Roofers and Carpenters in London

Roofers and Carpenters in London

Free standing shelves

Shelves which do not have their ends supported by a wall are harder to fix unobtrusively. Most people putting up this kind of shelf settle for small, nest brackets, but if you feel you must have invisible fixings, there are solutions to the problem. The simplest method is suitable only for timber framed stud walls. Few houses in Britain have this type of wall, except in the ‘box room’ over the stairs, but a few recently built houses have stud partition walls.

Another similar method for brick breeze-block walls uses steel angle brackets the flat solid steel kind not the U-section type made of sheet metal. The horizontal parts of the brackets are slotted into the shell as the coach screws were. The only difference is that the slots in the shell are rectangular, rather than round. These slots are made by drilling several holes and cutting out the wood between them with a long, narrow chisel. It is easier to make the slots too wide and insert narrow pieces of wood as a wedge to hold the shelf firm to the brackets. The other half of the bracket is harder to hide.

One solution is to plug and screw’ it to the wall and hide it with a backboard. If there are three or more rows of shelves and the backboard runs behind them all, it can be quite a decorative feature. A more satisfactory way of hiding the brackets is to recess them into the wall 6 -13mm and cover up the recess with filler. A neat. shallow channel can be cut in a plaster wall with an ordinary carpenter’s chisel, though you will have to sharpen it afterwards. The blade should be held at an angle so that its cutting edge always points towards the centre of the channel. Then, if the blade slips, it will damage the plaster inside the channel instead of making a long gash in the wall. Once the channel is cut use proprietary plugs and screws to fix the bracket to the wall. As brick is much harder to cut than plaster, the above method is probably not worthwhile for a brick wall. Brackets should not be placed too near the ends of shelves or they will make it liable to sag in the middle. A proper position for a pair of brackets under a free-standing shelf is roughly one-quarter and three-quarters of the way along it. With this arrangement, neither the middle nor the ends is very far from a solid support. A shelf should always be fixed rigidly to its brackets to stop it from tipping up if the end is pressed down.

Featured fixings
If you cannot hide the fixings of your shelves, the best thing to do is to bring them out into the open and make a feature of them. One way of doing this is to buy a ready-made shelving system, which has the great merit of being adjustable. If this doesn’t appeal to you, there are many good-looking fixings you can make yourself. If you have period furnishings,timber brackets are probably the most suitable. A typical design, intended to be made out of l5mm thick hardwood, is a good choice. The shape can, of course, be varied , provided that the vertical depth of bracket is at least half the width of the shelf. The bracket is best fastened to the back plate with a mortise-and-tenon joint as shown, but can be screwed on from the rear if you prefer. One of the simplest ways of holding up shelves, and one that looks particularly good with modern furniture, is to run vertical boards up the ends of the shelves to turn them into a wall-mounted box. All the shelves except the top one should be attached to the vertical boards by stopped housing joints. and the top shell rebated at each end. This construction, makes the shelves look like a bookcase, is very strong. (in good carpentry, shelves are never supported by just the strength of screws driven into the ends.) A backboard, even of hardboard, fitted behind the unit makes it even more stable, by acting as a brace in a long unit, short vertical ‘spacer’ boards can be put between the shelves to hold them apart. An attractive random effect can be created by placing these boards at irregular intervals. There are many other methods of giving your shelving an interesting appearance.

As long as the boxes are not stacked too high, they provide a strong, stable storage space that can be rearranged to any shape. If all the boxes are made the same height, but some are twice or three times as wide as the others, an enormous variety of arrangements can be made to suit any use. A wide variety of fixings are available for interior and exterior use. The choice of fixing will depend largely on the weight of the object to be fixed, and the type of wall or ceiling it is to be attached to. There are three basic methods of fixing: for solid walls, masonry nails and plugs and screws (or bolts in the case of very heavy objects) are used, and for hollow surfaces such as panelled walls or ceilings, cavity devices can be used.

