wall repair patch

a hole in the wallIf a wall repair patch of rendering becomes loose and falls away, or a blister of loose rendering develops, repair it immediately, because the rendering is usually part of the weatherproofing of your home. With a bolster chisel and hammer, hack away the loose, crumbling material back to the brickwork. Begin in the centre of the blister and work outwards towards the edges, until you come to sound material. Similarly, with a bare patch, hack away all round the edge of the hole until you reach sound rendering. Make your own mortar for the repair 1 part of cement to 5 or 6 of sharp sand with a proprietary plasticizer added is a suitable mix or buy a bag of ready-mix and add water. In either case the mortar should be of a stiff consistency. First, treat the bare bricks with a pva building adhesive, mixed and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply the mortar in two stages. Place some on a hawk, hold it close to the wall and push the mortar into the damaged area with a steel float. Just before this first application hardens, scratch its surface in a criss-cross pattern with a knife or the point of a trowel – builders call it the‘scratch coat’. Leave for 24 hours, then apply the finishing coat, making it as similar as possible to the finish of the rest of the wall. For instance, if the wall is smooth, spread out the top coat until it  is slightly higher than the surrounding area. Then draw a batten across the surface of the patch in a sawing motion to remove surplus mortar. Leave it for about an hour to dry, then dampen it with water – you can apply this with an old paint brush – and smooth it off with the steel float.

The other finishes you can achieve, which are listed below, should be worked while the finishing coat is still soft, a few hours after it has been applied. Roughcast has a proportion of coarse aggregate in the final coat, which is thrown (literally) on to the wall as a wet mix, and left untrowelled. Scraped finish is achieved by leaving the final coat to harden for several hours, then scraping it with a tool, such as an old saw blade. Textured finish has the final coat worked with a trowel or even an old banister brush. Stippled effect, too, is created with a soft banister or dustpan brush. Wavy effect is produced with a piece of ribbed rubber when wall repair patch. Bold texture is achieved by dabbing with a fabric pad.

timber cladding | wall panels

Timber cladding can be fixed directly to the bare brickwork  of a wall as a substitute for plaster, or it can go on top of existing plaster as a form of decoration. The timber cladding can be matchboarding lengths of shaped natural timber – or in sheets of hardboard or thin plywood with a surface pattern that simulates matchboarding. Matchboarding is often confused with tongued and grooved boards. Tongued and grooved boards have squared sides so that when two boards are joined they fit snugly together. Matchboarding has additional moulding, so that a V-shaped groove is formed where two boards meet. Tongued and grooved boards are, in general, fitted as flooring, matchboarding being unsuitable because of its grooves. Matchboarding, however, is more suitable for timber cladding because the heat of the room will in time make the boards shrink, and cause gaps to appear between them. Such gaps look unsightly in tongued and grooved boards, but because of the V-shape they are not noticeable in matchboarding.

timber claddingThe planks of matchboading are fixed to horizontal battens  screwed to the wall. You need one batten at floor level, another near the ceiling, and a third haIf-way between. If you are fitting the timber to a wall that has a skirting board, use this instead of the bottom batten. The two higher battens should then be of the same thickness as the skirting. A width of 50 mm is suitable. If there is no skirting board, use 50 x 25 mm battens. The battens must be level with each other and with the skirting so that the timber cladding will present a flat surface. Pack out the battens as necessary when you fix them to the wall.  The planks are fixed to the battens by ‘secret nailing’, so that no fixing nails are visible. Pins are driven into the front of the tongue, but emerge on the other side through the main body of the plank to pass into the batten. When the next board is fitted, its groove locates on the tongue, which holds it into place. On the other edge it is fixed by pins driven through its tongue, and so on. Begin by fitting the first plank with its groove towards the end of the wall. Make sure, by using a plumb line or a spirit level, that this first plank is vertical, for its alignment will determine that of the rest. If the surface of the other wall at the corner (the return wall) is badly out of true, tack the first plank slightly away from it, making sure it is vertical.


Place a small block of wood so that it touches the return wall and overlaps the plank. Place a pencil along the block and move both to trace out the profile of the return wall on to the plank.  Trim the plank along the pencil line. To trim to the correct width the plank at the other end of the wall, place it on top of the last whole plank, and lightly tack it in place. Now take a short off cut of plank plus a pencil. Jam the off cut hard against the return wall at the top, and hold the pencil tightly against the off cut. Now move off cut and pencil slowly downwards to the bottom, tracing a line on the plank to be trimmed. Saw or tile the plank to this line and it should be a tight fit in the gap. When you use secret nailing, the planks at each end are not held in place on their outer edges. Usually, this does not matter. Tap the face of the planks lightly to check that they are firmly fixed. If not, drive three pins – one for each batten through their face. These pins will not be hidden, but can be punched home and covered with stopping. The floor, and especially the ceiling, may be out of true, as well as the return walls. Measure the height required for each plank individually. Even so, there will be slight gaps top and bottom. Disguise the bottom one by fitting skirting, which you can buy at wood yards. The skirting is nailed to the bottom of the planks. You can also use skirting turned upside down, at the top, or you might prefer a smaller moulding. If you are timber cladding adjacent walls and the angle where they meet is an internal one, a vertical length of quarter- round or triangular section moulding will neaten the join.

