Assembling a bathroom basin vanity unit

Vanity unit basins are usually sold complete with a waste and overflow unit which resembles that of a modern stainless steel sink. A flexible tube connects the overflow outlet of the basin with a sleeve or ‘banjo’ unit which fits tightly round a slotted waste fitting. With both types of basin the flange of the waste outlet has to be bedded into the hole provided for it in the basin on a layer of plumber‘s putty. The thread of the screwed waste must also be smeared with jointing compound to ensure a watertight seal where the ‘banjo’ connects to it.

bathroom basin vanity unit


The outlet of the waste must, of course, connect to a trap and branch waste pipe. At one time it was the practice to use ‘shallow seal’ traps with a 50mm (2in) depth of seal for two-pipe drainage systems, and ‘deep seal’ traps with a 75mm (3in) depth of seal for single stack systems. Today, however, deep seal traps are always fitted. Of course, the modern bottle trap is one of the most common types used. It’s neater looking and requires less space than a traditional U-trap. Where it’s concealed behind a pedestal or in a vanity unit you can use one made of plastic, but there are chromium-plated and brass types if you have a wall-hung basin where trap and waste will be clearly visible. The one drawback with bottle traps is that they discharge water more slowly than a U-trap. You can now also buy traps with telescopic inlets that make it much easier to provide a push-fit connection to an existing copper or plastic branch waste pipe.

Connecting up the water supply

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to take out the old basin and install a new one without making some modification to the pipework. It’s almost certain that the tap holes will be in a different position. To complicate matters further, taps are now made with shorter tails so you’ll probably have to extend the supply pipes by a short length.

If you’re installing new supply pipes, how you run them will depend on the type of basin you’re putting in. With a wall-hung basin or the pedestal type, the hot and cold pipes are usually run neatly together up the back wall and then bent round to the tap tails. But as a vanity unit will conceal the plumbing there’s no need to run the pipes together. You might find it difficult to bend the required angles, so an easy way round the problem is to use flexible corrugated copper pipe which you can bend by hand to the shape you need.

You can buy the pipe with a swivel tap connector at one end and a plain connector, on which you can use capillary or compression fittings at the other. If you’re using ordinary copper pipe, the easiest way to start is by bending the pipe to the correct angle first, and then cutting the pipe to the right length at each end afterwards.

Preparing the basin

Before you fix the basin in position, you’ll need to fit the taps (or mixer) and the waste. It’s much easier to do this at this stage than later when the basin is against the wall because you will have more room to manoeuvre in. When fitting the taps all you have to do is to remove the back-nuts and slip flat plastic washers over the tails (if they aren’t there already). The taps can then be positioned in the holes in the basin. When this has been done more plastic washers (or top hat washers) have to be slipped over the tails before the back-nuts are replaced. It’s important not to overtighten these as it’s quite easy to damage a ceramic basin.

Because some vanity unit basins are made of a thinner material, you may find that the shanks of the taps fitted into them will protrude below the under-surface of the basin. The result is that when the back-nut is fully tightened, it still isn’t tight against the underside of the basin. To get round the problem you have to fit a top hat washer over the shank so the back-nut can be screwed up against it. Mixers usually have one large washer or gasket between the base of the mixer and the top of the basin and you fix them in exactly the same way. When you’ve fitted the taps you can then fit the waste. With a ceramic basin you’ll have to use a slotted waste to enable water from the overlfow to escape into the drainage pipe. Getting this in place means first removing the back-nut so you can slip it through the outlet hole in the basin – which itself should be coated with a generous layer of plumber’s putty.

It’s essential to make sure that the slot in the waste fitting coincides with the outlet of the basin’s builtin overflow. You’ll then have to smear jointing compound on the protruding screw thread of the tail, slip on a plastic washer and replace and tighten the back-nut. As you do this the waste flange will probably try to turn on its seating, but you can prevent this by holding the grid with pliers as you tighten the back-nut. Finally, any excess putty that is squeezed out as the flange is tightened against the basin should be wiped away. A vanity unit will probably be supplied with a combined waste and overflow unit. This is a flexible hose that has to be fitted (unlike a ceramic basin, where it’s an integral part of the appliance). The slotted waste is bedded in in exactly the same way as a waste on a ceramic basin. You then have to fit one end of the overflow to the basin outlet and slip the ‘banjo’ outlet on the other end over the tail of the waste to cover the slot. It’s held in position by a washer and back-nut.

