Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Fixing squeaking floorboards

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Floorboard squeaks and creaks can be very annoying but there are a few ways you can try to fix them.

Screwing floorboards down

If individual floorboards are squeaking one potential solution is to screw them down to the joists. You’ll need to locate where the joists are. This is usually very easy as you can see the existing nails/screws that are holding the floorboards to the joists.

When screwing into floorboards you need to be very careful to avoid any water/gas/electricity supply cables/pipes. You can use a pipe detector to help you locate them.

If you put screws very close to the existing nails there is less chance of hitting anything important.

I used a mix of 1.5 inch and 2 inch wood screws. They need to be long enough to go through the floorboard and into the joist.

After locating which floorboard was squeaking I drilled a pilot hole. I used a drill bit with an attachment that drills the countersink at the same time. I set the height of the countersink so that the drill bit would just drill through the floorboard, and not into the joist.

fixing squeaking floorboards 1

Then I could pop the screw into the hole and use another drill to drive it into the joist. It can be very useful to have two drills, one for drilling holes, and one for screwing down the screws. This can save a lot of bit swapping.

fixing squeaking floorboards 6

I found this method to be effective where an individual floorboard was squeaking. I didn’t find it helped in the case where a joist was squeaking.

Expanding foam filler

Where an individual floorboard was squeaking the noise was limited to that floorboard. In some cases the squeak was activated across the joist along a series of floorboards. For these squeaks screwing down the floorboards didn’t seem to remove the squeak as it didn’t prevent the joist from moving.

I tried a different technique. I got some large expanding foam filler canisters. Either 750ml or 825ml. These cost from £8-£11 each.

fixing squeaking floorboards 4

I then drilled a hole next to the creaking joist big enough to fit the expanding foam nozzle into. This hole does not go into the joist, it goes into the cavity next to the joist. As this is drilling into the floor cavity you have to be especially careful not to hit any pipes or wires. Make sure you use a pipe detector, and don’t drill any further than the depth of the floorboard. You can see a typical hole that I drilled in the photo above.

I sprayed in a bit of water (the instruction on the expanding foam say this is necessary for the foam to cure).

fixing squeaking floorboards 2

Then after shaking the can I sprayed the full contents of it into the cavity. Then I left the foam to harden for a few hours. This technique has successfully removed the squeaks from my floorboard joists.

fixing squeaking floorboards 3

It may be a good idea to wait a few weeks before putting down any flooring in case you find any other areas that need treating.

I’m guessing this technique works by immobilising the joist and the surrounding floorboards. If the foam stops the floorboard/joist from moving then there is no sound.

The space under my floorboards is very small – it is only about 4 inches. This technique may well not work if the space under yours is much larger.

I’m also not sure how long term this solution is. It has now kept the squeaks away for about one month. It is possible that over time the foam will compress and the floorboards will start moving again. I’ll update this post some time in the future with more results.

Argos shoe rack

Monday, March 5th, 2012

I bought a 4 tier flat pack shoe rack from Argos. Here’s a link to it on their site, and below is a photo of what it looked like after I assembled it.

argos shoe rack 7

As with much of this cheap Argos / Ikea flat pack furniture assembling it was not as straightforward as it should have been.

The problem was that over half of the pilot holes on the end slats had been innacurately drilled. They were drilled too close to the edge. There are other reviews on the Argos website that point out the same problem.

argos shoe rack 1

If you try to drive the supplied screws into one of these holes which is too close to the edge the wood splinters.

argos shoe rack 3

The only solution is to redrill the pilot holes at the correct position. I worked out that for this item that the holes should be slightly off-centre. I used my Challenge Xtreme 18v cordless drill (also from Argos) to do this. Here are my re-drilled slats.

argos shoe rack 4

I could then start assembling. There are 56 screws so you’ll really want to use a cordless screwdriver / drill to drive them in rather than using a manual screwdriver.

argos shoe rack 2

I did the end pieces first, and then put the long slats in before turning it over to do the other end.

argos shoe rack 6

It is best not to tighten the screws too much at first until you have checked that all the slats are correctly aligned. Once they are correctly aligned then you can do the final screw tightening.

argos shoe rack 7

Splashing kitchen tap

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

My kitchen tap generates a lot of spashing water when it is turned on. This is because a single solid tube of water pours out of it. Even when the tap is only lightly turned on a lot of water splashes up over the draining board and work top.

I used to think there was nothing that can be done about it until I became aware of ‘tap aerators’. These inserts work by mixing air with the water to make it more bubbly and reducing the pressure of the water stream.

Instead of a solid jet of water, with an aerator you get a bubblier softer stream of water.

In order to be able to fit an aerator the end of the tap will need to be removable. I used an adjustable spanner to get the end off as it was tighely screwed on.

water tap aerator 5

Here is the old insert. To work out what size of aerator you need you’ll need to carefully measure the diameter of the thread. Mine was 22mm.

water tap aerator 3

I ordered this 22mm aerator from Amazon, and it arrived the next day. It arrived in a tiny package with no instruction, but it isn’t too hard to figure out how to assemble it.

water tap aerator 2

I put the above pieces together like this:

water tap aerator 4

Then I screwed it into the tap and gave it a test. It did aerate the water and reduce the splashing but there was an obvious leak around the edge of the insert. One of the reviews on the Amazon produce page also mentions this problem. It could be due to the short thread length, or because my tap doesn’t have anything inside it for the supplied washer to compress against.

