Learn about the many aspects of renovating a home or property, inside and out. This course covers topics such as carpentry, landscaping, project management, and healthy buildings.

Course Code: VSS018
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
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Learn things that can help you to renovate a home

This is an in-depth course designed to appeal to people who would like to renovate their home, or who are interested in buying a house to renovate. It covers a range of different skills to help students learn how to undertake different tasks from repairing roofs to rebuilding walls and hanging doors.

Learn about how to construct by cutting, joining or fixing stone, timber, plasterboard or other materials. Find out how to use a range of tools. Discover different types of finishes. See how you can also renovate the grounds and gardens around your home. Make your own practical projects along the way and receive helpful feedback on your assignments.

The course is mainly aimed at renovation of homes and single house properties, but you could adapt what you learn to larger properties.  



Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the ADVANCED CERTIFICATE IN HOME RENOVATION .
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 6 modules.

Note that each module in the ADVANCED CERTIFICATE IN HOME RENOVATION is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Using Paint on Masonry

Some paints are suitable for use on masonry, but others are not. It really depends on the masonry and where it is located.


Most bricks are not really intended to be painted so applying paint is not always ideal. Considering you can get bricks in a wide range of finishes and colours it may be better to select bricks that you like from the outset. If you do paint exterior brick walls or structures, they will need to be repainted every five years or so.

Often people make the mistake of painting bricks which have deteriorated. Maybe they have become chipped or they have residues on the surface caused by dampness. In painting these bricks, you are locking in problems. Bricks which are damp will remain damp and this can cause paint to flake off. Bricks which are chipped or crumbly are also likely to continue crumbling if the cause is not addressed. If you change your mind about paintwork, removing paint from bricks is difficult and may not be totally successful.    

The purpose of paint is often cosmetic i.e. to make a wall appear more aesthetically pleasing. At other times it may be to make an area brighter to reflect light away or perhaps darker to absorb more light and heat. The purpose of a sealant is to provide a barrier on the surface. Sealants may be used to stop or reduce water penetration. They may be applied before painting a wall or in isolation. 

Paints should be selected wisely. Bricks, being porous, need to 'breathe'. You also need to use a primer or two layers of primer so that the top coat has enough depth of colour. Some systems involve using a conditioner as well as a primer. It is wise to seek advice from paint suppliers about options for masonry paint. Exterior paints for brickwork are usually latex based and are a slightly different formula to those designed for interior walls.  

When painting internal walls, it is important that surfaces are dry and clean. New bricks should be allowed to dry for at least a year. Clean bricks by washing with soapy water and not chemicals. Allow to dry for a day before painting. Heat and ventilation inside buildings can cause paints to dry out too quickly so you may wish to adjust them.

External walls should also be cleaned before painting. If there is mortar missing then rake and re-point mortar joints and give plenty of time to dry. Wash off efflorescence, dirt and mould. 

Another option is to stain bricks. Stains penetrate the brick and therefore colour the whole brick but they are more expensive than paints which basically just adhere to the surface. Stains are a permanent solution so should be chosen with care.    

Plaster and Plasterboard

Once again, when painting plaster finishes, paints should be selected wisely. Generally, emulsions are fine but acrylic paints are more durable. On new walls, wipe off any dust and ensure any holes are filled and sanded. Bare plasterboard can be painted with a primer coat which acts as a sealant. Bare plaster can also be treated the same way but usually the primer is especially formulated for plaster. 

Walls which have previously been painted will need to be cleaned. Sugar soap is ideal for removing grease and dirt. This is all that is required for low sheen and matt surfaces. For gloss surfaces the high sheen can be taken off after cleaning by sanding them down with medium grit sandpaper. Wipe off any dust before painting. Walls which have previously been painted dark are best given more layers of undercoat to conceal the colour than additional top coats.

Lining paper can also be applied to plaster walls before painting. To remove old lining paper or wallpaper a steam machine and hand held scraper works well. Some papers will just peel off quite easily. Glue is best washed off. 

Before painting walls, it is a good idea to remove all furniture and to cover floors with protective sheets. The use of masking tape at the edges of walls is a good aid to help get a good finish when 'cutting in'. Simply remove the tape afterwards. 

Paving and Driveways

As with other surfaces, before sealing a driveway or paved area ensure it is clean. Hire a jet wash if necessary and remove grease and dirt. A stiff broom will help to remove stubborn pieces of dirt. Sealing concrete or brick will help to limit water penetration. Water in surfaces will freeze in colder regions and cause surface cracks and blistering. Sealants which penetrate concrete should only be applied after it has cured (28 days). An epoxy based or siloxane/silane sealant can be applied when the surface is dry. It must be done when there is going to be about 24 hours of dry weather afterwards otherwise it won't seal properly. Sealants can be applied with brushes or rollers. Epoxy based sealants also guard against oil stains on driveways. Sealants for use on brick paving are also available and their application follows the same steps.
To paint concrete or pavers, paving paints must be used. These are generally very viscous (thick) and so a small amount of turps is added. This thins the paint slightly making it more workable but also helps it to stick to the paving surface. Some paint systems may involve using a primer before applying paint. One or more top coats may be needed and a driveway will usually require a longer waiting period, e.g. 7 days, before being used for cars.     


Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Alexander O'Brien

Alex was born and raised in Cork, in the Republic of Ireland. Having been trained in Architecture, Permaculture, Mechanical Engineering, Ceramics, Furniture Design/Construction, Sustainable building and Art,Craft and Design, his knowledge base is broad. Much of his professional work has been designing and making nature inspired spaces, creative reuse of materials, permaculture and natural ecology regeneration.

That being said, in his own words, " real passion is teaching. I adore sharing my knowledge and experience. Seeing students progress, and learning, that is my soul food."'

Gaynor Hartley

Dip.Hort.Sc., Cert.Tiss.Cult., MAIH

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