Fitting the basin

Once the taps and waste have been fixed in position on the new basin, you should be ready to remove the old basin and fit the new one in its place. First you need to cut off the water supply to the basin, either by turning off the main stop-valve (or any gate valve on the distribution pipes) or by tying up the ballvalve supplying the main cold water storage cistern. Then open the taps and leave them until the water ceases to flow.

If the existing basin is a pedestal model you’ll have to remove the pedestal which may be screwed to the floor. Take off the nut that connects the basin trap to the threaded waste outlet and unscrew the nuts that connect the water supply pipes to the tails of the taps. These will either be swivel tap connectors or cap and lining joints. You’ll need to be able to lift the basin clear and then remove the brackets or hangers on which it rests. You’ll probably need some help when installing the new basin as it’s much easier to mark the fixing holes if someone else is holding the basin against the wall. With a pedestal basin, the pedestal will determine the level of the basin. The same applies with a vanity unit.

But if the basin is set on hangers or brackets, you can adjust the height for convenience. Once the fixing holes have been drilled and plugged, the basin can be screwed into position and you can deal with the plumbing. Before you make the connections to the water supply pipes you may have to cut or lengthen them to meet the tap tails. If you need to lengthen them you’ll find it easier to use corrugated copper pipe. The actual connection between pipe and tail is made with a swivel tap connector – a form of compression fitting. Finally you have to connect the trap. You may be able to re-use the old one, but it’s more likely you’ll want to fit a new one. And if its position doesn’t coincide with the old one, you can use a bottle trap with an adjustable telescopic inlet.

Laying vinyl floor tiles

Vinyl tiles are supple, easy to handle and don’t take much time to lay. They come in many colours and designs so you should have no trouble finding tiles of the type you want.

Vinyl tiles are ideal for use on kitchen and bathroom floors because they are waterproof and resistant to oil, grease and most domestic chemicals. They have the advantage over vinyl sheet flooring in that they are easier to handle, and also, if you make any mistakes when cutting, they will be confined to individual tiles. So if you have a room where you will have to carry out quite a lot of intricate cutting to make the floorcovering fit round obstacles or awkwardly shaped areas, it would be well worth considering laying tiles rather than sheet material. The tiles come in a wide variety of patterns and colours, with a smooth gloss finish or a range of sculptured and embossed designs. They can be bought with or without a cushioned backing. Cushioned tiles are softer and warmer underfoot, but more expensive than uncushioned tiles.


However, even among tiles without a cushioned backing there is a wide variation in price. The cost of a tile is usually a fair indication of its quality, so, in general, the dearer the tile the longer it will last. However you don’t need to be greatly concerned about this: even the cheapest tiles can have a life of twenty years in average domestic use, and long before then you will probably wish to remove or cover up the tiles. (On average floorcoverings are changed every seven years.)

So your choice of tiles will probably be based simply on the fact that you like the colour or pattern and feel it will fit in well with the rest of the decorative scheme in the room. Preparing the surface The floor surface on which you intend to lay vinyl tiles should be free of dust and dirt, so you should go over it first of all with a vacuum cleaner. Then check that the subfloor is in sound condition. If it is a timber floor you will have to repair any damaged boards, and if the floor has been treated in whole or in part with stains and polishes these will stop the tile adhesive from adhering properly, and will have to be removed with a proprietary floor cleaner. There may be gaps between the boards and they could possibly be warped and curling at the edges.

You can cure these faults by lining the floor with hardboard without adding much to the cost of the job or the time it takes to do it. First inspect the floor; punch home any protruding nails and countersink any screws. Replace missing nails. Where a board squeaks because it is loose, screws will hold it in place more securely than nails. Hardboard sheets 1220mm (4ft) square will be a manageable size for this type of work. To condition them, brush water at the rate of V2 litre (2/3 pint) per 1220mm (4ft) square sheet onto the reverse side of the sheets.

