London Kitchens Fitting Company & Bathrooms Installers

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

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.

Kitchen remodeling

kitchen glass red worktop
The kitchen is equipped with a small sink, fridge and boiling ring, making an ideal place for serving drinks, brewing coffee or heating snacks. One remaining wall has glass windows, and the other is covered with mirrors. At night, kinetic lights reflect off the white ceiling. In contrast to the striking appearance of the garden room, is the open plan kitchen – dayroom. The large stainless steel bar, echoed by the roomy bottle rack above, divides the cooking area from the eating and sitting area. A number of useful items have been built into the stainless steel counter top -two bowls for washing up, a circular pastry slab of marble, and an electric cooking hob. The raised oven and fridge have been fitted into a storage wall fitted with cupboards and drawers, finished with a red laminated surface. This kitchen unit is a superb example of the benefits of a well-planned layout. Although it is contained in a small space, the kitchen is efficient, easy to work in, and visually appealing.

It is wise not to let a kitchen ‘evolve’ in a haphazard fashion-a great deal of thought should be given to the arrangement of storage units and appliances, ventilation, and plumbing. The step down to the main part of the room is effectively set off by the touch of red laminated skirting. The centre of the room is used for family meals and as a play area for the children. The pattern floor is a time-saver when it comes to house keeping.

The dining room is yet another splash of colour with walls painted in a gloss paint. Instead of curtains, there are floor-to-ceiling ‘shutters, also painted in gloss paint, giving the room an almost grotto-like effect. Although the room is not a particularly large one, the choice of furniture gives a sense of spaciousness. The glass-topped table is on a stainless steel base. The transparent perspex chairs are visually unusual and also very practical because of their washable surfaces. The red-fronted cupboards are useful for serving and have the added attraction of inset stainless steel hot plates for keeping food warm. If a house needs cheering up or you want to get a new look without spending a great deal of money, think carefully about changing the colour scheme.

Laminated worktops

The other popular material for vulnerable areas of kitchen walls is plastic laminate whorktop sheet. Laminates come in a wide choice of plain, or mottled and marbled colours, woven and geometric patterns, and wood grains.
kitchen laminated worktop
They are made from compressed layers of resin-bonded paper, topped with a layer carrying the printed decoration and a clear melamine coating. It is a very versatile and durable material and can be cut to most shapes. Impact adhesive can be used to fix it to any rigid smooth backing, such as blockboard or chipboard. The edges of the backing material are usually lipped with matching laminate, which is available in strips about 25mm wide in a variety of popular colours. The surface is very hard and tough and will withstand regular cleaning and normal domestic liquids. A cigarette resistant grade is also obtainable. Since laminates can be used for tabletops and worktops as well as for wall facings, it is possible to feature a consistent colour and pattern scheme which will help to give the room a unified appearance.

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.

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.

Kitchens and kitchenettes in tiny spaces

In a tiny kitchen, every inch counts. Room for food preparation, cooking, washing up and storage is at a premium but too often such kitchens are badly designed, lacking storage space and with a thoughtless choice and siting of kitchen equipment. This can be infuriating for the housewife who spends much of her day there. With a little planning, however, a tiny kitchen can be made as pleasant to work in as any other kitchen.

small kitchen

Ideally, to make really efficient use of limited space you should start re-planning the room from scratch. Take a long look at what is already in the kitchen and the type of equipment you have there and you will probably find that much of the space is wasted. A hotchpotch of different-sized storage cupboards, for example, is a great space-waster. An old sink will have very little room below it for storage. A central table in a small kitchen will make traffic jams almost a certainty.

Planning the Kitchen layout

kitchen fitter London

With space at a premium in your kitchen, it is essential that you plan the room thoroughly. The best way to do this is to use a kitchen design software or make a scale drawing of the floor plan of your kitchen on a sheet of graph paper. Mark on it any architectural details plumbing, electrical points, windows, the door and the way it opens.

Next, cut out coloured pieces of card and mark them to represent the cooker, fridge, sink, cupboards and any other units. Lay these down on the plan and move them about to find the most efficient kitchen arrangement. Once you start doing this it will be easy to visualise how,everything can be fitted in, and how to save space.

