Monday, 26 March 2012

How To Correctly Build A Tile Shower Floor Pan

The most important part of the entire shower project to get right is absolutely the floor pan!

And, not surprisingly, this is where most do-it-yourselfers, make a mistake, try to make a shortcut, or just flat out get it wrong. Building the floor pan incorrectly can lead to leaking, of course, but also mold growth underneath the tile and mortar bed if a proper "pre-slope" isn't installed. But, I don't want to get ahead of myself, I'll cover all the details how to do this later in the article. Let's start here: What is a shower pan?

The term "pan" originates from when contractors used to install a copper pan in the base of where the shower was being built.

The "Before":

The use of the copper pan transitioned into using 4 lb sheet lead (weighs 4lbs per sq ft, giving it that name), because it's very malleable and could be shaped easily on site. A contractor could measure up the size needed, go out to the garage or driveway, bend up the corners as needed with a 2×6 and rubber mallet, folding corners over each other and overlapping so all the edges were at the top. Weighing 4lbs per square foot, it was quite a chunk to lug through the house, but could be done with two guys, and it could be folded in on itself, since it's so malleable, in order to get through tight hallways and around corners.

Using the rubber mallet again, they would hammer an impression of the drain into the lead, giving a mark to cut out the drain hole. Once the hole was cut out, the drain flange could be attached, making a watertight seal. An adjustable shower drain was then threaded into the flange, and pea gravel placed around the weep holes to protect them from the deck mud that was installed next. Deck mud is a dry cement, wetted just enough to let the cement hold shape, allowing it to be packed in creating the slope needed for water to flow toward the drain.

The "Pre-Slope":

Here is where many who take on the task of building their own shower, without any experience doing so, go wrong. The pre-slope is a slight slope of the floor draining toward the shower drain, created with dry-pack cement before the shower pan is installed. Despite what you may think, water can and will penetrate all the way through the tile, mortar and concrete above the shower pan, making its way down to the shower pan. In the absence of a pre-slope below the shower pan, the pan will be flat on the floor surface, keeping any of that water in the concrete from percolating down and into the weep holes of the shower drain. When the concrete remains moist, mold growth will occur over time, eventually causing considerable damage.

To create the pre-slope on a plywood surface you must first lay down a layer of felt paper (isolates concrete from floor movement), then staple down a layer of Metal Lath. Mix cement with enough water to get it to hold shape, and pack it down creating a slope from 1/8″ thick at the drain, up toward the shower edge at a slope of about 1/4″ per foot. On a concrete floor, the felt paper is not needed, concrete can be directly applied to floor.

Some point in between The "Before" and Now:

Labor time was greatly reduced when the use of vinyl membranes replaced the old lead pans. It can easily be rolled out, shaped into place in the shower, excess liner folded over itself in the corners, folded over the front shower curb, and a CPE bonding adhesive (in a can like PVC cement) used to seal up patches over corners. A newer kind of Tile shower Drain was used with the vinyl membrane, like the one shown to the left.

The rubber membrane is to be wrapped up the wall NO LESS THAN 3 INCHES above the intended finished height of the shower threshold (curb or dam). Before wrapping the membrane up the sidewalls, install 2×10 board pieces between studs to give a solid support to the liner and places to nail the liner to the wall. No nails or other fasteners are to be used anywhere except along the top perimeter of the pan liner, in order to prevent eventual leaks from occurring at the nail holes.

After the pan liner is installed, metal lath can be wrapped around the shower curb, which is made of 3 2×4′s nailed one on top of the other creating a 4.5 inch high threshold, and cement packed into the lath and on top of it, shaping the concrete into a smooth squared off surface for tile to be applied to.

I always go an easier route, however, and use the Kirb-Perfect product made by Mark E Industries: a plastic a product easily assembled to form a cage around the lined shower threshold, instead of forming the metal lath.

Concrete board, 1/2″ thick 3′x5′ sheets, can then be measured, cut, and installed on walls using weatherproof screws (to keep rust stains from coming through grout later on as regular screws rust). The concrete board should be installed leaving a 1/2″ space between it and the pan liner, pressing the liner on the wall against the studs and 2×10 boards.

The Actual Concrete Slope:

Once the threshold is finished, create the concrete slope inside the shower pan liner, being careful to make the surface as smooth and even as possible to allow small floor tiles to lay better when tiling. A chalk line can be made around the concrete board on the walls for a guide line, giving about a 1/4″ - 1/2″ slope per foot up from the adjustable shower drain to the shower walls.

