Dutch doors

Dutch doors, traditionally seen in farmhouses and rustic country cottages, can be both an attractive and functional addition to various rooms in the more conventional home. Dutch doors are doors that are separated into two pieces across their width. This enables one half to be opened independently of the other. Traditionally Dutch doors were ledged and braced but any design, providing it incorporates a middle horizontal rail, can be copied as a Dutch door. Standard British doors are 1.98m x 0.76m. The size of the door you build will obviously depend on the size of the door you intend to replace. The construction involves quite advanced jointing techniques and very accurate rebating.

A Dutch door consists of a frame composed of four horizontal members, or rails, and two vertical pieces, or stiles, which run the whole length of the outsides of the door. The top rail of each part of the door is made from timber of the same size.

Timber cladding

Three main types of board are used for timber cladding.
These are:
1. Tongued-and-grooved (T & G) boarding is timber specially cut and rebated so that one section slots into and interlocks with another. It can be bought in standard lengths or cut to specification by the supplier. A variety of widths and thicknesses is available, the most popular for indoor use being 100mm wide by 19mm thick. They are usually supplied already sanded, but unfinished. The advantage of T & G boards over ordinary square edged planks is that they can be fixed through the tongue-this is known as ‘secret’ fixing, as the nails do not pierce the surface of the board.

2. Finished timber is supplied in a variety of lengths, widths and thicknesses and does not come sanded.

3. Laminated boards are plywood or hardboard panels faced with a laminated wood grain design. They have grooves cut down the face to give the effect of solid wood. They have to be fixed through the surface.

Fire Safety
Make sure the timber cladding complies with the Fire Safety Regulation.

Uses & Design considerations

You will have to decide which way you want the boards to run. Ceiling cladding usually seems to look better running the length of the ceiling-the effect is far less bitty than if you ran it sideways. However, you may wish to alter the existing proportions of the room, by running the boards across the room. This can make a narrow room appear wider. The sawn ends of the boards will have to be disguised in some way and other decorative features of the room may facilitate this. If, for example, you have a wall that is ‘all window’, consider running the sawn ends to it and disguising them with a pelmet above the window.

If you decide to run the boards the long way across the ceiling (and if the joists run across the room) you can fix them directly to the joists either with brass screws or nails. If you use screws, ensure they are of sufficient length so that the whole of the screw thread will be firmly bedded in the joists. Should you wish to lower the ceiling slightly, fix battens at right angles to the direction you want the boards to run, by screwing them either along or across the joists. Before you do anything, however, find out what alterations you will have to make to the light fitting. You will need to fix a new ceiling rose to the boards-if there is any loose flex above the original rose this will be a simple task, but if there is not, some rewiring will be necessary.

South Kensington


Our team of Carpenters, Roofers and Joiners cover South Kensington & Chelsea area. Flat roofs, new roofs, Pitched roof, tiled roofing, slates, lead roofing, woodworks, carpentry, doors, windows,flooring, cupboards, wardrobes, staircases, roof windows, skylights, roofing repairs.

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Heat insulation will be largely wasted if your house is draughty. It is no good warming the air in a house if the wind just blows in and replaces it with cold air. Curing draughts is cheap, quick, and easy. It is not only old houses that are draughty. Modern ones, too, have cracks and gaps through which air can pass. Even if you cannot feel a draught, heat may be pouring out wastefully and being replaced by cold air-a process that loses you money as well as comfort. Even a well-fitting door lets in an amazing amount of cold air unless it is properly sealed around the edges.

Wooden window-frames, especially in old houses, are no better. In particularly draughty houses, more heat may be lost in this way than any other. Many types of door seal are sold. The cheap kinds work just as well as the expensive ones, but do not look so good. One of the cheapest is a simple felt strip that is hung from the bottom of the door by a strip of adhesive backed plastic. This type is particularly good for irregular floors, because it does not get caught as the door moves. More expensive draught excluders are often attached to the threshold itself and not to the door.

They are generally made of metal, and are screwed or pinned to the threshold so that they line up with the bottom of the door. The great advantage of this type of excluder is that it keeps rainwater from seeping under outside doors. The sides and top of a door may be nearly as leaky as the bottom, but need a different type of sealing. One highly effective type that can be used around doors and windows consists of thin metal strips that are nailed to the frame where the door or window touches it.

After nailing down, they are bent outwards so that they press hard against the door or window to provide a tight seal. Some types of strip come with instructions and a special bending tool. They are quite easy to install. Others must be put in professionally. A cheaper alternative for doors and windows is self-adhesive plastic strip. This is bought in rolls and simply stuck to the door or window frame. Be sure to clean dirt and grease from the place where it is to be stuck.

A chimney takes a lot of heat from a room if there is no fire in the fireplace. Closing off the chimney opening is an advantage, but it should never be blocked completely, or it may cause condensation and damp patches on the walls. The fireplace can be closed off with hardboard or some similar material, leaving a tiny gap at the bottom to ventilate the room without too much heat loss. Or, better still, it can be bricked in for a neater appearance, so long as ventilation bricks are provided. In draught-proofing, ventilators such as air-bricks should never be blocked up. Even the best-insulated buildings need a small flow of air, without it, condensation or dry rot may result.


Rooflights,roof windows,skylights, sun tunnels & mirrors for dark rooms

Rooflights or skylights are invaluable for giving extra light, particularly at the top ol a stair well, or let into a flat or sloping roof over a dark room. If you do fit one into a flat roof, you will need to alter the positions of the joists to make room for it, a square one is the easiest. One of the problems which arise with rooflights is that they let in water if they have not been fitted properly. In order to make your rooflight watertight, fit a cowling with a lip around to keep out the rain or install a flashing.

A well-placed mirror is another great help in a dark or gloomy room. The best method is to hang a large mirror on the wall opposite the windows so that it reflects the light coming into the room, doubling its effect. Just as a light near a window will increase light, so will a table light placed near a mirror. The mirror reflects the light again and again, creating an impression of much more light. Full length mirrors transform a dark hall, passage or landing, particularly if they are placed so that they reflect bright, sunny furnishings. In a minute, dark bathroom, you can go further and have a complete wall of mirrors. Add a strip light concealed behind a fake pelmet above the mirror, casting light down where it is needed. Look for huge old mirrors in junk shops and use them as bedheads in dark bedrooms. If you cover all the doors of a fitted row of cupboards with mirrors, it will help to create a feeling of more light and space.

Dark areas
Basement rooms or flats can be brightened up considerably by decorating the area outside in light colours. The simplest and cheapest way is to paint everything, brick walls, steps, doors and dustbin cupboard in a light colour such as white or yellow. Dark-leaved climbing plants will darken an area, so choose the type with variegated leaves if you want greenery outside the window. Plant whitepainted tubs with bright flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums and arrange them on the outside window sill or at the base of the wall if you have full-lengthwindows. Mirrors can be used here, too. Fix a mirror on the area wall opposite the window; the bigger the mirror the better. Any old cracked or damaged mirror will do, and you can arrange a’frame’ of plants around it to make the area seem larger. If you don’t want to have to look after plants all the time, try painting a bright flowery mural on the area wall opposite the window. Even a simple yellow sun on a blue background looks effective, and makes a light-hearted treatment for a dull area.

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.