Whatever unique or creative treatment they design for their patients the Hippocratic Oath stands as the first and most important pillar to guide their decision. Do No Harm. The treatment maybe be routine or experimental but whatever it is it should…do no harm.
I think the same oath should guide us in repairing and restoring old homes whether you are a professional or a weekend warrior. You may not be the greatest painter or glazier or carpenter, but if you can be guided by the premise to “Do No Harm” then whatever work you do is of immense value.
Thoughts For Homeowners
You don’t have to be Tom Silva to maintain an old house, but I do think you should have a sense of being a caretaker for the next generation. Your old house has already survived the generations before you and it is your responsibility to keep it intact for the next generation.
If you are the one who tears out the original windows and gets vinyl replacements then that is like amputating your home’s hands and leaving it crippled for the next owner. Window replacement is not only dropping an architectural A-bomb on your house, it is also the financial equivalent of paydays loans. Read the facts about window replacement here.
If you are worried about doing something wrong then thank your lucky stars for the internet. Go to google or search right here on the blog for information about the work you need done. There are answers out there to be found if you look for them.
I will tell you that there are some places to be assured you will get the wrong answers. Rarely have I heard sage advice in the aisles of Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Menard’s. These are not historic restoration folks. They don’t understand old buildings and their quirks. Look elsewhere.
What can you do?
Do no harm. Extend the life, make a temporary fix. It may not be pretty but sometimes the best solution is a band-aid or a tourniquet. That is what will keep the patient alive long enough to get it to the doctor. And there are old house doctors in almost every town across the country.
If you have trouble finding someone local visit my Directory. I’ve listed hundreds of companies that know how to take care of old buildings to help you find the right person for the job.
The easiest way to keep something alive if you are completely un-handy is to put a coat f paint on it to keep it protected from the elements. Paint can always be removed or changed so it’s a safe way to protect exterior elements.
Thoughts For Professionals
We should be held to a higher standard, shouldn’t we? We should also accept homeowners where they are. Maybe someone stabilized an old window with caulk and L brackets. Maybe they patched siding with spray foam. Homeowners make mistakes just like we did when we started and we should be there to help them learn and help fix what they don’t understand how to do.
We should also think about the next guy when we do a repair or restoration. Don’t use materials or techniques that make our work difficult to follow or repair in the future, because yes even our amazing work will need to be repaired by the next guy and he will either love us or hate us.
The carpenter that uses 60 nails along with a tube of liquid nails to put on a baseboard is no friend of mine. Don’t be that guy!
You may think you know better than all the rest of us, but think of the quality of work you did 5 years ago or God forbid 10 years ago! How good did you think you were then? Have you changed anything since then? Do you prep your paint jobs a little better due to what you’ve learned? Do you use better wood? Better paint? Better techniques?
I sure hope you are growing in your craft so before you think you have perfected your techniques think again and realize you, and all the rest of us, are still making mistakes that someone will have to fix later.
It’s all fine as long as you Do No Harm. I would say that if your work cannot be reversed then you are doing harm. If you are throwing away an original piece of a historic building then you are doing harm.
It’s time to hold ourselves to a higher standard and that standard is simple. Do No Harm.
Say you’ve got an old house full of old hardware that has developed a nice patina over the years, but you have a few missing or broken pieces of hardware. Maybe a missing window latch, a door escutcheon, and a couple finger lifts. You can always find replacement hardware no problem, but the chances of it matching the color of your old stuff are pretty slim.
I’ve fought this battle for years in my business. I’ve bought the oil-rubbed bronze faux finishes available at hardware supplier only to scratch the surface or scuff the screws and then they don’t match anymore. I’ve spray painted which never looks quite the same, plus it gums up movable parts.
A couple years ago I started experimenting with bronze aging solutions. I’ve tried a bunch of them and customized them to get the right finishes we need for our projects and finally came up with a good formula that does almost everything we need for aging hardware.
It wasn’t until one of my crew mentioned that I should sell it that it even crossed my mind. So, after a little packing and finalizing the formula I’m happy to offer you my new bronze and brass aging solution which is my custom blend called Austin’s The Patinator.
How The Patinator Works
Aging solutions are very simple. They consist of a variety of acid compounds that greatly increase the speed at which the metal ages. Kind of like soaking iron in salt water but on steroids. You soak in an aging solution to cause the metal to age in minutes what would otherwise take years or decades.
