The weather has been so good that I’ve had no excuse not to get on with all the DIY jobs that have been accumulating for the last 8 or 9 months. It’s been possible to leave things half done outside overnight without any fear of rain damage, and to make rapid progress on indoor plastering and painting because everything dries so fast in the unusual heat. On the minus side, the garden is a disaster – I’ve never seen our lawn look so brown and awful. Moss is the usual problem, not dessication.
The first thing I tackled was removing a pair of redundant radiator brackets from under a window. The radiator in question sprang a leak so we valved it off and left it until the end of the heating season to deal with. We soon realised that we didn’t need it, despite the fact that we had some really long cold spells last winter. We had solid wall insulation put on the outside of the house five years ago and it has reduced the need for heating considerably.
We removed the radiator and, at some point, we’ll have to get a plumber in to take out the loop of pipework that served it. We’ve done basic plumbing ourselves over the years, but the whole of the ground floor cold water, hot water, central heating and waste pipework needs sorting out and bringing up above floor level before we have a floating wooden floor laid to replace the 30-year-old carpets, and that’s too big a job for amateurs. Plus it needs to be done properly, because I don’t ever want to have to tear up the new wooden floor to investigate a leak.
Removing radiator brackets is certainly within my capabilities though. I stripped off each of the two drops of textured wallpaper that covered a bracket, leaving one drop between them. Then I got the brackets off with a mixture of persuasion (a screwdriver) and brute force (a hammer).
I made good the resulting holes with some one-coat plaster. When it had dried, I cut a couple of replacement lengths of wallpaper from a part-roll I’d kept for just such an occasion and was horrified to find, when I held one of them up to the wall between two existing drops to check the match, that it was 2-3mm too narrow. I very nearly stripped off all the paper under the window, thinking that I’d have to repaper the whole area. The only thing that stopped me was the realisation that I didn’t have enough leftover wallpaper for that. I was resigned to having to live with unsightly gaps.
But once I’d spread paste on the two new drops and left them to soak for 10 minutes I was delighted to find that they’d stretched enough widthwise to be a perfect fit. Who’d have thought that it was possible to remove a drop of wall paper in the middle of a wall and hang a new one in its place without it being obvious? Now that the area has been painted – again, I had some emulsion paint left over from the original job – I defy anyone to spot that there was ever a radiator there. Or at least, not unless they spot the pipework emerging from the floor.
The intention, once we have a new wooden floor laid, is to build a window seat in this window. My beautiful repair job won’t be visible then, but I expect it will be a few months or years before we get the new seat.
The second task of this nature was making good the plaster in a bedroom.
Last year the brickwork around the door to another bedroom collapsed a little and the process of remedying it resulted in plaster coming off in that room, the corridor outside and the adjacent bedroom.
I repaired the first two and never got round to the third.
Again, one-coat plaster has filled the hole, with some flexible filler applied down the joint between the brick wall and the adjacent plasterboard wall.
I found a jam jar of leftover paint from when I last redecorated that room in 1997 and it was still in excellent condition.
After painting, the repair is hardly noticeable, although the whole room really needs a coat of paint after 21 years.
The other repaired bedroom is the priority though. I didn’t have any paint left over from when I’d last decorated that room, which means that all the walls will need repainting, not just the one with the plaster patches.