repointing brick steps

The mortar in brick walls can become affected by the action of wind and rain. lt may become loose and crumbling or be worn down below the level of the brickwork. Repointing brick is then called for. Repointing brick consists of applying new mortar on top of the old to bring it to the correct level. It is not a difficult job, and requires only a few specialist tools, but if you are going to tackle any high places, get a good strong ladder or a scaffold tower. You will also need: an old chisel or screwdriver for raking out loose or crumbling material, and perhaps a hammer to help dislodge difficult pieces; a hawk, which you can buy from a builders’ merchant, or make yourself from a small square piece of board and a short length of dowel or broom handle; a small pointing trowel; a straight-edge; an old painting brush; a bucket; and a ‘frenchman’, which you can fashion from an old kitchen knife sharpened to a point and bent at right angles at the end.

brick repointing stepsWork on a small area of the wall at a time: you will probably find a square metre (10 sq. ft) about the right size. Begin by raking out the old mortar to a depth of 13 mm, then brush out any loose material. Use the brush to wet the brickwork thoroughly with water from the bucket, so that it will not draw out the moisture from the new mortar. The mortar should consist of 1 part cement to 4 of sharp sand, and be mixed to a stiff consistency. Place some mortar on the hawk, and smooth it into a pat. Holding the hawk close to the wall, pick up some mortar on the back of the trowel and push the trowel forwards, tilting the front of the hawk upwards at the same time so that the mortar is lifted clear. Point the vertical joints. First, holding the trowel at a slight angle to press the mortar well into the joints. Using the frenchman with the straight edge, chop off the thick surplus at the outside of each joint when a section of verticals is finished.

Next of repointing brick, point the horizontal joints. Use a similar technique to till each one roughly, then draw the trowel across it to form a smooth continuous band of mortar. Cut off the thick surplus at the bottom with the frenchman. The horizontal joints must be formed so that rainwater will not lodge in them; there are several ways to do this.  Cracks are wide, a sand-and-cement mix would be better and more economical. Small packs of ready-mixed mortar to which you merely add water are available for such repairs. If you mix the mortar yourself, use 1 part cement to 3 of sharp sand. Clean out the crack with the point of a trowel or filling knife, and remove loose material. Then push home the filler – in more than one application if the crack is big – and smooth it off flush with the surrounding surface.

plaster wall repair

It is unlikely that you will be able to plaster a wall satisfactorily starting from scratch, but you might well carry out plaster wall repair to a plastered surface. Cracking caused by shrinkage of the plaster as it dries out, or even by settlement of the building, is the most common fault in a plastered wall. Stop up the cracks with decorator’s filler, applied with a filling knife. This, incidentally, is often confused with a scraper, but the two are in fact totally different. The knife has a flexible blade, whereas the scraper is rigid. Begin by running one corner of the knife blade down the length of the crack, to dislodge any loose material, and also to make the crack wedge shaped narrower at the surface of the wall. Brush loose material from the crevice, and saturate it with water using a brush to make sure that the water penetrates right into the crevice. To start a plaster wall repair, now apply the filler.

plaster wall repairMix it in an old cup or saucer and do not make it too runny – it should be a stiff paste. (Always add water to the filler, never the filler to water; use a wet sponge, so you can then control the flow of water easily). Take some filler on to the knife, and spread it across the width of the crack, flexing the blade as you do so, pushing the filler well into the crack. Draw the knife lengthwise along the crack, again flexing the blade, to wipe the filler flush with the surface and smooth it down. Cracks that are deep and wide should be filled in two stages. When the filler is dry, give it a light sanding and the crack should then be undetectable when painted over. Fill small holes similarly. lf you propose to paint the wall a dark colour, you might have difficulty in obliterating the whiteness of the filler, which could persist in showing through even after two or three coats. To prevent this, add a few drops of the paint to the filler to tint it to about the final colour you have chosen for the wall.

Plaster wall repair in older houses, where the plaster is more brittle, and the surface can become crazed with tiny cracks. Filling each crack individually would be impractical. The best course is to decorate the wall with a material that will cover the cracks: a heavy embossed paper, or even a woodchip paper, which you can paint, can be used. If you want a smooth, painted surface, however, line the wall first. The lining paper to apply as a base for paint has a shiny, impervious surface that does not soak up paint. If you try to lining paper intended for wallpapers, the surface will look like blotting paper.

Damp wall | rising damp

damp wall | rising dampDamp wall is one of the worst defects that can affect a house. Even in its milder toms it is unpleasant but a serious outbreak will first destroy the decorations, then in time attack the woodwork, and eventually strike at the fabric of the building; it will make the place dank and unhealthy. There are three types of damp, each with its own causes and cures. Rising damp, as its name suggests, is damp rising up into the structure from the ground. Penetrating damp, caused by rainwater (or occasionally by water from a plumbing mishap), enters through defects in the shell of the building. The third type of damp is condensation, which originates inside the house. It is not always easy to decide which type of damp your Home is suffering from. In extreme cases it wil1take an expert to give a correct diagnosis. However, there are some general pointers. For instance, if the damp occurs low down on the wall near floor level, you can suspect rising damp. In, say, a bathroom that is prone to severe condensation, the paint can be lifted away from the wall by damp near the skirting, which is a symptom of rising damp, but the cause could equally be condensation streaming down to the bottom of the wall. The effects of condensation can also appear misleadingly on many parts of the walls and ceiling, but this type of damp wall is usually easy to recognize. It occurs when most of the windows are closed (which reduces ventilation) and after water vapour has been released into the air by cooking, washing clothes, or bathing.