Again, I take the easier and quicker route, using Mark E's Quick Pitch kit, which includes a plastic ring to place around the shower drain (protects weep holes from being filled by concrete), and slope plastic sticks that fit into the ring and are placed around it to radiate out to the corners and sides. They can easily be cut to length with tin snips or a saw. This gives me a perfect pitch every time, and fast!

Now: The Next System MOST People Will Transition To:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the method I just explained to you. It is still used my the majority of contractors and, at this point, is the least expensive route to go. However, as you probably know, new technologies are coming along every year, revolutionizing ways things have been done in construction for decades and centuries.

A system I use now, when homeowners have a bigger budget, utilizes products made by a German brand named Schluter. They have competitors in their market, but they have led the way and own most of their market share. Their products all work together to make a completely waterproof shower, and can be installed much quicker than the old system just explained.

Schluter contends that even if your properly install a shower with the old system as I just described, water can still stay in the concrete for a prolonged amount of time causing mold problems. With their system, the floor and walls are waterproofed with a plastic membrane and there is no exposed concrete to absorb water below the tile. Water that goes through the tile will drain directly along the plastic membrane to the drain.

Here is how it works:

First, once plumbing and all else is ready, install concrete board to your walls, from floor to ceiling. I purchase Schluter's Kerdi shower-Kit that has almost all you need to build a waterproof shower ready for tile. The first item out of the kit to use is an expanded polystyrene shower base. It's already built with the correct slope, all you need to do is cut the foam (quite easy to do) to fit the opening. Mix a batch of Thinset and apply with notched trowel to the subfloor, then set the shower base firmly into the mortar.

Next, you can set a Schluter Bench in place where desired, which is basically a big block of expanded polystyrene, and it too can be cut to fit the space quite easily. This is not included in the shower kit, so many times I still build my own bench with treated 2×4′s and concrete board.

In the shower kit is a product called Kerdi, a plastic sheet with bright orange fleece webbing adhered to both sides. The plastic membrane waterproofs the shower, and the webbing provides binding contact surface for ThinSet to adhere to on both sides; one side to the concrete board wall, and tile on the other side.

Apply the 3″ wide Kerdi Strips on all corners with ThinSet. After all corners are sealed, apply the Kerdi to the walls, and bench if you have one installed.

One Key Point About Applying Kerdi to Concrete Board Walls: Mix the ThinSet thinner than usual, pancake batter consistency, because otherwise the concrete board will suck the moisture out of the ThinSet before it ever sets up, and the Kerdi will peel right off!

Next, insert the included shower Drain disc into a generous amount of ThinSet in the center hole and glue onto drain pipe below the floor. Then clean off excess ThinSet that oozed up through the holes around the ring of the disc.

Now install, with ThinSet, a piece of Kerdi on the floor, cutting out a hole for the drain. Then install the included Schluter Kerdi shower Curb, cutting it to length, and setting with ThinSet. Again, this is easy to cut and install because it too is expanded polystyrene. Once it is set, install a piece of Kerdi up and over the shower curb, and seal corners with Kerdi-Kereck, also included in the shower kit. Also, at the openings around shower valves, install included Kerdi Seal pieces

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Bathroom Floor Tiles - Best Flooring Material For Your Washroom

Ceramic bathroom floor tiles are simply the best because they are durable, beautiful and available at cost effective prices. Price is a big concern for everyone whether he is an average working professional or a businessman. A majority of homeowners choose affordable ceramic slabs and you will be amazed to know that these slabs are also preferred by eminent architects and seasoned home interior designers. These slabs are convenient to install as they set decently on every kind of surface. The good thing about these slabs is that they are highly resilient towards moisture and they can also withstand mild chemicals available in detergents, shampoos and hair colors.

Ideal bathroom floor tiles are ones that are anti-slippery. Ceramic slabs are anti-slippery and one will be amazed to know that these pieces remain anti-slippery even after coming into contact with water and soap. There is no harm in walking over wet ceramic slabs. If there are children and old members in your family then you should be careful when selecting bathroom flooring material. Children and old people can't balance their body on a slippery surface. Families with kids should choose ceramic slabs for their wash rooms because these slabs are anti-slippery.

If you want to give your bathroom the look and feel of a royal bath then consider remodeling you shower room with designer travertine or granite slabs. Travertine bathroom floor tiles are just perfect for every setting. Travertine is a natural stone that is found near hot springs. It is lightweight and beautiful. The great thing about travertine is that it comes in natural colors and you can't two similar stones. Travertine flooring material is expensive than ceramic but you can buy this material at cost effective prices on leading online stone and tiles stores. Granite is also a good choice, if you are willing to spend some extra dollars in your home renovation.

