Monthly Archives: December 2014

Installing cork flooring planks is a project that can be done rather quickly compared to other types of floors. Putting in cork offers you several advantages over other types of flooring. It is quiet and warm underfoot and very durable as well. Many homeowners are also turning towards cork because of its highly sustainable nature. With the green movement in full swing, cork is growing rapidly in popularity. Here are the basics of installing cork flooring planks.

Step 1 – Acclimating the Cork
Unload the cork into the environment that it will be installed in before installation. Read what the manufacturer recommends, but it usually varies from 24 to 72 hours prior to installation. Being a natural product, it expands and contracts in different environments and temperatures. This is important as many companies will not warranty product problems if this is not adhered to.

Step 2 – Prepare the Subfloor
Before you get started, you will want to get the subfloor ready. You need to clean the subfloor and remove any debris that is in the way. Installing a floating floor does not require that the subfloor is completely perfect, but you will want to make it look as nice as possible.

Step 3 – Remove the Baseboards or Quarter Round
Depending on how you want the edge of the room to be finished, you need to remove the baseboards or quarter round. Your cork will require an expansion area around the outside of the room and baseboards or quarter round can provide this. Removing the baseboards is a good idea if you are installing over concrete so that you can run your moisture barrier up the wall a few inches and keep all the moisture out.

Step 4 – Undercut the Doors
You will want to take your undercut saw around to the door jambs and undercut them appropriately. You want the cork to be able to slide up underneath the doors and give it a professionally finished look.

Step 5 – Lay the Underlayment
If you are on a concrete subfloor, you will want to lay the moisture barrier down first and then put the pad on top. On a wood subfloor, you will now lay the pad down on the floor. The thicker the pad you have, the better your floor will feel and perform. Thick pad helps to mask the sound of footsteps on the floor.

Step 6 – Start to Lay the Cork
Floating cork has a locking mechanism that allows you to snap the joints together easily. You will attach it together with the tapping block that is provided by the manufacturer. The tapping block is essential so that you do not damage the joints with something hard. Do a run across the edge of the room first and then add onto that run one board at a time.

Step 7 – Finish the Job
After the floor is down, you will need to install the baseboards or quarter round back along the wall. Install necessary transition pieces as well where the cork meets another floor. Your cork flooring should now be ready to walk on and enjoy.

Cork flooring is appreciated for its durability, beauty and energy-efficient characteristics. Cork flooring is softer and more porous than hardwood flooring. Because of this, there are a number of simple steps that can be taken to protect it. Follow these instructions to enhance the durability of your cork flooring.

Step 1 – Protect against Moisture
Cork is a porous wood that will soak up moisture in wet environments. Too much moisture absorbed into the cork will cause it to warp. Protect against moisture by wiping up liquid spills immediately. In moist climates, run a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air. When using floor mats, place them in front of areas where water is likely to accumulate, like in front of a sink, bathtub or other entrance. Using a breathable mat will insure that the moisture isn’t trapped under the mat. When cleaning the floors, don’t soak them; use a damp mop and just enough water to do the job. Run over the damp floor with a dry mop after washing. If you have indoor plants, make sure your pots have a tray under them to collect water.

Step 2 – Protect Against Scratching
Although cork is more resistant to chipping and scratching than hardwood flooring, it is still susceptible. When moving furniture around, don’t drag them across the floor; lift them. Placing felt pads under the legs of tables, chairs and cabinets will also help to protect your cork flooring. Debris that is left on the floor will get pressed into the floor by feet; sweeping regularly to remove debris is another way to protect your floors. When your floor is visibly and considerably soiled, clean it with a mild detergent or cleaner designated for pre-finished hardwood flooring. Using a harsh, oil-based or ammonia-based cleaner will damage cork because of its porous nature.

Step 3 – Protect against the Sun
Too much direct sunlight on cork flooring will cause it to fade. Windows should be treated to reflect sunlight, or shades, curtains or drapes should be used to inhibit the amount of sunlight. Following these simple steps will enhance the durability of cork flooring, allowing you to benefit from them for many years.

