What Are Structurally Insulated Panel Garden Rooms

A Structurally Insulated Panel (SIPs) System, is one of the highest calibre of construction methods available, and certainly the best choice for garden rooms. The build method has distinct advantages over timber frame building systems, and all other log cabin/garden shed construction methods.

What are the key benefits of SIPs?

  • The building is manufactured off-site and “flat-pack” garden room is delivered ready for quick and efficient construction.
  • Minimal requirement for heating as high insulating properties provide incredibly low U values, down to 0.11w/m2K.

What are SIPs?

SIPs are formed using two sheets of Orientated Strand Board (OSB), sandwiching a rigid core of expanded polystyrene or injected polyurethane. The SIP panel is shown below in a diagram which demonstrates a full cross section of our building, both wall and flooring.

Do SIPs Cost More?

Outdoor Living Rooms manufacture all the Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) for our Garden Pods, Garden Offices and Garden Studios in-house at our factory in Lancashire, where they are distributed all over the UK. This allows us to reduce costs and offer premium buildings at unbeatable prices.

Where are SIP panels used?

SIPs are used widely within the construction industry for many types of buildings, and are becoming more popular as people become aware of their distinct advantages.

Why are SIP panels becoming a more popular build method?

They are the best means of economically achieving the new building standards being set by Part 6 of the Building Regulations which now focus on the consumption of fuel and power in relation to building performance. This modern, technologically-advanced building system is perfect for Garden Pods, Garden Studios and Garden Offices.

Benefits of using the SIP system:

  • Off-site factory manufactured, providing a quality controlled product.
  • Modern method of construction reduces site time dramatically compared with traditional building methods or timber frame solutions.
  • All our materials are recyclable.
  • SIP is an eco-friendly form of construction, reducing the carbon footprint and wastage.
  • High insulating properties provide low U values, down to 0.11w/m2K.
  • Flexibility in design.
  • Increased structural strength means less framed structures and clear roof spaces.
  • 35% fewer raw materials are used in SIP buildings.
  • Interlocking connection system reduces cold spots and cold bridging in all our garden buildings.

Building with SIPs offer many environmentally friendly advantages, below are just some of the benefits of SIPS Garden Buildings:

  • According to online reports, structurally insulated panels are 15 times more insulated than concrete.
  • Both OSB and polyurethane materials could be recycled.
  • The materials SIPs are made from are usually free from CFC’s and HCFC’s.
  • SIPs have a o-zone depletion rating of zero.
  • Minimal cold bridging and high insulation rating – keeping you warm in the winter and cooler in the summer months.

If you would like to find out more about the many benefits of SIP garden rooms, contact Outdoor Living Rooms for more information.

Buying Used Cars offer Many Advantages

Owning a car is your ticket to independence and fun. We all need our own set of wheels to get to and fro from work and to run a hundred and one errands every day.

Without a car you may even feel inclined not to accept a lift from someone, because then you can never return the favour. If you have been looking to buy a cheaper used car as opposed to a costly new one, you will quickly discover that there are a number of advantages to owning a used car. Nobody can deny the fact that the biggest benefit is the affordable price tag.

People with the Internet at their disposal find it so easy and convenient to simply access an online showroom and make their choice there. Our online showroom presents quality affordable vehicles to the public. This family-run business is convinced they you will be able to find the right car at the right price.

Find a Car Online that Won’t Let You Down

One of the best places to start looking for a new car is online. You’ll soon discover competitively-priced cars, certified cars, warranties, insurance and finance for buying a car. When you consider that a new car depreciates as soon as it is driven off the dealer’s forecourt, it makes sense to investigate looking at quality second-hand cars.

Finding good cheap used cars is so much easier today, and with the help of the Internet and a bit of research, you can really get an excellent used car that also comes at an excellent price.

Before online sellers display their cars, the vehicles go through a thorough check-up.

Get Your Finance Sorted Quickly

They always suggest a test drive of the vehicle so you know how it handles on busy town roads as well as on faster dual carriageways. We are also vehicle finance specialists. We have their own in-house finance specialists who handle all the paperwork thoroughly and professionally, open 7 days a week for the convenience of all their customers and are always available to answer queries surrounding their vehicles.

If you don’t want to buy one of their quality used cars, you can talk to them about their lease- and hire purchase options. Our team go out of their way to make buying your next car easy and effortless and they offer excellent part exchange prices on a range of vehicles. There’s no waiting around either, and they can provide you with an immediate valuation.

We simply make every effort to ensure their used cars in Preston are competitively priced and a pleasure to own for years to come.

Which Roofing Material should be used?

The roof will be one of the most dominant features of your new home, accounting for 20-30% of the exterior visible area of your house. Its covering therefore needs careful consideration at the planning stage.

Factors dictating the roof covering include the style of your house, your architect and even your local planners, as choosing something in the vernacular may well get your plans rubber stamped.

Slate, clay and concrete tiles are the main tile choices in the UK, with slate holding sway in areas where there is a local supply. But these days there is a lot of choice out there, with everything from handmade clay tiles to mass-produced concrete and imported slate.

Among the considerations that help you choose will be the unit cost, the coverage of the tiles, the green credentials involved in producing and shipping your material and, for renovation projects or builds in areas of outstanding beauty, historical integrity. For hands-on self-builders, the level of expertise needed to lay the material may also be a factor.

Interlocking tiles

Using interlocking tiles reduces the necessity for overlapping needed by some traditional tiles, in particular slate. It reduces the number of tiles needed per square metre and brings down the weight of the roof, although some interlocking tiles are heavier than their traditional counterparts.

Interlocking systems are weather-tight and easy to lay, and many modern tiles emulate the look of traditional slate, with two interlocking edges on show and two riven edges.

Your choice of tiles will also be affected by the pitch and roof structure, so ensure that the roof can take the weight of your tiles – your architect or a structural engineer can work this out, or speak to your tile company. Of course, the roof must also comply with Building Regulations. The pitch of the roof and type of tile used will also affect how many and in what configuration the tiles must be nailed. A steep pitch or detail like a catslide will be on show, so it’s worth investing in quality tiles.