Prior to installing bathroom floor tiles, you should get your plumbing pipes checked for any fault or leakage because a leaking joint or a broken pipe can render all your renovation work redundant. When installing slabs, make sure that are properly grouted and all the gaps between the slabs are filled. It will be much better if you could seal the bathroom slabs. Sealing will provide added protection to the slabs from water and moisture. Or you can choose polished slabs. Polished pieces don't require sealing.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Are Tiles Suitable for a Bedroom Floor?

A friend of mine works as an interior designer for the rich and famous and I happened to mention that I needed to replace my bedroom carpet as it was a bit old and threadbare. He then told me that more and more people are opting for porcelain floor tiles in the bedroom. At first I thought this was pretty funny. I told my friend in no uncertain terms that I didn't want to sleep in a bathroom!

He then went on to convince me to look into it though as he had a solution for every objection I raised.

My main concern was the look of it. My previous comment about the bathroom still stuck with me, but he then went on to tell me about all the gorgeous new porcelain floor tiles you can get that look like marble or resemble natural stone. I have to say it's a good few years since I went shopping for tiles and I could only really picture the glossy small square bathroom wall tiles you used to get. My friend fired up his laptop and showed me some of the tiles you can get these days and I have to say they looked amazing and really there were tiles to suit any room at all, even a bedroom!

My next concern was safety. I'm not the most alert first thing in the morning and having to negotiate slippery floor tiles underfoot didn't seem like such a good idea. My friend assured me that you could get plenty of non-slip porcelain floor tiles. He reminded me of all the hotel bathrooms I'd used on my frequent business trips and he was right of course, they all had non-slip tiles on the floor.

Then my concern was that it would be cold. Floor tiles are great in summer, that's why they work so well in warm countries. I'm happy with terracotta floor tiles underfoot when I'm on holiday in Spain, but not in the UK. I want a warm cosy bedroom, not a cold one! Of course there was a simple solution to this objection too. Under floor heating. Apparently it works especially well under porcelain floor tiles as they warm up quickly then retain the heat well. He also suggested that if I wanted a cosier feel I could simply add some rugs.

There were some other good reasons to tile the bedroom floor that I hadn't thought of too. floor tiles are much more hygienic than carpet. They simply don't harbour dust and germs like a carpet does. Tiles are also much easier to keep clean and they are a lot more hard wearing than carpet so it would mean a much longer time before I'd have to replace the flooring again, so it would also probably work out pretty economical. So anyway after all these facts he convinced me to give it a try. I could always lay a carpet on top if I hated it, and I have to say I actually love my tiled bedroom floor. The underfloor heating is amazing; it's so warm and cosy on the coldest of winter days. I'm really glad I chose this option now.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Shopping for Flooring - Wholesale or Retail?

Of course when you're shopping for flooring for a job or contract you want to be sure that you're getting the best deal. For years the thought was to just go to your local hardware store and pay what you pay. Then when big box chain stores and wholesalers came around, the thought was that buying wholesale was where you would get the best deal.

Since the advent of the Internet the playing field has been somewhat leveled. Yes, you may get a deal on flooring wholesale which may be slightly cheaper than your market rate retail price, but what are you giving up in quality? Where can you go to find the best mixture of value and quality?

It was not long before websites began popping up promising contractors and designers the best mixture of wholesale value with boutique retail quality. Many online sites provide the perfect mixture of luxury retail names and rock bottom wholesale prices. You just need to seek out the best name websites which are going to offer you the best name flooring at the lowest prices before you commit to one website or another.

Another thing to consider before you go opening up your purse strings for a flooring retailer is you need to be sure that wherever you decide to buy from, the outlet will have all the colors and styles that you need. One of the things about going to a wholesaler which really earns demerits is that you can spend all your time finding the best prices, settle on the one with the lowest price, and discover that they don't have the style of products you need.

For carpet you know you need to consider types of finish, color, and whether you can get this carpet cut to the size you need. If not watch out; there's nothing worse than taking 8x10 squares and having to have that fit your space.

Hardwood floors run much the same risk as the carpets. If you need cherry birch laminate finish and you can't get exactly the shade and the finish that your customer wants you could lose the job. You should always be mindful of what your customer wants and make sure you deliver this product at the lowest cost. Make sure your retailer or flooring wholesalers. has what you need before you quote a price. There's nothing homeowners hate more than last minute price adjustments.

