Having guests to stay at Christmas? Worried the house is looking tired and lacklustre, or feels draughty?
It’s time to dust off your toolbox and get stuck into some DIY before the merriment begins.
Paint the guest room
Give the guest room a lick of paint, but remember that preparation is everything and may take longer than the finishing touches.
Remove as much furniture from the room as you can before you start, or put items in the centre to give you plenty of room to work around.
Cover everything – carpet, wardrobe and any remaining furniture – with dust sheets or plastic sheeting before you start.
Fill small holes and cracks in the walls. You can buy all sorts of fillers, from multipurpose to quick drying, for different surfaces. Check with your local DIY merchant which one is best for you.
Wipe clean walls using a sponge and warm water. Sand wood, including skirting boards and windowsills, to roughen off old paint so that new paint will adhere to it. Vacuum thoroughly and wipe the wood with a damp cloth after sanding to remove dust. Use a piece of card tucked under the skirting to further protect the carpet once you start painting, along with masking tape where needed.
Water-based paint is fine for walls, while there’s a choice of oil-based and water-based paints for wood surfaces. Primers and undercoats may also be needed for woodwork.
DIY draught excluders
You may have one of those novelty Santa draught excluders to keep your home cosy over the festive season, but it’s worth your while doing a proper job now. That way it will remain warm long after the Christmas decorations have been put away.
Use self-adhesive draught exclusion strips around the door. Measure the strip against the doorframe and cut it to size using scissors. Fit the strip all around the doorframe and the inside edge.
You can use the strips for windows too, securing them around the inside of the opening section of the window.
Replace a toilet seat
Don’t let your guests be caught short on a broken toilet seat. Splash out on a new one.
Measure the exact size of your seat before buying a new one, as there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ standard.
Remove the old seat, loosening the bolts that go through the hinges which connect the seat to the base and unscrewing the nuts underneath it to free the old seat.
Clean the toilet base thoroughly, concentrating on the bolt holes where the old seat was fixed, which may have a build-up of grime.
Line up your new seat, pushing the bolts through the hinges and tightening the nuts to keep the seat in place.
Christmas ornaments, candles and trinkets can look great on a shelf – so put up a new one.
Use an electronic detector to check for pipes and cables before drilling into a wall. Avoid drilling directly above or below a light fitting or power socket as cables are likely to be there.
Make sure the shelf you’re putting up will take the weight of whatever you’re going to put on it. Stud partition walls won’t take as much weight as masonry ones, so aim to fix wall plugs and screws into the strongest part of the stud wall, such as the joists.
Hold the shelf up to the wall and mark where you want the bottom of the shelf to go with a pencil.
Mark the position of the bracket screws, placing the long side of the bracket vertically against the wall and the shorter one under the shelf. Check everything with a spirit level.
Screw in one bracket, then the other, checking they are both level. You will need different size drill bits, depending on the wall’s thickness. Check with your local DIY store for information.
Place the shelf on top and mark where the screws will secure the shelf to the bracket underneath it. Remove the shelf and drill pilot holes for the short screws. Replace the shelf and screw in the fixing screws, securing the bracket to the shelf.
Remember though, if the job looks too complicated, then it’s probably worth getting in a professional.