London Kitchens Fitting Company & Bathrooms Installers

Kitchens & Bathrooms Fitters Installers, London Company & Contractors Phone 02089062972 Email: info@robuild.co.uk

Condensation in bathrooms

Decorative materials with cold surfaces, such as ceramic tiles, are renowned for the rapid formation of condensation. The build-up can be quickly dispersed by opening the windows. An extractor fan set into the window or mounted on (or ducted to) an exterior wall will also help remove vapour – quickly. You can reduce condensation in cold bathrooms by heating the room for a short time before running the bath water. Or you could use heated mirror cabinets like in the picture bellow – the type recommended for bathrooms.
bathroom heated mirror cabinets
Try running a little cold water into the bath before you turn on the hot tap, as this will also help reduce condensation. Other wall surfaces The real problem areas are patches of condensation which sometimes appear in odd corners of the home. Often these go unnoticed until a patch of mould appears. Poor circulation of air is one of the prime causes and on a damp day a short burst of warm air from a fan heater, or a hair dryer, will help to check condensation. If mould persists and the surface is not wall papered, rinse the wall with a strong solution of anti-mould. If the surface is wallpapered you will have to remove the paper and line the wall with rolls of expanded polystyrene which you can then wallpaper over or paint with emulsion. In severe cases this may not be completely successful and a painted wall, which can be treated with anti-mould cleaners from time to time is preferable.

Vinyl tiles

Vinyl tiles are ideal as floor coverings in different areas of the home and offer a wide range of colours and designs. Using the correct methods, these tiles are quite straightforward to put down, as long as you ensure the surface on which they are laid is dry, firm and level.

One of the real advantages of tiles rather than sheet flooring material is that, when laying, you can deal with awkward shapes one by one and any mistakes in cutting will be confined to individual tiles; you may even be able to reshape those cut in error and put them elsewhere. A mistake in cutting sheet material could involve much greater wastage. Vinyl and cork flooring come in tile form: vinyl is waterproof, resistant to oil, grease and most domestic chemicals; cork is non-slip, has good thermal insulation and reduces noise.

Vinyl tiles
These offer a wide choice of designs, from alternate rows in two or more colours and chess board effects to more complicated diamond patterns or squares-within-squares using a variety of colours. If you choose a complicated pattern, draw the design on paper to make laying easier – some manufacturers provide blank squared paper for this purpose. Vinyl tiles are sold in packs sufficient to cover a square metre (or square yard) and the most common size tile is 300mm square.

Always buy a few extra tiles since, apart from cutting mistakes, spares can be useful later on when worn tiles need replacing. Pure vinyl tiles are supple and easy to lay. They have a smooth gloss finish and come in a wide variety of patterns and colours. Most vinyl tiles are self-adhesive; if wrongly placed, these can be removed immediately and repositioned but, if you move them more than once, the adhesive tends to become less effective. Self-adhesive tiles are protected by a paper backing and you should always cut the tiles to shape before you remove this. If the tiles you choose are not self-adhesive, fix them with special vinyl flooring adhesive.

Looking after tiles
To maintain the surface of vinyl , clean them periodically with a mop or sponge and a little mild, liquid detergent. Never use excessive water, strong cleaning agents or abrasives which might damage the finish. Use white spirit to remove stubborn marks from rubber-soled shoes and, should the vinyl become scratched, apply an emulsion wax polish. Prevent spirit-based polishes, rubber compounds and nail varnish remover coming into contact with the surface since these could cause permanent damage to the vinyl.