Flooring wholesale and flooring retail have really sort of melded thanks to the introduction of the World Wide Web. If you're looking to make a statement on your customers floors with a flooring retailer or wholesaler for quality and price you should be sure that your customers are willing to spend what they need to for one and able to sacrifice what they can afford for the other.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Best Laminate Flooring for a Bathroom

The best laminate flooring is the kind of floor that not only stands up to spills and splashes, but also continues to look great with a minimal amount of upkeep. Laminate is renowned for its durability and lasting style - making it one of the most popular choices of flooring for any room in the home. But you may not give much thought to the bathroom - arguably the "most popular" room in the house! Here's how laminate "stacks up".

Incredibly Resistant to Scratches, Dents and Fading

Laminate floors are highly resistant to things that would damage or degrade cheaper floors - like scratches, dents, scuffs and fading. The mimics the look of more expensive floors, such as hardwood, stone and tile - and comes in a variety of colors, patterns and designs so you can create the perfect look for your bathroom that fits in with your color scheme and style. Laminate lets you express your creativity like few other types of flooring can.

Easy to Maintain and Care For

Unlike traditional hardwood floors, the best laminate flooring never needs to be re-sanded or refinished. There's no need to wax or polish them either. Just regular floor care is all that's needed to maintain your floors and keep them looking clean and neat. Because laminate "floats" over your existing floor, it can be installed over nearly any type of sub-floor, including plywood, vinyl flooring and concrete to name a few. You do want to be certain that the area is level, however, to ensure your new laminate floors won't bend or bow.

Do it Yourself Installation

Depending on the type of laminate you buy, you may be able to install it yourself. The best laminate flooring features a simple tongue and groove installation feature that lets each piece lock together - sort of like a puzzle. There's no special glue or installation needed - just snap and click the pieces together. You can also buy trims and moldings to make your laminate floors look like authentic hardwood. Some of these trims are actually made with hardwood and are designed to accentuate your floors with a more realistic look.

Get a New floor in as Little as a Day!

Laminate floor makes for a great do it yourself project that requires no glue, staples or nails. It's a floor that not only looks good in your bathroom , but its beauty can also be the perfect fit for your living room, den, dining room, bedroom and more. Laminate floors feel right at home in nearly any space - giving you the freedom you want to create nearly any look imaginable while adding aesthetic space and easy care maintenance throughout your home.

To learn more about the benefits of laminate, ask a flooring retailer near you or browse their laminate selection to be inspired by different ideas and even bold, fresh new patterns. It can be an exciting time to imagine the possibilities with this versatile and remarkably sturdy type of flooring.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Flooring - Getting Scratches Out of Wood Floors

Hardwood flooring can be the most beautiful feature to your home, if it is taken care of and given some attention for its long life. If your hardwood flooring is neglected or not cared for it can get scratched or dented, and a scratched or dented floor is not a happy floor.

There are some simple ways to keep your floors scratch and dent free. One is not to wear any high-heeled shoes on the floors! High heels create a tremendous amount of weight in one tiny point. These can easily dent and damage floors. I know from experience! Every morning when I dress for work I walk in front of the full length mirror in my bedroom. One day I noticed hundreds of small dents and scratches from my shoes. Since that time I have not wore my high-heeled shoes inside the home.

Another factor that can damage floors is pets. Pets sometimes have sharp claws and walking or skidding across the floor can scratch and dent your hardwoods. A way to help prevent this is keep your dogs nails clipped. I often will clip them outside then let them run on the concrete before coming inside. This allows the nails to file down before entering the house. Children are also a factor in contributing to scratched floors. Between playing with toys and normal child mischief it is easy for the little ones to scratch the precious wood flooring.

There are some simple ways to keep floors looking new and free of scratches. If your floors do happen to get scratched many products and just a few simple steps can address this problem and provide a quick remedy.

The first tip for removing a light scratch is to take a steel wool to the scratch and rub along the grain. Make sure to rub with the grain, not against, or you'll have more scratches. Next is to take light sandpaper and rub along where you have you used the steel wool. After you have rubbed with light sandpaper, apply some mineral oil to the area. If there is still area that looks damaged you can use wood filler applied to scratched area. Make sure to let the filler dry completely! Once the filler has dried, use lightweight sandpaper again over the area to remove any excess filler. Finally, the last step is to use a varnish over the area to seal with moisture and beautiful shine!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Hardwood Flooring: How to Keep Wood Floors in Top Shape

If properly maintained, hardwood floors can beautify a home for decades, adding warmth, character and value to your house. When neglected, however, wood flooring can deteriorate and quickly begin looking shabby. In order to get the most possible life out of your flooring, and to preserve it for generations to come, apply the following techniques for proper care and maintenance.

