Monthly Archives: January 2013

Radiant floor heat works on the principle of thermal radiation. This is explained scientifically by the fact that electromagnetic radiation is emitted from the surface of a heated object. A simple example of thermal radiation is the sun, or a light bulb. This is the principle used in a typical electric baseboard heater. Electricity is utilized to heat the elements of the baseboard heater, and the heat is distributed throughout the room through thermal radiation.

Radiant floor heat works on this same principle. The main difference between the standard baseboard heater and radiant floor heat is that the panels are placed in the flooring of the home, and radiate the heat upwards towards the ceiling. Electrical cables, or tubing charged with hot water, are placed in the flooring of a home, and the energy supplied to these heating elements causes heat to be generated, and thus warms the home. Depending on the installation, the radiant heat system’s thermostat can be set 4-8 degrees cooler than that of a a typical forced air system and still accomplish the same level of comfort. This can amount to a great deal of savings over the typical heating period in many parts of the northern United States.

Installation of a radiant floor heating system is accomplished by different methods, depending on whether you are installing the radiant floor heating system in new construction, or are adding radiant heat to an existing home. Methods of installation may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the principle is the same. The two types of installation are the “dry” installation method, and the “wet” installation method. A dry installation requires panels to be mounted to the flooring, subflooring, or under the subfloor. The method of radiant heat transfer, either electrical cables or tubing carrying a liquid medium, is then hooked up to the appropriate source.

In a wet installation, the heating panels are installed on the floor, and a thin layer of concrete or gypsum is spread over the installation, sandwiching the cables or tubing between two layers of either flooring or concrete. This installation is generally placed over an existing concrete slab. It is the ideal in new home construction, where a concrete slab, which has high thermal mass, is used to build the ground floor.

What to Consider Before Installing Radiant Floor Heat

Although a radiant floor heat installation can be accomplished by an experienced do it yourselfer, your best bet is to consult a heating and cooling specialist if you are considering installing a radiant floor heating system. Many things need to be considered if the installation is to be successful. These would include:

1. In an existing home installation, how efficient is the existing insulation in the home? Is there proper insulation in walls and ceilings?

2. What energy source will be used to power the installation? If you are considering electrical cable, are energy costs competitive in your geographical area? Will the electric company give you a credit for taking advantage of time-of-use rates? Check with your electric utility – the time of use rates can be a significant saving to you. Typically, the off peak times are from 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM. If you have significant floor mass, such as a concrete slab, then the radiant heat system can be “charged” during the off peak hours. An efficient installation may not require any electricity to be used during the day, when daytime temperatures are higher, and the sun helps warm the home.

3. Floor covering over the installation should be considered. Because carpeting has an insulating effect, especially when used with a pad, ceramic tile is the better choice for a radiant floor heat system. Other types of floor coverings can be used, such as linoleum or vinyl floor coverings, but remember that any covering used on the floor insulates the subfloor from the room and cuts down on the efficiency of the radiant floor heat system.

4. Although you may at the time of installation determine that the type of radiant floor heat you install is the best choice, will it be so in the future? You should also take in to consideration such energy sources as solar power, wood or LP gas as an energy source, or even a coal fired boiler if you decide on a hydronic system. Always insure that the system you install has the ability to be converted at a later date to a different energy source.

Radiant floor heat is very user friendly. It provides a comfortable heating arrangement for the home that is energy efficient, silent in operation, and friendly to the environment. People suffering from allergies, especially during the heating season, may notice a significant amount of relief, because the old forced air system is no longer blowing allergens into the home. And the best part of all is that when you get up in the morning, you don’t have to put your feet on a cold floor.


You can see from the photograph below how dirty these Black Chinese Slate tiles and grout had become; the old sealer protecting the tile and grout from stains had virtually vanished because the customer in Basingstoke had been using washing up liquid to clean them. Generally speaking washing up liquid is a degreaser with a slight Acidic PH and over time it can strip the sealer off. This was definitely the root cause of problem in this case in fact the sealer was virtually non existent. In a way this made our job easier as we have to remove any sealer before we can start cleaning.

Chinese Black Slate in Basingstoke Before

Cleaning Chinese Black Slate

The first job we did was to work on the grout lines using a strong solution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which we left to dwell on the grout first before working it in with a special stiff brush. Pro-Clean is a strong alkaline cleaner which unlike acidic products is safe to use on all types of stone. To remove the remaining sealer and clean the slate floor we used Pro-Clean again this time worked in with a rotary machine fitted with a scrubbing pad.