The photograph below taken at a house in Henley-on-Thames shows a Travertine tiled floor covered with grout haze smears across the surface of the tile. The tiler should of dealt with this after laying the floor however removing grout smears from natural stone is tricky as normally you would use acid but Travertine is very sensitive to acid so I suspect the tiler decided against it in-case the tiles were ruined.

Travertine Tiled Floor Before Cleaning Henleyon Thames

Refurbishing Travertine Tiles

The first step was to give the floor a general wash to remove any grit and to get the grout clean so we started by applying a mild dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which was spread over the floor with particular attention paid to getting the solution into the grout lines where it was scrubbed in with a stiff brush. Next we removed any trace of product by using a wet vacuum and rinsing thoroughly with clean water.

To remove the grout haze and restore the surface polish the floor needed to be burnished which is done using four diamond encrusted burnishing pads applied in the correct sequence of grits from coarse through to super fine. First using coarse pad number 1 we put some clean water on the floor and using our rotary machine slowly burnished the area making sure that we passed over each tile around four times. The coarse pad cuts into the surface grime of the floor and also removes sealers and in this case the grout haze. The resultant soiled water is rinsed away with clean water which in turn is removed using a wet vacuum. This process is then repeated with the remaining pads to hone and polish the floor, rinsing between each pad until a nice polish is built up on the tile. The floor is then given a final rinse and once we were satisfied that all the slurry had been removed we left the floor to dry.

Cleaning Travertine and Limestone Tiles

I returned the next day to seal the Travertine Tile for which I used two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating sealer that will occupy the pores in the stone preventing contaminates getting in there; Colour Grow also brings out the colours in the stone and in this case has done well to bring out the deep brown colours.

Travertine Tiled Floor After Cleaning Henleyon Thames

The floor now looks 100% better and how it should have looked in the first place.
Source: Expert Travertine Tile Cleaning Help

Like any other type of flooring, cork flooring will eventually get dirty. Gradual buildup of dirt, grime, oil, and dust can slowly build up and cause untold amounts of damage, whether you see it or not. Obviously, keeping any dirt that builds up on your floor under control is a much better idea than waiting until it is unmanageably stained. Unfortunately, effectively cleaning a cork floor requires a certain amount of planning and knowledge, as well as the proper materials. What follows should help you keep it clean, no matter what type you have.

What You’ll Need
WaterDish soap

Step 1 – Setup

When cleaning a cork floor, it is important to consider its special properties. Cork will absorb water and expand. Needless to say, this is not something you want your floor to do. In order to avoid this, you will have to use a cleaning strategy that uses the absolute minimum amount of water possible. While many types of cork flooring are actually more water resistant than they appear, it only takes a small amount of damage to render the seal weak enough to allow a little bit of water in. In general, whoever installs a cork floor will use a sealant on it to make it more resistant to water. Some cork floors are actually even more solidly built and function more like engineered wood or vinyl. However, it is always best to be safe and use minimal water, especially because no sealant is perfect.

You can do this by having a separate water supply. Fill a bucket with water and squirt some ordinary dish soap into it. Mix them together thoroughly and bring your bucket to a convenient place. Next, dip your sponge in the bucket and fill it with soapy water. Finally, wring out your sponge to remove most of the water from it.

Step 2 – Cleaning

Before you wash your cork floor, you should vacuum it. This is to remove any loose particles such as dirt or small rocks than can gradually damage your floor by rubbing against it repeatedly. This kind of damage can also damage the seal on your floor, making it less water resistant. Generally speaking, this is all you should do to clean a cork floor — it should not need anything more than regular vacuuming to stay clean unless you have spilled something on it.

However, to get your cork floor really clean, use your damp sponge to wipe it down. You can use your damp sponge in combination with a dust tray to collect excess dirt and dust. If your sponge dries out or runs out of soap, dip it in your bucket and then wring it out to remove excess water before continuing. You should also do this if your sponge gets dirty or dusty to avoid spreading the mess around your cork floor.

Step 3 – Maintenance

Vacuum your cork floor regularly. If you accidentally spill something on it, clean up the spill immediately to minimize the degree to which it stains.

