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Check out our useful hints and tips articles to help you get the best out of your home interiors projects.

Canal boat living: top three tips for keeping your home afloat

Houseboat. Photograph by Siggy Nowak

Bring up canal boats and anyone who's ever backpacked across Europe will instantly start reminiscing about Amsterdam. The sight of endless rows of quaint and colourful houseboats gently bobbing away is the stuff of dreams.

But the reality of living on the water is far from the picturesque image you've taken away from your summer break to Europe's canal capital.

Choose to live on the UK's ample waterways and you'll be subject to council tax and mooring charges. Worse than the hidden costs, though, is the never-ending to-do list of general maintenance tasks that call for some serious elbow grease.

Still, the hard work involved isn't enough to put off the estimated 11,000 people currently residing in canal boats. If they can survive it, then so can you.

To keep your boat above water, all you need to do is follow a strict housekeeping routine and you'll be merrily floating away from the constraints of a traditional home. Here are our top tips for getting into the swing of things.

#1: Get your toolkit in order

A good workman never blames his tools, because he knows he's only using the best. Skimping on the essential products and equipment you need to keep your boat in peak condition will only cost you more in the long run.

Be prepared for every eventuality and freak problem that could occur by making sure you're fully stocked with all the essentials, from marine glue to a Stanley knife for cutting through even the toughest of mooring ropes.

#2: Look after the hull

Water is a powerful force of nature, not least because of its erosive quality. Since the hull sits underneath the surface most of the time, it's the area that will need most care and attention.

A protective coating should do the trick, and depending on the type you pick you'll need to give it a once-over every three to five years.

This blacking of the hull is a lengthy process which involves the tricky task of getting your canal boat out of the water. Make sure you schedule enough time and get plenty of help for the smoothest possible operation.

#3: Avoid breakdowns

Breakdowns are just as likely on a canal boat as they are when driving a car, so you should take similar care to ensure that the mechanics and electrics are in full working order.

Issues with fuel and water contamination are the biggest cause of engine failures. Build-ups of damaging dirt and enzymes can normally be avoided with regular services and cleanings.

Your last step is to make sure you have the appropriate insurance to cover breakdowns, as well as the general wear-and-tear problems that accumulate over time.

For a trouble-free and exciting new way of life, bear these three tips in mind as you start your canal boat adventure.

Photo credit: Siggy Nowak

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