Planning ahead for winter

We’re getting to that time of year – summer (or what little we saw of it) is behind us and, as winter approaches, your DIYers will start thinking about those RMI tasks before the arrival of harsher weather. So what advice can merchants be offering to customers to support this?

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common issues that tend to crop up and how your customers can identify any issues before they escalate.

Fence posts

Now’s the time to check fence posts before autumn kicks in with the inevitable gales. And checking the stability of any fencing sooner rather than later is a simple way for your customers to avoid a whole lot of extra work and cost come a bad spell of weather.

Suggest they look for any fence posts that need to be reset. Doing so is a simple task. Use a quick setting, no mix concrete product, such as Blue Circle Postcrete which can be used for fixing wooden, concrete or metal posts. As a general rule around 25% of the post should be buried below ground. Then, simply fill the hole one third with clean water and pour in the product evenly around the post until dry powder is visible on the surface.  It will set in as little as 10 minutes.

Exterior brickwork

Another simple job is looking out for any areas of brickwork where mortar is either missing or loose and crumbly. These areas should be repaired by raking out the joint and re-pointing with a suitable mortar. A general purpose (designation iii) mortar is normally suitable for most houses and pre-mixed, bagged products are readily available. One containing hydrated lime as well as cement (such as Blue Circle Quality Assured Mortar) is more cohesive and flexible and can accommodate slight movements in the brickwork.

It’s worth also suggesting that they keep an eye out too for any ‘efflorescence’ on exterior brickwork and walls. This is the white chalky marks left when water leaves behind salt deposits on the masonry surface or when lime migrates from cement. This can appear over several years and, again, repointing the mortar will help. Your customer should start by cleaning the face of brickwork with a mild acid or brick cleaner and then repoint with mortar such as Tarmac Blue Circle Quality Assured Mortar.

Repairing Patios

Pointing between patio slabs should also be checked this time of year. Pre-mixed bagged mortar is, again, suitable here. Just remind your customers that, in cold weather, cement and mortar will set and harden more slowly and so will require protection for the first day or so after placing. As a rule of thumb, if the outdoor temperature is less than 3oC and falling it is best not to try making mortar.


One essential check should be to review gutters and down-pipes for leakage – water leaking onto brickwork walls for prolonged periods of time can result in white staining or, in more extreme circumstances, cause the bricks to become saturated with water which can lead to the ‘blowing’ of the face off the brick if it freezes in winter. Prevention is always better than cure, so fixing the odd leak in a pipe is much simpler (and less costly) than repairing whole areas of brickwork.

Looking after tools

Finally, your customers should remember that tools also need to be ‘put to bed’ for the winter. They should ensure that they are properly cleaned before they are put away – a light film of oil on trowels, shovels and other tools will help to protect them from rust, as the air in many sheds is often a bit humid.

About Guest Blogger - Garry Gregory

packed products director Tarmac Cement

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