Category Archives: Home maintenance

How easy is DIY home insulation?

home-insulationWith the air finally turning chilly after the mild start to winter, thoughts are turning to how best to keep homes cosy and warm. One of the surest ways to retain heat is to fully insulate your property – but should you call in the professionals or do it yourself?

Several areas around the home can benefit from insulation, such as cavity walls, solid walls, flooring, roofs and attic space. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a quarter of energy in an uninsulated house is lost through the roof, so there is no doubt that good insulation can shave pounds off your energy bills. Paying a professional to install insulation in a detached home costs, on average, £395, with savings of around £240 every year afterwards.

Do it yourself home insulation

It is possible to fit loft insulation yourself if you’re a natural at DIY and the space is easy to get to, isn’t damp and doesn’t have a flat roof. One of the most common types of insulation is batt or blanket insulation, which comes in rolls of foil-backed glass, rock, felt or mineral fibre. The insulation should be at least 270mm thick and is easy to install.

Note that if you’re laying down boards in order to use the attic for storage, it isn’t enough to simply insulate between the joists first. One option is to insulate between the joists before laying rigid insulation boards on top, with wooden boards on top again. Alternatively, you can raise the level of the floor, fitting the insulation underneath. Take care not to squash the insulation with the boards, as this will make it less effective.

If your loft or attic is to be used as a room, it’s advisable to insulate the roof itself, rather than the floorboards, by fixing rigid insulation boards between the rafters. The boards should fit snugly and can then be covered with insulated plasterboard.

floor-insulationInsulating the floor is also a job you can tackle yourself, especially if underneath the floorboards is a cellar or basement that you can get to. Check first that joists are in good condition and fit the insulation between them, then fix plasterboard to the undersides of the joists to create a basement ‘ceiling’. For even more warmth, a layer of rigid insulation can be fitted beneath this ceiling too.

When replacing the floorboards, seal any gaps between and around them before laying carpet or adding rugs.

When to hire a professional home insulation installer

If your loft is damp or has a flat roof, you will need to call in a professional. Similarly, cavity wall insulation is not something you can do yourself and you will have to hire a registered installer. According to the EST, an uninsulated house loses around two thirds of its heat through the walls, so cavity wall insulation is a worthwhile investment that takes about two hours and leaves no mess.

To find an insulation installer in your area, contact the National Insulation Association, whose members agree to follow a code of professional practice to ensure excellent customer service. Historic England, Historic Scotland and Cadw can advise on insulating a traditionally made property.

home-insulationHome insulation grants

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get help with the cost of insulating your home. Take a look at the Government’s energy grants calculator to see if you’re eligible.

How to… freshen up your front door


First impressions count, and you can transform a tired entrance is with just a little imagination and elbow grease. Just follow our easy steps and you’ll be proud to shut the front door!

1. If possible, take the door of its hinges. If you’re unable to do this, you can still prep and paint it in situ.

2. Remove the door’s hardware, such as the letterbox and handle, or use masking tape to cover them and any panels that you may want to paint a different colour.

3. Clean the door thoroughly with a damp cloth.

4. Apply two coats of primer – an undercoat of paint that will protect your door and prevent the topcoat flaking and cracking.

5. Use a fine sandpaper to sand down the door, brushing away the dust with an old paintbrush.

6. Apply the first topcoat with a brush or a roller, painting with the grain of the wood. Always choose a quality paint for a beautiful finish and durability; cheaper paints can prove a false economy! Ronseal’s 10-year Weatherproof Wood Paint is drip resistant and comes in 15 classic colours such as Racing Green, Dark Oak and Chestnut, in either a gloss or satin finish.

7. Apply a second and further coats if necessary. The darker the paint, the more work needed!

8. Using a mini roller, paint the inside and top edges of the door.

9. If you have a panel door and want to paint the trims and grooves in an alternative colour, wait for the base coat to dry before masking around and inside the panels. Paint the trim with an angled brush, applying a second coat if needed.

10. Remove the masking tape and screw the letterbox, knocker, handle and doorbell back in place. Polish the fittings and voila – your front door is ready and waiting for guests to make an entrance!

Image courtesy of Ronseal



Make a date with DIY this spring!


Regular readers might remember our January round-up of home, garden and building show dates for your diary. With the show season now well underway, it’s time for Part II – so here are the must-visit events in April, May and June!