You can also use a resin or sealant specifically designed for cork floors to protect it if you suspect that it has not been sealed properly.

The decision to install timber flooring can be a quick and easy one to make, but what next? Timber can be any number of colors, sizes, grades and finishes, and the range of possibilities can be daunting. Here’s a guide to help narrow down decisions and make the process more manageable.

Floor Types

The 3 most common floor types are:

1. Floating – These are floors where timber has been placed directly over the existing one. The timber is not nailed down or fixed – instead, it is fixed to a high density fiberboard. Underneath the fiberboard, a rubber, foam or fiber underlay is placed under the planks to reduce noise. Floating floors have small gaps but little movement.

2. Structural – In this type of flooring, the timber is placed on bearers and joists. Structural timber floors should only be laid by a professional but it can be a long process as the timber needs to acclimatise to the environment in which it is being laid (which can take up to two weeks). Structural timber floors also need adequate ventilation in the sub-floor space so that timber does not warp.

3. Tongue and Groove – If you want tight fitting floors that have no gaps and little movement, tongue and groove is the one for you. Each board consists of one tongue and one groove, located on opposite sides, that fits into the boards above and behind during the laying process. You can create parquet patterns with a tongue and groove floor due to its versatility.

If you can decide on a floor color, choosing the specific type of timber will be a much easier task. There are dozens of different types of timber, but most fall into either the brown, red or cream families. Within these families, you can further narrow to light, medium or dark, which will give you a very particular group to select from.

Manufacturers typically offer three main timber grades. The least expensive wood will be the rawest, which means the boards will have holes, marks and other blemishes. This option is good for those who want a rugged, natural looking wood floor. A step up from that is usually called ‘standard grade’ and has less markings. Giving off a more polished feel, it is ideal for those who want a modern, yet still natural look. The most expensive timber flooring will be smooth and blemish-free, with only light markings.

Finishing can potentially change the look of your timber, sometimes dramatically, so make sure to research or speak to a professional before applying anything. There are many products available, so you should be able to get the right finish if you do your homework.

While you may spend a lot of time looking at photos or examining showrooms, when your timber arrives, it will not look exactly like what you’ve seen. Timber is unique from tree to tree, so the colors, patterns and textures are never going to perfectly match another. This is what makes timber flooring valuable and interesting, so expect a little diversity from yours when it arrives.


Tile installers have a number of great insider secrets. They are consummate professionals, so they’ve developed systems and even shortcuts that work well. Often, they’ll try to keep their tricks to themselves but nothing can truly stay secret for long. Knowing some of those secrets can make your tiling job a lot easier. You might imagine that most tillers will have superb secrets regarding the laying of the tile itself. In fact, their greatest secret is in the preparation they do before a single tile is laid.

Secret 1: Preparation
The biggest key to making a job go smoothly is good preparation. In the case of large jobs this can mean days of preparation. Check the rooms to see how square the walls are, how even and smooth the edges appear and how level the surface is that you’ll be covering with your tiles.

Once you’ve established this, begin work your preparation methods out. If necessary, build up floors a little, using mortar rather than self-leveling compound. Where walls are being tiled, especially if they have concave bows, use thinset to level them out. With convex bows, remove the board and use a plane on the wall studs before replacing.

This can take longer than the actual tiling but it’s definitely worthwhile. Not only will the tiling process go smoothly, but you’ll have a much outcome. Starting with a level floor spares you having to deal with a problem called lippage, which effectively means the tiles aren’t quite even.

Secret 2: Layout
You’ll save a lot of time later if you establish lines parallel and square to the longest wall in the room. Next, lay out a run of tiles about 6 feet long, including spacers. This will let you know if you’ll end up with slivers around the room edges. If that’s the case, you can make adjustments so it doesn’t happen.

Lay out tiles from the center of the room, going in all directions to ensure the perimeters will all be the same. When you’ve done that, re-check everything thoroughly to avoid mistakes later.

