offer a variety of services to bring your old furniture back to life, including pressure washing garden furniture, treating wooden furniture and even repainting furniture.

Build a decking area

Decking is an ideal touch for a small garden as it provides sufficient surface for a dining or relaxing area. As opposed to gravel or paving, decking can easily be refreshed with a new coat of paint. However, if your decking area becomes a little dirty due to its usage, put your jet washing skills to the test! If you don’t own a jet washer or don’t have the time to jet wash a decking area, contact our handymen in London who will be able to pressure wash your decking in no time.

There are many other benefits to having a decking area in a small garden. For instance, the way you lay your decking boards can manipulate and enhance the overall area; laying decking boards vertical will elongate the decked area, whereas laying them horizontally will widen the decking area.

Using plants as ornaments

Hanging plants and having plants in pots is an easy and effective way of adding splashes of colour here and there without having to worry about taking up huge quantities of space. Not only that, but they’re removable at any time if you ever need to create extra space or want to replant any of your flowers. Certain plants are inherently architectural or can be pruned to look that way, so whatever type of plant you choose, don’t forget to get creative with different types of plants, styles of plant pots and their placement!

We hope that you have enjoyed this guide and that it has been helpful. In case you have any enquiries regarding our services, feel free to contact our friendly team on 0800-0 12 12 12. Alternatively, request a quote for our team to spruce up your outdoor area by filling our online booking form.

How to repair paving

Patios are a nice touch to our outdoor space. Along with their hard-wearing surface and presentable looks, the paving on your patio is more than prone to cracking, dirt build-up, and other types of damage, due to small ground movements or heavy usage.

Paving your outdoor space isn’t cheap, and it can cost a small fortune to have any damaged paving repaired, especially when it can be repaired with a little work of your own! Find out how to repair your damaged paving in the easiest and cheapest possible way in this guide. Alternatively, you can book online today with the Handy Squad, or call 0800 0 12 12 12 and we’ll be happy to help.

Replacing paving slabs:

If a paving slab has sunken or has been damaged beyond repair, it’s a pretty simple process to either re-lay or replace it. However, if you’re re-laying or replacing slabs that are 600mm x 600mm or larger, it’s recommended that you have somebody to help you do so. Make sure you have the right equipment and protection to help you re-lay/replace the slab(s). It is highly recommended that you wear safety goggles along with heavy-duty gloves for this task.

Steps:

    1. Using a plugging chisel and a club hammer, chip out the pointing around the slab.
    2. Using a spade, lift up the slab. To protect the slab next to the slab you’re lifting, use a timber cut-off.
    3. For easier removal, place a broom handle under the slab and use it to roll the slab out of the way.
    4. Dispose of the old mortar under the slab you just removed by breaking it up, you can do this using a bolster chisel or a club hammer. If your slab has been laid on sand, use a piece of timber to precisely level it, add more sand if necessary.
    5. If your slab was laid on mortar, wet the back of your slab and lay it into position for a fresh set of mortar. Ensure that the slab is in line with the surrounding slabs. Then, using a timber cut-off and a club hammer, press the slab into position and fill the joints with dry mortar.

Regrouting paving stones

If the joints between your paving start to crack, this can lead to the joints being completely damaged, which will then lead to other problems down the line, such as your slabs becoming loose or weeds growing in between the cracks, which completely ruins the overall look of your paving. It’s essential to regrout your paving joints as soon as you start to notice any threatening cracks. Repairing the loss of jointing is easy to fix, but if you feel that this isn’t the task for you, or you feel that your skills are not up to the “standard,” then why not call the Handy Squad? They’d be more than willing to regrout your paving stones, making it look as good as new again!

Steps:

    1. Remove all of the existing cracked patio joints using a hammer and a bolster chisel, as these are the best-suited tools for this task.
    2. Once all of the joints are clear, you can start repointing them. The amount of sand and cement you will use to point will depend solely on the width of your joints. (It’s highly recommended that any pointing done is carried out when your patio itself is dry.) Using a bucket, sprinkle the mix of sand and cement along the joints that need repointing. Then, using a soft brush, carefully sweep the mixture into the joint(s). Ensure that the joint(s) are absolutely full. When the joints are full, brush off any excess of the mix and leave the joints to air-dry.

Jet washing stains on paving:

Stains and bad marks ruin the overall look of your patio, especially when they’ve built up over time. Removing stains is an easy task that will get your patio looking as good as new in no time. If a task that involves getting a little wet isn’t your forte, then a trained professional from our Handy Squad would gladly pressure wash your patio paving, leaving it sparkly clean!