Chinese Black Slate in Basingstoke During Cleaning

The soiled liquids were removed and the floor rinsed down with clean water, we find a wet Vacuum machine comes in very handy at this point as there great for removing liquids from floors. We repeated this process a number of times until we were happy the slate tile and grout were thoroughly clean.

Sealing Chinese Black Slate

The slate floor was left to dry overnight and we came back the next day to seal it. The floor has to be dry for this process so we use a damp meter to make sure and we keep an industrial air blower in the van that we can use in case we need to speed things up. To seal the black slate we applied five coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go which is a great stain protector recommended for slate floors that leaves a nice low sheen on the floor.

Chinese Black Slate in Basingstoke Cleaned and Sealed

Last but not least we advised the customer that going forward they should use a PH neutral cleaning product for regular cleaning and recommended the use Tile Doctor Neutral Cleaner going forward.
Source: Chinese Black Slate cleaned and sealed in Hampshire

Windows and Mirrors

In a 32 oz. spray bottle, add 1/3 cup white (clear) vinegar and 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol. If you absolutely must have another cleaner, add 1 tablespoon automatic dishwashing detergent.

Tubs and Shower Stalls

Alkaline deposits in the water cause those not so pretty spots on your glass doors and shower walls. Apply a car wax to the walls and doors, but not the floor or it gets real slick. Both fiberglass and glass are porous. The car wax seals those pores, which makes cleaning easier and keeps water spots away. Reapply twice yearly.

Squeegee or wipe down your shower after each use to further prevent buildup. If you’re tired of fighting the soap scum buildup, switch to liquid soap, natural soap or Dove. It’s the talc in most bar soaps that causes the buildup. Changing soap can eliminate the buildup. You still need to clean the shower once a week, but the job is easier.

Clean the showers once a week with an orange citrus based cleaner. Spray on and give it ten minutes to dissolve the dirt. Why do all that scrubbing when your product does it for you?

OK, so the soap scum refuses to budge and friends are coming for a visit. Use your orange based cleaner concentrated. Pour plenty on an old dishrag and wipe on the walls and doors. Use can use boiling hot white vinegar (wear gloves) but you must keep applying it as the white vinegar dries. It takes time to dissolve that buildup.

Patience now becomes a virtue. Wait and wait and wait some more. Go clean the rest of the house. If the cleaner starts dripping down the walls, wipe it back on. Check the walls with a fingernail. If the residue removes easily, round one is about over.

Use a white bristle pad to scrub. They look like fibers and are glued to a sponge. Use the white ones only. The colored scrubbers are coarser and do scratch. Test a spot to make sure it won’t scratch the fiberglass. Dampen the pad, keeping it good and wet and gently scrub. This removes the soap buildup and most of the white mineral deposits on the glass doors. Nothing removes the etch marks themselves, but further damage is halted. Reapply the orange citrus cleaner if necessary.

Plastic shower curtains can be machine washed. Remove, spray with your diluted orange based cleaner and wait about 10 minutes. Wash with your rags and they come out quite clean. Air dry. If the curtain is long enough, cut off the seam at the bottom to prevent mildew buildup down there.


Ring around your toilet? Again, alkaline deposits cause those nasty rings. Depending on the hardness of your water, pour one or two cups of white vinegar into the toilet once a month to eliminate the problem.

Toilet bowl rings – Here I take a deep breath and plead with you to follow these instructions. Repeat. Follow these instructions. Do not deviate or you will scratch the inside of your toilet bowl.

Turn off the water flow to the toilet and flush to remove the water. Saturate a couple of heavy duty paper towels with white vinegar or the Orange Citrus Cleaner. Place around the edges making sure all areas are covered. Keep the towels damp for several hours, even overnight, until the water spots start dissolving. Then scrub with a stiff nylon brush.

If the white vinegar does not dissolve the whole ring, go to a janitorial supply store or a hardware store and purchase a pumice stone and a stiff toothbrush. Dampen one end of the pumice stone and keep it wet.

Gently, very gently, rub the pumice stone across the lines. When enough pumice builds on the sides, switch to a stiff bristle brush to continue working. Rub gently until the deposit disappears. Pumice will scratch the toilet. Use it only one time and cautiously.


Once a month, pour one cup of baking soda, followed by one cup of white vinegar down the drain. Wait an hour and flush with warm water. The combination fizzles away most of the buildup. Works for shower, tub and kitchen sink drains as well.


Water deposits build up around faucets and drain areas. Use a paper towel soaked in white vinegar and place around the faucet. Plug the drain and pour 1/2 cup white vinegar in the sink and wait. It takes time for the white vinegar to dissolve the alkaline deposits. Scrub using a stiff bristled nylon toothbrush.

