January is coming to its slow and eventual end, and if you’re anything like us, your new year’s resolutions might not even have lasted this long. If you’re still sticking with it, congratulations - especially if your resolution was home improvement related. Lots of people decide at the start of January that this will be the year to make a real change to their home - but now is the time to follow through on it.
We know how hard it can be to take that first step though, which is where a little expert advice can come in handy. Research has shown that more and more people are turning to the experts to help get things done, and that's why MyBuilder has thousands of helpful tradespeople who take the time to answer questions from curious homeowners, so you never have to tackle any home improvement project unprepared.
We’ve put together some of the most popular questions from homeowners along with the top answers from our experienced tradespeople, so you can put your mind at ease. If you still have a burning question you need answered, ask one of our tradespeople today.
Question: When putting up a new fence, should the “good” side face the neighbours or us?
Answer: With most fences, there are two different sides - a “smooth” side where only the panels are visible, and the “rough” side which features the fence posts and supporting bars. And, just like with fences, there are two sides of the debate when it comes to answering the question.
Many tradespeople say that traditionally, it is considered courteous to let the good side of the fence face your neighbour - as well as being polite to them, it also improves the exterior appearance of your property. Adam Barnfather Garden Development Ltd replied: “The smooth side of the fence and gravel board should be facing the neighbours as courtesy to them.” Handyfix Solutions agreed: “The general rule is to present the fair side to the neighbour.”
However, a number of tradespeople take the view that it comes down to who is paying for the fence to make the choice about which side they get to look at: “If you’re paying, you decide which you prefer on your side of the fence”, Evergreen Joinery Services said. TM Property Services agreed: “If I were paying for the supply and erecting, I would make sure that the good side faced my side.”
Ultimately, tradespeople agreed that ideally a decision should be made with the relevant neighbour, and that it is generally easiest to copy the current arrangement. It is also possible to buy modern fences which look the same on both sides (for example, where there are concrete posts where the panels slot in), and even double sided fences which can keep all parties happy.
Question: Can you lay laminate flooring on top of old laminate?
Answer: While it’s physically possible to lay a laminate floor on top of one that is already there, our tradespeople unanimously agree that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well, and that means ripping up the old laminate to make way for the fresh layer.
AB Flooring said: “You should always take the old floor up as it’s a floating floor. Best to do a job right first time.” ADS Kitchen Fitters added: “It’s best to take the old flooring up and then it will be done right. If the flooring below moves a lot from the one on top it could cause problems and it’s not a proper job.”
According to the flooring fitters, there are two key problems with leaving the original laminate in place - the fact that it will raise the height of the floor and mean that doors and skirting boards may have to be cut down to fit properly, and that the original floor could expand or contract or suffer another issue, damaging the new flooring above it.
As they pointed out, removing old laminate is a simple job that doesn’t tend to result in much mess - especially compared to the hassle of shaving down doors.
Question: Is it safer to remove an Artex ceiling, or to cover it up?
Lots of people who have Artex in their homes worry about this, and the answer isn’t always straightforward. However, in general tradespeople recommend removing it where possible, as the long-term benefit outweighs the short-term hassle.
Artex contains asbestos, so if it cracks or flakes and produces dust, it can be incredibly dangerous - which is why it was banned in the UK in 1999. While an Artex ceiling in good condition doesn’t pose any immediate risk, anything like drilling into the ceiling to run a wire or create a light fixture risks disturbing it. Even a leak in the ceiling could bring the issue to a head.
Is it possible to cover up Artex, either plastering over it or installing a new dropped ceiling covering the original, especially if the Artex is in good condition. But to properly futureproof your home, and protect its resale value, using a specialist company to remove it is usually recommended, especially if tests show it contains high levels of asbestos.
M Ward Property Services said: “Even overboarding and skimming doesn’t take away the fact it’s still there. Anybody drilling into or screwing into will still create some dust which is what is harmful. It’s a big job, but well worth it.” K Beswick Plastering and Building Maintenance agreed: “It is safer to remove completely with a specialist company for asbestos removals.”
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