I received an e-mail this week, with pictures of handy tips, and will pass on a few of the building-related ones.
* Place a rubber band vertically around an open paint can to wipe your brush on, and keep paint off the side of the can. The band goes length wise over the can, so you have one strip of elastic across the top.
* If, like me, you end with bruised fingers and thumbs when you knock in nails, use a comb to keep a nail steady for hammering – place the nail between the teeth of the comb and off you go.
* When drilling holes to hang up the family portraits, use a Post-it note to catch drilling debris. Simply fold the Post-it in half to form a right angle and stick it on to the wall, under the place where you’re going to drill.
Questions and answers
The questions have come flooding in, which really makes writing the column a pleasure.
John writes: In my bathroom the white ceiling above the shower is blackened with mildew, particularly in winter. I have washed it down with sugar soap and, when dry, have repainted it with Plascon one-coat ceiling paint. I have also tried Plascon Velvaglo Satin Sheen. Still the mildew comes back again the next autumn. I would welcome suggestions.
Answer: We’ve tackled this problem a couple of times. I have left the trade names in, because it is certainly not a problem with the paint.
Mould will grow in bathrooms which are not ventilated properly, and the ceiling over the shower is the most vulnerable point, with lots of hot air and steam, a great breeding ground for fungus.
Step one is to ensure proper ventilation. This can be as easy as leaving the bathroom window open to ensure that steam is not trapped, adding a couple of air bricks to the external wall, or installing an extractor fan, either into the wall or ceiling, the most costly option, but the most efficient.
Sugar soap is a mild cleaning agent, great for removing stains, especially smoke, but you need an agent that is going to eliminate the mould spores, such as a bleach, diluted pool acid or one of the commercial anti-fungicide washes. Make sure you follow the appropriate safety instructions.
When repainting apply a coat of traffic paint first and follow with a high sheen paint – these tend to be more dense and will not have pockets for the fungi to grow in.
And another John writes: A clay tile roof has not been cleaned for about 15 years and has a black soot- like deposit discolouring the original orange/red colour. It does not brush off and a water pressure jet has been suggested. Apart from water wastage there is a risk of over spray on neighbour’s walls. Is there a product which will restore the original colour and which can be brushed on, labour intensive as that may be? I have something like Jik or spirits of salt in mind.
Answer:John, you are not going to like this answer, but if you have a genuine clay tile roof that is not leaking, let sleeping dogs lie. Unsightly as it may be, the minute you start fiddling, it is going to start leaking.
Most clay tile roofs in Cape Town are reaching the end of their lives, replacement tiles are hard to come by and, even if you can find them, they are past their sell-by-date.
If you want to attempt a cleaning process, it must be carried out with no pressure applied to the tiles. The cleaner would need to work off a ladder, resting on the ridge and gutter. Cleaning should be carried out with a small brush, very carefully. If this is successful the roof could be painted with roof paint, but again extreme care must be taken.
Check inside your roof void, and if the clay tiles are starting to crumble and leave deposits of dust on the ceiling, then leave them alone.
Clinton has a slightly different problem: Re your article about African mahogany and squeaking. We have church pews that are prone to the same curse. How can we limit the squeak of the pews when one sits and /or fidgets during sermons?
Answer: This is a problem many churches have and generally speaking it’s due to age. When a church was built before modern construction methods came into play, the timber benches would have been securely attached to a new and solid timber suspended floor. Over time the floor will begin to sag, the joints between the benches and floors will loosen, and because of continual use, the joints in the benches themselves will become loose.
At some stage everything will probably need to be replaced, but in the interim I would suggest you find out if you have a couple of retired carpenters or joiners in the congregation who could check every joint and glue them up, re-secure with bolts or screws, or fit angle brackets to stop movement. - Weekend Argus