Posts Tagged ‘flooring’

Rainbow Carpets on Westbourne Grove

Friday, March 16th, 2012

When I needed two new carpets I decided to try a local carpet shop rather than using one of the big chains.

rainbow carpets westbourne grove

I visited Rainbow Carpets (which also trades as AA Flooring) on Westbourne Grove in Bayswater. On my first visit I asked some questions about their service. Here is a summary.

  • Measuring – free.
  • Delivery – free.
  • Delivery time – usually delivered/installed within 2-3 days if the carpet is in stock with the supplier. They deliver and install the carpet at the same time.
  • Install charge – £5 per square metre.
  • Carpet grippers / edging strips – included in the price.
  • Underlay – I didn’t ask about underlay as I’d already fitted QuietFloor Plus sound proofing underlay.

First carpet

I arranged for a measuring of one of my rooms which was done a few days later. The guy arrived on time and it took less than 10 minutes to measure up and answer some more of my questions.

A few days later I went back to choose the carpet. Because of a previous experience with clothes moths I explained that I was only interested in 100% synthetic carpets. The shop will let you borrow carpet samples for a short time as long as you have already had the measuring done first.

I borrowed two samples, both made of polypropylene. It is well recommended to see the samples in the light of your own home rather than in the carpet shop. They can look very different when viewed at home.

I decided on the more expensive of the two and went back to place the order. They were able to order it for the next day but I delayed the install until the week after as I hadn’t yet finished my sound proofing. I also had hired a door trimming saw for later in the week. They told me in the shop that they could trim the doors for £10 each but I decided I’d rather have a go myself.

You have to pay 50% in advance and 50% on completion.

The delivery / installation day arrived and they arrived on time in their van. Two of them unloaded and unpacked the carpet. They did have to fold it to get it in the lift but that didn’t affect the final finish of the room.

rainbow carpets westbourne grove 1

One of the guys remained to do the install, first putting down the new carpet grippers and then fitting the carpet. It took him about 1.5 hours to do.

He asked if I wanted the offcuts to be taken away. I decided to keep one reasonable sized rectangular section in case any future patch repairs were needed, and told him he could take the rest away.

After finishing there were lots of cutting fibres all over the carpet but he advised me to wait a few hours before vacuuming them up to let the carpet settle. Below is a before and after photo. After vacuuming the room looked great! The colour is called ‘claret’.

rainbow carpets westbourne grove 2

There were a few minor chips in the skirting board paint from where the bolster was used to tuck the carpet into the gap after the carpet gripper but this is to be expected. These are easily solved with a quick paint touch up – remember to save some of your skirting board paint for this.

The agreement you sign says that you are supposed to pay the fitter after installation but I told him that I wanted to pay by card and so would go the the shop in the next hour to do so. He had to call the shop to check that was ok – which it was.

I paid, got my payment receipt and then thought about the second carpet.

Second carpet

The procedure with the second carpet was the same as with the first. They measured the room; I borrowed some samples, and then chose the carpet. I visited them on a Saturday so they told me they’d have to wait until Monday before they could order the carpet from the supplier.

I called them on Monday to check it had been ordered and then I could start moving the furniture. They confirmed it would be delivered / installed the next day as requested.

Large chains such as Carpet Right often have lead times of 7-10 days whereas these guys can do the whole order/deliver/install cycle in 48 hours. It is definitely worth considering a small independent carpet shop if you want your carpets fitted to a shorter timescale.

As before the guy did a good job with fitting the carpet. I’d make it easy for the fitter by fully clearing out the rooms before he arrived, but the measurer did tell me that they were able to move objects like beds or sofas if necessary.

In conclusion

The service was good, the installation was fast, and there were no problems.

Rainbow Carpets are located at 58a Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, London, W2 5SH.

Installing QuietFloor Plus from Sound Service

Monday, March 12th, 2012

As part of my flat redecoration I wanted to add some floor sound proofing to reduce noise coming from below. I decided to use the ‘Gold Carpet System’ from Sound Service in Oxford.

This uses one layer of their SBM5 sound proofing mat (2mm) with a layer of their QuietFloor Plus (15mm) on top. The carpet goes over the top of this 17mm of sound proofing. No extra underlay is needed.

Ordering sound proofing from Sound Service

I placed my two orders via their online store. With the first order I got most of the sound proofing for the two rooms and corridor I was doing. The second order was for the remaining area of the final room. I placed a large initial >£1200 order so I could get free delivery. The second order was much smaller – as there was only a bit of floor space left I could order exactly the amount of materials I needed to finish off without wastage.

