Whether it’s fixing up glitches and hitches, or starting a whole new DIY project, the good news is that while one can outsource almost anything these days, doing it yourself also has huge value. Either way, you win!
Back to basics – the must-haves of a well-stocked toolbox
When it comes to shopping for tools, don’t be fooled by smooth-looking ‘professional kits’. Unless they are produced by a very reputable brand, they’ll probably look better than they’ll work. Here’s a list of basic start-up requirements that will go a long way towards meeting your toolbox needs (source: privateproperty.co.za):
- Claw hammer: Choose a hammer with a solid handle that is securely set into the hammer head – look for a good fibreglass or strong metal setting. A solid wooden, heavy tubular steel or firm fibreglass handle is recommended. Stay away from lightweight wooden or flimsy tubular steel handles, as these often separate from the hammer head. Make sure the hammer has a good claw too, as this allows you to do much more with the tool. Check guarantee and warranty periods on the brands that interest you.
- Screwdrivers: You’ll need six screwdrivers for most of your woodwork and DIY, so spend some time selecting six of the best and you’ll probably never have to buy a screwdriver again. Rule of thumb when selecting screwdrivers: buy a reputable brand that comes with a good guarantee. Screwdrivers manufactured in lower grade metals tend to get damaged tips very quickly. Make sure the screwdriver handles are comfortable and offer a good grip – slim handles are usually harder to work with, and short handles offer less leverage.
- You’ll need: Phillips (or star) no.00 – for most remote controls and children’s toys; Phillips (or star) no.1 – for hinges and general household fittings; ELS 3.5 x 75 – for plug tops and electrical fittings; ELS 4 x 100 – the general dogsbody of screwdrivers; ELS 4 x 150 – the extra length of this tool allows access to difficult, hard-to-reach places; ELS 6 x 100 – use the bigger tip of the No 6 to avoid ruining soft screw-heads or the tips of smaller screwdrivers. The extra width also allows for added leverage in tight situations.
- Pliers: As with screwdrivers, buy a reputable brand and a comfortable handle. You’ll need: 200mm combination – grips and cuts, invaluable when you need to undo something small; 150 mm diagonal – for the bigger jobs.
- Tape measure: Choose a tape measure that is at least 19 mm wide and 5 m in length. They stay firm instead of flopping when they are held out, making measuring a lot easier. They also don’t whip back too quickly when they are rewound.
- Spirit level: A good spirit level will have three measures to accommodate horizontal, vertical and diagonal measuring. Always check that all three offer correct readings in the shop before purchase. It is advisable to buy a longer (800cm plus) spirit level as this facilitates more accurate readings. Remember when buying a spirit level that wood warps over time, especially in humid climates.
- A utility or Stanley knife: A vital and useful part of every tool kit. Originally produced by Stanley – from where they got their name – this brand still offers top quality knives. Buy a knife with a retractable blade, and always retract it after use – the blades are very sharp and can give deep cuts if accidentally touched or dropped.
- Toolbox – A good quality plastic 40 cm toolbox will give you all the space you need to store the above-mentioned tools. Choose a box with extra trays and compartments on top to keep all the nuts and bolts that accumulate and check the quality of the joints and clasps when choosing.
Handy household tricks that anyone can DIY!
Have some fun and get your home in order with these smart moves.
A hinged painting is the perfect place to hide the alarm pad…
Wine racks make great towel holders.
Foam noodles in your garage can save your car door – and wall.
Use tissue boxes to keep plastic bags organised.
Use a paper towel holder to store rubbish bag rolls.
The Handyman talks – 10 secrets you too should know
- Use a rubber band for stripped screws.
- Glue a magnet to the bottom of your hammer so you don’t have to hold your nails in your mouth.
- Save your fingertips by holding the nail with pliers as you hammer.
- Scrape both sides of a flat screwdriver on a piece of chalk to keep it from slipping off the screw as you tighten it.
- When it comes to paint brushes and rollers you get what you pay for.
- Fold tin foil over the edge of a paint or glue tin before using it to keep the tin’s edge clean – it’ll be easier to close and prevent hardening.