Laying ceramic floor tiles

Traditionally ceramic tiles have been used to cover areas around basins, baths and sinks, where splashing is likely to occur. But they are also very practical for covering floors. Now that central heating has taken the chill from ceramic floor tiles, people are beginning to appreciate their hard-wearing qualities and easy maintenance. Provided it is correctly laid on a properly prepared sub-floor, ceramic flooring has good resistance to impact and general wear and high resistance to crazing. It only needs to be swept regularly and washed from time to time with water and detergent. Stubborn stains can be removed from this type of tile with a household abrasive or paint brush cleaner.

ceramic bathroom floor tiles

Types of tiles
It is essential to use only flooring grade tiles – wall tiles are much thinner and would break under pressure. Flooring tiles are available glazed or unglazed. Glazed tiles come in a wide range of colours and patterns and some have a roughened glaze to make them slip-resistant. Unglazed tiles are produced only in plain or mottled colours; but they are the most durable form of tile and are available in a range of anti-slip surfaces and also coving tiles to provide a clean curve from floor to wall. They are more difficult to cut than glazed tiles, but you can hire or buy a special tool for cutting them. Tiles are made in a variety of shapes, square ones being the easiest to lay. Always buy six or so extra ones for cutting in or in case of breakages. Mosaic tiles are small squares of glazed or unglazed ceramic covered with peel-off sheets 305mm square which you remove alter laying.

Preparing the surface
It is essential to lay ceramic tiles on a clean, dry, level surface; any distortions may cause the tiles to move and crack under pressure. They can be laid on a solid floor of concrete or existing hard flooring such as terrazzo or quarry tiles or on a suspended timber floor. But in each case the floor needs some preparation before the tiles are laid.

Concrete
The concrete must be dry, clean and flat. Tiling will not cure damp, so if the concrete is letting moisture through, 1ay a damp proof membrane and screed. Fill any small depressions in the concrete with sand and cement, using a mixture of three parts washed sharp sand and one part cement and make sure you level off after filling. If there is a slight fall-away in the surface in any direction, correct it with a concrete levelling compound. A badly depressed surface should be levelled with a waterproof screed. Chip away any small nibs of concrete and sweep the surface thoroughly.

Hard flooring
Tiled or terrazzo floors should be flat and firmly fixed. Remove any traces of grease or polish and make sure it is dry before you start tiling. Any loose sections, such as a loose quarry tile, should be securely glued back in place.

Timber floor
Make sure there is adequate ventilation below the floorboards to prevent rot forming alter tiling. Don’t lay tiles directly onto a suspended timber floor made of tongued and grooved boards since the movement of the floor would cause the tiles to shift and crack. Make the floor more stable by covering it with sheets of plywood at least l2mm thick, fixed at 300mm intervals with countersunk screws. If the floor is likely to be splashed with water, such as in a shower area, use exterior grade plywood. When all existing floorboards have to be removed, due to rot for example, you can screw flooring grade chipboard directly to the joists and lay tiles on this. Use screws for fixing sheet flooring since nails cannot be relied on to hold the material securely in place once the tiles have been bonded to them. Make sure the panels butt closely together; if any small gaps do appear, pack them tightly with a filler or the floor tiles may crack along the joint lines due to movement on the sub-floor. Before laying tiles over plywood or chipboard, always brush the surface with a priming coat; most manufacturers recommend a water-based polymer for this purpose. The primer must be properly dry before you begin tiling, so leave it overnight.

bathroom floor tiles

Working with adhesive
Manufacturers recommend a cement-based powder adhesive which can be used as a thin or thick-bed adhesive. Use a thin bed of about 3mm for flat-backed tiles; if the tiles have studs on the back or there is a slight unevenness in the floor (test with a straight-edge), use a thick bed of about 6mm. For thin-bed fixing, you will need about 3.5kg of adhesive per square metre.

Allow double this quantity for a thick bed. There is also a bitumen-based adhesive which can be used for thin-bed fixing. Cement-based adhesive can be used on concrete or timber floors, but it is not suitable on concrete which has not fully dried out or on ground floors which are affected by damp. In these cases, and for areas subjected to prolonged soaking with water (such as shower floors) use a waterproof adhesive. Always mix the adhesive according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Setting out the tiles
The best way to set out tiles is from the centre of the room so you have an even border all round the edge. To find the centre, mark the halfway point on the two pairs of opposite walls and stretch a piece of string (preferably chalked) between each set of marks. Ensure the strings cross at right-angles and secure the ends with nails or pins. If the strings are chalked, pluck them to leave marks on the floor. Before fixing down any tiles, try out the layout with dry tiles. Lay one row of tiles in each direction from the point where the strings cross. If the space remaining at the end of a row is less than half a tile, adjust the string lines half a tile off centre to give a bigger space for the perimeter tiles. This will give a balanced border and avoids having to cut narrow pieces of tile. Check the door will open over the laid tiles; if not, remove the door and trim the bottom edge with a block plane.

