Expert Home Improvement Advice

Improving your home isn’t always as straightforward as you would like it to be. If it was, many of our tradesmen would be out of jobs! Sometimes it’s clear that you need to hire a professional tradesman but there are moments in life when you might just benefit from some Expert advice, whether that’s in the place of hiring someone or simply to give you more insight into the improvement before you bring in a tradesman to help.

Our Ask an Expert section is designed to help you connect with tradesmen. From plumbers to painters and decorators, we have Experts sitting across 27 categories who are ready to answer those puzzling home improvement queries and put your mind at rest. It would be impossible to recap all of the questions here, but here’s a sample of my favourites from the past two weeks. If you’re looking for decking advice or help on treating damp wood, you’re in luck. If not, have a quick read anyway. You never know when it might come in handy!

Home improvement questions and answers

replacing flagstones

Caroline asked our Experts for advice on when would be the best time to replace decking as well as replacing flagstones with grass. If you’re thinking of doing the same, the advice was clear. When working with turf, go ahead and lay it at the beginning of the year but if your new grass requires seeding, it’s best to wait until March as the lack of sun and frequent rainy weather will stunt its growth. The decking meanwhile can be worked on at any point in the year, however Steve Birch recommends waiting until around the beginning of April if concrete is being used as fresh material is liable to crack in frosty conditions.

home improvement

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artex removal

When treating artex on the ceiling, our Experts advise hiring a specialist tradesman to look it over before attempting to cover it up or remove it. As Bruce Bellingham explains, artex used to be made with asbestos (until the mid 1980’s) so before you attempt any project, you need to have it surveyed to be sure that you’re dealing with it in a safe way. If asbestos is present, there’s no need to take the coating off. You can give the ceiling a coating of PVA glue, before skimming over it with plaster to finish. It can be taken off with a steam stripper but again, make sure that you know what you’re dealing with. When there’s the chance that asbestos is present, you should always hire in a tradesman trained to work with the dangerous material.

home improvement advice

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wood door expansion

Once wood has expanded, would you know how to shrink it back to its original size? John Cunningham and Rodney Smith explain that homeowners like Kimberley would need to leave the door to re-adjust of its own accord and make sure that there’s no chance of water continuing to damage it in the meantime. As Mostafa Tavengar points out, the door can be planed to reduce its size, but it will still shrink once it has dried out. The consensus seems to be to leave the door or plane a very little amount off of it to ensure that you’re not left with the opposite problem – a door that’s too small rather than too big. Rodney also has a tip which he’s kindly revealed  – try to position heating near the door (I imagine to speed up the drying process).

home improvement tips

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Do you have a question for our Experts? Whether you would like the advice of a roofer or a security specialist, visit our Ask an Expert section and direct your question to the relevant category.

Looking for tradesmen you can trust? Post your job on Rated People and up to three tradesmen will get in touch to quote on your job. You’ll be able to view their individual profiles, complete with previous customer recommendations, to help you decide who to hire.

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