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Why do I need underlay?

If you are in the market for new flooring, you possibly have a rough idea of your budget; however, don’t make the same mistake as many homeowners and forget to factor in the cost of a new underlay! While your existing underlay might look OK, the chances are that it will need replacing if it has been in place for a few years or longer, or if you are switching from one type of flooring to a completely different type.

What does underlay do?

Underlay offers a range of benefits, some more obvious than others. Here are just some of the things underlay does:

It adds comfort

Underlay provides you with a more comfortable, cushioned floor, which is particularly noticeable when it is installed under carpet or vinyl. It is a great benefit in family homes, especially if you have little ones who tend to spend a lot of time playing on the floor or falling over as they learn to walk. You can choose from underlays of different thicknesses, with a cushioned underlay making even thinner carpets feel more luxurious underfoot. Not only does underlay protect you and your family from the hard floor below but also it protects the floor from wear and tear, acting as a shock absorber.

It muffles sound

Underlay helps to limit the amount of noise that travels between floors and from room to room. This makes it particularly useful in upstairs rooms, such as bedrooms. Whatever type of flooring you have, underlay can help reduce the sound of echoing footsteps or of items being dropped. You can also purchase special noise reducing underlays that are specially designed for properties in which noise might be a problem, such as flats or workplaces.

It can help to reduce your energy bills

This is probably not the first thing you think of when you start looking at underlay for your home; however, it is an important benefit that is often overlooked. It goes without saying that a thick carpet helps to keep your home warmer than draughty old floorboards, so think how much energy and warmth you could conserve with a thick, cushioned underlay. If your home tends to be cold during autumn and winter and you struggle to heat it, consider whether a better underlay would help. Not only would this make your home more comfortable but also you would use less energy heating your home, saving you money in the long run.

Posted on by Paul Smith | Posted in Flooring

How to lay vinyl sheet flooring

Whether you opt for sheet or tiles, vinyl flooring is one of the most versatile and durable types of flooring on the market. Available in a seemingly limitless variety of finishes, styles and colours, it is suitable for use in just about any room of the home and is far more affordable than many other flooring options. If you are thinking of installing vinyl flooring in your home and fancy laying it yourself, this article will give you an overview of the process from start to finish.

Where to start

First, you will need to acclimatise your vinyl by leaving it in the room in which you will be laying it for 48 hours. This brings it up to the temperature of your home. If it is very cold, switch the heating on to stop the vinyl becoming brittle. When you are ready to start laying your floor, unroll your sheet of vinyl, with the longest edge running parallel to the longest wall.

You will now need to trace the profile of your room’s skirting onto the vinyl to ensure a perfect fit. Even if your skirting looks straight, it might not be. Place the vinyl approximately 25mm from the skirting board. Take a small piece of wood and hammer in a nail approximately 30mm from the end, ensuring you hammer it far enough in so that the point of the nail is sticking slightly out of the other side. This will be used as your scribing gauge. Gently slide it along the length of the wall, with the nail lightly marking the skirting outline onto the vinyl. Cut the vinyl along this line using a suitable knife or pair of scissors and push the vinyl up against the skirting.


To ensure a neat finish in corners, and to help the vinyl to lie completely flat, you will need to cut out a small triangular notch in every corner. You can do this by pressing the vinyl into the corner with a chisel to leave a sharp crease in the vinyl. Carefully cut along the crease with a knife and a metal guide. If you are dealing with external corners, cut from the vinyl edge to the floor and remove the excess, leaving between 50mm and 100mm of vinyl turned up against the skirting. Using a metal guide pressed up against each crease, cut the vinyl with a knife held at an angle to ensure the neatest finish.

Finishing off

When the vinyl is all laid, use a recommended adhesive or sticking tape along the edges to hold it down.

Posted on by Paul Smith | Posted in Vinyl Flooring

Choosing the best flooring for your conservatory

Choosing the best flooring for your conservatory

If you are wondering which flooring to install in a new or existing conservatory, you are probably weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of the various options. While the best choice will depend on a number of factors, such as the size and aspect of your conservatory, your budget, the climate where you live and how you use your conservatory, there are a few things you should know about the available flooring types.


Hardwood is one of the more expensive options and it is vital that you choose a product that can cope with the fluctuating temperatures of a conservatory. The main advantage of wood is that it is extremely attractive and can add value to your home when the time comes to sell; however, engineered wood tends to be a more practical choice.


Laminate flooring is a popular option for conservatories, as it is relatively affordable yet creates a realistic wood-like finish. As it is available in so many finishes, it should be easy to find a shade and design that complements your conservatory. It is also easy to maintain, durable, and can be finished with a rug if you want to add more interest and warmth.

