Wood Flooring

If you are contemplating fitting wood flooring in your property, you need to be able to choose the correct type of wood. Durability of wood as a flooring solution will depend on the quality of the fitting and suitability of the wood in the room. Using a professional contractor will ensure that both considerations are taken into account and the best flooring solution is recommended for your project. Here are some of the considerations that property contractors take into account.

Type Of Wood:

There are two types of wood flooring and in most cases either type will suit your property well. However under certain circumstances only one type will suit your property completely and result in the kind of service life you are likely expecting. The two types of construction are solid wood flooring and its alternative engineered wood flooring.

Solid Wood Flooring – Each board is made from complete wood without any other materials added to the mix. The result is a type of wood flooring that offers extensive service life and will allow you to retain its looks by sanding and recoating the floor every few years. However, solid wood flooring is not recommended to fit over underfloor heating or in areas that experience humid or wet conditions such as the kitchen. In all other circumstances, solid wood is a sensible choice.

Engineered Wood Flooring – Each board is made of solid wood (as a top layer) supported by three to four layers of syntactic material (such as Softwood, MDF, Plywood and others). Because the top layer is made from solid wood, an engineered board looks 100% identical to a solid board when fitted. This type can be fitted over underfloor heating and all around the property including the kitchen, bathroom, basement and conservatory areas. However, service life does not equal that of solid wood flooring and sanding and thereafter recoating is limited in the number of times the process can be repeated.

Fitting Wood Flooring:

The quality of the fitting will influence the longevity of the wood as your flooring solution. A professional contractor will be able to recommend the most suitable method, typically one of the three below.

Floating Installation – Floating is the most cost effective method. The boards are simply interconnected and use one another’s weight to support the entire floor. Only engineered wood flooring can be fitted using this method. A solid board that uses this method will not stay in place for long.

Nail Down Or Staple Down – Each board is secured using an industrial nail gun or staple gun. Solid wood flooring must be fitted in this manner (or the next one) due to the weight of the boards, however engineered wood flooring could also be fitted in the same manner. In the case of solid wood flooring, an expansion gap is reserved to allow the wood to expand and contract when temperature changes. Failure to leave an expansion gap will cause damage to the wood over time.

Glue Down – Each board is secured using industrial grade glue. Both solid wood flooring and engineered wood flooring will suit this method well, however if fitting solid wood you are better off using nail or staple down method to guarantee durability. Again, when fitting solid wood flooring, an expansion gap must be reserved.

Caring For Wood:

Once your new wood flooring is fitted correctly, you can increase its service life by caring for the floor in the correct manner. The biggest mistake property owners make is using cleaning methods that were correct for other materials. Here are a few top tips to consider:

Water – Wood requires merely a damp mop as opposed to buckets of water. Excessive water can damage the wood or at least reduce the coating of the planks.

Hoover – It is fine using a hoover to reduce the time it takes to clean the area. Make sure to use a soft extension (not the plastic one you use for carpets) and ensure that the hoover maneuvers on the floor with ease as opposed to dragging it on the wood.

Prevention – You can reduce typical wear and tear as well as reduce the duration it takes to clean the floor. Fit doormats at the entrance to the property to capture dust and grains of dirt. As well, fit furniture pads under heavy objects to reduce pressure marks.

Enjoy your new wood floor. Contact Mike Walton Property Maintenance for more information or leave your comment below.

Written by Wood and Beyond. London based timber company offering solid and engineered hardwood flooring, worktops and decking.

“In the hole”

Having watched the thrilling European victory in the Ryder Cup on Sunday evening, I have come to the conclusion that American golf fans must be among the most moronic sports fans in the world. The chant of “In the hole” every time one of their countrymen hits a shot must be the most boring sound in sport. The cheers that resounded from the home ‘fans’ everytime a European player missed a putt or hit a wayward drive had to be heard to be believed. Whatever happened to the spirit of fair play and sportsmanship? Thankfully the home crowd grew quieter as their heroes gradually faded away against the onslaught by the Europeans and by the time Kaymer sank the winning putt the only voices to be heard were from the visiting fans. At least the American players maintained their dignity and lost with good grace, the way sport should be played.

Bring on the next edition at Gleneagles!

