SPF or DIY – what does the holiday hold for you?

Private Property South Africa

The holiday season is upon us and, while many will be jetting off for distant shores, just as many will be quite happy to stay at home and enjoy some quality time with family and friends. But the holiday season is also a good time to get cracking on all those odd jobs you’ve been meaning to do around the house all year …

While large-scale projects are better left to the professionals, there are plenty of inexpensive, easy-to-do projects you can undertake around the home. For instance, you can use your “staycation” to de-clutter, replace light bulbs and re-wire plugs, spruce up your outdoor area or take on slightly more involved projects such as adding shelves, repainting a room or sanding and repairing old furniture. Fixing broken, chipped and cracked tiles and refreshing grout could also fall under this banner.

Tile file

Luckily, replacing cracked or broken tiles is fairly straightforward, doesn’t require much in the way of tools and shouldn’t take more than a few hours to do if you follow these simple guidelines:

You will need replacement tiles, a grout rake, a small chisel, a hammer, grout, tile adhesive, a grout squeegee and sponge. Ensure that you keep all sharp tools out of reach of children and wear safety goggles when breaking tiles.

  • Start by removing the grout from around the cracked tile with a grout rake, which can be bought from most DIY retailers. Run the blade back and forth in the middle of the grout joint. Eventually you’ll wear away a line of grout all the way to the substrate. Try not to use too much force or you could knock tiles loose. It’s a good idea to cover the adjacent undamaged tiles with newspaper to ensure they don’t chip or crack.

  • Once you’ve cut a clean line all the way around the affected tile, carefully break it with a hammer and remove the fragments with a chisel. Clear away any adhesive that remains on the substrate.

  • Carefully and patiently remove the grout that remains attached to the sides of the adjacent tiles with a small chisel and hammer. Tap the chisel gently with the hammer to avoid damaging the edges of these tiles.

  • Once clear of debris, the new tile can be installed. You can use an ordinary or a rapid-setting adhesive, which will allow you to walk on the tile soon after installation. Mix the necessary amount according to the instructions and press the tile firmly into place.

  • Once the adhesive has set, clear the joints of any residue, mix some matching grout according to the instructions and apply over the joints with the grout squeegee. Allow the grout to set for a few hours and then wipe off any excess with a wet sponge.

If your tile grout just needs to be refreshed, there are a number of options to pursue says Sharon Margon, technical adviser at TAL, which specialises in tile and construction adhesives. Depending on the state of the grout, Sharon explains that you can use specially formulated cleaning agents that clean old and dirty grout, a grout pen, or you can scrape out the old grout and re-do the joints.

“Just remember that grout colour is a very personal choice and will depend on whether you want the grout to blend with or contrast against the tiles,” adds Sharon.

Lastly, when tackling DIY ideas and projects, consider involving your family – this is a great way to spend time together, and can teach children valuable lessons about home care.

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