Do not use orange based or powdered cleansers on brass or gold plated faucets. These fixtures corrode and scratch quickly. Dry these faucets after each use to prevent water spot damage.


Keep ahead of mildew so it doesn’t become a problem. Every six months spray your bathroom ceiling with a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. Peroxide is a safe bleach and won’t harm the environment or your lungs. Find larger quantities of peroxide at beauty or medical supply stores.

Spray the mixture on and leave it. No need to rinse or scrub. If you currently have mildew, follow the above directions. Wait two hours and respray. Then wait 24 hours and spray a third time if necessary.

Details below of a wet room lined with 10m2 of Marble in old cottage on the outskirts of the medieval village of Great Bricett in the heart of Suffolk. You can see from the photographs staining of the Marble Tiled wall and floor which was left in a mess after a friend of the family had tried to remove the limescale during a visit.

Marble Shower Cubicle Before Cleaning Marble Shower Cubicle Before Cleaning

Cleaning and Sealing Marble Tile

The Marble tiles were cleaned and polished using a set of mini Twister burnishing pads. The pads are encrusted in diamonds are brilliant at restoring hard stone surfaces such as Marble. You start with the red pad to remove the existing sealer followed by the white and yellow pads to clean and hone the stone. The wall and floor tiles were then rinsed with water to clean and neutralise the floor ready for sealing.

The room had under floor heating which helped to dry out the tile and so it was soon possible to use the final green pad to polish the tiles and move onto sealing. To seal we used two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a colour intensifying breathable sealer that enhances colour as well as providing durable surface protection, a one litre bottle of sealer was sufficient.

Thanks to the under floor heating we managed to complete the job in a single day and as you can see from the final set of photographs below the stains have been removed and the tiles restored to their original appearance.

Marble Shower Cubicle After Cleaning Marble Shower Cubicle After Cleaning

Source: Cleaning and Sealing Marbled Tiles in Suffolk

Many of us who have showers in our homes also have a glass shower door instead of shower curtains. If a homeowner has children, pets, or ill relatives, going green is a safer alternative to harsh chemical glass cleaners that are sold in stores. In this article, you will find environmentally safe and cost effective ways to clean your glass shower door.

Items You May Need:

  • 1 QT Spray Bottle
  • Baking Soda
  • Lemon Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Premade Green Glass Cleaner
  • Newspaper
  • Recycled or Green Paper Towels
  • T-Shirt
  • Squeegee
  • Towel Sham
  • Green Dish Soap
  • Bowl
  • Jar With Lid

Step One: Making or Buying Green Glass Cleaner

The first option for obtaining green glass cleaner is to go to a local grocery store and buy green glass cleaner. While this is the simplest option, many green glass cleaners, such as Chlorox Green Works, can also be pricey. The second option for obtaining a green glass cleaner is to make it from scratch, using everyday items that can be found around the house.

The first homemade green glass cleaner requires a 1 QT spray bottle, 3 cups of water, ½ tsp baking soda, and 2 tsp of either fresh grapefruit, orange, or lemon juice. Take the spray bottle and fill it with 3 cups of water, ½ tsp of baking soda, and 2 tsp of one of the aforementioned fresh citric fruit juices. Screw the lid back on the spray bottle and shake until the ingredients are completely dissolved and combined. This recipe is not only effective, but it also smells great.

The second homemade green glass cleaner requires ¼ cup of vinegar, ½ tsp liquid green dish soap or green detergent, 2 cups of water, and a 1 QT spray bottle. Take the spray bottle and fill it with 2 cups of water, ½ tsp of green liquid dish soap or green detergent, and ¼ cup of vinegar. Next, screw the top onto the spray bottle and shake well until ingredients are completely dissolved and combined. This recipe is not as cost effect as the first due to the green dish soap or green detergent that is required. However, the remaining soap and detergent can be used to wash dishes or clean other items in the house.

If you do not have a 1 QT spray bottle, you can always mix the ingredients in a jar with lid and pour only what you need for your cleaning task into a bowl.

Step Two: Choosing Cleaning Equipment 

There are many eco-friendly items you can find around your house or in a local grocery store to clean and wipe your glass shower door with. At the store, you can buy recycled paper towels, a squeegee, or a towel sham. Recycled paper towels can get expensive and cannot be reused. However, both squeegees and towel shams are reusable and can be used for other household chores. If you do not wish to buy any new items, newspapers or an old cotton t-shirt can be used to clean and dry the shower glass door with. Also, newspapers can be recycled after their use.