Fixing the tiles
Tile one quarter of the room at a time, starting with the section furthest from the door and finishing at the door. Starting from the centre, spread the adhesive evenly over the floor with a notched spreader, which is often supplied with the adhesive. Don’t cover more than 1sq at a time. Place the tiles in position, starting in the angle of the chalked lines. Don’t slide them into place or adhesive will build up against the front edge of the tile. When laying studded tiles on thick-bed adhesive, spread a thin layer of adhesive on the back of the tile to ensure a solid bed when it comes into contact with the adhesive on the floor. Most tiles have spacer lugs to ensure the distance between each one is correct; if yours do not have these, place pieces of card or matchsticks between the tiles to give a space of 3mm. Remove any adhesive that oozes up between the joints (to leave space for grouting) and clean off any adhesive on the tiles before it sets. Tile each section of the room in turn, leaving the border until last. If you need to kneel on the tiled area while working, place a board across it to avoid damaging or disturbing the tiles.

Cutting border tiles
To cut a tile for the border, lay it face down on top of the last whole tile and slide it forward so the front edge butts against the wall. Mark the back of the tile at each side where the edge of the last tile finishes. Place it on a firm, flat surface and join up the two marks, using a straightedge as a guide. Score and cut the tile along this line with a tile cutter. The front section of the cut tile will fit neatly in the gap.

Cutting corner tiles
Place a new tile face down over the last whole one near the corner. Place a second tile on it, slide it flush to the wall and mark its edge on the tile below. Then move the marked tile to the last whole tile round the corner without turning it. Place the second tile over it, butt it against the wall and mark as before. Score and cut along these lines and nibble the corner away with pincers or tile nippers to give an L-shaped tile which will fit round the corner. Take away only very sma1l pieces at a time; if you try to cut too much at once, you may break the tile. When you have cut the shape you want, smooth the rough edge with a carborundum stone.

Cutting shapes
To cut curved shapes, use a contour tracer or make a template and scribe the outline onto the tile. Then nibble away the tile with pincers or tile nippers as before. To fit a tile round a pipe, cut the tile in two where the pipe falls, cut out a semi-circle from each piece and fit them round the pipe. When tiling round a WC or wash-basin pedestal, lay full tiles as far as possible round the pedestal. To avoid having to cut very narrow sections you may have to adjust the layout when setting out the loose tiles. Cut a template for each tile, using a contour tracer to mark the curve and with this cut the tile; lay it in place before making a template for the adjacent tile. When all the tiles are cut and smoothed, fix them in position. Remember to leave enough space between tiles and pedestal for grouting.

Ceramic tiles

The best surface for areas which must stand up to regular cleaning with detergents is ceramic tiles.Cheap and effective, they provide an excellent finishing material for bathroom, shower and kitchen walls.
london bathroom kitchen tilers

These are made of fired pressed clay which is then glazed and fired again to give a high-gloss or matt finish. They come in an enormous range of plain or mottled colours. There is also a choice of tiles decorated with screen-printed patterns. Some of these are self-contained designs and can be mixed into a wall of plain tiling to add a decorative effect. Others are designed to form a continuous pattern, while still others, based on Spanish or Portuguese hand painted tile designs, can be used either individually or as part of a regular repeat pattern.
kitchen floor tiles
The tiles can be square or rectangular, with various other sizes available to order. Tiles with one or more rounded edges to flt around wall perimeters are also manufactured. Relief tiles, which have a pattern moulded into the surface and are usually glazed with a plain colour, are also available in sizes similar to those above, but these are about 13mm thick. As with heavily embossed papers, they will be seen to best advantage if lit from one side or from above to produce a strong ‘modelled’ effect. Tiles are traditionally fixed by bedding in a cement and sand mortar mix on a hard, flush surface, but one of the proprietary mastic adhesives may be quicker and easier to use. The joints are pointed in plaster or portland cement, unless there is any danger of movement in the surface to which they are fixed. If this is the case, a mastic compound should be used.