You’ll need just a few items to age your hardware to a nice patina.
Step 1 Prep
Make sure your hardware is clean of any sealer or lacquer. A lot of new bronze hardware is sealed with lacquer to keep it from aging which will also keep The Patinator from doing its job. You can use lacquer thinner and steel wool if it does have this protective layer on it. How do you know if your hardware has been lacquered? Dip it into Patinator and if after 10-20 seconds you don’t notice any color change then it likely has been sealed. If you are aging older hardware then make sure there is no paint or other gunk built up on the surface.
Put your gloves and safety glasses on and get ready to age some hardware.
Step 2 Pour Up Your Soaking Bins
Fill one container with aging solution deep enough that the hardware will be submerged and fill the other with rinse water to the same height. You can pour the used Patinator back into the bottle when you are all done and use it over and over again even though the liquid will have darkened.
Step 3 Soak & Rinse
The Patinator works fast so you will likely not need to keep the hardware submerged for more than 30 second to 1 minute. If you want a slower working time you can dilute it with water to suit your needs.
Place as much or as little hardware as you can handle into the solution and mix it around to make sure every part is coated well. Let it soak until you have reached the color you desire, and immediately remove the hardware from the aging solution and place it in the water to stop the reaction. Again mix things around to make sure all sides are cleaned.
Don’t forget to do the screws too so everything matches unless you like those shiny bronze screw heads against old dark bronze like I do.
Step 4 Wipe Off
Wipe the hardware down with a cotton rag to get the excess residue off. You’ll be left with a satin sheen and a living finish that will continue to age naturally. You just gave it a head start!Click to view slideshow.
What If I Mess Up?
If you went too far with the aging process don’t fret. You can use a wire wheel or steel wool to clean off the patina and start again until you get the right appearance. It’s best to test just one piece so you can get a feel for the timing and results before committing a whole batch of hardware to The Patinator. It can be polished off just like rust on old steel.
I hope this new product helps you get that restoration job done faster, easier and better than before. I know this will give you professional results just like we get at our company. You can buy your bottle of The Patinator in our store. Stay tuned for more good stuff coming out every month!
Spring, Spring, Spring! Have I mentioned that word enough on the blog lately? I'm so bloody thankful Spring is here! For me, it means one main thing - gardening. I absolutely love gardening, more than I love painting walls (which if you don't know, is a freaking lot!). I'm not going to lie - I'm no professional gardener. I have a lot to learn, but my garden is my "happy place". Dust cannot accumulate, mess is easily hidden thanks to the alley at the back (much to our neighbours dismay, I'm sure!) and it's just a pretty place to sit and listen to birds and silence. Who am I kidding, it's mostly the dogs yapping and kids screaming in the background. But I don't mind any of that on a beautifully sunny day!
With the Sunday prior to the Easter weekend pinned as "First Cut Sunday", Flymo sent me their new lawnmower, the Mighti-Mo 300 Li to review for this years first garden trim! And just take a look at this grass - it was in a SERIOUS need of a mow!
I think a well cut lawn can actually make or break a garden. Overgrown plants can be quite attractive at times and even weeds can be passed off in a "wild garden" theme. But a long lawn is just untidy and a serious nuisance when it comes to picking up dog poop. (Sorry if that's TMI!) Of all the 'around the house' jobs I'm likely to slack at - mowing the lawn is not one of them. I love a short lawn, one that almost looks carpet-like and since our grass grows crazy quick, I end up doing plenty of mowing over the Spring/Summer months and I actually rather enjoy it! So I was pretty chuffed to be able to review this new mower and was especially excited about it, because it's freaking cordless! Douglas was also pretty excited and was insistent on being in this shot...
He does however make for a good size comparison - and as you can see, it's pretty small and compact! Which aside from being cordless, is one of the other main features. Setting up the mower was a complete doddle, all you have to do is attach the handles in two places (no tools required!) and slot the grass compartment together. It's super quick and easy and there was very little instructions to read.
