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Home Improvement Advice from Experts

Every week, our panel of Expert tradesmen take some time out from their work to help people solve their home improvement problems up and down the country. Whether it’s heating engineers advising about boiler faults or kitchen specialists commenting on joint and sink measurements, we’ve got things covered.

With plenty of home improvement questions coming through, we thought we’d share some of the answers with you – just in case the same questions leave you at a loss now or in the future.


Q. Can you plaster on a lined paper ceiling?

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Alan wanted to re-plaster his ceiling but wasn’t sure if he could do this over the top of the ceiling as it stood. Our Experts spoke with a unanimous no. As Karl Hockless of Martin James Property Services explained, this is because “the paper will come away from the ceiling due to the moisture in the plaster.” Instead, he and another 8 experts recommend stripping the wallpaper from the ceiling, before sealing it with PVA and skimming it to finish.

Carpet fitting

Q. Can carpet be fitted before skirting boards are fitted?

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Janice’s question is one we can all sympathise with. When you’re indulging in a home makeover, it can be tricky knowing which job to do first. Some people like to paint walls before they lay new flooring for example, in order to reduce the likelihood of any paint dripping onto the floor – however well it’s covered. When it comes to carpets and skirting boards, the advice is to fit the skirting boards first.

Alan Morris explains that “carpets can be fitted before skirtings but the only thing to consider is the skirting will be on top of the carpet”. The problem comes in the future when “if the carpet needs restretching it won’t be possible and also when you come to replace it you will need to cut it out from under the skirting” .


Q. I have just bought a house that I intend to rent out. I am spending every evening working on it and I have noticed that the lights occasionally flicker. It happens on both the upstairs and downstairs circuits. Some evenings I have noticed that the lights do not flicker at all. The house has only recently been rewired this year. It is all very confusing, does any one have any idea as to what it might be?

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Ian’s electrical problem was put down to loose connections in the lighting circuits within the consumer unit – although to be sure, our Experts recommended having an electrician come out to check unless he felt qualified to carry this out himself.

Chris of Chrispol electrical services advises that “the main reason for flicking lights is the voltage drop” caused by poor connections, while Darren Gotts of Darren Gotts Electrician offers a different explanation – the possibility that the house is “near the end of a long run of cable coming from the dno, electricity networks”. The advice is clear – the voltage is being affected by poor connections somewhere so solving the problem lies in identifying where the connection isn’t operating as it should.

To browse more questions and answers, head over to the Ask an Expert section. If you can’t find the answer to your question, why not post your own and wait for our Experts to get in touch.

Looking for tradesmen you can trust to help with a home improvement project? 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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  1. I also think i have connection problems in my home cause the light always flickers even when i change the bulbs. I think i have to consider getting an electrician to check it out. Thanks.

  2. I have an old conservatory on the back of my house which measures 3.2M deep and 4.2M wide which needs the roof replacing. I would like to know what I can do to it without the need for planning permission. I was planning on raising the roof and fitting a flat GRP roof also I would like to clad it in western red cedar and insulate in so It can become a usable room all year round. I have no intentions on removing the existing door from the house into it. Is this going to be possible? If not, what if anything can I do without planning permission?

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