Polyvinyl chloride tiles are made in sizes similar to ceramic tiles, and are also available in panels moulded to simulate a group of individual tiles. They are fixed with an impact adhesive and are good to use in bathrooms, since their warm surface reduces the likelihood of condensation. The surface is, however, more liable to damage by scratching and knocking than a clay tile, and will not withstand abrasive cleaners, such as detergents or scouring powders.

Another attractive and suitable wall finish for bathrooms is mosaic. The true vitreous mosaic composed of a small square of glass or vitrified clay is very expensive, but ceramic mosaic with an eggshell finish and various other cheaper types are available. These are usually sold in panels about 300mm square, covered with a temporary paper facing which is washed off after the mosaic is fixed.
mosaic tiled bathroom
Like ceramic tiles, they can only be fitted to a hard flush surface, and are flitted with adhesive in the same way. The joints between the pieces are filled with white cement or other recommended grouting medium after the paper has been removed. Generally, the pattern of small pieces provides sufficient visual interest, and panels of uniformly coloured pieces are preferable to those with a mixture of colours. Some manufacturers produce panels composed of cushion shaped square pieces, rectangles or hexagons.
mosaic tiled bathroom london
Bathrooms usually need at least one mirror and the opportunity can be taken to form part or the whole of a wall surface as a mirror. Apart from its practical use, a large wall mirror can be effective in increasing the apparent size of a small bathroom, especially if it extends the full width of the wall at eye level.
modern bathroom cabinet mirror basin
A conventional, silvered plate glass mirror can be used, but this should not be fitted above a bath or other source of steam, or it will quickly mist over with condensation. This can be overcome by using a sheet of silvered plastic which is marketed at approximately the same price as the glass type. Glass mirror can also be obtained in the form of tiles which will fit in with the pattern of ceramic tiling.

Boxing in a bath

The days are gone when baths were tall cast iron structures with ornate exposed legs. Some period bathrooms can look good with cast iron baths too.

cast iron bath

The simple lines of a modern bathroom require the sides of a bath to be boxed in. Boxing-in a bath is a comparatively simple job and can be done with a wide range of tiles, plastic laminate, tongued and grooved timber boarding, or even gloss painted plywood.

None of these presents any serious technical problems. All these surfacing materials can be mounted on a simple but robust wooden frame fastened to the floor around the edge of the bath. The installation, however, has to meet various requirements. First, the frame must be strong enough not to warp-this is a serious problem in the steamy atmosphere of bathrooms.

boxing bath bathroom

The tendency of wood to warp in damp air can be reduced by painting all the parts with waterproof paint or varnish on all sides, so that the humidity of the wood remains constant. Second, it must be properly fastened to the surface it touches, so that it will resist kicking, blows from mops when cleaning the floor, and so on. The frame can be nailed to a wooden floor or it can be fastened to a concrete floor with wall plugs and screws, or with masonry pins. Nearly all baths have at least one side or end against a wall, and the ends of the frame can be plugged and screwed to this too. Third, the outer surface has to be reasonably watertight, so that water does not seep down behind it and under the bath where it cannot be mopped up.

This is simply solved by setting the panel about 3mm back from the outer lip of the bath, so that any drips from it run down the front of the panel instead of seeping through its back and rotting the frame. At the same time, the join between the bath and the wall should be sealed, either with a ‘bath trim kit’ consisting of narrow tiles with an L-shaped cross section or (more simply and cheaply) with the white or clear silicone sealing obtainable from any plumbing shop.

tiling bath bathroom

Fourth, the pipework under the bath must be accessible for maintenance. This includes not just the taps but also the trap in the waste pipe, which has to be cleaned out occasionally. The best solution here is to screw on the panels with ‘mirror’ screws, which have decorative covers on the heads so that you don’t have to disguise them. Don’t use too many screws; six or eight is ample for each panel if it has to be removed from time to time. (It is a good idea to inspect the floorboards under a bath for wet rot every few months.)