So as I mentioned before, it's cordless! Which means it is powered by a battery. A pretty huge battery! It only came half charged, but took just under an hour to charge the rest, which I was actually really impressed by! The battery slots into the top of the lawnmower and has a clever 'key' which locks and unlocks it in place. There was no time indication of how long the battery would last for - only that it can mow an entire tennis court on one single charge (equivalent to 250sqm!). I've managed to use the battery twice without charging it so far and I'm pretty certain I'll be able to get a third use out of it as well. Which is GREAT if you're forgetful at charging up devices like I am ;)
Being compact in size does mean that the grass box isn't as big as our old mowers and what we're used to, so it does need emptying a little more often. For a lawn of our size, I had to empty it 2 and a half times, but obviously this is dependant on how long the grass is too! The plus side to being smaller (although it does still have a reasonable 30L capacity!) is that it does keep the mower light (our old one would sometimes go off-balance as the box filled up) and it's also easier to empty. Not just because it's lighter, but also because the emptying compartment is narrow enough to perfectly into a rubble bag without spilling the grass everywhere, which was greatly appreciated I can tell you! The only improvement I'd have to liked to see, is some kind of indication to when the grass box is full. Our old mower had a little flap that poked up with restricted airflow. This one doesn't have anything so you do have to be "on it" yourself as to when you need to empty the box.
For the first mow of the season, it's always best to set the mower to its highest cut before working your way down, making sure never to cut the grass more than half its height. Obviously our first cut was set at the highest cut, but the mover can in fact cut at 5 different varying heights from 65-25mm, which is perfect for different times of the year. Although I like my grass short, in summer when there's less rain it's important not to go too short in case of scorching the grass, so it's always good to have that option. The mower also uses a proper metal blade (opposed to plastic ones) which Grant was very much pleased about it. It means it can be sharpened without having to buy a new one, should it blunt over the years.
In terms of how the mower actually cuts, I was really quite impressed. It definitely mows closer to any walls/obstructions than our old one and it's much much quieter too. It's so easy to manoeuvre and it still leaves the 'mowing lines' which I personally really like to see. It doesn't however have a built-in roller, so if you like your grass flattened, you would have to do that separately. But in my experience of built-in rollers, they're usually plastic and not that great anyway.
I probably wouldn't recommend this mower if you have a very very big garden (in which case, get yourself a ride-on-mower already!) but for an average-sized garden, it's fab and it really does make mowing the lawn so much quicker and easier to do. There's no folding up the cord, stopping/starting to move the cord, faffing about with an oversized grass box (and grass going everywhere!) and you don't have to struggle getting it in/out of storage. Basically, it just makes life that little bit easier.
Here's some photos of our garden after its second cut this year (I was keen to get it shorter pretty fast!). You can see our garden does still need a bit of work but it's certainly looking bright and Spring green already! Doesn't a freshly mowed lawn just make so much difference?
To summarise everything up, incase you're a TLDR ("too long, didn't read") kinda person:
If you can't already tell, my overall verdict is that it's a bloomin' great mower. It's certainly a cheap mower (retails around £199), but I believe a mower is an investment and buying a good one will last for many many years. I loved not having to battle with a cord and it really makes an everyday chore quick and simple and leaves you really no excuse to not get the job done! I genuinely think cordless is the future for all things electrical, but this one is a practicality miracle that makes you wonder "why aren't ALL mowers like this?!". If you'd like to see more of its specs - you can check the mower out on Amazon here.
Do you have a cordless mower and love it as much as I do? Or maybe you have some first-cut of the season tips to share? I'm a keen gardener always looking for some much-needed advice!
*Lawnmower was gifted by Flymo for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are genuine and my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog!
We're always talking about DIY and renovating. How to make a home better, how to rip out walls, pull of tiles, smash up a kitchen, tear up the floor - you get the picture. But what often doesn't get talked about are the dangers behind a renovation. There's many, but the most hidden and potentially dangerous of them all, is Asbestos. It's a word you've probably heard of, but do you know what it is? What it does? What it looks like? Where you can find it? Well, if you're renovating a house - you really need to know this stuff.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a material that was used in the building sector for many many years. A whole 50+ in fact. Back in the day, it was regarded as a new-found amazing material and the dangers behind it were completely unknown. It's resilient, durable, has great insulating properties and it's fire-resistant too - it was the perfect building material. Years passed and people who had been working with asbestos started developing health problems, and only then was the discovery made at how dangerous this stuff really is. Asbestos is a material that once broken, releases fibres into the air. Tiny tiny fibres that cannot be seen with the naked eye - but they're sharp and in-bed themselves into your lungs once breathed in. They cannot be removed and they will sit there, forever. In small quantities, this is little threat - but in larger amounts (although exact measurements are unknown!) eventually these fibres can cause problems like mesothelioma (a type of cancer) and asbestosis (scarring of the lungs, causing problems breathing). Essentially and sadly all asbestos-related illnesses are currently incurable and most are fatal.
