How to Keep your Roof in Good Nick – Remember that Fascia Board!


It’s all very well thinking home improvement revolves around giving cracked walls the odd lick of paint and mowing the lawn on occasion, but the truth is, ignoring such a vital component as the roof could have a detrimental effect on your house and lead to pesky leakage courtesy of the great British weather.

Perhaps one of the main reasons we’re so bad at keeping our roofs well-maintained is because, well, most of us simply forget about them. It’s often not until we find our houses damp or cracks emerging that we realise it’s high time to venture *up there* and take a look at the problem.

There’s no need to wait until it all goes a bit pete tong though, we’ve thought of a few ways to keep your roof in tip-top condition all year round.

  1.  Install UPVC fascia boards – It’s a common misconception to assume that a fascia board’s function is simply to enhance the appearance of your home, they actually play a crucial role in the protection of your roofline and interior from harmful weather damage.

Although important for the roof, you needn’t buy the most expensive fascia board in the shop; a cheap fascia board will be just as effective as and healthier for your roof than wood which will rot over time.

  1. Give your gutters TLC – From crisp packets to autumnal leaves, a blocked gutter can have a damaging effect on the home – hello damp problems! If you want to ensure your home doesn’t resemble an emerging swimming pool, then it’s a wise idea to conduct regular maintenance to keep those gutters squeaky clean and free of debris.
  1. Fix cracked tiles – It’s not unusual for tiles to become damaged over the years – adverse weather conditions, powerful winds and volatile storms can all contribute to cracked tiles which can run the risk of leakage or drafts from tile decay.

Although it can be tempting to try and tackle the problem yourself, unless you have relevant experience it’s best to avoid DIY and draft in the help of a professional for your own safety and to avoid further damage.

  1. Install Insulation – An uninsulated home can lead to a quarter of heat being lost through the roof – brrr! Insulating your loft can save you a considerable amount of money not to mention the promise that your home won’t resemble an igloo come winter time. In addition, loft insulation can last for up to 40 years, proving it’s an all-round worthwhile investment.
  1. Repair the Flashing – Flashing, otherwise known as weatherproofing is the prevention of water leakage into your home. In all likelihood, If you find that your home has developed a leak then the flashing could be damaged and need repairing, particularly after a weather storm or extreme rainfall.

Author Note: Speedy Plastics are a leading online plastics and resins supplier offering a range of home improvement products from fascia boards to dry verge. To find out more about the range of products Speedy Plastics have to offer visit the website or call 0844 8586 670 for specific enquiries.

Moving Home: Making it Run Smoothly

Moving dayMoving home can be a very stressful time for anyone, but especially if you are trying to organise the move around work, children and pets – it’s no wonder we get anxious.

There are two ways to accomplish your move – do-it-yourself or by getting in the professionals. If you are moving on a budget, then although considerably harder and more stressful, the DIY route will probably be your chosen option. You will need to purchase a number of cardboard boxes and strong tape. Be sure to buy enough because there is nothing worse on the day to discover that you are short. Wrap all your items carefully with bubble wrap, as unlike with the professional removal company, many of your items may not be covered by your insurance whilst in transit. At this point it is essential to number and write the contents on every box and also which room in your new house it should go into.

With regards to furniture, again make a note as to which room each item should go and remember to put bubble wrap around the legs of tables and chairs to protect them during transit. On the big day you will need to start early. Prepare a checklist beforehand to ensure that nothing is forgotten. Once the removal lorry has arrived, stay in the house and ensure that every item is taken in an order which will facilitate off-loading into each area of the new house, as once everything is in place, you will be feeling exhausted and this way it will be much easier to make the lounge and bedrooms immediately usable. Also it is strongly recommended that the electric kettle, mugs, tea bags, sugar and milk travel in the car with you, as cups of tea are crucial no matter whether you are moving yourself or using the professionals for home removals.

Whenever possible however, do use a professional removal company as they know exactly what they are doing and operate with military precision, taking all the stress out of the day for you and your family, as all you will need to do is unpack.

Multi Fuel Vs. Wood Burning Stoves

When choosing a stove for your home, you will need to decide whether you would like a wood-burning stove or a multi-fuel stove. The good news is that if you choose a wood-burning stove and don’t enjoy it, you can easily convert it to a multi-fuel stove by adding a grate. This is one of the fundamentally different things about the two stoves. A wood-burning stove does exactly what it says it does when it burns wood or wood pellets for heat. The grate in the multi-fuel stove, however, allows it to burn many fuel sources, such as anthracite coal, wood logs, turf or peat briquettes, and even smokeless fuels.