Chimney breast and alcoves

General construction details for cabinets and shelving

chimney breast cabinets london

The alcoves on either side of a chimney breast are usually just wasted space. The recesses and breast can be used to make a feature of the area, and fitted with shelving and storage units to make good use of the space. In some instances the chimney flue has to be blocked up, and the fireplace opening used for other purposes, but you could just as easily panel round a fireplace that is in use. The walls can be battened, panelled, and fitted with shelving brackets to which storage cabinets are fixed. Or you could have custom build cabinets and shelving. The shelving brackets are used to hold two cabinets there could be more-and in this case one is used as a casing for a DVD player and other for storing different electronic equipment and gadgets. But they could be used for other purposes or for general storage.

shelving cupboards living room

The shelf brackets that hold the cabinets obviously support a considerable weight, so their fixing strips are screwed through the panelling into extra strips of hardwood batten which are in turn screwed securely to the wall.

The cabinets can be made from MDF, but you might prefer other materials, like hardwood or laminated surfaces.

It is almost certain that at least one of your alcoves will have a power point or switch in it, which will have to be brought out flush with the panelling. All the wiring should be hidden in such way that there are no cables hanging around.

The shelving strips

These are the vertical strips into which the shelf brackets fit. They are screwed to the support battening using 25mm screws. After you have fitted one strip, make sure that every adjacent strip is lined up so that the shelf bracket holes are in line. To do this, fit a shelf bracket to the strip you have just fixed to the wall, and one at the same height on another strip. Hold the loose strip in place while a straightedge is placed along the two shelf brackets. You can now adjust the correct level of the loose strip with a spirit level.

The cabinets
The construction of the cabinets is comparatively simple, but there are a few points to bear in mind. First the cabinets must be large enough to accommodate their intended contents easily. This might be obvious, for example, in the case of fitting a game console or a TV unit.

Obviously, if other equipment is installed in this space, the requirements will be different and the cabinets will have to be altered to match. But the basic design is so simple that you should have no trouble altering them, or for that matter, any other part of the unit.

Timber feature wall

Natural timber boarding can be used to decorate any room in a house-from a living room to a bathroom. The colours and patterns which can be achieved with different wood grains and board profiles are almost limitless, and since timber is long-wearing, redecorating problems will be minimised. Most woods used for building purposes can be used for decorating interiors.

The choice of timber, therefore, should depend on cost, availability and appearance. Many softwoods are very pale in colour, while hardwoods range from the creamy yellow of ash, beech or sycamore to the richer browns of mahogany, cherry and walnut. When choosing a wood for timber lining, it is important to consider the moisture content of the wood; timber which has a high water content will shrink and warp in a heated room. Solid timber planks, or boarding, are cut to one of several standard profiles. Square edged planks may be used, but tongued and grooved-or ‘T and G’-planks are more commonly used for internal timber linings, as they allow for easy formation of interlocking joints.

Different groove designs, such as rebated, V-jointed, squared and extended shiplaps, are available in lengths which will fit the height of an average room. On a long wall, however, horizontal boarding may need to be joined end-to-end. Normally, they are between 76mm-152mm wide. The thickness determines both the rigidity of the boarding and the spacing of the fixings. Allowance for movement of the planks is made when the tongues and grooves are originally machined. The tongue is made not to extend the full depth of the groove.

Design considerations

So much depends on the use of the room, its size, shape and lighting, and on personal choice, that it is difficult to lay down rules for choosing internal linings. The basic factors which should be considered are: whether to line the walls and ceilings in wood (a later chapter explains how to line ceilings with timber boards) or only one or the other; whether to cover all the walls with timber or to leave some in a contrasting finish; what kind of wood to use; the angle at which to fix the boards-vertical, horizontal, or diagonal; and the extent of coverage that is desired-the full or partial height of the walls. Another point to consider is that if furniture in a room is a jumble of pieces of different heights, horizontal boarding will tend, unfortunately, to accentuate this aspect by providing guidelines for the eye.

On the other hand, rooms such as kitchens and laundry rooms, which usually have worktops and appliances , will usually look better with horizontal boarding. It helps make their (usually small) walls look longer. A final consideration is your own skill. A beginner will find it quite easy to board one plain wall to make a ‘feature wall’. But covering a whole room involves a range of problems-replacing door and window architraves, for example-and requires a bit more skill, or experience, or patience at any rate.