Then leave them for 48 hours stacked flat back to back in the room where they will be laid so they will become accustomed to its conditions. When fixed they will dry out further and tighten up to present a perfectly flat subfloor. You can begin fixing the hardboard in one corner of the room. It’s not necessary to scribe it to fit irregularities at the walls; small gaps here and there at the edges of the boards will not affect the final look of the floor. Fix the sheets in place with hardboard pins at 150mm (6in) intervals round the edges and 225mm (9in) apart across the middle of the sheets. Begin nailing in the centre of a convenient edge and work sideways and forwards so the sheet is smoothed down in place. On a floor where there are water pipes below, use pins of a length which will not come out on the underside of the floorboards.

The sheets should normally be fixed with their smooth side down so the adhesive will grip more securely; also the pin heads will be concealed in the mesh. Nail down the first sheet and work along the wall. When you come to the end of a row of sheets, you will have to cut a sheet to fit. Don’t throw the waste away; use it to start the next row so the joins between sheets will not coincide. When you come to the far side of the room you will have to cut the sheets to width. Again, don’t worry about scribing them to fit the exact contours of the wall. On a solid floor, check to see if there are any holes or cracks and whether it is truly level and smooth. Fill in holes and small cracks with a sand/cement mortar. Large cracks could indicate a structural fault and, if in doubt, you should call in an expert. To level an uneven floor, use a self-levelling compound, applying it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When dealing with a direct-to-earth floor you will have to establish whether it is dry or not. There’s no point in attempting to lay the tiles on a damp floor: you will get problems with adhesion and in time the tiles themselves will curl and lift. One difficulty is that dampness in a floor is not always immediately apparent, especially if there is no floorcovering. (If the floor has a sheet covering you should lift up a corner of the covering and inspect beneath for any signs of damp.) A slight amount of damp can rise up through floors of quarry tiles or concrete and evaporate in a room without being noticed. To test for damp you can heat up a plate of metal over a gas ring or blowlamp, or heat a brick in the oven for about an hour, then place it on the floor.

If a damp patch appears on the floor or moisture gathers underneath the metal or brick this indicates that damp is present. Another test is to place a sheet of glass on the floor, seal its edges with putty, then leave it for a couple of days. If moisture appears underneath it is again a sign of damp. These methods are, however, rather hit-and-miss and you may feel it’s worth calling in an expert to give a true diagnosis. Curing a damp floor is a major undertaking which may involve digging up the existing floor and laying a new one with proper precautions taken against damp. You should seek professional advice here. Existing sheet floorcoverings should be removed before you start laying vinyl tiles. You can, however, lay them over existing vinyl tiles provided these are in sound condition and are securely fixed. If they are not, you will have to remove them before you fix the new tiles. To lever them up, use a paint scraper, or even a garden spade (the long handle will give you plenty of leverage).

Marking up

You should start laying tiles from the middle of the floor. To find the centre of a room which is a reasonably regular shape you should take one wall and, ignoring any bays, alcoves or projections, measure and mark its centre. Go to the wall opposite and do the same. Between these two centre points you should snap a chalked line. Snap a second chalk line from the middle of the other two walls: the point where the lines meet is the centre of the floor. If you are going to tile an irregularly-shaped room you should strike a chalk line, to form a base line, parallel to and 75mm (3in) away from a wall which has a doorway in it. You can then strike a line at right angles to the base line and stretching to the wall on the other side. The centre of this line will be the centre point of the room; draw a line through this centre point parallel to the base line. (Instead of using a large square to help you draw the lines at true right angles, you can use what’s known as a trammel;

Laying the tiles

When you come to lay the tiles, the first one is all-important. There are four possible positions for it. It can go centrally on the centre point; neatly inside one of the angles where the centre lines cross; centrally on one line and butting up to the second, or centrally on the second line and butting up to the first. You should choose the position that gives you the widest border of cut tiles round the room. Very narrow cut strips at the edges will tend to give an unbalanced look, especially if you are laying the tiles in a dual colour or chequerboard pattern.