Clay tiles

Great for curves and intricate details, clay tiles come in a range of colours and shapes, with special tiles for valleys, ridges and gulleys. Period builds or renovations can take advantage of impressive detailing such as dramatic ridge tiles/finials, while tile shapes, such as fish tail and bull nose, are used to create patterns.

Clay tiles have a long lifespan – a recent refurbishment of Boston Guild Hall in Lincolnshire found some of the tiles dated back to the 14th century. However, the weather in the UK can take a heavy toll on clay tiles, as our winters involve constant wet, freezing and thawing cycles. Tiles sold here, especially imported ones, have to meet the UK’s frost requirements.

Clay tiles also have a good second-hand market, making them fairly sustainable. Most clay tiles are machine-made, but hand-made and hand-finished options are also available. Keymer, Aldershaw and MST Roofing all produce handmade tiles, although not all are made in the UK – check with individual companies if this is important for you.

Traditionally, many manufacturers made tiles with local clay, and this gave rise to local colourways and sizes. Niche-market producers often reproduce these special or imperial tiles, which are ideal for conservation areas or for repairs to period homes. Babylon Tile Works, for example, produces Kent Pegs.


Stone is quite an expensive material to roof your house with, and it will probably only be worth while in areas where the stone is in the vernacular, such as the Pennines or Cotswolds.

Sedimentary stone splits naturally, like slate, into thin sheets that make good roofing material, with the thicker tiles making a heavier, stronger structure.

They need a steeper pitch, usually a minimum of 45 degrees, and possibly a specialist fitter. Stone is laid in diminishing courses, with larger tiles at the bottom and smaller ones at the top. As with slate, curves are hard to achieve, and ridge tiles can be made of clay, metal or stone. UK-produced or salvaged stone tiles can be expensive, but may be specified by planning or preferred on certain high-spec builds.

Stone varies in thickness around the country, from the relatively thin Yorkshire stone, pictured left, to the thicker and less uniform stone slates traditionally used in the Cotswolds.


A major player in roofing materials, the advantage of concrete tiles is the vast range available – many of which interlock, offering improved waterproofing, secure fixing and shallower roof pitches – and good prices. A wide range of colours, textures and finishes is available, from the thick double-roman tile that dominates new-build estates to all sorts of heritage-look tiles matching traditional tiles at a smaller cost. The disadvantage of these tiles is that they don’t always weather in the same way as the original items do, and can have a shorter life-expectancy, depending on the product. However, the wide range of styles means that concrete tiles are fairly adaptable in achieving more difficult shapes and special tiles are easily available for ridges and gulleys as well as for curves.


A plentiful supply of this easily splittable stone in the UK ensured its dominance, especially in Wales, the north of England and Cornwall. Slates need significant overlapping on several sides to ensure water-tightness, and the tiles must be laid on battens over an underlay. A slate roof requires a pitch of 30 degrees, and must be finished with clay or metal at the ridges and junctions. Curves are harder to achieve with slate, and are costly as well – simple roof shapes are usually the most economical.

Slate provides a smart and yet traditional roofing material, usually grey, but is also available in colours, from purple to green. Imported tiles come from Canada, China and Spain, and modern versions are available, including composite look-alike versions  and recycled slate, which comprises 80% slate, crushed and reformed. Composite and concrete versions are often interlocking, reducing the need for overlapping.


You may think of metal roofing is something modern, but copper has been the roofing material of choice for centuries on domes and complicated features, while the Elizabethan gentry was well-used to taking the air on flat roofs covered in lead. These days there are many more metals available, and options include aluminium and zinc, which can be laid on relatively shallow pitches, usually on boards or rigid insulation. The fixing and seams vary according to the metal and fixing-system used.

Metal roofing is long-lasting and very adaptable for curves and complex shapes, but they do have drawbacks: environmental concerns in mining (for copper) and general production; prohibitive costs of many metals; and their appeal to thieves. Run-off from copper and lead run-off can also be a cause for concern.

A modern range of lightweight steel tiles, pressed to look like traditional tiles, is available, but more commonly in Europe. The advantage of these systems is that they are lightweight and can be laid on low pitches. Roofing membranes can also be coloured too look like metal, for a hi-tech take on a traditional look.


Thatch gives a wonderful organic shape which is perfect for curves, and insulates well. It’s a traditional and sustainable material that should be encouraged, and fire concerns – which have prevented it appearing on many new builds – are quite easy to overcome.

Thatch has a definite life-span, typically lasting between 15-25 years, with checks and possible maintenance needed every few years. The drier the climate the longer lasting the thatch.

In the UK thatch tends to be made of either long straw or the less common, but longer lasting, water reed, though there is currently a shortage of good thatching material, as well as thatchers.

It requires a steep pitch and has a deep overhang, rarely requiring a gutter.


Shingles, and the more rustic-looking shakes, are a sustainable as well as long-lasting roofing material, with Western Red Cedar a typical wood.

They can be left untreated to weather to a beautiful silver, or, alternatively, they can be treated for longer life and to preserve some of the original colour. If you want to get the longest life out of your choice, opt for premium shingles.

If you are looking to replace your roof, or require a roofer for a new-build, contact Total Roofing Solutions for roofing in Preston.

Common causes of a leaky roof

How can we make sure our homes are prepared for adverse weather conditions? A huge 20% of home insurance claims are roof-related, so here’s some help to prevent it happening to you.

Roof leaks often go unnoticed for sometime because damp can build up slowly, especially when the cause of the leak is just a small crack or hole.

The other problem is that the damp may not always show directly below the root cause, due to the pitch of the roof.

Of the most common causes, some can be easier to spot than others, but all can result in costly damage, so don’t wait too long before acting on any wet spots you notice.

Here are some of the main causes:

Missing or cracked tiles or roof slates

Missing tiles are often visible from outside, but if you suspect a gap or crack in the tiles but can’t see anything obvious, try going up into the loft and shining a torch onto the inside of the roof on a rainy day, as any water will reflect in the torchlight.

If you do locate the leak, don’t try to repair it yourself, we’d always recommend you call in the experts for this one.

Flat roofs and valleys

Water can pool in low spots on flat roofs or collect in valley gutters if they are not laid to the correct pitch or have become blocked.

In this case water will leak into the roof directly below the pool.