Stone or ceramic

While this looks very attractive, it will be cold in cooler weather and might not be the best option if you use your conservatory all year round. Adding a large, soft rug might be necessary to soften the chill from stone or ceramic in colder weather. It is great in warmer climates, however, or if you tend to only use your conservatory during the summer.


Affordable and available in a seemingly limitless variety of styles, colours and finishes, this is a low-maintenance option. While modern vinyl flooring is of high quality and stands up to heavy wear and tear, you should be aware that constant exposure to strong sunlight – such as in a south-facing conservatory – might fade some vinyl’s over time. On the plus side, it is hygienic, warmer than tiles, and softer underfoot than some options.


Carpet is not a particularly popular choice for conservatories these days, but it is a great option if you want to use your conservatory in cooler weather. It provides a more luxurious finish than hard floor coverings; however, it is not suitable for conservatories with a lot of foot traffic – both human and animal. Carpet flooring in a conservatory might require more cleaning than carpets in other rooms of the house, so consider the upkeep before opting for this type of flooring.

Posted on by Paul Smith | Posted in Flooring

Top tips for maintaining vinyl flooring

Versatile, durable and easy to maintain, vinyl flooring is enjoying something of a resurgence in British homes. It is quick and simple to clean your vinyl floor and these straightforward tips will help you to keep your flooring looking brand new for as long as possible.

Protect flooring with a doormat

Ensure you have a tough, rugged doormat at each entrance to your home to trap any sharp pieces of gravel or debris that might get trodden in from outside. Sharp stones can easily scratch even the toughest flooring, while dirty shoes and boots can quickly dull your pristine vinyl. Vacuum doormats regularly and roughly shake them out to loosen any trapped gravel or stones. You might even want to remove your shoes whenever you are in the home and wear slippers or socks instead. This is a great way to protect all the floors in your property and minimise the amount of cleaning needed.

Don’t let dirt build up

Vinyl is more resilient than many other popular types of flooring; however, the longer you leave it between cleaning, the harder it will be to get a beautiful finish. Once dirt becomes ground into your flooring, you will find it takes far longer to clean. Sweep your floor regularly – every day if necessary – and mop it every few days or more frequently if it is in a busy room of the home with constant foot traffic!

Use felt pads on furniture legs

These are cheap and readily available in a range of sizes, or you can cut them to size yourself if you find larger pads too unsightly for delicate items of furniture. These handy pads prevent furniture scraping and scratching your vinyl floor. They can be removed from your furniture if you change your flooring or move your furniture to another room.

Don’t use too much water

While vinyl is waterproof – making it perfect for all rooms in the home, including kitchens and bathrooms – try not to get too carried away when cleaning your floor. While water will not penetrate your flooring, it can easily spill over the edges of your floor, causing problems under skirting boards or in areas in which two rolls or tiles of vinyl have been joined. It is easy to forget that vinyl flooring does not mean that your entire room is completely waterproof!

Posted on by Paul Smith | Posted in Vinyl Flooring

Laminate floor cleaning tips

Laminate flooring is generally very easy to maintain and clean; however, if you want to keep it looking brand new for as long as possible, here are a few tips.

Don’t use too much water

Even laminates designed for high-moisture rooms – such as bathrooms or kitchens – should not generally be left wet for too long. If you are using water to clean your floor, use as little as possible and dry up any residue as quickly as possible. Damp mops and cloths are always better than dripping wet ones.

Invest in a microfiber mop

These are readily available and are a godsend if you need to quickly clean your floor of dust and debris. A microfiber mop can be used dry and will attract any dust and other small particles. If you want to use a more traditional method, or your floor needs a more thorough clean, simply dampen your mop, wring it out, and mop as usual. Microfiber mops are very gentle and won’t scratch or otherwise damage your floor. The fact they can be used wet or dry makes them very versatile and a cleaning cupboard staple for many homes.

Avoid using traditional mops that hold a large volume of water – too much water is never good for your laminate flooring and can cause it to warp.

Use the correct vacuum attachment

While it is fine to use a vacuum cleaner on your laminate, you should only use recommended attachments. Other fittings might scratch or damage your floor, or at the very least fail to properly clean your floor. Many vacuum cleaners now come with a selection of attachments to allow them to be used on both carpets and laminates or wooden flooring, so check what is included when you are hunting for a new model.

Only use recommended cleaning products

It can be tempting to use whatever you happen to have in your cleaning cupboard, especially when you are confronted with an unsightly stain or spill and you are worried about cleaning it up as quickly as possible; however, many generic cleaning products are not suitable for use on laminate flooring and can permanently damage or discolour your floor. Ensure you always have a cleaning product specially formulated for your specific type of flooring to hand. This will allow you to tackle any spills or splashes as soon as they occur and will prevent damage to your flooring.

