How To Restore Your Old Home The Right Way

If you're living in an old home - maybe it was once your parents home, or your parent's parent's home! - You may not want to move and sell it because there are so many stories and memories that have been created there. Having said that, things may not be running as they should because of its age, so it may be time to restore it, so it's a little easier to live in.
Here are the best tips out there for doing so.


Clean carefully
If you want to clean away dirt and grime from your antique hardware, use cleaners that have natural ingredients inside that won't damage your items.

Gently remove paint
If you want to take off paint that has been there for years, using a solution of trisodium phosphate and water is the best option. It will take away the paint without destroying half a century's worth of patina.

Be patient
Don't expect the paint to just lift off straight away, especially if there are multiple layers of it. When the paint does loosen, very carefully rub it off, and keep going until all the layers of paint have been removed. Then finish it off with a light scour that has an extremely fine steel wool.

Understand the item
If you're looking for a lock, for example, make sure you know as much information as you can about it. Find out what kind of interior mechanism it has. Take different measurements and photos from different angles. Then you can use all of that information to find what you're looking for.


The same mortar
If you're using new mortar, it should be as identical as possible to the previous one, that means the same elevation, color, and consistency. If you don't do this, you may end up damaging the building instead of improving it.

Don't grind joints
The only reason you should be removing mortar is if it's deteriorated. Never try grinding down anything healthy otherwise you may damage the whole structure.

No sealers
Sealers will trap the moisture, which means you will be sure to face problems during the freeze and thaw cycles.

Replace the quality
If something is damaged and has to be removed and replaced, do so with the same material and quality as what was taken off. If you try going for the 'quick fix,' you will ruin what you have.

Slate Roofing

The longevity
There would be no point cashing out on money to repair your roof if it has nearly reached its longevity, so find that out first. Then you know whether to maintain it or replace it.

Inspect it
Once a year, take out your binoculars and inspect your roof. Have a look for any broken, sliding or missing slates. If you see a problem, you'll know it's time to do something about it.

Know what slate
Identify exactly what kind of slate is used for your roof before you do anything to it. If it doesn't match, it will not only look bad, but it won't protect your roof properly either.

Do the research
Sites like give you all the information you need about the different types of repairs you will need and why, along with a service they can provide you with, so always do your reading first.


Keep it
If you remove the original plaster, it takes away the historical element and will dramatically change the value of your house if you replace it with something inferior like drywall.

Fill the cracks
If you are getting cracks in the plaster, dig them out in a V-notch style, and fill them in with plaster or a setting compound to give you a longer-lasting repair that won't be visible.

Practice beforehand
Test out your mix and application technique on a board or in an inconspicuous area before you attempt the real thing. This will just make sure you know exactly what you're going to do without error. You can find tips on how to plaster on


Don't mess with a one-pipe steam radiator
You either need to keep one valve completely open or completely closed. If you don't do this, you can expect a water feature that you didn't ask for.

Make it pretty
Get in a professional to sandblast your radiator, and then coat it in special powder - you will be left with a beautiful, long-lasting finish.

Don't stress about fire
A radiators maximum temperature is half as hot as it would need to get to kindle paper, even with steam heat. So no need to worry.


Avoid sapwood at all costs
It is very susceptible to mold and fungus because it contains so much moisture inside, meaning it will also shrink a considerable amount when dry. Heartwood is your safest bet as it's resistant. Here are some other differences on

Heart side up
When installing plain sawn lumber, put it in heart side up. If it's flat lumber, it will wear a lot better, and if there is cupping, the edges will remain flat while only the center may curve a little.

Use hand tools
You will not be able to reproduce historical woodwork finishes with a modern machine like a sander - it just can't be done. So learn how to use the old fashioned hand tools when working with your wood.


Keep your wood windows
Original wood windows can last centuries, whereas plastic framing gets replaced less than ten years old due to seals failing to insulate the glass, the glass going foggy, plastic parts getting stuck and can't be repaired.

They are unique
Every window is different, so they should be seen as individuals as a pose to a group. One of the front windows may need repairing, while the other is perfectly fine. Or they may both need repairing, but for two completely different reasons.

Keep the vintage
Maintain the windows that you have so they last. They are an original feature that aren't seen in ordinary houses nowadays, so show off that vintage quirk. It adds an authentic character that can't be faked.

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