Decorating and tools

A major home improvements project demands the use of a number of comparatively specialized tools for use with masonry and plaster. First on the list comes a 2kg club hammer and steel bolster for breaking up masonry and stripping old plaster. For raking out mortar joints and removing individual bricks, however, you may find a cold chisel or plugging chisel handier.

Laying mortar for brickwork calls for a bricklayer’s trowel, and a steel float is essential when applying and smoothing render coats—whether mortar or plaster.

When renovating woodwork such as a door or window frame, you will almost certainly need a shave hook to strip old paint and lacquer, and a putty knife or filling knife for applying filler to a timber surface or putty to a window frame.

Other tools

As well as the tools mentioned above, you will find some others extremely useful. Chief among these is a pair of pliers: the most common are the bull-nosed (line man’s) variety, but needle-nosed (long-nosed) pliers are extremely handy for electrical work. Buy a pair with a slot along the side of the jaws for cutting wire and a small blade for stripping cable insulation.

Self-locking pliers—such as a Mole wrench—are also useful when dealing with nuts, bolts, and compression joints in pipework. They can be adjusted to lock around a variety of nut and bolt head sizes and can be left in position while you go to do something else.

For plumbing work a pipe wrench is essential as most self-locking pliers and spanners are too small for the larger types of screwed connection. If you anticipate doing a great deal of plumbing work two pipe wrenches would be handy for large compression joints.

You will probably also find a small set of combined ring/open-ended spanners useful: these can be used in conjunction with pliers and pipe wrenches to secure or dismantle many household appliances. Buy them in a set ranging in size from 5mm up to about 20mm.

One of the first things you will need when you come to apply paint or paper to a wall or ceiling is a sturdy step ladder.

Choose one which allows you to reach the ceiling without stretching, and which has a good-sized step at the top on which you can safely stand without kicking pots of paint or paste on to the floor. Do not buy scaffold boards-you can hire these and extra step ladders when you need them.

A general-purpose wallpaper brush is a prerequisite in decorating as is a selection of paint brushes. Buy a 25mm brush for fine work and retouching, and 50mm and 100mm brushes for covering larger areas. A 300mm roller and paint tray are handier for applying paint quickly and evenly over large areas.

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