Step Three: Applying Glass Cleaner

There are three main ways you can apply the glass cleaner to your glass shower door. The first is to simply spray the glass cleaner evenly on the glass, applying just enough to wipe it clean. The second way to apply the glass cleaner is by spraying your cleaning equipment with the glass cleaner, just enough to dampen it. Lastly, if you do not have a spray bottle and are using a bowl, simply dab the cleaning equipment in the solution until it is dampened.

Step Four: Cleaning Shower Glass Door

After you have sprayed the glass door with the glass cleaner or dampened your cleaning equipment, simply go over the glass with the cleaning equipment in a circular motion, starting at the top of the glass door until the cleaner is no longer beading on the glass or the glass is dry. If you choose use a squeegee, simply start at the top of the glass door and wipe in a horizontal direction until you have wiped the entire glass door. Also, be sure to wipe the squeegee dry in between each horizontal stroke with a paper towel or cotton t-shirt so that no residue is left behind.


This Marble tiled floor was in the hallway of a house in the historic town of Woodbridge; the floor had lost its lustre was looking dull and in need of a good polish.

Marble Hallway Before Polishing Marble Hallway Before Polishing

Marble Cleaning and Sealing

It took a day to clean the Marble tiles using a set of 17 inch diamond encrusted Twister burnishing pads fitted to a buffing machine. The pads come in a set of four and you start with the red pad in conjunction with water to remove the existing sealer followed by the white and yellow pads also with water to clean and hone the stone. The tiles were then rinsed with clean water to clean and neutralise the floor ready for sealing.

Once the floor was dry we used the final green pad with a small amount of water to polish the tiles before moving onto sealing. To seal we used two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which does what it says on the tin and enhances colour as well as providing that important surface protection, a five litre bottle of sealer was required to provide two coats on this 35m2 floor.

I’m not the world’s best photographer but hopefully you agree from the pictures on this page that the floor has now got its shine back.

Marble Hallway After Clean and Polish Marble Hallway After Clean and Polish

Source: Polishing Marble Tiles

Cleaning shower door glass can be difficult, especially if you have resilient hard water stains to remove. However, consider the tips and advice below to efficiently clean your shower door glass in addition to removing those tough water stains.

Clean the Glass Daily

A great way to prevent hard water stain and keep your glass immaculate is to clean it daily. Hard water stain can be very difficult to remove once set onto the glass. By using a squeegee or a paper towel and Windex, you will can quickly erase any stains before they settle and keep your glass clean.

Try Rubbing Alcohol

If you notice minor build-up on your glass, try spraying it with some rubbing alcohol and wipe with a damp cloth. Be aware that this method is most effective for stains that have recently accumulated. For major build-ups that have occurred over time, you may want to use a stronger chemical.

Try Fabric Stain Removers

Another method, often over-looked, is to use fabric stain removers, like Shout or Resolve. Pour the liquid onto a damp cloth and scrub lightly over the hard water stains. This method should remove a good amount of the hard water stains and will bring a more pleasant odor to your bathroom.

Try a Green Method

If you prefer a greener method, take a lemon and cut it in half. Next, rub the inside of the lemon over the shower door stain. For doors that need a little extra cleaning, allow the lemon juice to sit on the stains for a few minutes and then wipe away.

Use a Chemical Cleaner

If the above remedies aren’t as effective as you’d like, then you can purchase a lime and hard water stain remover. You’ll won’t have to spend too much on this item and the instructions are very easy to follow. The cleaner should easily remove the stains although you may need to do a little scrubbing in order completely eliminate the stain.

Having friends over or entertaining during the holidays can be a very pleasurable event. But in all the excitement people tend to get a little careless, and, before you know it, you have beverage stains on your carpeting or that new sofa you just had to have for the holidays. Getting these stains out can be a daunting task, but can be made a lot simpler if you use the proper materials and a little elbow grease.

Getting the stain cleaned up before it has a chance to set is probably the best thing you can do for things like beer, coffee, and wine. Carefully blot the stain, and use the proper cleaner to remove it. Don’t rub the stain – you will only spread it around and drive it in deeper. Chances are that during an evening of entertainment, a stain will get overlooked and you end up the next day with a nice stain dried on valuable clothing, carpeting, or furniture. Here is what to do.

Wine stains, especially red wine, can be removed if you follow the correct procedure. For clothing that can be laundered, mix a good liquid detergent such as Dawn half and half with hydrogen peroxide. These cleansers must be used together, and the mixture should be fresh. Gently pour over the stain and allow it to sit as a presoak. Use a clean towel between the stain and the back of the garment to avoid the stain leeching through. Launder following care label instructions. Research shows that white wine will remove red wine stains. Hold the game or tablecloth over the sink, and pour white wine on the red wine stain. It will disappear. If wine stains get on carpeting, pour hydrogen peroxide on the stain. Allow to stand for a few minutes. With a spray bottle mixture of half water and half of a good carpet cleaning shampoo, such as Bissell Fiber Cleansing Formula, mist the stain, and blot dry with a clean white cloth. This will work well even on white carpeting.