Is Copper Better Than Plastic?

Traditonally copper has been used for manufacturing pipe used for carrying water and gas for many years. However in recent years plastic is becoming more popular. Many people do not trust plastic to do the job, is this justified?

In the right place plastic pipe can have many advantages over copper or other metal pipes. Plastic is lighter, more flexible and quicker to install and can be used in long lengths with fewer joints than metal pipes. It is also less attractive to metal thieves who are becoming  increasingly prevalent.

One of the problems with copper is that it can fail due to erosion or corrosion, leading to leaks and considerable damage. This week I have attended two jobs where copper pipes have failed, the first was a restaurant where the incoming copper water main had failed underground. When the pavement was excavated we found the copper had corroded away until it was paper thin with the obvious consequences. It would have been impossible to instal a new copper pipe without major building work. Replacing the copper with Buteline pipe was a far simpler job, with the advantage that the replacement pipe will be immune to corrosion.

The second job was in an old building converted to flats. One of the ground floor flats reported damp on the kitchen floor. On investigating the basement, it was clear that water was leaking from under the floor of the flat. In the photos above the limescale formed under the floor can be seen. The pipe had previously been repaired approximately four years ago after a pinhole had formed. The copper had failed again where it enters the pushfit coupling. The copper has now been replaced with plastic.

It is clear from the above case studies that copper is not foolproof, although there are occasions where copper has to be used there are also scenarios where plastic is a far better alternative.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

Another unfortunate death from Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. Click here The needless death of fourteen year old Hannah Thomas-Jones,  occurred due to the use of a BBQ in a tent.

Most people are now aware of the risk of death from CO poisoning by faulty gas appliances due to recent high profile cases such as Zoe Anderson in Bath, and the publicity generated by organisations like http://www.co-gassafety.co.uk/  and http://www.covictim.org/  Unfortunately many people do not realise that CO is produced by any hydrocarbon fuel when burnt, e.g. coal, wood, oil, paper, petrol and gas. In actual fact a correctly maintained and working gas appliance is one of the safest heat producing appliances there is. The average number of deaths caused by gas appliances in the UK is around 5 per year, compare this to road accidents with a death rate of over 2000 or alcohol abuse with around 40000 per year to put the problem in pesrpective.

The Zoe Anderson case saw the installer of the boiler jailed for three years, after he failed to correctly assemble the flue. This case raises a number of unanswered questions. Why did this practically new boiler produce a sufficient amount of CO to cause death within 30 minutes? Most modern room sealed boilers will not function if the flue is incorrectly assembled. How did the CO get from the garage to the bathroom without being diluted? How many doctors have been jailed for similar mistakes? Their are approximately 1200 avoidable stillbirths in the UK each year, according to SANDS but how many medical staff have ever been jailed as a result?

I am not trying to defend the actions of the installer in the Zoe Anderson case, he made a mistake which he will have to live with for the rest of his life, but we should have a level playing field. If every person who made a mistake  which led to a death or serious accident were jailed we would have to double the number of prisons in the country.

The CO lobby would have us believe that fitting CO alrms in every property would save countless lives, whilst this measure would indeed save lives it would be at an astronomical cost per life saved, money which would be far better spent on measures such as better testing for prostate cancer (around 10000 deaths per year) and a CO alarm would not have saved poor Hannah.

The best defence against CO poisoning is common sense.

Ensure all heat producing appliances are correctly maintained by a qualified person (Gas Safe Register HEATAS or OFTEC)

Never block up air vents.

Never use a BBQ, gas lamp, generator, engine or any similar appliance in a confined space

Do not use cookers as space heating appliances

If you start to experience flue like symptoms, head aches and nausea, switch off any heat producing appliances, get into fresh air, call the emergency services and tell them you suspect CO poisoning.

Flues In Voids (FIV)

Readers may or may not be aware of the problems of flues in voids (FIV). For those of you who are not up to date with this issue I will try to clarify things.