bathroom bath london

Designing Kitchens and Bathrooms

Defining a practical kitchen and bathroom

A practical kitchen can be defined as it marriage between the furniture and fittings and the structural reality of the room. Once you have a fairly clear idea of what is the best possible layout that will suit your kitchen, you can use a free design software online or the kitchen and bathroom supplier could offer you a free design. Our London Kitchen Fitters and Bathroom fitters will provide you with a kitchen or bathroom design. Then you can go on to selecting the furniture and fittings for the refurbishment.

kitchen extension plan

Choosing the furniture and fittings

As mentioned before it is not enough to concentrate purely on the good looks or otherwise of any particular items. When choosing furniture and equipment for your kitchen and bathroom, the first question you need to ask yourself is ‘will it work’? This is where ergonomics relates to the problems of design. To recap on this ergonomics can be defined as the relationship between man and machine.

Connecting a Vanity Wash Basin

Taking out a wall-hung or pedestal basin and replacing it with a vanity unit is part plumbing and part carpentry.

vanity bathroom basin

You will need to disconnect the old basin, cut a hole in the surface of the vanity unit to take the new basin, fit the basin and reconnect the supply pipes. Before buying the ready-made unit, measure the available space carefully, then choose the counter-top basin to fit the new unit. The taps, basin and cupboard can all be bought separately, but to ensure that the complete unit is compatible it is obviously easier if you buy everything from the same source.

bathroom basin

The counter-top basin fits into a hole in the top of the unit; usually the manufacturer supplies a template for cutting the hole. There are several different types of basins: the self-rimmed ones overlap the counter tops and are supported by them; the frame-rimmed model is secured with lugs that connect frame, basin and counter top. The unrimmed recessed basins are held by bolts and metal flanges. All must be sealed with mastic silicone sealant. You will also need a slotted waste connection, an overflow fitting, a suitable trap, and tap connectors to enable the final connection of the water supplies to be made to the taps.

15 mm pipes and valves

Corrugated flexible copper pipes (15 mm) facilitate easy connection of the supplies, especially in awkward places, and are obtainable with tap connectors already attached. Integral ring-type fittings can be used for all joints. They cost slightly more than end-feed fittings but this factor is offset by the ease with which they can be installed: using a blow torch, you need only apply sufficient heat to melt the solder and the joint is complete.

London Bathroom Fitters

Installing a shower

A purpose-built shower unit offers a convenient and economical way of extending the facilities of a bathroom. Since such showers are self-contained and waterproof and take up less than one square metre of floor space, they can be built into a variety of areas: it could be the corner of a bedroom, a cloakroom, a utility room, or even an empty cupboard under the stairs. However, the purpose-built shower unit don’t really complement the bathrooms.

shower installers

Some experience of home plumbing would be an advantage for this project, and at times you will need a helper. There are five main steps: extending the supplies to the site; mounting the shower tray on to a wooden plinth attached to the floor; extending the waste; installing the metal framework and sliding doors that, together with the walls of the room, make up the shower cubicle; and fitting in place the shower mixer valve that blends the hot and cold supplies, and the sprinkler head attached to this valve.

To comply with water authority by-laws a shower must be supplied with a separate, independent cold supply from the cold water storage cistern. The vertical distance from the bottom of the cistern to the shower outlet must be at least 1 metre; otherwise the water pressure will be insufficient to provide a satisfactory spray. That apart, the position of the shower will be determined by the proximity of hot water supplies and of waste pipes. Before installing the unit prepare a diagram of existing pipework.

Extending the supplies to the shower site entails laying new copper piping, which should be firmly supported at regular intervals with pipe-clips. You may be able to run part of the piping beneath floorboards, but some of it will probably have to be bracketed to a wall surface and then boxed in. How you tackle this problem will be determined partly by the site of the shower and partly by your own ingenuity.

The exact way in which the supplies are connected to the shower mixer valve will depend, in its turn, on the direction of the extended supply pipes. The shower area should be well ventilated to prevent condensation. If there is no nearby window it may be advisable to install an extractor fan in the outside wall, or at any rate an air vent.