When placing the first order I got a “Microsoft VBScript runtime error ‘800a0009’ | Subscript out of range: ‘[number: 1]’ | /pc/customerOrderConfirmEmail.asp, line 237” error after making the payment which didn’t inspire confidence, but the order was listed in my online shopping account. Sound Service quickly confirmed that the order had gone through when I emailed them.

When I placed my second order over a month later their online shop was still giving the same error. If you get it just check your online account to make sure the order went though.

Sound proofing delivery

I chose next day delivery for a £12 surcharge and asked them to tell the delivery driver to call my mobile before arriving.

The next day the delivery man called me and I was able to meet him on the street. The order was on a standard wooden palette and he placed it in front of the door where I asked him to put it.

This first order weighed 620kg and I was lucky to have some help from the building’s porters to get the items into my flat.

quietfloor plus install 1

At the bottom of the palette are the 120cm x 60cm QuietFloor Plus panels. They are each about 10.8kg so they can be carried in ones or twos.

On top of them are the 180cm x 120cm SBM5 mats. They are rolled together 2 or 3 at a time. Each mat also weighs about 10.8kg, so when there are 3 rolled together that can be 32.4kg to carry if you don’t separate them!

Above that you can see the wooden perimeter strips, then in the box are 25 tubes of their acoustic sealant. The object that looks like an electric guitar is actually the sealant gun wrapped in a black bag.

You might need to spend some time cutting up the wooden palette, or make arrangements to dispose of it.

This is what the first order looked like after it was unpacked.

quietfloor plus install 2

Not shown is the ‘jointing tape’ which is inside the rolled up SBM5. It is in fact just plain electrical insulation tape.

quietfloor plus install 3

Preparing the floor

Before installing the sound proofing there are quite a few things that I did to prepare the floor.

First I removed the carpet and underlay. Both of these could just be pulled off the floor. I used pliars to remove any remaining underlay staples that were sticking dangerously out of the floorboards. I didn’t bother to remove staples that were fairly flush with the floorboards as they won’t be noticed after the 17mm of sound proofing + carpet are added on top.

Then I removed the carpet grippers.

I spent some time fixing the floorboard squeaks as some of them were really bad and it would be impossible to do once the soundproofing + carpet was laid.

Sealing the floorboards

Although the Sound Service ‘Gold Carpet System’ information doesn’t mention this, elsewhere on the site they do recommend sealing your floorboards before adding sound proofing on top of it.

I bought 25 tubes of their 380ml acoustic sealant to this (you get a discount if you get 25). The tubes are just under 26cm long so you’ll need a sealant gun big enough to take these cartridges. You can buy a correctly sized sealant gun from them if you want.

Accoustic sealant is very similar to the white bathroom sealant that you see everywhere, except that it remains flexible for longer which makes it good for floorboards which have a bit of movement.

I found that each tube would fill the the gaps between floorboards in an area between 1x1m and 1×1.5m. It depends how large the gaps are, and how much you use. I went through the room doing a square at a time and then using a damp cloth to smooth the sealant down.

quietfloor plus install 4

As you can see my application of the sealant was anything but neat but no one will see it later so don’t worry about small ridges or smears. After the sealant had dried I taped over all the joints with duct tape.

As well as sealing the floorboard gaps I also sealed around the edge of each room.

Laying the SBM5

The next thing to go down is the SBM5 mat. It is very thin – only 2mm, but it is very heavy. It is fortunately very easy to shape. At first I tried using a paper template around the doorways and then cut it with scisors, but then I realised that I didn’t really need to do this. I could just use a Stanley knife to trim it in place around the doorways.

quietfloor plus install 5

I laid the SBM5 down from wall to wall, and taped the edges together with more duct tape.

Installing the perimeter strips

Because the QuietFloor Plus is 15mm high you need to put wooden perimeter strips around the edge of the room (on top of the SBM5) so that the carpet grippers will be at the correct height.

With my first order I got 40 perimeter strips and I got the remainder in the second order.

They are made of a variety of different woods. Some of the light coloured ones are made of very soft wood which is very easy to screw down. The darker coloured woods are harder and are more difficult to work with.

