Life hacks to become a DIY guru

Everyone enjoys a simple life-hack; every day, simple solutions that make hard or complex tasks easy and even fun to complete. This month we have put our heads together to come up with a full list of top tips to help you become a DIY guru. From simple maths you may need to putting up shelves, this list has got it all covered!

How to put up shelves

The simplest way to put up shelves is with brackets — check first that they suit the size of the weight they will bear. Next, choose the position for the shelf. Use a multipurpose detector to locate studs and ensure you’re not drilling into any cables or pipes. Hold the shelf in place and mark the position of the bottom edge on the wall in pencil. Use a tape measure to mark the position of both brackets, making sure they are evenly spaced. Use a spirit level to check that the shelf line and the bracket marks are level. Hold the brackets in position and mark the position of the fixing holes on the wall with a pencil, then with a bradawl or nail. Drill holes at these markings to the depth of your wall plugs and push the wall plug into the hole.

For long screws (they need to go 25mm at least into the wall), drill pilot holes first, which will help to guide the drill. When you have made the holes, screw the brackets into place. Lay the shelf on the brackets and mark the fixing holes with a pencil, then with a bradawl or nail through the bracket on the underside of the shelf. Remove the shelf, change the drill bit, then drill holes in the shelf for screws, if not already predrilled. Don’t go all the way through the board. Put the shelf back on the brackets and screw the fixings into place.

How to calculate percentages

Of all the maths that you learn at school, there is one bit that is almost impossible to avoid in adult life: percentages — and everyone forgets how to do it. “Per cent” means “divided by 100”. So 35 per cent simply means 35 divided by 100. We usually write it with a symbol: 35%. The easiest percentage to work out is 10 per cent of something, because 10 per cent is one tenth, so you are dividing by ten. The good news is that if you can work out 10 per cent, you can work out other percentages too. What is 30 per cent of 90? You can easily work out 10 per cent of 90: 9. And 30 per cent is just three lots of 10 per cent, and 3 x 9 = 27.

You may find yourself having to do calculations involving percentages. These are always in the form “work out blah-blah per cent of”. You can always think of the word “of” here as meaning “multiplied by”. So if you want to work out 20 per cent of 50, translate this into 20 divided by 100, multiplied by 50. For example, suppose you’ve had a quote of £3,250 from a builder but he hasn’t included the VAT, which is 20 per cent. The VAT is “20 per cent of £3,250”. So if you’re using a calculator, you’d work it out as: 20/100 x £3,250, which works out as £650.

How to bleed a radiator

If the top of your radiator is cold while the bottom is warm, it has air in the system and needs to be bled. Get a radiator key or a flat-headed screwdriver. Turn off the heating. Start with the highest radiators in your house and work down. Locate the bleed valve, which will be in one of the top corners of the radiator — some may have a valve that can be turned on with an adjustable spanner. Place a rag or small bowl on the floor underneath the valve to protect the floor from water spills. Protect your hands — the water could be very hot. Insert the radiator key into the valve and turn anticlockwise by a quarter or half-turn — do not unscrew it by more than one full turn. Listen as the air hisses and escapes and, as soon as the water starts to appear, turn the key clockwise to shut off the valve.

How to arrange flowers in a vase

For a simple arrangement, all you need is a container — one of my favourites is an old jam jar — a few flowers and bits of greenery. First, always use odd numbers of flowers in your arrangements, usually three or five stems. Put your foliage in first to help you to get the basic shape right; the flowers can slot in afterwards. Buy as many flowers as you can afford. Even if that’s not very many, it’s what you do with them that counts. And don’t be a flower snob — some well-arranged carnations can look just as good as more expensive flowers.

How to get rid of moths from your home

Clothes moths like to live in natural products of animal origin, such as woven fibres (carpets, rugs, cloths), fur, wool and feather items. You need to resolve the root cause of the infestation. If you are certain that only one item of clothing is the cause of the issue, dispose of it immediately. Vacuum thoroughly to remove the larvae from your carpet or rugs. A photo-stable pyrethroid insecticide should be available at your local garden centre or DIY outlet, which can help to get rid of the larvae not removed by vacuuming. In future, keep clothing made of natural fibres in sealed plastic bags to protect them.

If the problem is large scale or in many rooms, contact a professional pest controller — search “find a pest controller” at bpca.org.uk

Have you got any other life hacks that you use to save you time and money? Get in touch with us to share your ideas via out contact page. We hope our list of top tips has inspired you to DIY and finally get around to completing that project you have been putting off!