This can be fixed but you’ll need to call an expert, so try The National Federation of Roofing Contractors Limited (NFRC) to find a local repairer.

Flashing and joints

Flashing around roof joints, skylights and chimney stacks can often be a culprit of damp.

Over time the metal and sealant corrodes and needs re-sealing or replacing.

Mortar joints in the brickwork of chimney stacks, and the mortar beds of chimney pots can also be damaged by frost.

Ensure any obvious gaps are sealed and old flashing replaced at the first sign of a leak.

If you’re in an older property, consider asking a local contractor to carry out a roof inspection every few years.

Failure of underlay

Holes in felt underlay can help contribute to a loss of tiles or slates in adverse weather, as well as being a source of a leak itself.

If you have access to your loft you’ll be able to see the underlay.

Tears can be repaired quite easily, but if it’s rotting that’s causing the damage it will probably need replacing.

Blocked guttering

You can usually spot this problem by water gushing down from the area of the blockage when it rains. Ensure you clean out your gutters regularly, particularly during winter when leaves and moss can accumulate.

Soffit and fascia damage

These not only keep your guttering in place but help to keep water away from the wooden framework under the roof.  As well as keeping your gutters clear, you should ensure that soffits and fascias are regularly repainted to protect against rot.

Alternatively you could consider replacing timber with lower maintenance PVC boards.

If you take good care of your property you should minimise the risk of a leak, but it’s worth reviewing your Home Insurance policy to check which roof-related disasters you’re covered for.

If you are looking for roofing repair in Cleveleys let Total Roofing Solutions help you. They’re one of the best roofing companies in Lancashire and should be able to give you impartial advice and a competitive quote.

Installing Granite Worktops in Cambridge

iGranite is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of high quality, bespoke quartz and granite worktops in Cambridge. With over 25 years of experience, iGranite delivers exceptional service from the first contact to the finished worktops delivered and fitted in your home, ensuring excellent results and complete satisfaction.

Our highly skilled team of expert’s template, cut, manufacture and polish all of our granite to achieve a flawless finish which is ready to install in your home or workspace. You can be assured of many years of enjoyment from your new quartz or granite worktops – granite and quartz are both highly desirable, robust materials and give the ultimate finish to any kitchen whilst being extremely practical by offering resistance to heat, water, staining and scratching.

We strive to ensure that all granite and quartz worktops are fitted perfectly. These beautiful materials can fully transform a kitchen, giving you a premium and glamourous finish without being an expensive process. Our high quality and cheap granite worktops all come with a 10 year warranty and are guaranteed to impress.

We provide a wide variety of quartz colours and shades allowing you to get the best look for your kitchen worktops. A beautiful man-made material that is a combination of natural minerals and resin to give you a strong and hard-wearing surface that resists germs and bacteria. iGranite stock many different colours of high quality quartz ready to be templated and fitted in your home.

Renowned for providing high grade and the very best granite worktops, iGranite are specialists in installing granite kitchen worktops that are hard wearing and completely change the look of your kitchen counter tops. We offer a fully personalised service, meaning that all templating will be carried out at your home by our professional fitters. Whether it’s beautiful black granite worktops, or a lighter and textured worktop, all variations are stocked in our warehouse and can be previewed on our website or by requesting a free sample.


Finding the perfect boiler

If you have central heating, around 60% of what you spend on your energy bills goes towards running your boiler.

Buying the perfect boiler might not be up there with buying a top of the range home entertainment system or a new car. But choosing the right boiler could help boost the amount you have in your kitty to fund such purchases by slashing your energy bills.
And that’s not to mention the fact that an efficient and effective boiler will keep you warm and well supplied with hot water.
That’s why learning a bit about the three main kinds of boiler can stand you in good financial stead.

Types of boiler
1. Combination boiler

What is a combination boiler?
Combination or ‘combi’ boilers, found in around two-thirds of properties, heat your radiators and provide hot water. They combine the functions of a traditional boiler – basically a hot-water cylinder and a cold-water tank – into one unit.
Brands such as Baxi, Glow Worm, Worcester Bosch and British Gas provide combi boilers, which vary in shape, size and cost depending on the spec of the unit.

Pros of combination boilers

  • Combination boilers are compact and easy to store.
  • They don’t need to be installed in a loft.
  • They are perfect for smaller homes with fewer bathrooms.
  • Less structural change to pipes so installation tends to be cheaper.

Cons of combination boilers

  • May not be suitable if you have a big family or lots of bathrooms, as you will be unable to run hot water from two sources at once for any length of time.

2. System or ‘sealed system’ boiler

What is a system boiler?
System or sealed system boilers use cylinder storage (stored in an airing cupboard) to provide both central heating and hot water.

Pros of a system boiler

  • Ideal for larger homes with multiple bathrooms and en-suites.
  • Suitable for households with several occupants as a constant supply of hot water is provided to multiple taps.
  • They don’t require installation in a loft.

Cons of a system/sealed system boiler

  • You will have to wait for water to heat up in the storage cylinder if it runs out.
  • Can be tricky to find space for a cylinder unit.

3. Open vent boilers

What is an open vent boiler?

Regular boilers (often referred to as traditional, conventional or heat-only boilers) provide central heating and hot water by way of a storage cylinder housed in the airing cupboard and water tanks kept in your loft.
Pros of an open vent boiler

  • They have a high water flow rate, making them ideal for a powerful shower.

Cons of an open vent boiler

  • Can take up a lot of room in the average loft.
  • You will have to wait when the hot water runs out.
  • Finding space to fit a cylinder unit can be difficult.

Why should I change my boiler?

Most people stick with the boiler they inherit when they move into a property.
But investing in a newer, fuel-efficient boiler that’s more suitable for your home and usage can shave hundreds off your gas and electricity bills every year.

How much does a new boiler cost?

A new boiler typically costs between £2,000 and £3,000, including installation fees.
You may be able to get a free boiler under the Energy Company Obligation, which is funded by the ‘Big Six’ energy companies.
You’ll need to be on a low income or certain benefits, and have an old, inefficient boiler to qualify. For more details, visit the Energy Saving Trustwebsite.

How much does it cost to repair a boiler?

The type of fault or extent of damage will determine how much it will cost to fix your boiler. It can cost anything from £150 for a minor repair such as a replacement fan, gas valve or printed circuit board or closer to £300 for more serious work.

