Having recently gone against my own philosophy when it came to buy my circular saw, I found myself again ignoring one of my general rules for doing DIY. This time, it was replacing an original feature with something new. I am a huge fan or original features, and with few remaining in our Victorian house, the last thing I ever though I would do would be to replace such a feature with something made of plastic.
While we were in the process of buying our house, we had a building survey completed. One of the observations was that the original cast iron guttering around the bay window was not looking good. There were holes in it, where sections were joined together, and it was not doing its job.
A few months after we moved in I managed to get a ladder high enough to inspect it closely. Once I did this, I became rather concerned when I learned that the corrosion was so bad, one section was pivoting on a single bolt, and partly being held in place by the roof tiles at one end. I decided to take it down immediately.
To my surprise, this was a rather straightforward task. The cast iron gutters were made up of three parts, each held up by two fairly chunky bolts (except for where the gutter had rusted away around one of these, leaving only the other supporting it). So that was easy enough, but then came the snowball of subsequent issues. The facia boards into which the gutters were fixed were rotting in places.
In fairness, they were over 100 years old. It was a difficult decision as to whether to cut out the rotten would and replace, or to take down all the fascia boards and replace with new ones. My feeling was that it would be just as much work to patch up the existing ones as it would be to make new ones. Out came the crowbar and down came the old boards. It was messy work, but again, they came down with relative ease. It soon became clear that the bottom row of tiles was largely supported by the boards, which from what I’ve read, is quite normal. I managed to prevent them from sliding out and dropping to the ground, and promptly measure up for the new boards. It would perhaps have been an easy option to go with uPVC as the replacement material, however I’d recently gained confidence in my woodworking ability when I replaced a stair tread, so I decided to fabricate my own from planks of pine. I bought two lengths of planed pine and a tin of outdoor gloss and got to work measuring angles and routing the decorative edge to the bottom of the boards.
Since the pine was going to be outside, I opted to paint both sides prior to installation so that the wood was well and truly weatherproofed. A further coat was applied after installation too.
Before installing the newly made fascia boards, I decided it would be best to also change the soffits, especially given that these would be even easier to make as they required no decorative edges and I could use a basic pine stripwood from the big orange diy store. A few holes drilled along the length of the soffits allows for ventilation, given that soffit vents bought off the shelf have a diameter of 70mm, whereas my soffits themselves are only 68mm wide.
With all the woodwork primed and painted, it was an easy task to secure them, using a few clamps in lieu of an extra pair of hands to hold in place while I drove galvanised nails through. A small amount of outdoor sealant was required to fill in the gaps, then another coat of the outdoor gloss.
Having inspected the neighbour’s guttering from street level, I though that most people had unnecessarily broad guttering around what is a small roof surface on the bay windows. For that reason, I chose to use Floplast Miniflo, which is really designed for use with sheds. Rather than the standard 112mm width, Miniflo guttering is 78mm wide, meaning the gutter is also shallower. I had to shop around to get all the parts, with Screwfix being the only place I could find the 135° angle required for the corners of the bay. During installation, one of the clips on the angle snapped, meaning I had to stop part way through and wait a couple of days for the replacement to arrive, which was rather annoying.
Given this was the first project of this kind that I have attempted, and that it ended up being a larger project than anticipated, I am rather pleased with the finish. When I walk down the street, I certainly notice everyone else’s guttering, and have a feeling of pride in the way ours has turned out.