In a multi-fuel stove, the ashes must be removed regularly so that the particles can be burned efficiently and evenly. There’s an ash pan located under the grate that scoops up the ashes to ensure cleanliness during burning sessions. If you like low maintenance appliances, then the multi-fuel stove may not be for you. It takes regular care and upkeep to make sure the stove burns safely and efficiently to heat your home. Wood-burning stoves take a lot less regular work than multi-fuel stoves for a number of reasons, and they may be better options for people unfamiliar with stoves.

Instead of cleaning the ashes out of a wood-burning stove, it’s best to leave them in the bottom. New logs can be placed on the piles of ash for more efficient burning. This is why wood-burning stoves take less work than multi-fuel stoves. Wood-burning stoves are also friendlier to the environment because trees absorb a lot of carbon dioxide during their life spans. Buying fuels from legitimate retailers will keep the pollution levels down when you burn the stove in your home. Cost is always important, too. Multi-fuel stoves usually burn more expensive fuels, but if you have your own supply of wood, you could run a wood-burning stove at a low cost.

Each type of stove had advantages and disadvantages. You can choose a wood-burning stove and upgrade later to a multi-fuel stove if you choose to do so. Each heating option should be considered before you commit to buying. Consider your finances, your ability or willingness to perform upkeep, and your environmental consciousness as you browse different stoves for purchasing. You’ll choose the right wood-burning or multi-fuel stove for you if you do some research first. You’ll appreciate the research when you enjoy your new stove.


How to Bring the Indoors to the Outdoors with a Garden Awning

Awning 3When you think about our biggest national characteristics, the British love of gardens is surpassed only by our dislike of the changeable and frequently disappointing UK weather.

First it’s too cold, then it’s too wet, then finally it’s too hot to enjoy time outdoors, which means that much of the year is spent looking longingly at our gardens from behind a window. It doesn’t have to be this way though – a garden awning enables you to make the most of outdoors whatever the weather.

This means you can host parties, barbecues and other gatherings in the garden without looking nervously up at the skies every five minutes – secure in the knowledge you won’t be forced to retreat indoors clutching paper plates and punch bowls if the heavens open.

And it’s not just useful for big social occasions, because an awning also has plenty of everyday applications. It’s great for shielding you from the sun and the wind while you sit and read a book on a summer’s day – with all the benefits of fresh air without having the breeze turning your pages.

An awning also does an effective job of protecting your curtains and furniture from fading in the sun. And if you’re worried about the hassle of having to manually work your awning, you can now get remote control awnings, and even ones with clever light sensors, which unfold automatically when the sun is out.

Arguably though, it isn’t until the evenings that an awning really pays dividends. Teamed with a patio heater and outdoor lighting, an awning enables you to transform your evenings, creating a warm, inviting and comfortable environment.

As well as the practical benefits to your lifestyle of having one, modern awnings have a major aesthetic appeal for those interested in home and garden design. They are now available in so many styles – from classic Mediterranean inspired striped awnings to sleek modernist sail-like designs. You can also choose your own fabric from a selection of modern fade-resistant materials, to ensure you get the exact look you want.

Once you have an awning in place, you can really let your creative side run wild in bringing the indoor to the outdoors. An attractive table and chairs will be one of your most important buys to help you create a perfect outdoor eating area. You can then jazz up your seating area with colourful cushions, or by hanging white fairy lights from the awning above. For the perfect atmospheric late night party, you can get some thick woollen throws for your seats and add a fire bowl to really create a cosy, rustic setting.

Greg Larkin is MD of Cordula, a leading provider of patio awnings, glass verandas and garage doors in the UK.

Bed bugs – the importance of professional mattress cleaning

“Night, night, sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite!”  Did your parents ever say that to you?  If so they were probably speaking rhetorically since bed bugs were almost completely eradicated from the UK shortly after 1940. However, they have been on the increase again since the end of the twentieth century, and incidences of bed bug bites and other related health problems are increasing with them.  The lucky majority of people who are bitten don’t react and as a result are not even aware the bugs are there.  The unlucky ones can have anything from minor allergic reactions to extensive skin rashes, blisters, and even psychological effects.

What are they?

The term ‘bed bugs’ refers to the Cimicidae, a family of small parasitic insects that feed on blood. Each species prefers a different host and in the case of the Cimex lectularius – or the common bed bug as it is known – feeds on humans.  It is the most commonly known Cimicidae simply because it’s the one that prefers to feed on humans.

Its’ preferred habitat is our warm houses and more specifically our warm beds – where we conveniently bare areas of skin for their bite and lie still while they do it – is what gave rise to the nickname in the first place.  Bites are usually not noticed when they happen but can then develop into low itchy welts that can take weeks to disappear.

Bed bugs are up to 5mm long and look like flattened woodlice; they are translucent when young, darkening as they mature and darker still when full of blood.  They can survive for up to eighteen months in hibernation without food, but usually feed every few days and hide in secluded areas near the bed the rest of the time.


