Fitting a Letterbox or Catflap in Your Door

letter-boxFitting either a letterbox or a catflap — which are similar processes — should be quite possible for a skilled DIYer, although it’s obviously important to be careful cutting holes in your front door. Anyone unsure of their skill should consult and request the services of our skilled handymen at Handy Squad.

Fitting a Letterbox

When you know the letterbox’s size and design, establish the position to centre it by measuring the depth of the door’s cross rail in two places and marking the mid-point. Using these two points, draw a straight line right across the door, and then measure and mark the exact mid-point of the line.

Place your letterbox centred directly over this point and mark the positions on each side for the fixing bolts. Drill clearance holes, making them slightly larger than the bolt shank, then mark out a rectangle to cut out that’s slightly bigger than the flap.

Drill a hole at each corner big enough to take the blade of either a powered jigsaw or a padsaw and use the saw to cut around the marked rectangle. Cut recesses for the hinge-pin with a mallet and narrow chisel, and smooth the edges.

Fit the letterbox using the nuts provided and cut off any excess length on the bolts with a hacksaw. It’s a good idea to also fit an interior cover, since this will help keep out draughts.

Fitting a Catflap

If letterboxes vary in design, catflaps vary even more, with some of the more sophisticated programmed to open when the particular cat’s collar comes close. It’s essential to read the instructions and follow them to the letter.

The exact position for the catflap will depend on how your cat will use it. Once you’ve decided this, position the supplied template on the door and tape it on, making sure the tape will be easy to remove. When you’re certain the position is right, drill a hole of at least 8mm at each of the four positions shown, big enough to get the blade of your jigsaw or padsaw in.

Remove the template and draw ruled lines between the four points. Cut out the section along the lines you’ve made with a power jigsaw or a padsaw, and smooth the edges.

Hold the catflap up against the door in its place and, once you’re satisfied it’s level, drill clearance holes for the screws. Hold the two parts of the flap securely in place on either side of the door and fix each screw through the clearance holes, fastening the two parts together. Check that the flap can swing freely, and you’re finished.

Painting Tools — How to Use and Care for Them

paint-brushesPainting is one of the most essential DIY jobs, and it needs care and skill to get it right. Each of the various tools available has to be used correctly, and it also needs to be looked after if you don’t want to be constantly buying unnecessary replacements.

Paint Brushes

Still the default painting tool, brushes come in many types and depend partly on what you’re willing to pay. You can make do with perfectly adequate cheap brushes which you discard after use. On the other hand, reusable brushes go up to professional quality, and the best synthetic fibres both give a finer finish and don’t shed bristles.

The way you clean and store brushes depends on the paint you’ve been using. If it’s water-based, just clean them with water and wrap them in any of various substances from lint-free cloth to foil.

If you’re using oil-based or solvent-based paint, brushes should be stored immersed in the recommended cleaning fluid, ensuring the bristles aren’t resting on the bottom of the container. You can use an improvised container or buy a purpose-made cleaning tub, which will come with manufacturer’s instructions.

Paint Rollers

The quickest and most efficient way to cover large surfaces is to use a roller, although you’ll still need brushes for edges and corners. It’s also worth remembering that rolled coats are thinner than if you use brushes, so you’ll need more of them.

If you’re using a roller, you need to buy trays of non-drip emulsion. The type of roller sleeve you use will determine the finish — short-pile for a smooth surface, for instance, or shaggy sheepskin for texture.

Whichever you use, when you’ve coated the roller with paint, roll it across the tray’s ribbed surface to ensure a smooth covering. To get a smooth blend at the edges, always work your way back to the area you’ve covered when you start with a newly charged roller.

Paint Pads

Paint pads, rectangular bonded fibres with a foam back that allows for flexibility, are ideal if you want to cover a large area with liquid paint. The paint tray that comes with them has a built-in roller, allowing you to remove excess paint. With the pad flat against the wall, gently scrub it from the corner, painting strips around four time the pad’s width.

Paint Pods

This is a power painting tool, allowing the paint to feed through from the paint pack to a roller attachment. It also has a triangular brush for painting the edges. It has a self-cleaning cycle, clearly explained in the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you want to free yourself from the job of painting, please contact our London decorators at the Handy Squad and we’ll be happy to assist.

Tel: 0800-0 12 12 12