Byline: DIY EXPERT DONNY SHERIDAN ANSWERS YOUR PROBLEMS
Q We have a monoblock drive and want to replace as it needs lots of cleaning to look nice. Any low maintenance, attractive replacements? Jean Young, by email A Weeds and moss will always form on block paving, especially in shade. Regular pressure-washing removes the top finish - then the surface is no longer smooth and even harder to clean.
Gravel is the solution. It's easy to lay and just needs a rake now and then. It's also a deterrent to would-be burglars as you can hear them coming!
Q We recently removed an ivy growing up a painted roughcast wall. How do we remove the mess of tendrils? Sheena Anderson, by email A You have no chance of removing those pesky tentacles - I recently wore a screwdriver down to a metal pin trying to get the little suckers off. I eventually gave up. I tried a heat gun, wire brush and jet wash but ended up painting the wall. I can still see them.
donny's top tip Expecting visitors? Freshen-up your home quickly by spraying furniture polish behind a radiator to kill any stale odours.
QI moved into my house a year ago and converted the cellar to a "man cave". The previous owner had put a window on the coal chute so I painted the bricks white. Hard lumps have formed behind the paint. I don't think it's damp because they feel dry to the touch. Nick Locke, by email A As cellars tend to be below the DPC, with soil against external walls, they can be damp even if they seem dry. Scrape off a lump and you will probably see a build-up of salts, as well as any contamination from the coal, like tar.
To use the cellar as a living space you will probably have to tank the walls, as sealers won't hold back contaminants or moisture. Try monitoring first: scrape off the lumps and paint an area. Take a photo and see how fast the lumps come back.
Q What is the best way to remove several layers of concrete floor paint in preparation for re-sealing and painting? Dave Ross, by email A Once cured, concrete floor paint is bomb proof! It's designed to resist chemicals and oil. Scrape off any flakes, wash with detergent, then repaint. If you want to remove the paint you will need to hire a texture surface remover and grind it off, but painting over it is fine.
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