Steps:

    1. Completely clear your paving of any furniture, pots, etc.
    2. Using a broom, brush away any loose debris, such as leaves or dirt.
    3. Before cleaning your paving, it’s recommended that you apply a detergent to the surface to help dissolve any stains and to help make the paving easier to clean. Applying detergents can also protect your paving surfaces from weather damage.
    4. Connect your jet washer to the mains electricity supply then turn it on to pressurise the system and to clean your paving.

How to give a home kerb appeal

Your home’s exterior is the first thing that your visitors will look at, and as we all know, first impressions are quite important. Have you ever walked into a home which was beautiful on the inside, but its outside didn’t make it look welcoming? That’s exactly what you don’t want to happen when your friends come to visit.

Kerb appeal is the term used to describe the attractiveness of your home’s exterior and we’re certain that you want to make sure your home is always in top shape, both inside and outside. Follow our tips and tricks below to give your home some serious kerb appeal.

Focus on your entrance door

Entrance doors are used every day and are exposed to all weather conditions, so it’s normal when they start showing wear and tear. Maybe the colour is fading, starting to peel off or there are some cracks on the door. Give a bit of extra love to your front door by taking care of these little details every now and then.

Maybe your door frame has been damaged after a break-in, we would recommend repairing it as soon as possible. Our team of carpenters in London will be able to repair your door frame and even hang a new door if needed. Go one step further and call our London locksmiths, who’ll be able to install a higher security door lock, so you can feel safe at home.

A fresh coat of paint makes wonders

An easy way to improve your home’s appearance is to repaint it. You can choose to paint it with the same colour, or you might want to choose something different. Maybe by having an accent colour on your front door? Or by giving a different colour to the door frame or window frames? If you don’t want to fully paint your home’s exterior, why not just gloss the wooden details and give a new shine?

In case you don’t have time to paint the exterior of your home or you simply don’t want to get your hands dirty, enquire with our decorators in London, who are always happy to help. They will be able to gloss your front door, paint your entrance door or paint your whole home exterior.

Don’t forget your windows

The entrance door should be your main focus; however, windows are also very important. If you live in an older property, taking care of your windows is not only vital for the appearance of your home, but also for the overall insulation of your home. Nobody wants to be cold during the winter months due to draughts that are coming through the cracks in old windows. Windows can be repaired, but if yours are beyond repair, our highly-experienced team can replace sash windows in a heartbeat.

Refresh your paving or driveway

The journey to your home should also be looked after. With time, pavement stones start developing cracks and start accumulating grime and dirt. If you need a professional to clean and refresh any paving or driveway areas, our team will be able to give you an extra pair of hands and pressure wash your paving. However, if you notice cracks between paving and broken grout, maybe it’s time to replace the paving stones or regrout the paving.

Let there be light

Add light fixtures to your entrance. This will help you find your keys late at night and will add a stylish and decorative touch. Front light can also make your home look more welcoming and cosier. If you have a front garden, why not add some lights to different areas of the garden? If you need a professional for the job, our highly skilled London electricians will be able to replace old lights and install new lighting fixtures.

Add flowers and greenery

Outdoor plants and flowers can really give a finishing touch to any home. Potted plants on either side of the entrance door always look stunning. If you need any help moving around heavy pots, give our team a call.

If the idea of enhancing your home’s exterior seems like an idea you’d like to pursue, but you simply don’t have enough time on your hands – leave it to the Squad. We are able to take on any big or small jobs you require. Give our team a call today on 0800-0 12 12 12 or request a free quote by filling our online form.

Tips for insulating your home or office

Insulation for a home or office is vital, and at the Handy Squad, we realise the importance of this. Here are some of the most important things to know and remember when insulating your home or office.

Some methods are cheaper, more effective and quicker to implement, saving you time and money. On the other hand, some methods are more expensive but are ultimately more worthwhile investing in for the long term.

 

Secondary, double and triple glazing

 These may all be phrases that you are familiar with, but do you really know what these forms of glazing all are?

With secondary glazing, a frame containing a pane of glass or plastic is fixed over the existing window frame, leaving an air gap between. You can buy secondary glazing kits that are very simple to use, and they are usually available in a range of sizes.

However, sealed double and triple glazing is slightly different. It comprises two or three panes separated by spacing strips, that are bonded together and hermetically (completely airtight) sealed at a factory before being fitted onto the window frame.