They are all 1m long but there is some noticeable difference (1-2mm) in the widths of these strips. Some of the strips are perfectly straight, but others are quite curved. There is enough flexibility in the perimeter strips to be able to screw the curvy ones down straight.

I’d recommend drilling pilot holes in all the strips before laying them so that they can be easily screwed down. I chose to drill holes roughly every 20 cm.

quietfloor plus install 6

I then used a mix of 0.75 and 1 inch screws to secure the perimeter strips to the floor.

You can cut them with a hacksaw easily and a good tip is to use the harder wood stips whole and only cut the softer wood strips.

I sealed any gaps around the edge of the room with acoustic sealant.

Laying the QuietFloor Plus mats

The QuietFloor Plus mats consist of two layers of a rubber material (which in fact looks like it might be the same material as the SBM5 mat, with a layer of foam in between. On both sides of the rubber is some kind of coating. The raw SBM5 does smell very ‘rubbery’. The QuietFloor Plus mats don’t smell which is probably because of this extra thin coating.

Sandwiched in-between the two rubber layers is recycled foam. The colour of the foam seems to depend on what is being recycled. With my first order it was a yellow colour, and with the second it was a blue colour. It doesn’t matter though as you will never see this layer after it is installed!

Sound Service have a YouTube video where they show someone effortlessly laying the QuietFloor Plus panels in a perfectly square room. For me the installation of these mats was really hard work due to the amount of cutting required. My rooms aren’t perfectly square. They have doorways with wood trims, angled bay windows and support pillars on the edges.

My corridor was particularly difficult to do as there are 4 doorways on it which required a lot of QuietFloor Plus cutting.

I cut them using a Stanley knife. You can easily mark the cutting positions on the panels with a pencil. You’ll need to change your blades frequently if you want neat cuts. If the blades get a bit blunt then it catches on the foam in the middle of the QuietFloor Plus and drags. I swapped blades after cutting every 2-3 panels.

quietfloor plus install 8

Sometimes you end up with slight gaps between the panels – it is impossible to cut them all perfectly. You can fill the gaps with any spare bits of foam, or acoustic sealant.

I didn’t stick any of the QuietFloor Plus panels to the floor using their spray adhesive but in most cases I did put a bead of acoustic sealant around the edges of the panels before butting them together to make sure the seals were air tight.

Finishing off the QuietFloor Plus install

To finish off the floor I sealed any remaining gaps around the panels with acoustic sealant, and then taped over the joins with duct tape. And I sealed any remaining gaps between the edging strips and the QuietFloor Plus panels with more acoustic sealant.

Because of the extra 17mm of height in the room I had to use a door trimming saw to get the bottoms of the doors to the correct height for the carpet. The install may affect electrical and telephone sockets which are positioned really close to the door.

And if you are only installing it in certain rooms you’ll have to think about how to manage the change in height of the flooring from the rooms that have it to the ones that don’t. You may well need to refit any door edgings or buy new ones.

quietfloor plus install 9

The room was then ready for the carpet. You can see a before and after shot above.

The QuietFloor does make a very comfortable feeling underlay after the carpet has been laid. It will certainly reduce the noise from your footsteps a lot for your downstairs neighbours. An extra advantage is that the mats will smooth out small bumps or imperfections in the existing flooring.

It doesn’t stop all airbourne sound from the floor below, but it does reduce it a bit. Very quiet sounds disappear; other sounds are reduced in volume. It isn’t going to make much difference to louder sounds or loud bass noise. It is of course only going to reduce airbourne noise. Any noise which is flanking around via the structure of the building will still be heard.

However this is probably the best you are probably going to be able to do in terms of sound proofing without taking up all your floorboards, or building a completely isolated ‘room within a room’.

In total I think I used 43 QuietFloor Plus mats, 16 SBM5 panels, 45-50 edging strips, 27 tubes of acoustic sealant, many rolls of duct tape and a few hundred screws.

See the Sound Service website for more details of their ‘Gold Carpet System’ including prices and their installation guides.

Fixing squeaking floorboards

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Floorboard squeaks and creaks can be very annoying but there are a few ways you can try to fix them.

Screwing floorboards down

If individual floorboards are squeaking one potential solution is to screw them down to the joists. You’ll need to locate where the joists are. This is usually very easy as you can see the existing nails/screws that are holding the floorboards to the joists.

When screwing into floorboards you need to be very careful to avoid any water/gas/electricity supply cables/pipes. You can use a pipe detector to help you locate them.