When balanced flue boilers were first introduced they had to be fitted on an outside wall to enable the flue and combined air intake to be fitted through the wall, whilst this was an advance from traditional open flued boilers which needed a flue (chimney) up through the roof it sometimes made siting the boiler difficult. As technology progressed, fan flued boilers became the norm and some manufacturers developed flue systems which could be longer in length, meaning the boiler did not need to be fitted on an outside wall. In some instances flues can be as long as 45m. Many blocks of apartments were built with boilers situated away from an outside wall and the flues routed through the same and neighbouring apartments to the outside. Most of these flues are enclosed in boxing and/or floor voids for aesthetic reasons.

What is the problem?

When flues are enclosed, there is no way of checking if the joints in the sections of flues are correctly assembled and free from defects at a later date. If a flue joint fails, products of combustion (POCs) can escape into the building. One of the POCs produced by any fossil fuel burning appliance is Carbon Monoxide which can cause severe illness or death.

What is being done about it?

The gas industry has produced a document (TB008) which details the steps to be taken by registered gas installers (RGIs) when encountering FIV. The RGI will undertake a risk assessment and decide on a course of action. Whatever the outcome you will have to have inspection hatches fitted to enable inspection of every joint in the flue system; this work will need to be carried out by 31st December 2012. If this work has not been carried out by this date any RGI carrying out work at your property will have to switch off your boiler for your own safety.

What should I do now?

If you are in any doubt about your flue system, contact a Gas Safe Registered Engineer to check your system. For further information go to http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/advice/flues_in_voids.aspx

Savings using modulating heating controls.

Customers often ask how much money can be saved upgrading to a new condensing boiler with weather compensated controls. Whilst every property is different, what can be said is that not only will considerable monetary savings be made but also the comfort level in the property will be enhanced.  The following two case studies show what can be achieved.

Case 1.

Property: 1 Bedroom maisonette.

Previous heating & hot water setup: Conventional boiler with Part L compliant DHW cylinder Radiators for heating.

New heating & hot water setup: Remeha Avanta Combi boiler with Celsia 20 Controller complete with weather compensation.

Energy Saving: 25%

Case 2.

Property: 4 Bedroom Detached House.

Previous heating & hot water setup: Conventional boiler with Part L compliant DHW cylinder, combination of underfloor heating and radiators.

New heating & hot water setup: Remeha Avanta System boiler with TEM 6320 Controller complete with weather compensation. Existing underfloor heating, radiators and DHW cylinder retained.

Energy Saving: 23% 

From the above information it can be seen that whatever the size or type of property, significant savings can be achieved whilst improving comfort levels due to more stable tempeeratures within the property.

For further information see www.mwpropmaint.co.uk/Energy-Efficiency.php

Why servicing is important

Most people think nothing of paying more than £100 a year to have their car serviced, but many fail to have their gas appliances serviced despite it being less expensive than a car service, a condition of the manufacturers warranty and vital to ensure safe and efficient operation.

The attached pictures show the burned out heat exchanger on a Multipoint Water Heater which is less than six years old. This appliance has not been serviced since the day it was installed. The first hint to the customer that there was a problem was when the pilot failed to stay alight due to water dripping on it.  If the appliance had been serviced regularly, any potential problems could have been spotted and dealt with under the manufacturers warranty. Now it is uneconomical to repair and a replacement unit will have to be fitted at a much greater cost.

You have been warned!



PC Gone Mad in the Plumbing Industry

Who would have thought it but PC is alive and kicking in the plumbing industry.  Look at any article in the national or trade press these days and it is odds on that you will see a picture of a female plumber.http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jan/12/plumbers-energy-efficient-homes-engineers?CMP=twt_gu is a prime example.

What is wrong with this you might ask?  Well it is totally unrepresentative of the plumbing and heating industry. Yes there are a few female plumbers and I am sure the majority do a very good job, but they only represent a tiny proportion of the industry. Summit Skills, the Sector Skills Council for the building services engineering sector in the UK, has estimated that there are approximately 160 000 plumbers in the UK but less than one percent are female. You wouldn’t think so judging by the coverage in the media.

I am sure there are a few 6ft tall, black, male nurses in the UK, but I don’t see their pictures draped all over media coverage.

I have nothing against female plumbers, or females doing any other job if they are competent to do it, but let’s see realistic media coverage instead of ‘political correctness’.

Thanks to Chris Flaherty for bringing this to my attention