 

Insulating your walls

Insulating your walls is a bigger and more expensive job than something like a roof. However, an average uninsulated house loses around 35% of its heat through the walls, more than roofs, doors, windows and the floor.

Firstly, cavity walls can be insulated. The insulating material is blown through holes drilled in the outside wall, however, this type of job is much better suited to a professional, such as The Handy Squad.

Solid walls can be insulated through dry-lining, which is adding an extra layer of plasterboard to their inner faces. Plasterboard with thermal and acoustic properties is ideal for a job like this. However, the slight issue with this is that plasterboard is up to 50mm thick, essentially closing in the space of the room when added.

There are two very simple steps to fitting plasterboard:

  1. Cut it to the correct size.
  2. Glue or screw it to the existing wall.

However, whilst glue or screwing the plasterboard to the existing wall is easy, there are also a couple of minor complications. For example, you may have to move and reinstall electrical wiring, sockets and switches, radiators, doors and windows.

 

Insulating your floors 

Floors are another key part of loss of insulation in your home or office, with the average uninsulated house losing 15% of its heat through the floor. Floors in new houses have to be insulated. However, in existing uninsulated floors, a good-quality carpet, partnered with underlay should usually be enough to minimise downward heat loss.

Any gaps below skirtings can be filled with either flexible sealant, or they can be covered by wooden beading that is pinned to the skirting.

If you have a concrete floor, you can build an insulated suspended floor on top of it.

 

Fitting draught excluders to your windows

Why fit draught excluders to your windows? The answer is simple: it will keep warm air in and keep cold air out. It will also help to make your home warmer and cut your fuel bills too. Also, windows on average lose around 25% of a houses heat, and that is not something that you want in your home or office.

Another positive about draught excluders are that they are cheap, easy to fix in place and are ideal for using on casement windows and interior doors. However, when fitting make sure not to stretch the strips, as this will weaken the effectiveness.

There are a few main steps that are related to fitting draught excluders to your windows:

Step 1: Use a damp cloth to clean off any dirt or loose paint that has been collected on the window frame.

Step 2: When the frame is dry, peel off the backing paper from the self-adhesive foam draught excluder – a little at a time.

Step 3: Then press it onto the outside of the window frame (where the opening casement window will press against when closed).

Step 4: Cut the ends of each length at a 45 degrees angle to form an accurate join at each corner.

Step 5: Close the window to make sure that the strip is pressed firmly in place.

 

How to draught-proof internal doors

Similarly to windows, draughty doors on average contribute to around 25% to the heat loss in your home or office, so knowing how to stop this is imperative.

You can draught-proof internal doors to unheated rooms by fitting a brush strip to the bottom of the door, and a self-adhesive foam seal strip all the way round the door frame.

Draught excluders come in various sizes for different sized gaps. However, if you’re unsure about the size of the gap, there is an easy way to check this. Simply squash a small piece of reusable tack into the door frame and shut the door. Reopen the door, and then remove the tack and measure it.

There are a few important steps that can be used in relation to draught-proof internal doors:

Step 1: Use a damp cloth to clean off any dirt or loose paint on the door frame.

Step 2: When the frame is dry, put self-adhesive foam draught excluder all the way around the edge – similarly to how you would for a window – and cut it to the right length with scissors.

Step 3: Make sure to attach the strip to the frame instead of the door stop, or it will rub off when the door closes.

These are just a few major ways in which you can insulate your home or office, and if you are even unsure of how to conduct one of the methods that have been explained, our London handymen can always be contacted on 0800-0 12 12 12 to make sure that your home is insulated to perfection. Alternatively, request a free quote by filling our online booking form.

How to lay a patio

With the summer season well under way, there has never been a better time to start planning and constructing a brand new patio design for your garden. This can be easily achieved once your flex your imagination and use some simple and effective DIY techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laying down and maintaining patios is just one of the many technical DIY tasks that can be handled by the Handy Squad. With our Handyman in London service, you will receive a qualified tradesmen with the required expertise to make your dream patio a reality.

Planning the layout  

You firstly need to understand the overall layout of the garden in its current state. It’s vitally important to make a drawing on graph paper to clearly indicate where any trees, shrubs, walls and fixtures are situated.

This is a simple but important step, since this drawing will enable you to make accurate estimations on how much material you will need for specific areas of your garden.

You must also consider where any patio furniture is going to be positioned and determine whether they could end up being obstructive during the process.

The Handy Squad will be able to provide a handyman to assemble patio furniture with ease, which means you will be able to pick and choose any style to suit the layout of your new patio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can also provide assistance with flat pack garden furniture assembly, to help you install general garden furniture such as benches, hammocks, deck chairs, sun loungers and gazebos.

