Q: How do I convert square feet to square metres easily?

A. Well you could use the formula of 1 Square Foot = 0.09290304, or you could do a much simpler thing and go online and use an instant calculator. Just google the figure you’re trying to convert or try

Q.What’s the best sort of measuring tape for DIY and general home use?

A. Something with a soft grip and with a good belt clip to keep in on hand. If you’re working alone an automatic tape that winds out and returns on battery operation and offers manual operation with a simple push lock is handy. If you are in mainland Europe, pick up a metric only tape with metric measurements on the top and bottom edge.

Q: I have a marble fireplace that I really want to change, but can’t replace. Can I re-paint it?

A. Are you sure it is marble? Slate can often be mistaken for marble, and there is a great difference between the two, not only in price but in quality, if the firepiece is old. An old fireplace should be valued first, before any alterations are made to the surface — it may be worth more than you think.

If it’s a fairly modern fire piece, then it may be worth ringing the changes. Check if the surround gets hot when the fire is lit, because then you are faced with using a stove or heat-resistant paint. Roughen the entire surface of the marble with a medium grit (36) sandpaper before applying an oil based primer. Follow with at least two layers of a top coat again in an oil product, sanding between coats. Marble is difficult to get right as it can slough off any coating. Having a carpenter disguise the surround in a timber casing would be a better option in my view. Slate, on the other hand, can look good with a clear, gloss finish and if applied correctly, should withstand the heat.


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