Looking after your boiler

Whichever type of boiler you have, maximise its lifespan and efficiency by having it serviced regularly.

Boiler breakdown and repair cover is also a worthwhile option. Visit our boiler cover page to find the right protection for your boiler.

Efficiency tips for your boiler

While investing in a new and energy efficient boiler will help bring down your running costs, the Energy Saving Trust recommends a number of smaller scale measures you can make:
Upgrade your heat recovery devices: There are a number of devices on the market, such as passive flue gas heat recovery systems, which help recoup any heat that escapes through the boiler’s connecting pipes. This recaptured and lost energy is then used to heat your water.
Insulate hot water cylinders: Newer hot water cylinders are designed with insulation to stop heat escaping. If you have an older cylinder, you could save in the region of £25 – £35 a year by bolstering the insulation of your unit.
Invest in chemical inhibitors: The build-up of scale can reduce the lifespan of your boiler, as well as the effectiveness of radiators and heating circuitry. Chemical inhibitor can reduce corrosion and maintain the efficiency of your boiler.

If you are looking to make your boiler more efficient or even looking for new boilers in Lytham APG Domestic Services can help.

8 Reasons You Shouldn’t Get A Combi Boiler

Combi boilers have a number of potential drawbacks. Here are a few of them… (quickly cut and pasted from my old bathrooms website to save time).

Reasons NOT to have a combi:

As you may have sensed from the section above, I’m not a fan of combi boilers! OK they work for many people but they have so many drawbacks that it’s hard to remember them all at once, and people keep asking me what the problems are so here’s a quickly compiled list.

1) Complicated system

They are obviously more complex than an ordinary boiler, so when stuff goes wrong, they are more difficult to diagnose and repair. (And they remind me of those TVs with video recorders built in – just a clumsy idea). Fewer heating engineers are prepared to attempt repairs to combis than ordinary boilers, which means it can take longer to repair a broken combi.

2) Water scale

They scale up just like an electric shower does. Then you have to buy a new heat exchanger or pay for a descale every year or three. Several hundred quid either way. (But note! The Worcester range of boilers have a ‘plate to plate’ heat exchanger designed to overcome this problem. Worcester even guarantee the plate heat exchanger against scaling for five years. I look after one of these boilers but I can confirm from personal experience that they DO still scale up. The difference is, Worcester seem happy to send us a free new one every 18 months under their five year guarantee, so if you MUST buy a combi, buy a Worcester!)

3) Latency

When you turn on the kitchen tap, it takes about 45 seconds for the hot water to arrive. Only after you turn on the tap does the boiler fire and start to warm up. It warms very quickly but it’s still much slower than having a tank of hot water connected to your hot tap. I find this irritating, but many people do not.

4) Aesthetics

They are BIG! Ok if you have a big house and plenty of room, but they are mostly fitted in little houses where they take up valuable space and look ugly.

5) Water pressure

They are great when your water pressure is high, but come the summer evenings when everybody puts their hose pipes on to water the gardens, pressure drops. And your lovely new combi stops working. There’s NOTHING you can do about this, except complain to the water company and claim £10 statutory compensation each time it happens. Not much help there then unless you are happy with a tenner instead of a shower. Oh, and you have to produce evidence that it happened. Oh, and you can only claim the tenner once in a financial year.

6) Showers

Performance of showers connected to combis is pretty average. Not bad, and not brilliant. Problem is, if you want a better shower, you are stuck. You have to fit a bigger combi, and then the performance won’t be that much better. Adding a pump just doesn’t work. The boiler itself is limiting water flow so it can deliver the temperature your shower needs.

7) Leaks

Combi boilers have pressurised sealed system central heating circuits. This means that a very slow water leak from your heating system (and these are VERY common) will cause your system pressure to degrade to zero over weeks or months, and these leaks can be fiendishly difficult to identify and fix. The old way of having a header tank in the loft gets around this problem, but combis are not designed for use with them.

8) No back-up system

You need some! With a conventional boiler/hot water cylinder system if the boiler breaks down you can still have hot water by turning on the immersion heater in the hot water cylinder. When a combi breaks down your heating AND hot water are usually both out of action until it is repaired.

If you understand these potential issues and are happy they don’t apply to you, or you are happy to take the risk to obtain the benefits of having no bulky water storage tanks in your home then there is no reason not to buy a combi! Contact APG Domestic Services for boilers in Blackpool.

24 Essential Tools for Professional Flooring Installers

As with any trade, hardwood flooring professionals need an assortment of tools to install a floor properly, safely, and in a timely manner. The choice of which tools to have on hand, however, can be daunting.
While there are a lot of tools required to professionally lay a floor, here’s a list of 24 essential tools every flooring contractor should have on hand when installing a hardwood floor. Although some of these tools are also used during sanding and finishing, we are focusing today on installation.

Safety First: Protect Yourself

The last thing you want to do is risk your health or your livelihood at an unsafe job site. Fortunately, there are a number of tools to help you stay protected.

1. Safety Goggles

Eye injuries can occur when you least expect it. You never know when a piece of wood or metal or a bead of finishing material will hit you in the eye causing temporary or permanent damage. It’s why OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) regulations require eye protection when using most power tools.
Safety glasses should meet British Standards which are the performance standards set by the BSI Group. There are many safety glasses to choose from. They come in a wide variety of styles and colour choices. Normal glasses or contact lenses do not qualify.
Goggles are a better choice for certain conditions. They protect the eye socket more effectively and completely than either glasses or face shields because they fit tightly against the face. If you have a vision prescription and you don’t wear contacts, then buy prescription goggles. Not being able to see at all isn’t very safe either.

2. Dust Mask and Vapour Respirators

Sanding or applying finish requires the use of a respirator. Failure to use one can cause inflammation of the nasal tract, tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, asthma, and mucous irritations.
A dust respirator will protect your lungs and upper respiratory tract from wood dust. Some people are highly sensitive, and even allergic to wood dust, especially the dust from certain wood species.
A vapour respirator is necessary when applying a finish. Check the finish manufacturer’s Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the appropriate respirator. Another good tool for protecting your lungs is a shop vacuum. The less wood dust laying around, the less dust to fly around.

