Woodwork and tiling in the home share one thing in common: poor quality finishing sticks out like a sore thumb. If you’re embarking on a period renovation there’s likely to be a lot of wood on display in the house even if the windows are now PVCu.
Tiles are very popular particularly in kitchens and bathrooms, as they are durable, can be wiped clean and are less likely to harbour germs.
The quality of tools is more important with woodworking than tiling. A good tenon saw and a panel saw will probably be sufficient for most simple DIY jobs.
A rough file and a plane (or fine surform file) will help rub down pieces to the correct size after sawing. A decent electric drill and wood bits will help screws drive in easily and a hammer and strong wood glue will complete a basic tool kit.
If you have kept the wooden windows in your home then regular maintenance is important, and for this you’re likely to want to add a quality set of chisels to your arsenal.
If wood does rot and start to come away then it’s not too difficult to chisel out the soft wood and then keep cutting back until you reach the good stuff.
Cut a replacement piece (you might find a vice or a ‘workmate’ bench a helpful acquisition for this bit) and glue it into place. Rub over with fine sandpaper before painting it to match the rest of the frame.
Other areas where wood is used inside the home are doors and their frames, skirting boards, and decorative trims and mouldings.
Doors can be tricky; if a hole has been knocked in a door, then whether or not it can be repaired depends on the construction. If it’s a modern panel door then it might be possible to remove the damaged panel and replace it, or repair it from the rear then refit and paint over.
An older solid door can be repaired but you are likely to have to take the door off its hinges and completely disassemble it, possibly not a job that an amateur would want to undertake.
For simpler jobs, such as sticking doors, then a bit of work with sandpaper in the right area should solve the problem.
Nadgery Bits Inside the Home
If other woodwork is damaged then it’s fairly easy to pick up matching pieces in a large DIY store. This is a good deal easier than repairing a window because, unless you can’t find a matching profile, you can simply cut a piece to length and stick or nail it in place.
If you are unlucky, then try and get a piece that is as close as possible to the original and either add or file away wood in the appropriate areas until it matches.
This is tedious and time-consuming, as it means constantly checking against the original, but doing a quick and dirty job that doesn’t quite match will show up more than you think.
You might consider cutting a replacement piece from a section that’s not often seen, for example behind the sofa, if it’s a skirting board, then putting the incorrect one back there.
Tiling is all about preparation. If the section of wall that you are going to tile is not flat, tiling it will make it show up even more.
It’s essential to smooth and flatten the wall as much as possible. Then make sure that it is clean and dry, or the tiles will not stick to the surface.
Tiling used to be done using matchsticks to keep the gaps between the tiles consistent while the glue dried.
These days plastic cross-shaped spacers make that part of the job a lot easier. Other tools that you might need are a notched adhesive spreader, which is often included with the glue, a sharp tile-cutter and perhaps a nibbler if you are going to have to cut out some complex shapes to go around pipes and the like.
Tile cutting jigs are available that help you with the scoring and cutting of tiles and if you’ve got a big job on it might be worth hiring or buying one of these.
Get it Straight First Time
The most important thing is to start from a known straight and level line, and beware, as most easily available lines, such as bath edges or skirting boards, are not level.
Using a spirit level as a guide, lightly nail a length of batten to the wall one tile’s height above the starting point.
Then and apply enough adhesive to cover no more than about one square metre and place the tiles on the wall, pressing firmly and using the spacers between each tile.
Wipe off excess adhesive from the tiles with a damp cloth as you go, to get it off before it hardens. When you get to edges where a whole tile won’t fit, score the tile and place it over a couple of matches or a pencil and snap it along the line.
This will probably go wrong the first few times but after a while you’ll get the hang of it. Smooth the cut edge with a file before sticking it on.
To go around pipes and other fittings, use tile nibblers or drill holes in the tiles of the appropriate diameter. If you need to cut a hole in a tile, stick a piece of masking tape over the tile, which will stop the drill bit slipping before it can start the hole.
Once you’ve finished, take your guide battens off the walls and fill the remaining spaces.
Grout Finishes it Off
Once all the tiles are on the wall, leave the job for at least twelve hours to dry, then return to do the grouting. Grout is similar to tile adhesive but sets harder and is worked into the gaps between the tiles using a sponge or a squeegee. Wipe away the excess as you go before it dries on the tiles.
To finish off properly, take a thin rounded tool such as the handle of a wooden spoon or a lollypop stick and run it down and along all the gaps between the tiles. This will not only look good but also encourage water to run off the tiles.
It’s Worth Taking Care
So there it is, not rocket science but simple steps, which, if taken carefully, will deliver a professional-looking finish. Whether you’re selling on for a profit or renovating your own home, it’s the sort of effort that is well worthwhile.