Look Better .  Making It Look Good.

All over a building there are odd little things that crop up, that are not real mistakes, but they could look better.  Here are a few.

Joinery Work

A basic principle of joinery work, is that knowing the way that timber shrinks over time, you try to minimise the visual effect when it does so.  You arrange your cuts so that if and when the joint opens up it will not be seen easily.
   If you walk into a room, looking from the door, the piece of skirting opposite you would be a piece  with plain ends. The two side pieces to your left and right would be scribed to it. The remaining pieces scribed to those.

This is no great worry now with paint finish jobs but it should still be done on clear finish, quality work.

If you just do an internal mitre, when the joint opens it will been seen easily.

click here for a description of the scribing of a skirting board.


Doors should be hung in such a way that they cover the room.  Especially bathrooms and bedrooms.  As you start opening the door you do not see straight into the room.  You give the person inside a bit of privacy.  
This is another one that has bitten the dust.  All doors seem to be hung on the wall side, giving a clear view of the room as you barge in.  I must admit that many times the ease of moving furniture, cleaning etc the wall side is more convenient.
At least now you know the options (most people don't) and can pick for yourself.

Roofing and Metal Sheeting

Corrugated iron roofing has come back in fashion here where I am.  

It always looks better from the side with the overlaps facing away from you.  The other way you look at it you see the bumps where the joins are.  

So you should lay the sheets so that as  visitors are walking in from the street towards the front door they will see the best appearance.  Very basic stuff, costs nothing to do it right yet guys don't do it any more.  Most have never even heard of it.

There is on exception to this advice.  Most roofers also have not heard about the fact that the laps should be facing away from the prevailing weather, so if you have your bad weather from one direction more than any other, lay your laps so that the weather blows over them and not into them.  We get most of our bad weather in the wet season, in the form of the N.W. monsoonal storms etc.

There are many similar things happen with wall claddings and metal trims.  Try to hide the overlaps from the most common view point.

Wallpaper No.2

There are no rooms where wallpaper fits perfect, that is where the last roll fixed  joins to the first roll, and the pattern matches perfectly.  Just doesn't happen.  So my old mate Holmesy like all good tradesmen finishes the last joint over the door in the corner.  The shortest and least seen joint.  Common sense.

Vertical Lines

checking columns for plumb
Look good - checking columns visually.
My old mate Tom has a bad habit when visiting someone else's job site  of losing interest in what you are saying, focusing on a spot over your shoulder and slowly closing one eye.  He doesn't know he is doing it half the time.

What he is doing is lining up two columns to see if they are plumb, or a corner of the building with another corner etc.  He can then say "one of those columns is 15mm out of plumb Bill", and be spot on in his diagnosis.

He looks from the inside of one column to the outside of the other and slowly moves his point of view so that there is only a small line of daylight between the two.

The eye can detect very small differences this way.  You don't have to have had nearly 50 years in the building game like Tom to see it either.  

People will see things like this and have a vague feeling that something is wrong, but they can't pinpoint it.

We used to build high set houses on concrete columns.  Sometimes we would have say twenty steel column forms set up by spirit level and string lines, braced, ready to pour concrete.
 Always I used to walk around and do the final adjustments by eye, one column off the other, in rows, across diagonals.  It is basic.  It is the way that your visitors will do it.

Don't trust your spirit level one hundred percent. With the concrete column forms, some were a bit bent of kinked, some had a little twist.  Step back and see them in total. Sometimes a little fudging is needed to make it look right.

When all else fails, make a feature of it.

I used to work with a guy who's motto was "if you drop a clanger (make a mistake), make a feature of it."

I refurbished a set of government offices once, and the joiner that had supplied and made a large reception counter, could not get a perfect fit on the joints of the bench top.  He swore blind that they fit perfectly in the workshop.  It was his fault, but my job.  So I got him to router a 3mm groove along all the joints, good and bad and fit polished aluminium strips into them.  They looked like they were born there, a really nice feature.

    Be Different ?

By all means be different, difference is the spice of life.  I say do your research first and make sure you are not being different just for it's own sake.

I did a job a while back and the owner wanted to do things differently.  Sample conversation,
Owner-  "We'll not have any cornices Bill ! "
Me -  "Cornices are there for a reason, same with skirting boards, they cover a structural joint in the building, where movement occurs, they have been used for centuries, everybody has them because they do a good job, and because everybody has them they are cheap to buy and fix."
Owner-  "That's the reason we don't want them, we're not everybody, we're different. We don't want a plasterboard ceiling (drywall) and we don't want a cornice. "

The result is, he has a rolled metal ceiling (Mini-Orb) with a galv. finish and an aluminium angle trim around the top.  It lets vermin from the roof space (cockroaches, spiders etc.) have access to his bedrooms, it does not comply with our Australian energy rating levels for heat loss in a conditioned space.  It was heaps dearer than it needed to be.

By far the largest worry for me though is the fact that when he comes to sell the joint, most of his prospective buyers will wonder why the hell he used that stuff for a ceiling.'s different.

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Please Note! The information on this site is offered as a guide only!  When we are talking about areas where building regulations or safety regulations could exist,the information here could be wrong for your area.  It could be out of date!  Regulations breed faster than rabbits!
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Copyright © Bill Bradley 2007-2012. All rights reserved.
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