Kitchen Fitters, Bathroom Fitters, Renovation & Refurbishments
We cover South Kensington and Chelsea. Showers, bathrooms, kitchens, tiling,renovations, refurbishments.
Kitchen Fitters, Bathroom Fitters, Renovation & Refurbishments
We cover South Kensington and Chelsea. Showers, bathrooms, kitchens, tiling,renovations, refurbishments.
As well as a cheerful colour scheme and wisely chosen lighting, you should look for accessories like tiles for worktops or floor, storage jars and pretty pots and pans which will add brightness to your kitchen. However, you must remember that while a plain flooring in a pale colour like white or yellow may reflect extra light, it will need a lot of cleaning if it is not to look tatty. Instead of a dark flooring, however, go for an attractively patterned sheet vinyl, which will look bright but not show every speck of dirt. One of the best ways of lighting a low kitchen is to fit downlighters into the ceiling. They don’t encroach on the headroom, but are particularly efficient if they are placed strategically above worktops, cooker and sink. Another way of letting in more light is to fit a larger than average serving hatch, thus borrowing light from the adjoining room. In a kitchen, gloss-painted walls combine extra reflected brightness with ease of cleaning.
Bathrooms and lavatories
Oddly enough, one of the best ways of dealing with a dark bathroom or lavatory is to decorate it in deep vibrant colours. These will help to make the room seem warmer, and when combined with plenty of strong lighting it will become much brighter. Since you are often scantily clad when you are in the bathroom, it is important that it is a cosy room, so try to avoid the traditional pastel shades of pink, blue and green if your bathroom tends to be cold. Here a deep chocolate brown with bright towels and blind will create a more inviting feeling. Lavatory windows usually have frosted glass in them, so the view out is not important. A permanently-closed blind which matches the wallpaper will give a warmer feel, and a bright, low light hanging from a dark painted ceiling will minimize the lofty feeling of a very tall room.
You can achieve an unusual effect very cheaply by papering the walls of a lavatory or bathroom with wallpapers. Paint one or two coats of clear wallpaper lacquer on top to give a washable surface, and you have a bright black and white room. Obscured glass sometimes keeps out more daylight than net curtains, so check whether you really need frosted glass in your bathroom and lavatory windows. If you are overlooked, you may find that only the lower part of the window needs to be obscured, and that the top can be fitted with clear glass. Don’t resign yourself to having dark, dreary rooms. Use the ideas given here to transform the dull parts of your house into bright, welcoming rooms.
Tiling walls and floors
Setting out the work
If you are tiling the walls, remember that most floors are slightly out of level. So use a lath or batten as a base line because if you start from the floor or skirting board, you may find the tiles go out of true. First measure the height of a tile, including its spacer lugs, from the floor or skirting board. Fix the top of the lath or batten securely along this line to the length of the area being tiled. Check its accuracy with a spirit level. Take one tile, stand it on end, and run it along the floor beside the batten to make sure the batten is not too high-you do not want to fit tiny silvers of tile at the bottom if the floor is uneven. If the batten is too high, lower it, and then re-level it with the spirit level. Next, mark out tile widths on either side of the centre point of the wall. This will give an equal tile cut at the ends, and should avoid having to make very short awkward cuts. Mark a true vertical line at the end of the wall, corresponding with the outer edge of the last full tile space. Now repeat the procedure on any walls which meet the first one. But this time, if the wall length does not match an even number of tiles, try to space them to avoid finishing with two very narrow pieces in the same corner. And see if you can have complete tiles on either side of window reveals as it will save cutting. You start work at the intersection of the batten and left-hand vertical line, beginning with the bottom row and working upwards. ‘Obstructions’, such as sink units, window reveals, and half cuts for the corners and top of the wall, are left until last. If you are tiling the floor, the tile positions are set out with chalk lines, and you start tiling in the middle.
Fixing the tiles
Apply the adhesive to the wall or floor, rather than to the tiles, as this is easier and cleaner, and will give a more even surface. Use the spreader or trowel to spread it on the surface to a depth of half inch, covering only about 1 square yard at a time. If you apply more than this, it will dry out before you have tiled it. With the serrated edge of the spreader, drive the adhesive over the surface to form ridges which will give good suction and adhesion to the tile backs. For awkward areas, and part tiles, the backs of the tiles may be ‘buttered’ by spreading the adhesive on to them to a depth 2mm. Press the tiles firmly into place, without sliding them this would merely remove the adhesive from the wall or floor. Any adhesive which squeezes on to the surface of the tiles can be removed later with a damp cloth. Between each application of adhesive, check the horizontal and vertical alignment of the tiles because they are liable to creep. When wall tiles have set, remove the battens and fit tiles into the remaining space, cutting them to fit if necessary.