3. Ear Plugs or Ear Muffs

Prolonged exposure to loud noise, especially when using certain types of power equipment, can result in hearing loss. According to the Centres for Disease Control, the noise levels from a wide variety of power saws are over 100 decibels, which makes them dangerous to your ears after just two minutes! Many flooring professionals today have 30 to 70 percent hearing loss because they weren’t aware of audio hazards.
Earplugs are easy to use and inexpensive. They come either as foam inserts or pre-moulded plugs. If you’re concerned about earplugs getting lost in your ears, there are earplugs called “semi-inserts” that have a band or string connecting them together. Foam inserts are rolled and compressed into tiny cylinders that slowly expand inside the ear once inserted. Pre-moulded plugs are reusable, flanged plugs that you insert into the ear. Foam inserts come in different ratings, so make sure to get the proper inserts.
Ear muffs are dome-shaped protectors that fit over the external ear and employ a cushion or pad that seals against the head. Although bulkier than ear plugs, they are effective in keeping out sounds. Headphones used for music are not considered ear protection.

4. Knee Pads

Since you will be spending some of your time on your knees, knee pads will prevent strain and pain. Use contractor-grade pads, made of cloth, that are adjustable and fit well. Since they come with a soft non-marring outer surface, they will not damage floors like hard plastic or metal versions. There are also ergonomic type knee pads containing fluid that offer considerable comfort.

5. Work Safety Boots

The dangers to your feet are obvious. When you select a boot here are some features to consider:
Slip-resistant: Keep the treads cleaned out, or they’ll become less slip-resistant.
Safety toe: You have some choices here, they don’t necessarily have to be steel toed, which can get heavy and cold. Some good safety toe alternatives are carbon composite toe, aluminum toe, or composite toe.
Regardless of which material you select, make sure it meets or exceeds the ASTM Standards for compression and impact testing of I-75/C75. Consider how high up the ankle the boot should go, or whether a safety shoe offers enough protection.
Don’t forget that they should be well-cushioned and comfortable as well.

6. Heavy Gloves

Now that your feet and knees are protected, protect your hands and fingers as well.
Heavy work gloves with reinforced fingertips should a last long time. When you’re laying down adhesive, a simple latex glove may be sufficient.

7. Feather Boards

Whenever you use a table saw, use the feather board to push the stock past cutting edge. The feather board not only creates a smoother cut but also protects your hands from kickback and from getting too close to the blade. You can buy them or make them. Whichever option you chose, just make sure the feather board fits your specific project.

8. Electrical Testers

Electrical testers check for the presence and amount of current in an outlet. They let you know if a certain machine can be safely operated from that outlet. Make sure your extension cords are the proper rating to prevent fires. Too little power will burn out an electric motor.
Protect Your Investment
If you’re not measuring accurately, you’re laying the foundation for flooring failure. Flooring failure can occur quickly now or even years into the future. Here are some of the needed tools to keep your flooring installation precise:

9. Wood Moisture Meter

Determining the moisture content in wood flooring is crucial to doing a quality job. If the wood has too much moisture, the floor that fit so well when first installed may eventually show cracks, cupping or buckling, and that could mean costly callbacks for the installer.
According to marketing data, more than £300 million is spent each year on repairing flooring failures. That’s why flooring materials should be checked with an accurate wood moisture meter before, during, and after installation.
There are two types of wood moisture meters: pinless and pin-style meters.

10. Concrete RH Testing System

When installing flooring covering on a concrete slab, it is important to know the moisture content of the slab. Slabs with excessive moisture can cause adhesive failure, wood warping or cupping. Relative humidity (RH) testing that uses in situ probes is the most reliable method for testing concrete moisture conditions within the slab.
Other test methods, including calcium chloride testing or the poly-film test, often are unreliable and are being discontinued.
Surface concrete meters might help determine the most likely areas for necessary RH testing, but they do not provide an in-depth picture of moisture conditions within the slab as does RH testing.

11. Tape Measure

A tape measure is an inexpensive tool every installer should have. It’s best to invest in one that you can read easily, is retractable and has a hook at the end to stay in place. Without an anchor to keep the tape measure secure, you can get measurements up to 1/8 of an inch off. The cumulative effect of this kind of inaccuracy can have a great impact on your installation.

12. Level

A level will tell you if the subfloors surface is even and ready for the wood flooring to be installed. Installing the wood on an uneven subfloor is another way to create the circumstances for future flooring failure. You’ll want a large level to accurately measure the subfloors level.
You can find them in lengths of four and six feet. A complete level will have two bubble readings at both ends, one each to measure horizontal and vertical levels. The level edges should also be made of either metal or brass-edged wood.

13. Solutions for Straight Lines and Angles

A Carpenter’s square helps you measure out perpendicular edges and 90-degree angles with precision to mark cuts on your stock. They come in metal or plastic.A Protractor will help you set the proper angles on your saw so you’re cutting corners and mouldings correctly. You can select either a manual or digital protractor.
As with your moisture meter, you’re going to have to get the protractor into some challenging spaces, so make sure it’s easy to use.
Chalk Lines create straight edges for laying boards. Align your planks against it for even, precise flooring. Aligning the first row of boards with the chalk line assures that all subsequent rows will be straight. A chalk line (also called a chalk reel or chalk box) is a metal or plastic case with powdered chalk and an 18- to 50-foot string line inside.
It will make quick work of making a long, level line across a floor. If you lay a translucent moisture barrier over the subfloor before installation, snap the chalk line first. If the barrier is opaque, lay it in place before you snap chalk lines. Always store your chalk line in a dry place. If the string gets wet, you’ll need to leave the line unwound until it dries completely. If the inside of the tool gets wet, you’ll have to replace the caked chalk with fresh powder. Have fun with different colour chalks.

14. Spacers

Spacers are used to measure what’s called an “expansion gap”. Because wood either absorbs or releases moisture when relative humidity increases or decreases, it can cause hardwood flooring to expand and contract. The use of spacers will enable you to leave a small space around the perimeter of the room for the flooring to “breathe”.