Controlling bed bug infestations is not easy since they are resistant to many pesticides (which, incidentally, can be harmful humans too) and can hibernate for long periods of time. Thorough vacuuming helps considerably although eggs and bugs hidden within the mattress itself can be missed and unless the vacuum is emptied thoroughly after use the bed bugs can simply climb out and start again.

So-called ‘cold treatment’ – keeping a room at a cold temperature for 3-4 hours a day with fans on the floor keeping the air moving and windows open/air conditioning on – is also cited as an effective treatment option.  However even that cannot be guaranteed to get rid of well hidden bugs.  The human worm treatment, Stromectol, can also kill bed bugs that bite a treated human and spores of the fungus Beauveria Bassiana sprayed on bedding kills the bugs over a few days although some humans react negatively to the spores as well.

Get Them Clean!

The most effective treatment is to have all beds, soft furnishings and carpets professionally cleaned. Steam cleaning treatments are available for use at home.  However, they are not likely to reach the optimal temperature for eradication – around 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit – and can miss bed bugs which have burrowed into deep pile carpets.  This is because steam cleaning lacks the power to lift contaminants from the bottom.  A professional cleaning service will ensure a thorough clean and leave your home smelling fresh.

Bedding can be treated separately by washing as normal, however,  it is important to put your freshly washed bedding into a tumble drier on a high heat for at least 20 minutes thereby eradicating any bedbugs which may have survived.  This must be done in conjunction with a professional clean or the bedding will simply be re-infected on being returned to the bed.

So, with all this in mind – when was the last time you had your mattress cleaned?


Written by Chem-Dry Universal, a cleaning services provider in the North East

Completing the Look of Your Landscaped Garden


Everybody wants to have a beautiful garden. Whether you are looking to spend the whole year round tending your plants, or if all you want out of it is a calm and relaxing space to sit outside in the summer, or just an open space where the children can run around your garden can be whatever you want it to be. Be it a canvas to work on or a space to do nothing, it’s all about you.

And so you put in the time, effort and money to get your garden landscaped just the way you want it. But once you’ve done all this and have that ideal garden, you’re not going to want tacky or poor quality garden buildings thrown in, are you?

The choice of buildings in your garden is just as important as the rest of the layout. Whether you just need a storage shed for your lawn chairs, or a potting shed with space all the tools and equipment you need to work your magic, it’s got to be of a quality and aesthetic level to compliment the rest of your garden.

As with most walks of life, there is little point in putting work into something only to plonk something cheap and ugly in the middle of it right at the end. Who wants to be sitting in the sun over the summer and being forced to look at a broken and rotting shed? Who wants to be sitting in a potting shed that is a damp and ugly eyesore in the middle of their beautifully tended garden?

It’s a choice about how best to compliment your landscaping. Plan ahead. Work out what buildings you are going to want and incorporate them into the design from the start. Make them part of the flow and overall look. If necessary adjust your designs accordingly to make sure that the buildings fit. You can hide them away or make them focal points. It’s up to you.

And if you’re putting in the effort, make sure that you invest in high quality garden buildings and furniture. It may cost a little more, but do not be drawn in by the temptations of false economy. Through your landscaping design you can make a garden that is as high or low maintenance as you desire, but if your garden buildings fall apart your only choice will be to replace them far sooner than you planned.

Things your kids don’t want to know about Saving Energy

Energy saving; might be a bit boring if you’re twelve. Which is a shame really, because for many non-tax paying youths, it’s something that fuels their lives (or their phones and games). And, as the bill funding adult, you have every right to be interested in the bills. And not only that, but saving is vital for the future of the world, for as many reasons as you might be able to imagine. As such, here’s a handy guide on how to save energy at home and in the wider world around you, but only for grown-ups.

  1. Turn the TV off – Whether the kids are watching it or not, television might be thought of as a waste of electricity. Take out the plug ad throw it away, and give your young one’s a book. This also goes for games consoles, and computers too.
  2. Consider the switch – Anything you need to flip to turn on should be considered as a waste of energy. Electric blankets, heating in the summer, baths and stoves are all potential over users of energy.
  3. Use recycled goods – What’s the difference between a note-pad of recycled paper and non-recycled? Very little, as it happens. It’s the same with clothes, buy vintage, or at charity shop goods.
  4. Create recycled goods – Make sure you deposit all recycling in the correct bins, whether mixed paper, glass and so on. This reduces land fill, and ultimately if everyone recycled, our country, or even planet, would be in a far healthier place.

That’s just a few I thought best to let you know about. There are more tips on how to save energy around the internet, and even something that may get the kids interested. Remember, they are the future, and what we’re here to safeguard!