Secret 3: Installation
To avoid boxing yourself into a corner and having to wait while the mortar dries, move from the field which is classed as the center of the room and work outwards to the perimeter of the room. Set the tile in the thinset then take the time to level it in all directions. This ensures you’ll have a perfectly level floor.

If you’re tiling more than the floor, complete the other surfaces such as countertops and walls first. This means that you’ll never be stuck for a surface to work on.

Some tiles, such as ceramic, porcelain and terra cotta, will require grout. However, you should still take the time to make sure they’re flat and even rather than relying the grout to make things look good. It’s a matter of pride and craftsmanship.

Secret 4: Grouting
When you’ve grouted the tiles, use clean water and thick sponges to clean up and do so thoroughly. When you caulk areas with splashbacks or where two different surfaces join, use latex caulk that’s matched in color to the grout. To get a good bead, work the caulk into the join carefully and firmly.

I recently paid a visit to a customer at a house in the town of Preston to restore the colour of the grout in their bathroom which due to years of using strong cleaning products had bleached the grout of any colour. The tiles themselves were not the issue they seemed fine but the grout was looking Tired; we discussed the options and decided the best course of action would be to apply a grout colourant. Two different colours were chosen, white for the shower area and Sandstone for the toilet area.

WC Grout Colouring in Preston Before Shower Cubicle Grout Colouring in Preston Before

Colouring Wall Grout

Before applying the grout colourant it’s important to give the grout a deep clean using the Pre-Treater that comes with the kit; the solution is sprayed on and scrubbed in by hand before being rinsed off with water.

Once the grout had dried I started to apply the Grout colour which restores the colour and seals the grout as well, thus making it easier to clean afterwards. Grout colouring is fiddly work but you do get the gratification of an instant change. Once done I called the customer in who was delighted with the new effect as Grout colour if used correctly looks very natural and not as if someone has painted the grout making it look false.

WC Grout Colouring in Preston After Shower Cubicle Grout Colouring in Preston After

We discussed using the correct type of cleaning product for aftercare as this seemed to be the issue to start with and I recommended Tile Doctor Aqua-Pro as this can be sprayed onto the Tiles and mopped off which is ideal where a small amount of water is required. For regular cleaning Tile Doctor Neutral cleaner was also mentioned as this is diluted into water where more cleaning is needed and mopped onto the floor area.
Source: Expert Grout Maintenance Site

Installing rubber matting is a great way to add a safe and ergonomic floor covering in any room. Rubber matting provides for a cushioned landing in case of a fall, and also does a fair job of insulating sound. It’s perfect for use in home gyms or a kid’s play rooms, and provides a safe passageway through open kitchens or other areas where floors may become wet. Rubber matting roles are certainly much easier to work with, than the foam, and can be placed directly over existing flooring with little effort. Here’s a guide to show you how to install rubber matting in your home.

What You’ll Need
Protective rubber matting
Broom or vacuum cleaner
Utility knife
Double-sided tape
Straight edge

Step 1- Measuring
Measure the floor area where you want to install the rubber matting, and purchase rubber flooring based on your measurements. Generally, it is a good idea to purchase about 10 percent more rubber matting than you think you will need, in order to account for recessed areas or other hard to measure places.

Step 2– Prepare the Rubber Matting
Unroll the roll of rubber matting, and allow it to sit in place and breathe for about 24 hours prior to installing it. This will allow the rubber matting to naturally fall to a flat state and adjust to the temperature of the environment in which you are installing it. If you can’t wait 24 hours for the matting to become flat on its own, then you can unroll the matting and then flip it over, so that the curled ends are facing the floor. Then, place heavy flat items along end of the matting to help force it to remain flat. After a couple of hours, the matting should be ready.

Step 3– Taping the Rubber Matting
Affix double-sided tape along the perimeter border edges of the rubber formatting.

Step 4– Aligning the Rubber Matting
Flip the roll over (taped side facing up), and then align the mats exactly where you would like them to be. You may have to trim the mats with your utility knife and a straight edge, in order to get them to fit snugly in corners or up against counters

Step 5– Clean the Area
Using your broom or vacuum cleaner, thoroughly clean the area where you will be placing the rubber matting. Dust or debris will cause the double-sided tape to not adhere well to the flooring surface.