Asbestos is still currently the UK's biggest workplace killer, since it's tradespeople on building sites every day who are most at risk. But of course, if you're a DIYer or renovating, you're also at risk. Thousands people each year die from Asbestos-related illnesses and as such, it's so freaking important, as renovators we know about it. Where to look for it, the dangers of it, and how to handle it.
Does Your Home Have Asbestos?
In short, most probably. It wasn't mentioned by a surveyor when you bought the house? That does not mean your house is asbestos free. In fact, I'd say it's more reason for concern. Asbestos can be hiding far beneath the depths of a room than what a surveyor can see on his hour-long investigation. Any home that was built before 2000 may contain asbestos - that's a freaking lot of homes and one statistic I read suggested that around 2 in 4 houses in the UK still have asbestos in them. Unless you have guarantees your home is asbestos-free, I would treat any home as if it may have some lurking somewhere within it, especially if your home hasn't been renovated in recent years.
What Does Asbestos Look Like?
My grandparents had an asbestos roof on their garage, so for that reason I always thought of asbestos being a grey corrugated sheet. It is in fact, much more than that. And put simply, it does not look like one single thing - in fact, it has a whole range of disguises, which makes it all the more tricky to identify. Lots of materials "look like" asbestos and whilst there are many materials that look like it, they may not actually be it. So whatever pre-conceptions you might have of how asbestos "looks" - you may have been misled. Asbestos cannot be identified by naked eye alone, so it's more important to know how it was used and where you're likely to find it within the home, than how it "looks". That being said, here are some photos of asbestos found around the home.
Where Can You Find Asbestos in the Home?
As I said previously, asbestos is great for insulation and a great material for fire-resistance. This is already giving us some clues to its use, but here's a run down of all the places you may find asbestos within in the home. This list is not limited, and do please bare in mind - much like timber or MDF, DIYers in the past may have used it for a whole range of other uses not mentioned.
On the Roof - This can often be found in two forms - corrugated sheets and roof tiles often used over garages and sheds.
In the loft - Asbestos was used a loose insulation and usually looks like fluffy cotton wool in this state. This is the WORST kind of asbestos.
Around Pipes - It was also used as insulating lagging around pipes
On the Bath - Old bath panels can be made from asbestos
On the Floor - Old vinyl floor tiles may be made from asbestos
On the Ceiling - Ceiling tiles may be made from asbestos and it was also often used in artex as well.
On the Outside - Gutters and rainwater pipes may be made from asbestos.
Partition Walls of Sheds/Garages - Asbestos also comes in the form of cement board and may be used in walls of garages and sheds. (we had this kind, which you can see here)
Behind Fireplaces - Asbestos insulation board can be found behind fireplaces
Behind Fuseboards - Insulation board may also be found behind a fuse box
Behind Boilers - Or even behind boilers.
Water Tanks - old water tanks may even be made from it.
As you can see, it can be anywhere and everywhere! It's so important to be aware of where you may come across it, as essentially this alone is the awareness you need to be able to stop and think... Is it asbestos?
What Should You Do if You think You've Found Asbestos?
Don't panic and don't move the damn thing! Asbestos is only a cause for concern when it's disturbed. So if you have a garage roof made from the stuff, that's fine. As long as it's not breaking apart, there's no need to worry. It can stay there for years and years and you'll be absolutely fine. Asbestos in its solid form, is not any cause for concern, it's releasing fibres you need to worry about.
If you think you've damaged some asbestos during a renovation, don't panic either. It certainly doesn't mean you're going to drop dead. Most people who have experienced health problems from asbestos exposure have done so through a pro-longed exposure, so chances are - you're absolutely fine. And don't forget, it takes years and years for any problems to develop (we're talking usually a minimum of 25!), so don't let it torture you either!