So set out the tiles dry (that is, not stuck down) to find out which position for the first tile gives you borders with the largest cut tiles. In a regularly-shaped room this will be quite straightforward; a couple of dry runs should make things clear. In an awkwardly shaped room, especially if it has a lot of alcoves or projections, you will have to make several of these practice runs. When you’ve decided on your final starting position, draw round the outline of the first tile to be placed.

When you’ve stuck down your first tile you can begin laying the rest. If you are laying tiles which require adhesive, you should apply this to as large an area as you can cope with in one go; possibly a square metre (square yard). Butt all the tiles accurately up against each other, and check that they are precisely aligned. Then apply firm hand (or foot) pressure to bed them firmly in place. It’s normal practice to stick down all the full tiles, known as the ‘field’, leaving a border of cut tiles to be fitted round the edges.

If you are laying self-adhesive tiles, you simply peel off the backing paper and press each tile into place. Where you have to cut tiles, don’t peel off the backing until the cutting-to-size is completed. Should a tile be misplaced, lift it quickly and relay it correctly; the adhesive ‘grabs’ quickly and later attempts to lift the tile will probably tear it.

Cutting tiles

Vinyl tiles can be quite easily cut using a sharp knife and a straightedge. For an intricate shape make a template first.

Border tiles can be marked up for cutting in the usual way; that is, you take the tile to be cut, place it on the last complete tile in the row, place another tile over the first one but jammed hard against the wall and use this tile as a guide for marking off the cutting line on the first tile. The main thing wrong with this method is that it can leave a narrow border in which it is difficult to apply adhesive, with the consequent risk that the border tiles will not adhere properly.

Another method, which avoids this problem, is to lay the field except for the last full tile in each row. Then take a tile and place it against the last full tile in the field. Place another tile on top of the first one and jammed against the wall. Use this second tile as a guide to cut through the first (and it will itself become the last full tile fixed in the relevant row). The two tiles can temporarily be placed on top of the field, adjacent to the position they will occupy, while you cut the rest of the border. When you come to stick the border tiles down you will have plenty of room in which to wield your adhesive spreader and ensure adequate coverage.

London Kitchen Fitters and Installers

Kitchen Fitters and Installers in London

Refurbish your Kitchen with London Kitchen Fitters

We can achieve the look of a new kitchen by just replacing parts such as worktops and doors. This can be done at a fraction of the cost of a complete new kitchen, with considerably less disruption to your home and far more quickly.

Robuild can refurbish your existing kitchen with beautiful replacement doors and worktops, new sinks and appliances and if required minor changes to layout, additional cupboards and fittings, tiling, facias and splashbacks etc.

kitchen installation

Cleaning and maintenance floors in the kitchen and bathroom

Cleaning and maintenance

Once our Kitchen Fitters and bathroom installers have laid your floor you will need to look after it. Always wipe up any spills immediately, particularly hot fat and grease. It is also wise to protect the surface from indentation by putting heavy pieces of furniture on a piece of hardboard, or standing legs and castors in castor cups. Some of the more expensive flooring have a built-in gloss, so they do not need polishing.

This type can be mopped with a damp cloth. Never use a harsh abrasive cleaner on any type of floor as this could damage the surface layer. The glossy surface should not wear away, but if it does become dull in heavy traffic areas, it can be recoated with a special paint-on liquid provided by the manufacturer. The less glossy flooring will need regular sweeping or vacuuming and mopping.

It also makes sense to use a clear acrylic polish, applied very sparingly according to the manufacturer’s instructions and then buffed gently. Wash occasionally with warm water and a mild liquid detergent, and don’t apply lots of coats of polish, or you will get a thick discoloured build-up, which spoils the look of the floor; 2-4 coats over a 12-month period is plenty.

Always let the floor dry thoroughly before walking on it, after it has been washed or polished. Once several coats of polish have built up, you will have to strip off the polish and start again. When the old surface begins to break down, wipe it with an old soft cloth, rinse thoroughly with warm, clean water and dry before applying a new protective coating.

Laying vinyl on bathrooms and kitchens floors

Laying vinyl

How you lay vinyl will depend on the type ans size of the kitchen or bathroom; always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. As vinyl can shrink it’s wise to stick it down immediately before or after trimming it.
To stick the edges you should first turn them back and apply a 75mm (3in) wide band of adhesive to the sub-floor, using a serrated scraper in a criss-cross motion, and then press the vinyl into position immediately. This will usually be at doorways, round the edges of the room, or round obstacles.