The Gadget Show Live, NEC, Birmingham

Now in its seventh year, the Gadget Show is the perfect way to round off the Easter holidays! With the chance to see, try and buy the latest in cutting edge technology, this event showcases the best of British innovation, as well as staging gaming tournaments and talks and shows in the Super Theatre.

April 7-12, adults £25, children (5-12) £20,

The RHS Flower Show, Cardiff

Spring will well and truly bloom at Wales’ premier flower show, with gardening tips from Royal Horticultural Society experts, exciting family activities and, of course, thousands of plants! Talks and demos will take place in the theatre, whilst the show will be split into three main themed areas – plants, people and places. The RHS Flower Show takes place in Bute Park, just outside the walls of Cardiff’s historic castle and with the largest number of ‘champion’ trees in any public park in the UK.

April 17-19, RHS members, £7.50, public £8.50 (two under-16s free with every paying adult),

The Cornwall Home & Lifestyle Show, Wadebridge

Cornwall’s only home, garden and living exhibition, at the Royal Cornwall Showground, brings together the best products and services in interiors, homeware, gardens and architecture. The 150+ exhibitors include renewable energy firms, letting agents and food and drinks vendors, and there’ll also be a health and wellbeing zone. And, if you book online in advance, it’s free!

May 2-3, free in advance or £3 per person or £5 per couple on the door (children free),

Grand Designs Live, ExCel Centre, London

The show of the year for fans of the long-running C4 series (not to mention presenter Kevin McCloud!), this huge event has it all. The interiors hall has inspiration from every room in the house, from essential kitchens and bathrooms to luxury games room. In the Grand Village, visitors can take in unique and innovative architecture and see the latest in eco-friendly design, whilst experts, celebrities and real life Grand Designs case studies will share their experiences in the Grand Theatre.

May 2-10, from £12 (under-15s free),

All Energy Exhibition & Conference, SECC, Glasgow

After 14 years in Aberdeen, the UK’s largest renewables show for professionals is moving to Glasgow during the city’s Green Year. Featuring more than 450 suppliers and with more than 400 high-profile speakers, the exhibition includes a Sustainable Cities Zone, a number of conference theatres, a Meet the Buyers ‘share fair’, where developers will explain what they look for during their tendering processes, and an Energy Storage Visitor Trail. And don’t miss the Low Carbon Transport Zone, where visitors looking for personal or company vehicles can take a ride in a number of display cars.

May 6-7, free to register in advance,

The Homebuilding & Renovating Show, SECC, Glasgow

The second of seven Homebuilding Shows throughout the UK in 2015, this Glasgow date comes hot on the heels of the All Energy Exhibition and in the same venue. It’s an essential date for anyone planning to create their dream home, either from scratch or by remodelling or extending an existing property. A one-stop shop of ideas and advice, this show includes inspiration for gardens and has experts from Homebuilding and Renovating magazine ready to answer your questions.

May 16-17, from £8 in advance,

RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea, London

garden-showThe RHS staged its first ‘Great Spring Show’ in Kensington in 1862, before moving to Chelsea in the early 20th century. Since then, this world-renowned show in the grounds of the Royal Hospital has become the place for horticulturalists to exhibit, with displays becoming increasingly inventive year on year. 2015 marks the return of award-winning designer Jo Thompson, who is creating a romantic retreat inspired by the writing room of author Vita Sackville-West. Prince Harry’s charity, Sentebale, will also create a garden, whilst the RHS Discovery Zone in the Great Pavilion is a great place to head to with children. They can even turn astro-biologists courtesy of ‘Rocket Science’, a project with the UK Space Agency encouraging youngsters to plant rocket seeds that have been to the International Space Station!

May 19-23, from £24 for non-RHS members,

Salvo Fair, Henley-on-Thames

This outdoor show at Fawley Hill is a mecca for homeowners with an eye for all things vintage. The UK’s largest architectural salvage fair, it’s a treasure trove of home and garden antiques, industrial products, upcycled goods, reclaimed material and retro items. New for 2015 is ‘Tiny Salvaged Spaces’, an exhibition of summerhouses, wagons and shepherds’ huts. Note that Friday, June 26 is trade day.

June 27-28, £8 in advance or £9 on the day, or £29/£32 for a family ticket,,_architectural_salvage_and_reclaimed_materials_fair_in_Henley_on_Thames.html

Main image courtesy of the Homebuilding & Renovation Show