Types of paving

There is a multitude of different paving styles currently on the market which means any patio design can be constructed. The premium option has always been the flagstone which offers a pastoral and rustic tone for your garden.

When choosing your preferred style, you will need to plan for any features you may wish to add in the future. Whether you decide to add a built-in barbeque, pond or planter, you will need to have the required space to ensure there is no upheaval as they are being installed.

A simple way to implement this whilst keeping your garden looking clean would be removing large slabs in certain areas and filling them with the appropriate amount of shingle.

It is also common for chairs and tables to be present within gardens, which will need regular wooden garden furniture treatment in order to blend with your new patio design.

Setting out the patio

You will need to mark out the exact layout of your site with pegs and string. When you are pushing any pegs into the ground, you will need to make sure that their tops are positioned at the proposed finishing level.

The patio’s level at the house wall should be at least 150mm below the damp proof course. This is typically seen as an extra wide line of mortar within the brickwork. However, in older houses, you may still see the slate initially used.

Unless you follow this procedure, there is a strong possibility that any walls on your house will start to get damp. This could also prove to be detrimental to any garden furniture you have positioned nearby. If you discover any damaged furniture that needs to be cleansed, you will need to use the Handy Squad’s jet washing garden furniture service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing your drainage

You will need to create a small slope for your patio to sit away from the house so that rain water does not pool onto it. In most circumstances this will be 1:40, however larger designs will need a cross fall of 1:80 to enhance the water run-off.

It’s important to consider the fall between the pegs being used so you can then place an appropriately sized offcut of wood on top. When you have levelled out the batten between pegs, the offcut will then account for the necessary fall.

Once you have measured down from the top of the pegs, you will be able to calculate the amount of soil needed to be removed. There needs to be enough room to account for the thickness of any slabs as well as any layers of the base. It’s always beneficial to tie string lines to each of the pegs to help assist the process.

Dig out for the base

You will firstly need to dig out any topsoil and save it for other areas of the garden. The depth in which you dig down below will be dependant on the size of your patio.

For light usage, the slabs can be placed onto a compacted 50mm bed of sand. If you want more stability, it is recommended that a 50mm semi-dry mix of sand and cement is used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foundation of the patio

For any areas of heavy use, you will need to have a compacted 75mm layer of hardcore placed below the sand and cement mixture. This particular substance is broken down brick and rubble, which needs to be laid over the ground and then compacted to guarantee a firm and stable base.

Once you have multiplied the patio area by the thickness of hardcore needed, you will then be able to calculate the required volume.

It is recommended that you hire a plate vibrator for the preparation stages to ensure you achieve a firm and solid base. Once the base has been prepared, you will then be able to lay the flagstones into one of the corners.

Laying down the slabs

In the case of light use, you will need to trowel five reasonably sized dabs of mortar onto the base area and then place down the first slab. Then tap the surface of the slab using a rubber mallet or the end of a club hammer and then check the spirit levels in both directions.

For heavy use, the slabs will need to be laid down on a consistent bed of 50mm tick mortar. This will ensure that the slab is supported correctly and therefore less likely to break.

It is also possible to lay down paving directly onto the sand, providing you have carefully levelled to fully support the slabs. You firstly need to place battens down at intervals in the sand, making sure the tops are at an appropriate level. Then use a straight edge to level out the sand between them by marking it along the battens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue the process across the main area of your patio, making sure you regularly check the level. It is advised that you firstly work across the house wall, then down one side using string as a guide to ensure you are working diagonally.

It is quite common after a few years for the cement between each slab to crack and come out of place. This means regrouting paving stones is of paramount importance, since it will help get them back to their original state and prevent the growth of weeds.

Cutting the paving stones

It is preferable to leave out the slabs that need to be cut until the bulk area has been laid. You can then fill in any gaps with cut slabs, using a grinder of bolster chisel to make scores around each slab.

You must take the necessary health and safety precautions when you undertake any cutting work. It its vitally important that you wear safety goggles, work gloves and ear defenders.

Once you have scored, you will need to raise the smallest section on a thin batten and then tap the main area of the slab. This will need to be done along the cut line with the use of a bolster hammer.

It is vitally important to oversee regular maintenance of your patio in order for it to remain radiant. We have an unrivalled London Jet Washing service available at the Handy Squad, which means we can provide both a jet washing paving stones service as well as a jet washing stone steps service.