Preparatory work

Before fixing any planks to new walls, be sure that the walls are dry; newly plastered walls will take at least two months to dry and concrete walls will take at least four months to dry before planks can safely be fixed to them. The method of fixing internal timber linings will depend primarily upon the type of wall to which they are to be fastened. Masonry walls, such as unfaced or plastered bricks or lightweight building blocks, will need to have a timber framework of battening attached directly to their surfaces. The linings will then be fixed to these. Timber frame walls will also need battening, unless the studs (vertical members) and noggins (horizontal members) are close enough to make battens unnecessary.

You can find the studs and noggins by driving nails at intervals across, and up and down, the walls. Mark a pencil ‘x’ every time you strike solid timber; soon you will be able to rule a grid pattern on the wall to show where solid ‘nailing’ is available.

Re-wiring and re-plumbing

You may want to put in some new light fittings or move existing ones or, if you intend to line a kitchen or bathroom, you may need to rearrange the pipework. Any work of this sort should be carried out at the ‘bare wall’ stage rather than later, to avoid damaging the wall planking. Also, it is advisable to mark the wall surface where any wiring has been buried under the plaster. This helps you to avoid accidentally severing or damaging the cables when drilling or nailing the battens.

Doors and Windows

When fixing timber boarding around doors and windows, one of the most important consideration is to see that unsightly rough edges of the planks do not protrude.

Types of glass

The thickness of the type of glass required is always related to the size of the sheet, and to the degree of exposure to wind and consequent suction loads on the surface. Manufacturers produce readily available tables which give the correct weight and thickness of glass to be used for particular purposes. Most glass used for domestic glazing in Britain is 4mm thick.

The glazing quality of the glass you are using is also an important consideration to make. For general glazing purposes, the toughened laminated safety grade is suitable.

Types of standard glass

Sheet glass
Use for normal glazing work, this is a clear, drawn glass. Since the opposite sides of a pane are never perfectly flat; and parallel, some degree of distortion is inevitable. Sheet glass is commonly used for domestic glazing and is available in thicknesses from 3mm.
Float glass
This type of glass is made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten tin. Such a process produces a glass similar to plate glass, but its higher quality dispenses with the need for additional polishing and so it has generally superseded plate glass. Float glass comes in thicknesses from 5mm. As this glass is quite free from distortion and is strong, it is often used for domestic purposes, especially for large picture windows and table tops. Float glass is also produced in plain or tinted decorative forms, by using various processes including acid etching, electrofloat and sandblasting. Additional decorative effects are obtained by the introduction of certain materials into the molten glass mix to alter its light and heat transmission qualities. Mirrors are also made from float glass of the SQ grade, which has been moisture proofed, silvered and edged in a variety of ways by machine and hand grinding.

Patterned glass – frosted or obscure glass
bathroom patterned obscure frosted glass window
This range includes glasses with several different decorative finishes which are frequently used for ‘modesty’ purposes in bathrooms and toilets. They are specially designed to allow light through while obscuring vision. One typical example is rough-cast glass, which is smooth on one side and obscured on the other. These glasses, which are usually produced by passing liquid molten glass through rollers, are available in a variety of styles such as arctic, cotstvold, reeded, autumfi, flemish and patchwork, in either plain or tinted versions. The degree of transparency and light diffusion desired will largely determine the type to be used. Thicknesses generally are between 3mm and 5mm.

Wired glass
This glass has a metal mesh embedded into it to reduce the risk of injury from falling bits of glass. It is also accepted as a fire retarding material. The mesh may be of a square (Georgian) or diamond pattern. This type of glass is often used in porches and garage roofs where breakages may occur, because the wire mesh helps to hold the glass together if it is broken. If you intend to re-use this glass, you may find it dillicult to cut, and for this reason it is advisable to buy it already cut to size from a merchant. Wired glass is available in 6mm thickness only.

Toughened glass
Float, sheet and even some patterned glasses can be toughened by a special process which can increase the strength of the glass by four or five times is particularly suitable to use for doors and similar areas where there is a danger of impact, since it shatters into granules instead of sharp splinters if it is broken.

Profilit glass is a strong, translucent glass used mainly outdoors for carports and the like, although it can be used indoors.
Solar control glass reduces the transmission of heat, light and glare from sunlight. It comes in a range of colours in float, laminated, rough-cast and patterned form. Diffuse reflection glass, commonly known as non-reflective glass, is coated on one side to reduce the amount of light reflection and thus improve viewing. It is frequently used for picture framing.

