Monday, 31 March 2014

House Climate

House Climate: how to keep your home and floor 'healthy'

All homes have their own indoor climate. With that we mean the amount of moist in the air (humidity), the temperature, the type of heating and the amount of ventilation. Some factors you can control yourself, some are caused by outside conditions.
Timber framed houseIn a comfortable home with slight humidity variation through the seasons, wooden floors react by expanding and shrinking. These changes may be noticeable.
During warm, humid weather wood expands. During dry weather wood shrinks - usually during Winter. Just think of when you have the clearest views from a hill top: when it's cold - when the air can't contain much moist = low air-humidity = Winter. And since this is also the normal "heating season" your indoor climate can have an even lower humidity.
This seasonal movement is a normal characteristic of wooden floors and it never stops, regardless of the age of the wooden floor.
  • If you notice gaps appearing between your boards in Winter then 9 times out of 10 there is nothing to worry about, these gaps will disappear again when the humidity gets higher.
    If your floor is expanding in a normally dry season, then you might have a moist problem (leak, large spillage of water or perhaps one of your pets had an 'accident').
  • If your floor is shrinking in a normally 'wet' season then the problem might have been caused by the moist contents in the flooring itself: higher than normally allowed (standard Oak normally between 8 - 12%) or the wood hasn't been stored 3 - 7 days in the room were it is installed to acclimatise to the normal house climate.
ForestSome types of wood react more than others. Beech is known as a 'very nervous' wood. It can expand or shrink 7mm per meter width. By 'steaming' beech (giving the floor also it's characteristic pinkish/salman colour) the reaction will be less.
Solid wooden floors react more than Wood-Engineered floors. The crossed backing of Wood-Engineered floors stabilises the reaction. This makes this type of flooring preferable in areas where there is more moist (kitchens, bathrooms), were temperatures can change quickly (conservatories) or on underfloor heating.
  
Most important to keep your wooden floor (and in fact also yourself) healthy is to allow for a stable humidity in the house.
  • When humidity is higher (Summer, Autumn) wooden floors expand. A simple way to prevent excessive reaction is to open (a) window(s) every day, even for 10 - 15 minutes, to allow the cumulated humidity to disappear. Alternatively, when you are away for a whole day: keep a small window upstairs open and keep all other internal doors open.
    In Winter and early Spring, the heating season, try to keep the humidity between 50 - 60 %. This can be done by having plants in house, ceramic water containers on radiators etc. When the humidity in house gets very low (30 - 40%) you will notice this yourself (dry skin, lips and even sore throats). A simple 'trick' to increase the humidity rapidly is to place damp (NOT dripping wet) tea-towels on radiators.
  • Monitor the typical average air-humidity in your home by using an indoor minimum-maximum Hydrometer
When you have underfloor heating you might notice these conditions during most seasons. To help minimize the effects we recommend the use of a humidifier (preferable with humidity monitor).

Installation Manual

(UK's first)
Wooden Floor Installation Manual

Everything you need to know about
DIY wooden floors

Having a quality wood floor in your home is a real asset: it’s durable, anti-allergic, easy to clean and very, very beautiful. Many before you have discovered it adds more value to your home than any other flooring option, including tile or wall-to-wall carpeting. And unlike other options, wooden floors not only maintain their value over the years, but effectively retain and improve their elegance and their beauty.
Stackpaperbacks250-1You can have your natural wooden floor professionally installed, an increasing number of DIY-ers opt to “go-it-alone” with mixed results. Wood You Like’s 160 pages Manual higly increases your chance to achieve a guaranteed great, if not professional, result!

Install your floor like a pro

  • Learn how to tackle underfloor problems
  • Know what to look for when purchasing your materials
  • Use the check-list before you start with the job:
    • the correct preparations
    • the correct tools and materials
    • the correct schedule of works
  • Discover the Tricks of the Trade that will make seemingly difficult obstacles easy to execute
  • Finish your floor to the highest quality
  • 160 pages, all in plain English with product recommendations - products used by the professionals
  • Written by genuine floor fitters, not by academics or so-called diy-experts
  • With extra (online) bonus filled with colour images and drawings

The Wooden Floor Installation Manual - rated 5 stars on Amazon.co.uk!

See here for all purchase options, including how to claim the purchase price back!
Wood You Like's Wooden Floor Installation Manual is first in its kind: written by experts who deal with wooden flooring and all the different situations imaginable on a daily basis, situations and circumstances you can encounter too but with the Manual at hand are no longer an obstacle for diy-ers.
"How do I install the last row?"..... "My room is part chipboard, part concrete. What do I do?".... "Can I install a wood floor in a kitchen?".... “I've got underfloor heating, can I have wood flooring?".... "Do I glue or float my wood floor?".... . "The pack says to glue it, the supplier says nail it. Now what?".... "I've got two dogs and four kids, my wife likes wood flooring, what do you suggest?".... "How do I know how much wood to buy?".... "There are Marley tiles, can I glue a wood floor on them?”....
Just a small collection of questions that has found its way to Wood You Like's inbox over the last 5 years.