Any wood floor installation job will likely need a variety of saws. Obviously, you’ll want to review the job’s specific requirements to determine exactly which kinds of saws, and what sizes, you’ll need. However, as a general rule, having one of each kind of the following saws with you is a good idea:

15. Saws

Hand saws are great when you have a small cutting job; a hand saw will do just fine. They’re also better for cutting down on noise and dust. Some hand saws you may want to purchase are:
Standard hand, crosscut and rip saws for basic straight cuts

  • Backsaw, a shorter, fine-toothed saw, used with mitre boxes
  • Coping saws used for fine, intricate cuts as well as curved or circular cuts
  • Hacksaws and mini-hacksaws, similar to coping saws, have longer, deeper fine-toothed blades and are used for cutting metals and plastic
  • Jamb saws come with an offset handle that allows for undercutting door jambs
  • Power saws come in a variety of options: circular saw, reciprocating-type saws, and band saws.
  • Circular saws come with a circular blade run by an electric motor. It makes fast, straight cuts, with blades ranging from less than five to more than ten inches in diameter. It also comes with tooth designs that cut hardwood, softwood, plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), masonry and tile. Different blade angles are available and they come in various horsepower ratings.
    Portable power saws cut from the bottom, so keeping the face of the board down yields the best quality cuts. There are saws, however, that cut from the top down and which require the face of the board be up when cutting. They include power mitre saws, jamb saws, radial arm saws, and table saws.
  • Reciprocating-type saws include sabre saws, reciprocating saws, and scroll saws. They all operate on the same principle: a small, straight blade that moves in an up-and-down or back-and-forth motion. They all cut in the same direction; up, so cut with the face of the board down.
  • Band saws cut with an endless band blade travelling around an upper and a lower wheel. They provide high-production guided cuts, re-sawing (cutting thinner boards from one thick one), and freehand scrolling cuts, when equipped with a fine blade. Since they cut down, saw with the face of the board up. They work well on parquet floors.
  • Mitre saws (also called chop or drop saws) are really a type of circular saw and also uses a rotating blade. However, a mitre saw lets you cut more precise angles. You’ll use the mitre saw to cut a variety of features, such as moulding, borders, and trim. Most mitre saws let you fix the blade in one-degree increments relative to the fence. In fact, when choosing your mitre saw, make sure it has the ability to cut past 45 degrees. This gives you the most versatility. Test out how easy it easy it to adjust the mitre index (that’s the measuring tool on the saw that fixes the degrees), and fix it in place.

Many mitre saws will come with pre-fixed stops on the index at commonly used angles, like 15, 22.5, 30, and 45 degrees. You can also find mitre saws with laser beam guides that provide a visual marker of where a cut will go based on the saw’s current configuration.
The standard mitre saw cuts just on a horizontal angle. If needed, you can get a compound mitre saw, which has both a horizontal and vertical pivot. This sort of dual angle is quite common in crown mouldings. When selecting the right mitre saw for the job, be careful not to mix up a compound mitre saw, which has the dual angles, with a dual action mitre saw. Most mitre saws are single action, which means they only tilt into one side of the vertical. A dual action mitre saw tilts in both directions, which you’re not likely to need on a flooring job. Always check to make sure angles are correct when starting a job.
Jamb or undercut saws are designed specifically to cut door jambs, moulding, and trim. They’re available as either a power or hand tool. The power tool version is a rotating blade that can usually be set at different heights based on the requirements of the job. The hand saw version is usually rectangular or in a trapezoid shape. It’s not adjustable, but if you have the right size, it’s certainly lighter and easier to carry around.
Routers are a popular speciality tool, but can be extremely dangerous to handle. They’re basically motors with a cutting bit on an arbour and handles. They come with a wide range of bits and jigs, and on many models, the cut depth is adjustable while in use.
Flooring installers can use a router for removing wood for decorative inlay and borders. Special bits also allow them to cut grooves on end joints for tongue-and-groove strip fits and moulding. They’re also handy for repair work, especially floating floors that have been glued by tongue and groove. A few simple passes and the proper router and slot cutter bit can clean the glue to accept any new boards.

Locking It Down

The exact tools you’ll need to fasten the wood flooring to the subfloor will vary with the job, but here are some high-level options that you’ll need on every job:

16. Nail Set & Nailing Machines

Nail sets look like awls. You use them to drive nail below the surface of the wood. When hand nailing tongue-and-groove flooring, use the nail set on its side to avoid damaging the corner of the flooring strip.
Nailing machines help keep nailing time to a minimum and eliminate time spent reaching for nails. They work as fast as you can position the machine.There are different styles of nailing machines.
The ratchet and spring-loaded nailers release nails when you strike them with a mallet.
Pneumatic nailers, also known as air nailers, use compressed air to operate and require a higher degree of safety consciousness.
The ratchet-style nailers are easier for novices to use because they can operate with several strikes.
Spring-loaded nailers operate on the one strike, one nail principle. The pneumatic nailers shoot fasteners into wood (some are designed to nail into concrete) in one of two ways. Some require hitting it with a mallet while others require you only pull a trigger.
These machines come in two configurations: side (45-degree) and face (90-degree, for work against walls). They can be adjusted for installing varied thicknesses of flooring by using changeable adaptor plates.
Another issue to consider is the nail magazine. You have a choice between a stick-style or circular (also called “coil-style”) magazine. A coil-style magazine can hold up to 300 nails, far more than a stick-style magazine. That means you don’t have to refill it as often, but it also means that it’s heavier in the hand, and more expensive.
Also, consider whether the nail gun lets you adjust the fastener depth into the wood’s surface, and how it lets you do this. In some nail guns, you can adjust depth by hand while other nail guns require additional tools in order to make a depth adjustment.

17. Fasteners

Installers use fasteners to attach the subfloor to the concrete. They allow for wood movement in a highly efficient way.
Cleats are barbed nails with a T- or L-hooked head. Most are proprietary designs for use only with a specified type of nailer. Their thin rectangular shape guards against nail splitting.
Some nailing machines use staples rather than cleats. They, too, can be effective. Installers can also use case nails, cut nails, finish nails and screws to fasten wood flooring. Hand nailing is best for the first and last few rows of flooring in a room when there isn’t room to operate a nailing machine. Screws can be used to fasten plank flooring.