Repairs to lean to roof glazing

Lean-to roofs glazed into a timber frame work are apt to cause some trouble. The timber frequently warps, and the putty dries out and shrinks, permitting water to enter tiny crevices. Eventually, this water leaves unsightly stains all along the wooden frame.

lean to wood roofing glass

Cracking of the glass is also quite common, and leaks may occur between the roof and the main wall of the house, even though a strip of lead, zinc or felt called a ‘flashing’ is positioned there to form a weather-tight joint. If the timber frame has warped, it may be the cause of any cracked glass. In this case you will need entirely new frames before you can do any reglazing.

Glass is one of the most versatile building materials. Modern glass production offers a wide range of glass for glazing purposes, both plain and decorative, which are relatively inexpensive, and easy to obtain. Simple glazing techniques requiring the use of few tools are quite simple to learn, and when coupled with a basic knowledge of the different types of glass and their uses, will enable you to use glass to its best advantage in decorating.

All building materials are to some extent controlled by building regulations and local by-laws. In new building works and where any alteration is carried out, the size and the type of glass and its position in the building may have to be considered with regard to fire resistance, heat and sound transmission. If in doubt, consult the local building authority or employ a London Roofing Company to carry out the roofing repairs.

Glazing heavier glass in larger areas

Panel pins will usually do an adequate job of fixing the glazing beads around heavier glass over a fairly large area (especially on curved beads, such as quarter round), but a more secure job can be achieved by using either screws, or cups and screws. The cups and screws are usually made of brass or white metal, and they look especially good fixed on natural or varnished hardwood. Another interesting visual effect can be achieved by using glazing beads which are slightly raised or proud of the edge of the glazing rebate.

Any rattling of the glass in the frames from wind or vibration can be avoided by using adhesive glazing felt which has been cut to length and set into the rebate before the glass is positioned. To fasten the glass with screws, or cups and screws, measure all the rebate sides as before, cut the beads to length, mitre and smooth them off as necessary. In the same positions as previously described for panel pins, drill clean holes through each bead. Once this has been done use the countersinking bit in the drill to countersink the holes to the size of the screw head. If the cups are used, omit the countersinking as the head of the screw is driven into and recessed inside the cup. Spread bedding putty as before. Now, with sufficient screws, or cups and screws, to hand, place the glass in position together with a side bead held firmly in the angle of the rebate.

Drill slightly, using a bradawl, into the rebate through each of the holes you have made in the bead. This will help to give the screws a good grip. Fasten the screws, or cups and screws into these holes and proceed to drill and fix the screws into the beads along each of the remaining sides, checking the position of glass as you work. If screws without cups are used, the head should be driven well down into the countersinking and filled as described for panel pins. Smooth and paint as before.

Glazing with wooden beads

Wood glazing beads may be used as a substitute for the sloping putty around the outside of a window. You will still need to use bedding putty between the glass and the rebate, but in this case it need not be quite as thick-about 2mm thick as for ordinary glazing with putty.

single glazing double glazing

Materials needed:

Prepared softwood beading-square, splayed, quarter round, or other shape as required panel pins l9mm- 25mm, and glazing felt.

Glazing lightweight glass in small areas

Measure the top, bottom and sides of the rebate separately and then the diagonals to check that the frame is in square. Cut four lengths of beading slightly over-size for the sides, top, and bottom, and mark these accordingly. (Cutting slightly over-size will help the lengths to fit snugly when mitred.) Smooth off any roughness with glasspaper and carefully mitre the ends using a mitring block and dovetail saw. Paint the backs and mitred corners with priming paint. Lay the beads flat. Take one and gently tap two panel pins part way into the centre of the bead width, about 25mm from the face of each mitre. When you have worked out the direction the panel pins should run in, remove them and drill the nail holes; this will prevent the wood from splitting.

Continue doing this, positioning the pins at equal distances, about l50mm apart, along the length. Do the same for the remaining beads and check to see that the beads fit into the rebate. Spread bedding putty as described above, place the glass in the rebate leaving an equal expansion gap around each edge. Holding the glass firmly with the palm of the hand and pushing a side bead squarely into place with the thumb, gently tap the pins down to the face of the bead with a hammer.