Clean Up Spills Right Away

Lingering spills can cause damage to your wood flooring. To protect your floor, clean up spills right away using a dry cloth. Avoid pushing down as you soak up spilled liquid; the pressure will only make the stain enter deeper into the wood grain. Rinse out your cloth often, and wring it out well before returning to the spill zone. After you're done, dry off the area completely with another clean cloth. Repeat this process if any sticky residue remains.

Lastly, if these techniques are not working for certain stubborn stains, call a hardwood flooring contractor who will know the best ways to remove blemishes without harming your flooring.

Place Rugs Purposefully

Every hardwood flooring contractor suggests shielding your flooring by putting rugs at entrances and in high- traffic areas. Interior and exterior rugs capture dirt before it can scratch your wood flooring.

Religiously Apply Furniture Protectors

Felt furniture pads protect your hardwood floors by preventing scratches. A wood floor may be refinished to remove scratches, but this is an expensive, time-consuming procedure best entrusted to a professional hardwood flooring contractor. The more diligent you are about applying felt protectors to your furniture, the fewer scratches your wood flooring will sustain.

Sweep Consistently

Sweep wood flooring every other day to remove dust, dirt and other debris. Unless you have dust allergies, a broom is the best choice since it won't scratch your floors. If you do suffer from allergies, suck up dirt with the soft-bristle attachment on your vacuum cleaner; this will reduce the amount of allergens that are kicked up, and it minimizes the chance that vacuum wheels will cause scratches.

Prevent Water Damage

Because water is one of wood flooring's worst enemies - it can cause the wood to warp as well as stain - it's important not to wet mop your wood floors, no matter how much you may be tempted. When in doubt, always follow the manufacturer's recommendations. For example, laminate flooring can be designed to look like hardwood floors; sellers of laminate flooring typically do not recommend cleaning with water. If you come across a particularly hard-to-clean stain, check with a hardwood flooring contractor for safe cleaning methods that won't blemish your hardwood floors.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Kegel8 Reviews-the Popular Pelvic Floor Toner

A quick internet search reveals a number of Kegel8 reviews and it is fair to say that most of the comments about these popular pelvic floor toners are very complementary towards this particular product range. Kegel8 was devised by a physiotherapist with the aim of providing a satisfactory and workable solution for the common problem of weakened pelvic floor muscles following childbirth or simply due to the aging process.

Until recently, women were always advised to do their "kegel exercises" after giving birth. These consisted of a set of repetitive "squeeze and release" exercises performed by the vaginal muscles.

Now, those of us who have given birth can appreciate just how difficult this can be - on many levels.

Firstly, when you have had a baby, your vaginal muscles feel extremely slack. Indeed, I couldn't tell if I was squeezing or releasing as I seemed to have no muscular tone at all. As the muscle fibres began to repair themselves and some kind of feeling returned, I was just too busy looking after my baby to remember to perform exercises which, in my mind, had little effect. Pelvic floor toners are therefore seen, by many, as an easy answer.

There are a number of Kegel8 reviews to be found at various locations around the internet and it has to be said that the vast majority are very positive indeed, with many women reporting that this range of pelvic floor toners has literally changed their lives, freeing them from embarrassing and inconvenient incontinence and enhancing their sex lives. Indeed, Kegel 8 is used by physiotherapists within the NHS and this in itself provides a degree of "authority" to the claims made by the manufacturers.

There are 2 units in the range-the Tight and Tone and the Ultra. Kegel8 reviews often refer to the range rather than pointing out the differences between the two models. In some ways, this is fine as the differences are subtle and relate mainly to the number of programmes offered (the Ultra has 14 and the Tight and Tone, 9) and the appearance of the handheld units. The probes are interchangeable and both devices come with the option of a standard sized probe or a wider one, which is suitable for toning up particularly slack muscles. One of the additional programmes available on the Ultra is an anal programme and you therefore also have the option of this type of specialised probe should this be a requirement.

In a number of Kegel8 reviews, it is reported that some women started off with the standard Kegel8 Tight and Tone version and progressed to the Ultra, thereby buying two pelvic floor toners. Whether the additional programmes justify this additional expense is, in my mind, questionable and I feel that for the extra few pounds, it may be worth getting hold of the Kegel8 Ultra to start with.