  1. Mix one teaspoon of a mild pH balanced detergent (a mild non alkaline non bleaching detergent) with a cup of lukewarm water
  2. Blot
  3. Mix one third cup of white household vinegar with two thirds cup of water
  4. Blot
  5. Mix one teaspoon of a mild pH balanced detergent (a mild non alkaline non bleaching detergent) with a cup of lukewarm water
  6. Sponge with clean water
  7. Blot

Note: Always test an inconspicuous area for colorfastness, etc. before treating the exposed area. Also note that certain stains are permanent

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Hardwood has been a popular flooring choice for hundreds of years and it is still one of the most desired flooring types today. There’s no secret to why hardwood is so popular. It’s beautiful and lasts for years (the flooring can even last longer than the house where it’s installed). After a number of years as the floor gets worn, the hardwood can be refinished and given a new lease on life. Hardwood is also easy to keep clean, and since it’s wood it won’t hold dust or dust mites as a carpet might, making it a great choice for a home where people have allergies.

Environmental Concerns

One concern people often have about hardwood is by using it in their home they’re contributing to the depletion of the world’s forests. However, primarily because reforestation practices are mandatory in the United States, our forest have actually grown in size over the past hundred years and almost 1/3 of the land in the US is covered with trees. In fact, experts say there are actually more trees today than in the 1950’s.

Solid Hardwood or Engineered Hardwood?

Just as the name says, solid hardwood is milled from solid lumber. It can be installed in most rooms in a home but not below grade (where ground moisture could get into the natural wood and cause swelling or warping).

Engineered hardwood is a man made product consisting of a hardwood surface layer bonded to an underlay of laminated plywood or fiberboard. Since it looks like solid hardwood, it can be installed everywhere solid hardwood can be used, but the laminated structure means it can also be used below grade.

Perhaps the major difference between solid and engineered hardwood is solid hardwood can be refinished many times while the engineered wood (which only has a surface layer of hardwood) can only be refinished once or twice.

Choosing the Right Wood

Oak – Oak is among the most popular hardwood flooring choices. There are actually two types of oak used for flooring–red and white. Both are primarily golden brown in color but the red oak has a slight pinkish tone while the white oak is more brown.

Maple and Birch – Maple and birch are lighter in color than oak and have light grain lines. Since they’re not as dark as oak they provide a bright, modern feel and can actually lighten up a dark room.

Ash – Ash is often darker brown in color than oak and has a more pronounced grain pattern. It’s extremely hard (it’s used to make baseball bats) so it’s long wearing and a good choice for a room with lots of traffic.

Walnut – Walnut is a dark brown color but since it’s not as hard as some of the other hardwoods it’s best used in rooms with little traffic, such as a bedroom.

Cherry – Cherry not surprisingly has a reddish tone that tends to darken over time. It also has a distinctive grain pattern that not everyone appreciates. Cherry is quite hard, so it stands up well to traffic.

This 25m2 Travertine tiled floor was installed in a house in Pateley Bridge, near Harrogate, it hadn’t been cleaned properly for 5 years and we were asked to clean it, I also recommended that we polish it and the customer was happy with the suggestion.

travertine tiled floor before

Cleaning Travertine Floor Tiles

The first step was to scrub the Travertine tiles with a rotary machine fitted with a black scrubbing pad and a solution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is a strong multi-purpose alkaline cleaning product designed for use on stone, it was a large area so I used up the best part of a 5 litre container.

The soiled cleaning solution was removed using a wet Vacuum and the floor was then rinsed thoroughly with clean water to remove any cleaning products. The next step was to use the Twister Burnishing Pad system fitted to a rotary machine to remove any remaining sealer and polish the floor. The pads come in four different colours and you work your way through them one by one until the floor is thoroughly cleaned and polished.

Sealing Travertine Floor Tiles

Once the floor was dry we set about sealing it using two coats of Tile Doctor Ultra Seal which is a no-sheen natural look penetrating sealer designed to provide maximum stain protection on natural stone floors including Travertine, Granite and Marble. The last step was to buff the floor to a nice shine with a rotary machine fitted with a white pad.

travertine tiled floor after travertine tiled floor after

I have to admit the photographs are not my best; hopefully you can appreciate the improvement the customer certainly did.
Source: Travertine Tile Cleaning and Polishing in Yorkshire