Do not fix the beads permanently until all four are in position. Similarly, fit the opposite side bead, then the top and flnally the bottom, checking that the glass has not slipped down. With a centre punch and the hammer gently punch the heads of the pins about l6mm below the bead surface. Use a square-ended filling knife to fill in these indents with putty or filler and smooth off. A final rubbing over with glasspaper and the beads are ready for priming. Finish with an undercoat and an oil-based top coat.

Glazing repairs

Glazing repairs seem to fall into the category of ‘tasks that are put off until tomorrow’- many people simply do not know where to begin. Both timber and metal framed windows are easy to repair, however, with a few techniques. Warm weather is the time to tackle those external glazing repairs needed around the house, such as replacing cracked panes of glass, renewing crumbling old putty, and repairing leaking skylights or lean-to roofs.

glass window london

Improvements can also be made, such as installing wholly or partially glazed doors in a hallway or on a landing to give better illumination to these areas. Or, you might want to insert plastic circular, cord operated, ventilators in kitchen or bathroom windows to improve ventilation and reduce condensation. Whatever your plans, warm weather is the best time to handle glass, since it may be brittle to handle in cold weather, and more apt to crack or leave jagged cutting edges

Removing broken glass

Removing broken glass requires care at all times, but especially when working above ground level. If doing so, place obstructions around the area below and warn others to keep children and pets away from the area. Whenever possible remove sashes and frames and work on ground level.

Putty glazing to wooden frames windows & doors

In a wooden door or window frame, the glass is held in the rebate with putty and special nails called sprigs, or occasionally with panel pins. To remove the broken glass, first loosen all putty and fixings around the outside edge, in front of the glass. A glazier’s hacking knife is useful to use here or an old screwdriver and chisel. Remove panel pins or glazing sprigs, or drive them well below the wood surface with a hammer. Now, wearing thick gloves of some sort, such as gardening gloves, remove the old pane of glass; be careful that the glass does not fall out of the rebate. Broken or loose pieces can be pried out and detached with pliers, working always from the top so that loose bits do not fall on to your hands. Once this is done, clear out about 3.17mm of putty around and behind the glass; you should now be down to bare wood. With the glass removed, smooth the rebate with glasspaper, and give it a good coat of primer. Allow this to dry before proceeding -about four hours usually.


Begin by measuring the rebate-each side, top and bottom separately-and the two diagonals. Use a steel tape and take the measurement from the inside edge of each rebate. Deduct 1.6mm off each side or 3.17mm all round if the pane is more than 0.37sqm to allow for glass expansion within the rebate. Now, cut the glass. Avoid using old or weathered glass for reglazing, as it may be brittle and difficult to cut accurately. After cutting, any sharp edges can be smoothed down with an oil-stone which has been wet with turpentine, water or oil.

Once the piece is ready, mark the glass top on the outside face so that it is ready to offer up correctly into the rebate. Roll a lump of putty in your hands until it is soft and easy to work. If the putty is too oily, wrap it first in newspaper to absorb some of the oiliness. With your thumb, lay a continuous strip of bedding putty about 3mm thick all round the back of the rebate against which the glass will be placed. With sprigs or panel pins to hand, place the glass in the rebate, bottom first, leaving an equal space all round the edges and press it gently against the back putty. Never press from the centre. Squeeze out the surplus putty until a thickness of about l.6mm remains between the back ,cf the glass and the rebate. To fix the glass in place, tack the sprigs or panel pins into the side of the rebate, against the face of the glass.

Fix one close to each corner and space the others equally-about l50mm apart-around the pane. Use a small hammer to knock the sprigs in and keep it touching the glass as you work, so that you do not knock the glass and break it. Cut off the excess back putty around the rebate with the putty knife. A strip of weathering putty must now be placed around the outside of the pane. Knead the putty in the hands as before and lay a thick continuous strip into the angle of the rebate against the lace of the glass. Lubricate the knife with water to keep the putty from sticking to it. Hold the putty knife in one corner of the window with the blade against the rebate and the tip resting on the glass at an angle of 45″. Cut the excess putty off all round the pane in one clean stroke, so that a slope is formed to allow the rainwater to run off, and tidy the corners with a square-ended filling knife to form a mitre.