I solved the leak with PTFE tape. An essential item if ever you are doing minor plumbing work.

water tap aerator 6

I wrapped about 40 cm of the tape around the thread and then trimmed the top bits so they didn’t block the flow.

water tap aerator 7

I then screwed this back into the tap whilst it was turned on until it was far enough screwed in to create a proper seal.

And here is the final result. On the left you can see the original water stream. It is clear because it is pure water. On the right is the aerated stream which is cloudy as it is mixed with air bubbles.

water tap aerator 1

The reduction in splashing has made this a worthwhile purchase, plus the chrome colour of the aerator cover looks much better than my old black plastic tap end.

Door trimming saw

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

If you are installing a new thicker carpet, thicker underlay, or wood flooring you may find that your doors need trimming for the flooring to fit underneath.

There are several ways to do this:

  1. Remove the door from its hinges and cut it using a hand saw or circular saw.
  2. Cut it in place using a hand saw or circular saw.
  3. Use a special purpose door trimming saw.

I decided to trim mine using a door trimming saw. These are expensive to buy, and you aren’t going to use them much, so it can be a lot cheaper to hire them. I hired one for the day from HSS hire. Here is a link to the door trimming saw I hired for £36.84 (the prices on their website don’t include VAT).

I had to order it a week in advance as they said it was a very popular item and fully booked.

Here is what the saw looks like. It is a circular saw with a very thick enclosed blade. It is designed to be slid along a flat floor, and the 4 screws at the corners near the bottom allow the height of the blade to be modified.

hss door trimming saw 1

The blade comes out of the front when you push the spring loaded handle forward. The amount the blade comes out is only just enough to cut a standard door, so you will have to keep it fully pushed forward to make the cut.

hss door trimming saw 2

Each of the 4 height screws has measurements on it so it is easy to set the saw to the correct level.

hss door trimming saw 3

There is a vacuum port to suck the sawdust away, but I found that my Dyson hose was the wrong size to connect to it. I got around this by using masking tape to connect the hose to the door trimmer.

hss door trimming saw 5

To help prevent the bottom of the door from splintering I wrapped masking tape around it.

hss door trimming saw 4

Then I started using the saw. First turning on the vacuum, then the saw. When it is at full speed you can begin cutting. You should check the instructions to make sure you cut in the correct direction. In the case of the saw I was using the cut had to be made left to right.

The saw is very noisy and even with the vacuum sucking away most of the sawdust there was still enough dust in the air to set off the room’s smoke alarm! Because the blade is enclosed and hidden away from your face it should be fairly safe to use, but you should still wear safety glasses in case you get a rogue flying splinter.

It took about 3 minutes to cut each door by sliding the saw slowly from left to right. I found that it won’t get close enough to the door frame to cut the very edge, so I had to do the final 1cm with a hand saw. I could then finish off by giving the edges a quick sand, and then repainting any bits where the paint had flaked off.

hss door trimming saw 6

Even with the vacuum running there was still loads of sawdust on the floor. Here are some of the pieces that were cut off the three doors that I did.

hss door trimming saw 7

It is still hard work to push the blade through the doors, but much easier and more accurate than using a hand saw.

Removing carpet grippers from floor boards

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

If you are completely re-doing the flooring of a room (to go from carpet to wood flooring, or to lay sound proofing for example) you might need to remove the old carpet grippers. Here is how I removed the carpet grippers in one room. I used:

  1. A chisel with a fine sharp end that could get under the carpet gripper
  2. Another item to use as a fulcrum under the first chisel. I used a smaller chisel but I could have used anything of similar size and solid such as a screwdriver or piece of wood or metal.
  3. Safety glasses. A lot of DIY guides say to use safety glasses but of course you never do. In this case you really should – especially when removing smaller strips of carpet gripper. They are covered in sharp nails, and they can fly off the floor when levered up. I’ve had some that have shot up well above the height of my face when they suddenly pop out of the floor.

removing carpet grippers 3

The method I used was to start at one end of a carpet gripper machine and push the sharp end of the chisel under the first nail. The using the other chisel as a fulcrum I slowly levered the nail out.

removing carpet grippers 1

If the gripper is really tight on the floor board you might need to hammer the chisel gently to get it below the gripper, but I never needed to do this. In all cases I was able to push the end of the chisel under the gripper a little by hand, and then work the nail out.

Then I moved onto the next nail. I found that on a strip of carpet gripper the first nail might take about 5 seconds to get out, but then the next ones might take 2-3 seconds. I was able to remove the grippers pretty quickly, and intact using this method.

removing carpet grippers 2

It is even possible to reuse the carpet grippers after they have been removed using this method, but because the nails are now pushed down, and slightly curved after being removed they are a bit arkward to hammer back down. New carpet grippers are really cheap so it is probably less hassle to buy new ones than to attempt to reuse them.

If you do want to reuse them then I’ve found it is easier to remove the fixing nails and then use new nails/screws to secure them. To remove the nails I used some combination pliers to push the nail up a bit, and then some diagonal pliers to twist and pull the nail out. I can get each nail out in about 10-15 seconds doing this. Wearing thick gloves on the hand holding the carpet gripper will stop you cutting yourself.