Where heavy equipment will be pulled across the floor regularly (a washing machine for example) it is worth sticking down the entire area. At the seams, you should make the width of the spread adhesive generous – 150 to 200mm (6 to 8in).
Again, turn back the edges, apply the band of adhesive to the sub-floor and press the vinyl back into position immediately. Wipe away any adhesive which seeps through the seam or round the edges of the vinyl immediately, as this can discolour the flooring if it hardens. At the entrance to rooms, particularly in heavy traffic areas, or if you have used the ‘lay-flat’ type of vinyl, you can fasten down the vinyl with a ready-made threshold strip. These come in metal, wood or plastic and are also used to cover joins between two different materials, such as vinyl and carpet.

Fitting and installing extra-wide vinyl flooring

Fitting and installing extra-wide vinyl flooring in kitchens and bathrooms

The technique is largely the same as for fitting strips of vinyl except there will not be any seams to stick, or pattern matching to do. You should start by laying the flooring out fully – you will probably need help for this – and try to find a long straight wall against which the first edge can be laid.

Then make diagonal cuts at each corner to allow the flooring to be positioned roughly, with the excess material ‘climbing up’ the skirting board or wall. Trim away the excess, leaving a 50 to 75mm (2 to 3in) overlap all round. Scribe the first wall, if necessary, then trim and ease the flooring back into its exact position. Deal with corners, projections, and obstacles as you work your way round the room, leaving the same overlap; finally trim to a perfect fit.

Laying sheet vinyl in bathrooms and kitchens

Vinyl provides a tough, easy-to-clean floor surface which is ideal in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas of the house where floors are likely to be subjected to heavy wear or spillages. It’s also straightforward to lay. Vinyl can be laid over concrete, wood or tiles. Don’t attempt to lay it over old vinyl, linoleum or cork; these should be removed or covered with hardboard.


To prepare a bumpy wood floor for laying vinyl, cover it with large sheets of flooring grade chipboard or hardboard. Stagger the joints between sheets. If you are using hardboard, place the shiny side down as the rough side provides a better grip for the vinyl.

Vinyl flooring was developed in the 1960s and revolutionised the smooth (and resilient) flooring market. At first it was a thin and rather unyielding material. But it was something which could be laid fairly easily by the DIY enthusiast; and this was a breakthrough because its predecessor, linoleum, had had to be professionally laid.
Since then, vinyl flooring has been greatly improved and there are now several different types available.

Types of vinyl

The cheapest type of vinyl is known as a ‘flexible print’ and has a clear wear layer on top, with the printed pattern sandwiched between this and the backing. Then there are the cushioned vinyls, which are more bouncy underfoot and have a soft inner bubbly layer between the wear layer and the backing.
They are often embossed to give them a texture, which is particularly successful when the embossing enhances the design, as with simulated cork or ceramic tile patterns. Finally, the most expensive type is solid flexible vinyl, made by suspending coloured vinyl chips in transparent vinyl to create colour and design which goes right through the material and consequently wears longer.

All three types come in a wide variety of colours and designs ranging from geometric and floral patterns to simulated cork, wood block, parquet, ceramic tiles, slate and brick. Some ranges include special glossy no-polish surfaces. Also, there is a special ‘lay-flat’ type which does not have to be stuck down, except on very heavy wear areas or at doorways.
Some vinyls can be folded without cracking, but as with carpets, a good guide to durability is price: the more expensive the flooring, the longer-lasting it is likely to be. Buying vinyl To work out the amount of vinyl you’ll need, measure up the floor using a metal tape; note down the measurements and then double-check them. Draw a scale plan of the room on squared paper, marking in all the obstacles, door openings and so on.

Take the measurements and plan to your supplier, who will help you to work out quantities. Remember to allow for walls which are not quite true and for trimming the overlap. Whatever the type, vinyl is available in standard sheet widths. Choose one in a wide width for use on a floor where you do not want to have a seam. (A wide sheet can be difficult to lay so make sure you have someone to help you – If you are going to lay sheets of a narrower width which will have to be joined, remember to allow for pattern matching when buying.