Tiling around obstacles
Where possible, remove fixtures such as cupboards; if this is not possible, tile to the sides of the unit, leaving the tiling immediately above them until later. Then fix a batten along the top of the unit so that the top of the batten aligns exactly with the bottom of the tiles on either side. Continue to tile along either side, and above the batten, and when these tiles have set, remove the batten and cut tiles to fit below. A similar method is used for window reveals and doorways. Use round-edge tiles on the reveals of the openings, rather than on the face of the side wall. as this will help keep the vertical lines in true.
If the tiles have no spacer lugs, cut small pieces of card and insert them between the tiles. Remove them when the tiles have set. Any part tiles should be nearest the window, with the spacer lugs facing those tiles already in position.
Cutting and shaping tiles
Use a felt-tipped pen to mark the tile where it is to be cut. For a straight cut, score the glazed surface with the tile cutter, using a straight-edge as a guide. With the glazed side uppermost, place a matchstick or small piece of wood under and along the scored line, put your thumbs on both corners and apply even pressure downwards. The tile will snap cleanly along the scored line. For a shaped cut, cross scratch the area to be removed and use pincers to nibble away the part, taking small ‘bites’ at a time. Smooth off any unevenness with the carborundum block or file. Near the edge of the tile, a round hole can be made by marking the line round a coin, and scoring it, and the area inside it, with the tile cutter. Nibble away the waste area with pincers. Small holes can be made with a tungsten-tipped drill. Larger holes or patterns can be cut by drilling a series of holes in line to the shape required and removing the section. To make a hole in the centre of a tile, mark its position and then cut the tile in half. Use pincers to nibble away the semi-circle in each half. When the halves are placed together, the join will be barely discernible.
Grouting the tiles
When all the tiles are in position, wait at least 12 hours (several days if tiling over old tiles) and then grout the joints. Use a sponge to rub it into the joints with a semi-circular movement. Remove any grout from the surface of the tiles with a damp sponge. When the grout has almost set, draw a round-pointed stick across the joints. Finish by polishing the tiles with a soft dry cloth.
First, remove any cupboards that you intend to tile behind. Remove any unwanted screws, hooks, brackets, old pipes or other ‘rubbish’ and, if you have unsightly wiring on the wall surface, cut it back into the wall. If the skirting boards are battered, you may also decide to restore or replace them. Against a bright new surface, any unsightly old items will ‘scream’. The area should be dry, clean, flat and firm. Fill out any cracks and irregularities with cellulose filler or plaster, and rub down to a flat surface when dry. Newly plastered surfaces should be completely dry and, if dusty, brushed down with a wire brush to remove any loose material, If the surface is porous, a sealant primer should be used to prevent absorption of the adhesive into the plaster. If the surface has been previously painted and the paint is sound, you can tile straight on to it (score gloss paint to help adhesion). Otherwise, strip the paint with a sanding block and medium glasspaper. It is possible to tile over old tiles if they are sound and the surface is firm and flat.
But well worth considering chipping off the old tiles and their backing mortar, making good the surface and starting afresh. A club hammer and a bolster will make short work of the old tiles, or an electric rotary hammer can be hired to remove a large area. Building boards, such as plywood, chipboard and plasterboard, provide good tiling surfaces, but nust be removed, stiffened and replaced to prevent them from sagging and warping. Appropriate battening of 75mm x 50mm timber at about 304mm centres, horizontally and vertically, will give the necessary rigidity. If the board has a rough side, use this as the surface for the tiles. Use a heavy duty adhesive, and seal the untiled side-an ordinary paint undercoat can be used-to prevent moisture from the adhesive from seeping through. For floor tiles, the surface must be dry and well brushed, and sealed with an anti-dusting agent. Newly laid concrete surfaces must be completely dry-allow a month for each inch of depth. If the floor is solid and uneven, clean it and relevel it. If necessary, remove the surface and re-screed the floor, or use a proprietary self-levelling compound. Timber floors also need to be levelled.