If you put screws very close to the existing nails there is less chance of hitting anything important.

I used a mix of 1.5 inch and 2 inch wood screws. They need to be long enough to go through the floorboard and into the joist.

After locating which floorboard was squeaking I drilled a pilot hole. I used a drill bit with an attachment that drills the countersink at the same time. I set the height of the countersink so that the drill bit would just drill through the floorboard, and not into the joist.

fixing squeaking floorboards 1

Then I could pop the screw into the hole and use another drill to drive it into the joist. It can be very useful to have two drills, one for drilling holes, and one for screwing down the screws. This can save a lot of bit swapping.

fixing squeaking floorboards 6

I found this method to be effective where an individual floorboard was squeaking. I didn’t find it helped in the case where a joist was squeaking.

Expanding foam filler

Where an individual floorboard was squeaking the noise was limited to that floorboard. In some cases the squeak was activated across the joist along a series of floorboards. For these squeaks screwing down the floorboards didn’t seem to remove the squeak as it didn’t prevent the joist from moving.

I tried a different technique. I got some large expanding foam filler canisters. Either 750ml or 825ml. These cost from £8-£11 each.

fixing squeaking floorboards 4

I then drilled a hole next to the creaking joist big enough to fit the expanding foam nozzle into. This hole does not go into the joist, it goes into the cavity next to the joist. As this is drilling into the floor cavity you have to be especially careful not to hit any pipes or wires. Make sure you use a pipe detector, and don’t drill any further than the depth of the floorboard. You can see a typical hole that I drilled in the photo above.

I sprayed in a bit of water (the instruction on the expanding foam say this is necessary for the foam to cure).

fixing squeaking floorboards 2

Then after shaking the can I sprayed the full contents of it into the cavity. Then I left the foam to harden for a few hours. This technique has successfully removed the squeaks from my floorboard joists.

fixing squeaking floorboards 3

It may be a good idea to wait a few weeks before putting down any flooring in case you find any other areas that need treating.

I’m guessing this technique works by immobilising the joist and the surrounding floorboards. If the foam stops the floorboard/joist from moving then there is no sound.

The space under my floorboards is very small – it is only about 4 inches. This technique may well not work if the space under yours is much larger.

I’m also not sure how long term this solution is. It has now kept the squeaks away for about one month. It is possible that over time the foam will compress and the floorboards will start moving again. I’ll update this post some time in the future with more results.

Removing carpet grippers from floor boards

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

If you are completely re-doing the flooring of a room (to go from carpet to wood flooring, or to lay sound proofing for example) you might need to remove the old carpet grippers. Here is how I removed the carpet grippers in one room. I used:

  1. A chisel with a fine sharp end that could get under the carpet gripper
  2. Another item to use as a fulcrum under the first chisel. I used a smaller chisel but I could have used anything of similar size and solid such as a screwdriver or piece of wood or metal.
  3. Safety glasses. A lot of DIY guides say to use safety glasses but of course you never do. In this case you really should – especially when removing smaller strips of carpet gripper. They are covered in sharp nails, and they can fly off the floor when levered up. I’ve had some that have shot up well above the height of my face when they suddenly pop out of the floor.

removing carpet grippers 3

The method I used was to start at one end of a carpet gripper machine and push the sharp end of the chisel under the first nail. The using the other chisel as a fulcrum I slowly levered the nail out.

removing carpet grippers 1

If the gripper is really tight on the floor board you might need to hammer the chisel gently to get it below the gripper, but I never needed to do this. In all cases I was able to push the end of the chisel under the gripper a little by hand, and then work the nail out.

Then I moved onto the next nail. I found that on a strip of carpet gripper the first nail might take about 5 seconds to get out, but then the next ones might take 2-3 seconds. I was able to remove the grippers pretty quickly, and intact using this method.

removing carpet grippers 2

It is even possible to reuse the carpet grippers after they have been removed using this method, but because the nails are now pushed down, and slightly curved after being removed they are a bit arkward to hammer back down. New carpet grippers are really cheap so it is probably less hassle to buy new ones than to attempt to reuse them.

If you do want to reuse them then I’ve found it is easier to remove the fixing nails and then use new nails/screws to secure them. To remove the nails I used some combination pliers to push the nail up a bit, and then some diagonal pliers to twist and pull the nail out. I can get each nail out in about 10-15 seconds doing this. Wearing thick gloves on the hand holding the carpet gripper will stop you cutting yourself.