Check the manufacturer’s instructions for fixing and order the correct adhesive and other sundries. Make sure you get the right amount; there is nothing worse than running out of adhesive halfway through the job. A roll of vinyl is usually 30 to 40m (100 to 130ft) long and the retailer will cut off the length you want, re-rolling it for you. Take the roll of vinyl home and leave it, loosely rolled, in the room where it is to be laid for about 48 hours, This will allow it to become acclimatised and it should then be easier to lay. Do not stand it on edge as this can crack the material and take care not to damage the ends when you are transporting or storing the roll.

Preparing the sub-floor

Vinyl must be laid on a sound, reasonably smooth and even sub-floor if the best results are to be achieved and the flooring is to give adequate wear. The floor must also be free from dirt, polish, nibs of plaster or splashes of paint, but above all it must be damp proof, so deal with this first.

In an old property with no damp-proof course (dpc), it may be necessary to install one or to have some other form of dampproofing carried out. The floor may have to be rescreeded or old floorboards taken up and replaced. But whatever is needed must be done before laying the new flooring. A cover-up job will never be satisfactory and the new material will start to perish from the back.

Remember that screeding a floor will raise its level and so doors will almost certainly have to be taken off their hinges and trimmed at the bottom to accommodate the new floor level. Where the existing floor covering does not provide a suitable surface for laying vinyl you will have to remove it. You can remove old vinyl by stripping it off from the backing, then soaking any remaining material in cold water, washing-up liquid and household ammonia before scraping it off with a paint scraper. With a wooden sub-floor you should remove any protruding tacks, nails or screws, or punch them down level with the floor.

Any rough or protruding boards should be planed smooth and wide gaps between boards filled with fillets of wood; small holes or gaps can be filled with plastic wood. If the floor is very bumpy it can be covered with man-made boards.

Fitting seamed lengths


If you are going to join vinyl, avoid having seams in doorways or heavy traffic areas:
• seams on wood floors should run across the boards
• seams over chipboard or hardboard should be no closer than 150mm (6in) to the joints in the board sheets.

Measure for the first length of vinyl along the longest unobstructed wall unless this brings a seam into the wrong position.

After measuring you can cut the first length from the roll. Butt the edge of the vinyl right up to the skirting at one end of the room, tucking the overlap underneath the skirting if possible so you don’t have to trim this edge. Then cut the material off across the width, allowing for an overlap at the other end, at doorways and obstacles. To fit the first doorway you will have to cut slits at the door jambs and then ease the vinyl round the door recess and supports, cutting off a little at a time, until you get a perfect fit.

Next, either tuck the overlap of the vinyl under the skirting which runs along the length of the room if you can, or trim along the wall or skirting, allowing for a good (but not too tight) fit. Smooth down the flooring as you work along its length and then cut the vinyl to fit at the other end. If the wall is uneven you will have to ‘scribe’ its contour onto the vinyl.

You pull the vinyl slightly away from the wall and then run a wooden block, in conjunction with a pencil, along the wall so its profile is marked on the vinyl. To cut along this line you can use a knife and straight edge (with the straight edge on the vinyl which will be used), or if the line is very wobbly, use scissors. With the first length fitted, you can then place the next length of vinyl parallel to the first, matching the pattern exactly, and cut off the required length, again allowing for extra overlap at the ends and sides.

Some kitchen and bathroom floor layers cut all the required lengths first before fitting, but if the room is not perfectly square and several widths are being used, there could be a mismatch. If the two sheets overlap, the excess will have to be trimmed away. Place one on top of the other, aligning the design carefully, and cut through the two sheets together at the overlap, using a knife and straight edge. Remove the trimmings and then adjust the second sheet to fit doors, skirtings and so on, trimming where necessary. Where there are more than two sheets, repeat the fitting procedure, making sure the pattern matches. If you are renewing the skirting, to get a perfect fit you can fit the material first and put the skirting on after the vinyl is laid. Remember, though, that this may make it difficult to take up the floorcovering when you need (or want) to change it.