18. Hammer/Rubber Mallet

Since most wood flooring materials join together using a tongue and groove system, it helps to have a rubber mallet to give them a good whack when nailing. If not, the gap between the boards will remain and creaks will occur.
Use a good quality rubber mallet, one approved for wood flooring. If not, you may find that a non-approved mallet will leave marks and stains on the flooring. A flooring type of mallet may still have a rubber head, but it’s encased in a soft, white material that won’t leave scuff marks on the floor. The white casing can also be replaced after it gets too grungy.
You can also find them with graphite handles, which make them lighter and easier to handle.
Mallets are great for the edge boards where you’ll manually knock in the nails instead of using a mechanical flooring nailer.
Another option is a dead-blow hammer. The hammer’s hollow head is filled with steel shot to deliver a solid blow without rebounding. This minimises surface marring when used to tap planks together.

19. Trowel

To get any adhesive down on the subfloor, you’ll need a trowel. As with the mallet, buy one specifically designed for use with a wood flooring adhesive.
For wood flooring jobs, you’ll have two notch design options: V-shaped or square. Some people believe the v-shaped notch design is best for wood flooring adhesives. Regardless of their shape, the notches on the trowel also come in different sizes. The quarter inch v-notch is considered best for wood flooring installations.
You also want the trowel plate itself to be on the larger size, around 11 inches. The plate should be made of steel, but test out grips to select the one that feels most comfortable for you. They’re available with rubber handles, which may offer a very natural feeling and stronger grip. To keep your trowel in good condition and remember to clean it off before any adhesive on it dries. If the adhesive dries, you’ll have to chip it off, which may create chips in the trowel plate. A chipped up trowel will only mean poorly spread adhesive on the next job.

20. Tapping Block and Pull Bar

These tools will help you move the wood planks tightly into place. It might be tempting to use a stray piece of cut board as your tapping block, but that’s not a good idea.First, using the cut board is the easiest way to chip the installed wood plank, especially the tongue or groove you need to make the next plank fit in nicely. It also risks splits because the cut board won’t distribute the pressure of the tap well.
This is all unnecessary, especially since a specifically designed tapping block is so inexpensive. Most will be made of high-density plastic, which won’t chip or damage the wood plank.
There are also new tapping block designs that include a small groove running along the block’s long edge. This groove aligns with the tongue of the plank you’re tapping giving it a cushion.
Providing this protection makes it less likely the tapping will cause damage to the tongue. You can even find some tapping blocks with multiple groove lengths and depths cut into them so they can fit with different tongue specifications.
There are also ergonomically-designed tapping blocks with ball-shaped handles. This type lets you grip the tapping block more gently and naturally so your hand doesn’t tighten up. A standard consumer tapping block is usually in the seven-inch range, but you can find them up to 20 inches long. The longer block will distribute the pressure better, which better protects the plank.
Pull bars are useful for doing floating installations as well as nailed and glued floors. They are used for engaging boards as they run vertically across the installation or for pulling in that last row or finished baseboard. Some pull bars come with interchangeable blades, handles, and fulcrums that make installations go faster and easier. You can also configure components to pry up hardwood and sub flooring.
Look for pull bars that include an extension for greater leverage and an ergonomic grip for greater control. Avoid the cheaper pull bars. They tend to bend easily. Better-quality pull bars can take the major blows of a hammer.
Also, get an adjustable pull bar with unique magnetic adaptors to fit different flooring thicknesses, from 8mm to 20mm. Ones with thick felt padding on the bottom of the bar prevent damage to flooring, yet comes with a hard rubberised hammer-tip for maximum strength and durability.

Finishing Off

21. Wood Filler and Putty

These terms are often used synonymously since they can both be used to fill in gaps and holes in the wood once it’s been installed. However, there are differences between them. Wood fillers are usually water-based and dry much more quickly than wood putty, which is oil-based.
Because wood putty is oil-based, it will only work with oil-based finishes. Therefore, the decision whether to use filler or putty to fill in seams may be made for you based on what finish you’ll be using.Wood fillers can be made with a variety of binders. A latex or epoxy filler works well with unfinished flooring. Polyurethane or lacquer fillers are only going to work well with pre-finished or pre-lacquered surfaces, respectively.
Choose a filler that most closely resembles the colour of the wood being used. Keep in mind that this means you might want a few different coloured fillers on hand, as there can be considerable colour differences in the wood. However, this isn’t a putty filler like you would use to fill in a nick on a finished floor, so the colour doesn’t need to match exactly. More important is that the filler can absorb the colour of the stain that will finish up the floor.

22. Sander

Obviously, floors are wide spaces, so you want a walk-behind sanding machine. The two main options are a drum or orbital floor sander. Whichever you choose, these standing sanders both come in a variety of sizes, usually to support either eight, ten, or twelve-inch pads.
A drum sander is the most efficient sander, but it has some drawbacks. It’s an aggressive sander, which is why it works well to sand off a finish. However, if this in a floor installation of unfinished wood, it can cause scratches and grooves. This is especially true when used at a right angle to the wood’s grain.
Instead, the round pad on a random orbital sander moves in an elliptical pattern, but also oscillates back and forth. This prevents the sanding pad from sanding in a fixed pattern, which is when scratches and grooves are most likely to occur. Sanding the floor will take longer with a random orbital sander, but it may well be worth it to prevent scratching and grooving the floor. It’s important to note here that not all orbital sanders are random orbital sanders. Only the random style uses both the elliptical and oscillating motions designed to work well against the grain.

Regardless of whether you use a drum or random orbital sander, you’ll also want a flooring edger. This is a special type of sander where the sanding pad is at an angle, allowing it to get into the tight spaces at the edges the floor. If the room does have some small or intricate spaces, you may want to bring a hand sander as well. There are handheld random orbital sanders.
Depending on the job’s specific needs, a finishing or detailing sander may be appropriate. Different sander models will use different power sources. Many will be electric, so with these, you want to make sure you have enough extension cords to cover the floor. There are also models that use air compression. If you’re bringing an air compressor for your flooring nailer, make sure the volume and pressure specs of the air compressor meet the needs of both tools.
You might want to look for a sander machine that has a power-on lock. A power-on lock means you don’t have to keep your thumb pressed down on the power button to keep the sander moving. Therefore, you can focus your strength and concentration on controlling the movement of the sander.
Another issue to keep in mind is whether the sander has its own dust collection mechanism. If it doesn’t, you may need a separate dust collector. Regardless, you’ll want a vacuum at the job site to keep things clean and safe anyway. You can rent these large machines if you determine that a specific job calls for a sanding machine you don’t own. As an alternative, there are also sanding machine models that can be used to sand, edge, and buff.