Read Feedback we received from (DIY & Professional) floor fitters

After answering question after question for three years we decided to create a simple but comprehensive installation guide, and to make this not only available to our own DIY-clients, but to anyone planning to install a wooden floor in the best possible way. This guide (in a simple PDF format, delivered by email) was launched in December 2008, and was an instant success.
It also triggered more questions. So we kept adding to the guide, which became more and more a collection of questions and answers grouped in a few logical categories. Late in 2009 we decided it was time to completely overhaul the guide, and make it available not only as a PDF, but also as a proper paperback. So you can have it handy by your side while you're working on your floor. The end result (160 pages) is what you can have in your hands right now.

Installing a wooden floor isn't rocket science - all it needs is some common sense, patience, the right preparations at the right time and of course quality materials and the right tools. Wood You Like's Installation Manual for Wooden Flooring covers it all: including tricks of the trade to install your own floor like a professional!

Underfloor Heating (UFH) and wooden floors

Underfloor heating is nowadays more and more used as main heating source instead of an additional heating system (in tiled bathrooms or kitchens). The advantage of underfloor heating over normal central heating with radiators is exactly that: no radiators on walls, allowing you as home owner to use all the available wall space in the most practical way.
But underfloor heating comes with some disadvantages also:
  • it can take a while for the room/rooms are 'warming-up' because of the layers of 'insulation' the heating system has to 'work through' (concrete or sheet materials, floor covering on top of the water/electrical system) and visa versa. During a cold-snap this could mean that before the system is truly 'heated-up' again, warm weather is back with us, because you can't use underfloor heating the same way as central heating with radiators.
  • using underfloor heating can reduce the humidity in your home rather significantly, and have a drying effect on your skin (causing irritation/itching and even increasing eczema and other skin problems).
A good alternative for losing radiators and gaining more room space without the disadvantages underfloor heating can bring with it could be installing a skirting heating system.
Types of underfloor heating systems:
Maine source of heating: Electrical wires (DRY-system) or water pipes (WET-system).
UnderfloorheatingWith warm water underfloor heating there are 3 methods of preparing/creating the subfloor (subfloor is the base for wooden floor):
  • Dry method: between the water pipes battens are placed on underfloor and sheet material (chipboard, plywood) is installed on the battens to create smooth subfloor for installation of wooden floor
  • Wet method: concrete/screed is laid over water pipes to create smooth subfloor for installation of wooden floor
  • Direct method: the water pipes are placed in special modular sheets, battens are glued between modular sheets and wooden floor is nailed (secretly) on battens or even installed floating. (Direct method is not possible with all types of warm water underfloor heating, please ask you Under Floor Heating supplier).
Wood is a natural product and reacts to the surrounding climate. Please keep that in mind when selecting your wooden floor and make sure the type of flooring or wood-species is suitable to be installed on UFH (Maple and Beech are for instance NOT recommended: both are know as a 'nervous' - unstable - wood which can shrink/expand up to 7mm per meter wide).
We recommend Wood-Engineered flooring because the cross-backing of the boards do not react to temperature or humidity changes in the same way as solid wood does.
If you decide to install solid wooden flooring then choose a narrow board, the narrower the better. If your heart is set to have a wide floorboard that really gives you that 'old-fashioned' plank-look we recommend the Hattan European Oak engineered boards (180mm wide, 6mm solid top layer on 15mm water-resistant plywood) which are guaranteed for installation on Under Floor Heating.
Case-study "Duoplank on Underfloor Heating"
Most manufacturers of Wood-Engineered flooring recommend to glue down your wooden flooring on UFH and to use a suitable parquet adhesive (flexible adhesive) in order to avoid any air pockets between the subfloor and the wooden flooring.
Be careful with placing rugs and/or large pieces of furniture (like dressoirs or floor standing cupboards/bookcases); they can (locally) trap the heat underneath it.

With the maintenance of wooden flooring on underfloor heating Wood You Like recommends maintenance product is applied before the real heating season (Autumn) start to keep the wood healthy and 'moist'. After the heating season, when the temperature of the system can be reduced to a minimum level your wooden floor will benefit from a maintenance service to counter-balance the effect of the dehydration of the wood caused by the higher temperatures of the months before.
All types of underfloor heating have their own specifications for how to install and how/when to start the first sequence of heating. Please read the instructions supplied with your underfloor heating system carefully before deciding on wooden flooring and please make sure all steps for the first sequence are completed before the installation of wooden flooring takes place.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Spring is on its way: outside wood

Now it seems that Spring is definitely on its way - and in some parts has already arrived - this period would be an excellent time to prepare your outside wood for the coming longer and warmer days.
Decking, garden furniture all need TLC, and specially for this task Saicos has the right products:
Saicos Green-Ex Concentrate:
Removes green-growth from all exterior wood, painted or unpainted. Highly effective - self-acting - checks new growth! 
Saicos Wood Brightener Concentrate:
an easy to use,
 highly effective special liquid detergent to clean and refreshen greyed, unattractive looking exterior wood surfaces without sanding.

Saicos Special Wood Oil:
Natural wood stain for exterior wooden decks, garden furniture and other wooden surfaces which shall keep their natural appearance.Available in colourless and colours Bangkarai, Pine and Teak. Special colours can be ordered in White, Black and Grey.
For your own Spring Cleaning of Exterior Wood we've put all three products into one "pack" at a discount: together now £ 42.40 (instead of £ 43.45)
Spring Clean your exterior wood with Wood You Like's special pack