Basic design

kitchens layout design

You will gain many ideas from working with your plan, but remember that there are basic design rules for kitchens, however large or small. There are three basic shapes for a kitchen plan-I, U and L shapes. Decide which one is right for your kitchen and fit in the units accordingly.

I shaped kitchen
An I-shaped arrangement is best for really cramped kitchens in passages and very narrow, rooms. In this type of kitchen, all the equipment and storage can be down one side of the room or right in front of you, making a neat and efficient line.
I shape kitchen design

L shape kitchen plinth lights and floor
An L-shaped arrangement is good for a rectangular room, or for part of a multipurpose room where the kitchen can be slotted into one corner. The L-shape can either be fitted neatly around the corner or, if space permits, one ‘arm’ can be left jutting into the room to act as a serving place or eating bar. But this arrangement is more suitable for reasonably big rooms.
L shaped kitchen

A U-shape can be used in square kitchens and is often best in a confined space because the equipment can be ‘wrapped’ around the cook, who stands in the centre and has everything well within reach.
U shaped kitchen

Work areas in the kitchen

Kitchen space must be divided into 4 work areas-preparation, cooking, serving and washing up even if there is a dishwasher. Within the framework of the I, U, or L shape, arrange these work areas in a natural progression, so that you don’t have to keep doubling back on your tracks when working in the kitchen. For example, you should place the fridge, food storage cupboards and mixer in the food preparation area. Keep pans over or under the sink as they usually need water in them before being put on the stove.

In a tiny kitchen, it is essential that there is a storage place for everything. Items that can’t be stored will simply be left cluttering valuable work surfaces. So plan your kitchen to the smallest detail to allow as much working space as possible to be left permanently free. When you have planned your kitchen to your satisfaction, you can start fitting in equipment and storage units to suit the work areas.

Units and Cabinets

You can save a great deal of space by using every inch of wall space from floor to ceiling for storage cupboards. The base units, the tops of which provide a work surface, should all have sliding doors. These take up a lot less room than I- hinged doors. Base units should stand on a recessed plinth. This will not only make unsightly scuff marks less conspicuous, but will also increase the kitchen floor area slightly, allowing you to work more comfortably as you can get your toe s under the working surface. One problem with base units is that manufacturers standard sizes will rarely fit snugly into a tiny kitchen.

You can build cupboards to your own sizes, or you can use open shelves, cheaper for someone on a small budget to bridge gaps between units. The top shelf should be level with the other work surfaces. Corner units are particularly important as there is often wasted storage space here in badly designed kitchens. Corner cupboards with plenty of shelves will gain valuable space.

Over the base unit, shallow midway units, about l00mm and l52mm deep will give ample space for jars or tins of food, but leave plenty of working room underneath. Over these units, hanging cupboards can run right up to the ceiling.

Kitchen Sink

kitchen sink double

A modern stainless steel sink is shallower and therefore less space-consuming than the old-fashioned ceramic sink. If the sink is set into a work-top you can save a lot of space. Draining racks can be set on either side of the recessed sink hung on the wall behind it or placed on a tiled window sill over it. Even in a tiny kitchen don’t stint on the size of the sink as this is one of the items in most constant demand in a kitchen. If you have a large family a double sink is well worth considering even in the smallest kitchen. It speeds up washing up, and has many other uses.

Waste disposal in the kitchen

A waste disposal unit will take up far less space than a waste bin, though a cheaper and equally space-saving alternative is a rubbish chute set into the wall near the sink. Rubbish can be ‘posted’ through a trapdoor on the kitchen side and falls straight down into a dustbin outside. There should be a hinged flap on the outside wall to prevent draughts and the walls of the chute should be tiled to permit easy cleaning.

Kitchen Cookers

A split-level cooker takes up more space than an ordinary cooker unless it is carefully placed. If you can find room for this arrangement however, the hob and the oven don’t need to be next door to each other. This is useful if, for example, yon can make use of an old fireplace.

cooker hob oven in fireplace

The fireplace can be removed and the hob set into the chimney on a fitted unit with cupboards beneath. The oven can be placed near the serving area or on the other side of the preparation area. The door opening should be taken into account when placing the oven. Also don’t put the cooker by the floor because this can be unsafe especially with small children around.