- Wrap some masking tape around the lower part of the brush handle to prevent paint from dripping onto your hands when you’re painting overhead.
- When sawing a plank of wood, mark the four sides and give a 2mm deep cut on each side to keep the blade aligned and straight.
- Never stand above the third highest step on a ladder.
- Clean dirty, oily or greasy hands by rubbing them with used coffee grounds – it has an absorbent and abrasive effect.
Project Cool Down
With our year-round sunny climate an outdoor shower is a huge value-add to many South African homes, and can be used not just around a pool area or beach access, but to add allure to a main or guest bathroom.
The simplest outdoor shower involves nothing more than hooking up a hosepipe connection to an outdoor tap (or asking your plumber to install one) but that’s just the beginning. Add an attractive showerhead and you’ve taken it another step. Think flooring, walling, roofing and the options are endless. Here’s some inspiration…
Before you take that shower
Pre-building tips from Bathroom Bizarre (bathroom.co.za)
- Where the outdoor shower is built is one of the most crucial aspects for a successful end result. First off, it should be somewhere that gets direct sunlight – this is not only because it makes the showering experience so much more pleasant, but direct sunlight also ensures that the area dries out properly after use, preventing rot, scum, mould and moss formation.
- Privacy is also an important aspect – the shower’s location should provide enough privacy without blocking the natural outdoor vistas. Well-placed screens of a desired height are always a great option. Also, if the house is double storey or flanked by a house that is double story with windows that look down onto the outdoor shower area, consider installing a louvered roof that allows a view of the sky, but minimises the possibility of anybody peeping.
- Take careful note of the orientation of the area and plan it so that it makes the best of the outdoor view on offer. Also, bear in mind that placing a shower in an area where there is already plumbing close by will save time, effort and expense on the plumbing.
- Select materials that are able to weather exposure to the elements, but not detract from the natural beauty of the area in question. Materials such as wood, stone, metal or tile are the most popular choices. Wood is a very trendy choice but being outdoors it will need regular maintenance. Faux wood tiles are a great alternative – they look just like the real thing but are far more durable and need no maintenance. Their wood-like grain texture ensures that they aren’t slippery when wet.
- Natural stone is another admired, but pricey, choice. Faux stone tiles or mosaics that look just like the real thing are available and come in at a fraction of the cost. Metal is also stunning, but remember that it needs to be specially treated or it will rust. Concrete is another popular choice – it is comparatively affordable, requires no maintenance, and blends in seamlessly with nature.
Plumbing and drainage
- Plumbing and drainage is similar to that of indoor showers. In fact, outdoor plumbing connections and practices should mirror indoor plumbing codes and systems. The only major difference is that for an outdoor shower, you should install shut-off and drain valves that enable the water to be turned off during the cold winter months. For inland locations, this will prevent the water in the pipes from freezing and damaging the plumbing and fittings. Also, a solid concrete shower floor is a must – resin shower trays will crack and warp over time due to exposure to the elements.
- Traditionally, outdoor showers that were near to a pool usually just drained into the ground or through a bed of stone. However, this was because shower products weren’t used and the water was clear. With a permanent outdoor shower, soaps and shampoos will be used and the runoff will be grey water. This means that the drainage should be connected to the home’s main drainage outlet or grey water system. Also, it is best to direct loose drainage away from a home’s foundations to avoid any unwanted damp problems and away from any surrounding plants that could be killed by the grey water.
- It’s important not to forget the little things as these will really help turn this space into a luxury outdoor showering retreat. Consider a dry changing area adjacent to the shower area for changing and drying off. This space can also be used to store towels, a laundry hamper and various items needed in the shower. It is therefore important that this area is covered and protected from the rain.
- It is also a good idea to include a bench or seat for use while changing, or as a place to keep clothing or towels off the ground. And of course, the inclusion of the usual accessories such as towel rails, robe hooks, soap holders and shower caddies will help make this area as functional as it is beautiful. When it comes to bathroom accessories, choose items that won’t rust – glass and stainless steel are the best materials for outdoor applications.