Additional Essential Tools for Wood Flooring

23. Air Compressor

There are a number of air compressors available for job site operation of pneumatic staplers and nailers. Choosing one is simple – get one that’s the right size to produce adequate air volume (cubic feet per minute) and air pressure (pounds per square inch) for your pneumatic floor stapler or nailer.
A one-horsepower electric compressor with a four-gallon tank produces about three cubic feet per minute of air volume at 90 pounds of pressure. It weighs less than 50 pounds and is adequate for running one tool at medium speed.
A 1.5 to 2-horsepower electric compressor with a five-gallon tank produces roughly six cubic feet per minute at 90 pounds per square inch. It weighs less than 70 pounds and is adequate for one fast operation tool or two at medium speed.
A 1.5 to 2-horsepower unit with an eight-gallon tank weighs about 125 pounds and is adequate for two fast operation tools. When in doubt as to which one to get, select the larger unit. You won’t be forced to wait for the compressor to catch up.

24. Shop Vacuum/Broom

A powerful portable shop vacuum is useful to pick up any powdery sawdust generated from sawing. Be sure to get one with sufficient amps in the motor. Low amps in small motors typically mean less power and less suction. Consider getting one with wide wheels to prevent damage to the floor.
Also, consider systems that link their vacuums directly to dust-producing tools to collect dust and debris at its source.
A good quality push broom is also quite handy for moving and gathering sawdust and other debris. Use it with a matching hand sweeper and a dustpan. A natural bristle (horsehair) broom pushes more dust with each sweep and doesn’t kick up as much dust as one with thin synthetic bristles.

In Summary

While there certainly are many tools not covered in this article, these tools are the most essential ones needed by flooring professionals. Some of these tools can be rented, but rental equipment often may have improper settings from the previous rental or not be in the best condition. Owning one’s equipment is a better option, and you can source all of your flooring tools from one place.

A look into boiler finance and potential savings

With all the options available when you are looking into getting a new boiler, it can get overwhelming and confusing. In this blog post we hope to tell you what a combi boiler and how much you’ll expect to pay if you’re looking to get one installed. We also will show you potential savings you could make.

What is a combi boiler?

A combi boiler is a small, wall-mounted boiler that provides dual heat and hot water. They are the most popular option for new heating system installations, and make up nearly 75% of new boilers in  the UK. It uses predominantly natural gas and are small, economical and efficient, without needing additional tanks.

You may not be a suitable candidate for a combi boiler however, and the reasons for this are listed below:

  • You don’t have a gas supply
    • You will need to be ‘on the grid’, otherwise you will need to look into other options, such as a storage heater or oil powered boiler.
  • You have more than one bathroom
    • They are the best choice for small homes with only one bathroom, but not for large residences where a lot of people may be needing to use hot water at the same time.
  • Low water pressure
    • Combi boilers rely on a ‘closed system’ to move water through the pipes to taps and radiators. If you have low pressure the water will not be able to do this easily.

How much would a combi boiler cost me?

One of the common mistakes people make when considering a new boiler is to simply google ‘combi boiler prices’ – the search results would have you think a new boiler can be installed for less than £1,000.

Unfortunately there is no fixed price for a boiler installation. The final cost depends on a number of factors – supplier, installation cost, size of boiler and residence… You would need to acquire a specific quote for your circumstances.

Have a look at the chart beneath that displays the average cost of an installation and any additional extras.

Combi boiler installation estimates

  1. Combi boiler purchase prices

    1. Detached home: 42-50kw £1500
    2. Semi/terrace: 32-38KW £950
    3. Small house/flat £700
  2. Boiler installation prices

    1. Trade in gas heat only for combi boiler: £1450
    2. Install new combi in new position: £1100
    3. Replace old boiler in same position: £700
    4. Replace existing combi in same position: £600
  3. Added extras

    1. Power flush (variable): £500
    2. Moving pipes (variable): £300
    3. New thermostat: £200
    4. Chemical flush: £200
    5. Add magnetic filtration: £150
    6. Add radiators (per rad): £100

Considering all of the above you can add up what you need to get a good idea of how much your new boiler is going to cost. You will need to choose your boiler size, an estimate of installation (remember this will vary between installers), and have a little surplus in case there are any surprises.

If you are looking at a new boiler and/or new boiler finance have a look at APG Boilers On Finance.

How does counselling help with anxiety?

Every person suffering with anxiety shows similar traits to others, but it must be remembered that is is truly unique experience for the person involved. Counselling can help people manage their anxiety and in some cases overcome it completely.

Counselling by a certified counsellor does many things for a person with anxiety, and these are outlined below.

Education and comprehension

Understanding the condition, researching coping methods and talking to other people about their anxiety can start people on the road to recovery.

Meditation and relaxation

Sometimes all it takes to prevent someone have an anxiety or panic attack is deep breathing, and teaching people how to do this and to relax helps them control their anxiety by removing the physical effects.


Also known as cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT connects thoughts with anxiety, and helps the sufferer understand this connection. It aims to demonstrate that anxiety is ‘in the mind’ rather than a real, physical threat.


Exposing a sufferer of anxiety to events or situations that can cause anxiety can help them see that nothing bad is going to happen as a result of being in the said situation, and eventually the fear diminishes.

Problem Solving

Anxiety can take over the thoughts and paralyse a person’s thinking. Introducing and developing problem solving techniques can lead an anxious person through a process that helps them think their way out of their anxiety.


Living in the present is something we all forget to do when we are tied up in the past and dwelling on problems out of our control. Reminding ourselves of the here and now can re-establish control and help with anxious thoughts.

If you are struggling with anxiety it may be worth speaking to a professional who will be able to help. Cheryl King Counselling Associates have years of experience and trained counsellors who can help. Contact them now for anxiety counselling Preston.