Finally, all the putty surfaces may be brushed over with a damp, soft brush. After two to three weeks, the putty may be painted over, using an oil undercoat and finishing coat to match the existing paintwork. Allow the brush to run over the putty onto the face of the glass about 3mm to seal the joint.

Putty glazing to metal frames

The procedure is the same as described for wooden sashes with three important differences:
1. A special putty for glazing to metal frames is necessary.
2. Small bits of plastic strips are needed to set in the bottom of the rebate to allow for expansion.
3. Sprigs are not used; the glass is held in position by spring clips which look like a bent’S’. These are hooked into the rebate and press onto the face of the glass. It is important to retain these for re-use.

When all the glass and old putty has been removed from a metal frame, there may be rust present in the rebate. No matter how little, this must be removed and bare metal exposed with wire wool or emery paper. Treat the bare metal areas with a rust inhibitor as soon as they have been exposed and, when dry, prime the whole rebate with a metal primer. If this is not done, the expansion of the rust in the rebate will eventually crack the glass. Steel windows may tend to distort and twist in shape from the effects of heat and cold. In such instances they will not shut properly and the glass will crack. Do not attempt to reglaze if this appears to be the situation, since you will first need to consult a blacksmith to straighten and square the sashes. Some steel and aluminium windows have metal glazing beads fixed to the exterior with grub screws. Before attempting removal of a glass pane, lubricate these with a drop of penetrating oil; it will make the job much easier.

In some cases the glass in windows is still sound, but the putty on the face has rotted away. To repair this simply chisel out all the remaining putty, rub the rebate smooth up to the glass, prime it and when dry, proceed as described in the section on apptying weathering putty under Reglazing.

Roof gardens & terraces

Roof gardens & terraces in London

Vibrant green walls offer complete privacy in the roof garden of this three-bedroom house in Kensington. The house has recently been completely refurbished on the inside, while retaining a period fa├žade.

Large roof terrace with wooden decking in Chelsea. It belongs to a Grade II listed house with three bedroom. It also has a conservatory, for those cold months when you’d prefer to look after plants indoors.

Penthouse roof terrace in St James’s Park, which lets you admire London landmarks including the London Eye, the Gherkin, Big Ben, Nelson’s Column and the Shard

A suspended metal staircase winds through a glass roof to this roof terrace, filled with planters, cloud and yew trees. The house is a maisonette, fitted in contemporary style.

Penthouse in Knightsbridge. This flat has a gym, home cinema and separate guest suite. The roof terrace has sweeping views over Hyde Park.

A fourth-floor flat with a decked roof garden/terrace area, featuring an attractive L-shaped seat in the corner.

A few moments from Hyde Park is this three-bedroom, three-bathroom flat, which has views over Chelsea from its roof garden.

Primrose Hill
A former piano factory has been converted into a stylish home. The sleek urban roof garden has views of the park and London skyline

Another roof terrace with cracking views, this time belonging to a penthouse in a period mansion.


roof garden
Roof garden in South Kensington

Storage under stairs

Builders usually leave a new home with a minimum of flexible shelving, which is expected to cater for all needs, and the lazy planner may not think to improve on this situation. Even in an ultra-modern home where the architect or builder may have provided what he considers the optimum storage space, you may be able to take a closer look around the house and even find nooks and crannies which can be used.

Space under the stairs

under the stairs

More often than not the space under the stairs tends to be a glory hole, where awkward things are thrown because they have no other home. With a little thought, this space can be put to good use, and become an organised storage area, particularly if it is closed in. The inside of the door is an ideal place for storing tools, where they are out of sight, but within easy reach.

Check existing cupboards to see whether the space can be used more economically, for example. Then look for extra room. The space under the staircase of many houses is ripe for development, for example.Unless you want to build a second bathroom under the stairs, the space can be used for storage.
under the staircase

Your house may have a door in the kitchen, leading to a larder under the highest part of the stairs. In Britain, there may also be a door in the hall leading to a meter cupboard under the lower portion. Larder arrangements, which often have three or four deep shelves can be classic examples of wasted space,it is better to ‘slim’ down all but the bottom one so they are only wide enough to take single items, this can more than double the amount of easily accessible storage space.