Adhesive for tiling
This is available in a powder form to which you add water, or ready prepared in cans.
Small metal or plastic spreaders are usually supplied by the adhesive manufacture, but if you plan a lot of tiling, a notched trowel will make the work easier.
This can be a simple wheel cutter; or a scriber with a tungsten-carbinet tip; or a tile-cutting kit, consisting of a cutting platform, a small try-square and wheel cutter and a cutting tool rather like a pair of pincers. The more elaborate tile cutting machines used by professionals, are also obtainable.
These are used to adjust the shape of the tiles and to nip out small sections.
Plumb bob or builder’s spirit level. These are used to establish accurate working lines. A lath or batten, the same length as the longest dimension of the area to be tiled.
Tiles spacers are measured in millimetres.
A 454g quantity, mixed to a fairly stiff paste, will cover an area of about 1.8 sq m of 108mm tiles and 4.1 sq m of 152mm tiles.
Sponge or tiler’s squeegee, for applying the grout
Other useful items are a radius cutter for making large holes, or a tungsten-tipped drill for small ones, and a carborundum block or rile for shaping and smoothing cut edges.
One of the traditional places in which tiles are used is in the kitchens and bathrooms because they are durable and easy to clean. They also help, because they reflect light, to make the kitchen a bright place in which to work.
Types of tiles
The choice of tiles is wide. Ceramic tiles,Mosaic tiles, terracotta tiles, marble tiles, limestone tiles, granite tiles, stone tiles, glass tiles, glazed tiles,etc
Mosaic tiles in a shower
Limestone tiles in a shower, walk in shower
Granite floor tiles in a kitchen
Marble floor tiles
Stone tiles in a shower
Ceramic wall tiles
Exterior patio tiles
Traditional terracotta and mosaic tiles
Marble & granite tiles in a small London bathroom
Tiles are available in many plain colours, many of which match equipment in a British standard colour (they have a BS identification number). Floor tiles can be obtained to match or complement them. ‘Effects’ tiles-patterned, textured and sculptured are also obtainable in a wide colour range, but may not always be available ‘off the shelf’ and have to be ordered. Tiles used near cookers should be treated by the manufacturer against heat, or be thick.
Calculating the number of tiles
There are three basic types of tile. The first is the ‘bulk’, or ‘field’, tile. These usually have spacer lugs on the outer edges so that they are separated by a gap from each other. These gaps are filled, after tiling, with a compressible material called grout, which gives a neat patterned effect.
To calculate the number of tiles needed, allow three 108mm tiles per row for every 330mm of wall to be tiled, or 72 tiles for every 840 sq mm. Or you could measure the wall and floors , calculate how many square meters needs to be tiled. When you buy tiles for a shop, it should say on the box how many square metres a box will cover.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The bathroom, or a tiny cloakroom without a window, are perfect arenas for more adventurous experiments with mirrors. Try lining all the walls of the bathroom with them (forget what was said earlier about window walls-the eye will be far too busy staggering about in infinity to worry about that) and mirror the ceiling as well.
As long as there is something worth reflecting, you can transform a dull room into a fascinating kaleidoscope of images. Do not be put off by the bathroom fitments. There is nothing intrinsically ugly about a lavatory or bidet. The shapes, as shapes, are quite pleasing aesthetically, but familiarity has bred contempt. An attractive floor covering of either carpet or tiles, decorative jars or plants and pretty towels will add to the reflection. Or, if you feel that this is overdoing it, a sheet of mirror over the vanity unit will create light and space as well as look good. Fix it hard up against the walls and to the top of the unit, and then try another on the wall behind you.
Mirrors as reflectors of light
Mirrors can be invaluable in helping to lighten and brighten dark corners or even whole rooms. Two mirrors placed opposite each other, butting up to the window wall, for example, will give a room the illusion of greater width and will also make it lighter, by ‘bouncing’ the light further back into it.
This is a very good way of brightening up a long, narrow bedroom, or any dark, confined areas such as a hall. If you panel the sides of a dormer window, in an attic, for instance, with mirror glass, the natural light will be greatly increased by reflection.
Lining the whole deep reveal of a window with mirror glass will have a similar effect.
A little cubby-hole of a room, say a cloakroom, or any dark place with a hopelessly inadequate window, will be transformed if you cover the ceiling with mirror glass and let it reflect light from strip or spot lights.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.