Step 6– Finishing Up
Next, peel the protective layer from the double-sided tape. Then, place the rubber mats in the position and patterns you have already laid out for them. Once in place, walk along the perimeter edges of the rubber mats to help secure the tape to the mats and floor surface.
That’s it. You have not installed rubber matting, and you can now rest a little easier knowing that room or passage is now much safer than before.

The owner of this house in Peppard Common near Henley on Thames was keen to have the grout completely removed from this brick paved floor in the Kitchen and re-done. This is a lot of work and re-colouring the grout with a Grout Colourant kit would have been faster and easier however it is something we can do if required.

Brick Paved Floor Before Regrouting and Cleaning Peppard

Removing Grout

I started by removing the kick boards around the base of the kitchen units then to remove the grout I had to cut along all the grout lines with a hand held multi tool; as you can imagine this work is quite painstaking and slow however I persisted and eventually completed the task which took me the whole day. After this I came back the next day and grouted the whole floor polishing off the excess grout as I went.

Cleaning Brick Paving

On the third day I gave the floor a clean with Tile Doctor Pro Clean diluted with water. The customer did not want a full scrub as the brick floor had a nice patina to it and a full scrub would have made the brick floor more of an orange colour. The last step was to give the floor a thorough rinse with water and then use a wet vacuum to extract as much water from the floor as possible.

Brick Paved Floor After Regrouting and Cleaning Peppard

In total the job took three days to complete and it now looks much cleaner and fresher.
Source: Expert Travertine Tile Maintenance Site

Tile floors continue to stand out as a top choice for many homeowners. Tiles have long been utilized in construction because of their many benefits. However, many other materials also abound on the market. This has put many homeowners in a dilemma when deciding on the best material to use. The floor is a focal point of any room. You want to be certain that you have it constructed in the right way. Visual effect and functional value rate highly in selecting floor installations. Following is a comparison between tile floors and marble floors.

Pros of Tile Floors

Tiled floors offer a huge selection to choose from. Color, size, style, texture and shape are all more than adequately covered in tile varieties. You are bound to achieve whatever finished look you desire. Tiles can be laid out on both even and uneven surfaces. Tiles are affordable. They are much cheaper than marble. Installing tiles is not too complicated of a process. It is a project that any enthusiastic homeowner can undertake with satisfactory results. This will help you save on overall costs. It is easy to keep a tiled floor clean. They do not stain, which makes it easier to maintain a clean appearance. Tiles are allergen free and very hygienic.

Cons of Tile Floors

Tiles are cold on the feet. This is worse during cold weather seasons. You may want to lay some rugs or mats on the floor to reduce the cold. Breakages and chips are the norm with a tiled floor. This calls for repairs thus pushing up the budget. A tiled floor can be slippery when wet. Unattended spills can easily cause an accident. Tiles can also be noisy as they magnify whatever noise takes place on them.

Pros of Marble Floors

Marble is one of the hottest trends on the market for homeowners. If you want a gorgeous, classical and elegant finish for your floor, marble makes an excellent choice. A marble floor is extremely hard and more durable than tiles. Breaking, chipping and scratches are unlikely on a marble floor. The cold feel of marble is a welcome cooling effect especially during the hot summer months. It is extremely therapeutic when you experience some cooling right from the feet during unbearably hot weather.

Cons of Marble Floors

Marble is one of the most costly materials to use for flooring. Installation has to be done by a qualified professional because of the technical knowledge involved. Its hardness can pose a problem especially when crockery or glass is accidentally dropped. You can count on breakages there. Marble flooring is high maintenance. You need to polish it frequently to maintain that attractive glossy sheen. A marble floor feels very cold when walked upon barefoot. You’d have to get some house shoes or lay rugs on the floor to reduce the cold. However, a marble floor is not quite the type of floor you want covered. Rugs defuse the natural beauty of marble. If you prefer to walk around the house barefoot, the cold feel of marble may be a deterrent for you.