Posted on by Paul Smith | Posted in Laminate Flooring

The Perfect Flooring for Your Office

If the time has come to replace your office flooring, you might be wondering whether to stick with your existing type of floor covering – be that carpet, laminate or vinyl – or to switch to something new. Here is a quick overview of the most popular types of flooring for commercial offices and the pros and cons of each.


Carpet is a popular choice in many offices, absorbing noise and providing a comfortable surface upon which to walk. It also copes well with constantly-moving furniture, such as wheeled office chairs. Carpet tiles are generally a more practical option than a roll of carpet, as they are easy to replace if one is damaged or stained. Carpet is not always suitable in offices with very heavy foot traffic, as even heavy duty carpets can only withstand so much. Carpet is not generally recommended in offices that receive a large number of visitors on a daily basis due to the risk of staining and outside dirt being trodden in. Carpet is more difficult to thoroughly clean than other surfaces.

Laminate/wood Flooring

Wood is a classic and stylish choice, but office furniture can easily scratch softer woods. Tough laminates specifically designed for commercial use are a good compromise, as they can withstand wear and tear and occasional spills. They provide the pleasing look of wood without the high cost, but might make busy offices too noisy.

If you have an office that does not receive many visitors, does not experience heavy foot traffic and is not subjected to a great deal of wear and tear during the average working day, wood can be a timeless and extremely stylish choice.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl is a great choice for commercial premises, as it is tough, durable, versatile, and comes in a huge range of finishes. Vinyl can provide a cushioned surface, helping to absorb noise and feeling more comfortable to walk on than harder floors. It is easy to maintain and stands up well to spillages. It is perfect in commercial environments in which hygiene is a priority, as it can be cleaned with a variety of products or accessories as frequently as required; in addition, it won’t trap dirt or debris. It is also great for standing up to scratches and dents, but might not be suitable for high-end or prestigious businesses where a more classic appearance is desired.

Posted on by Paul Smith | Posted in Commercial Flooring

Carpets for beginners

Many homes in the UK have long replaced their carpets with wooden floors or laminates; however, the luxurious deep pile of a high-quality carpet can add a touch of much-needed comfort and warmth, especially in bedrooms and living rooms, or indeed in any space in which you want to relax. Many modern homeowners are choosing to floor their homes with a combination of flooring types to ensure the perfect finish in every room. While laminates or hardwood floors are great in dining rooms and hallways, there is nothing quite like the feeling of sinking your bare feet into a soft, cosy carpet when you step out of bed.

If you are thinking of reintroducing carpet into your home but do not know where to start, here is a quick overview of some of the most popular types you will find on the market today.

Saxony carpets

These are very popular, with a pleasing and elegant appearance that offers a stylish finish. They are perfect in bedrooms or living rooms, as they add a touch of luxury to any space and are soft, warm and comfortable underfoot.

Berber carpets

These are tough and durable carpets, ideal for rooms with a lot of foot traffic or where you do not want anything too soft and decadent. They are hardwearing and can look great in modern homes, as they are generally very minimalist in appearance and go very well with rustic, simple decor in neutral tones.

Shag-pile carpets

While these are often associated with the 1970s and 1980s, they are making something of a comeback due to their retro charm and fun appearance and feel. They are the ultimate in luxury and are ideal in decadent bedrooms where you want everything to be soft, warm and comfortable.

Twist carpets

These are produced using twisted yarns that create an interesting texture. They are often hardwearing, making them ideal for family homes. The twisted fibres and textured appearance gives these carpets a pleasing finish that can look very timeless and classic.

Before you buy any new carpet for your home, it is important you check that it is suitable for the room it is intended for. Deep pile carpets are not generally recommended for very busy rooms of the home, as constant foot traffic can cause visible wear and tear more quickly. Looped pile carpets are often unsuitable for homes with pets, as sharp claws can easily get caught; in addition, your furry friends might be tempted to scratch at your new carpet, quickly causing damage.

Posted on by Paul Smith | Posted in Carpets

How to keep your laminates looking good as new

Laminate flooring is extremely popular with UK homeowners for a number of reasons. Not only do they provide the look and feel of solid wood without the expense or tricky installation process but also they are generally easier to maintain and keep clean; however, this is not to say that they don’t require special care to keep them looking as clean and polished as the day you bought them. While laminates require a lot less upkeep than many other types of flooring, there are a few simple ways in which you can ensure they last as long as possible.

Use doormats at entrances

It is all too easy to walk tiny pieces of sharp gravel, dirt and stones into the home without noticing until unsightly scratches appear across your new floor. The simple act of placing a doormat at each entrance to your home – and encouraging members of your household and visitors to use them – will minimise the amount of debris that gets traipsed over your floor.

Use a dry mop

There are many mops on the market manufactured from special materials designed to attract dust and small particles. These are a great choice for laminate floor owners, ensuring minimal dust is left behind. While you can use a regular broom on your floor, it is likely to leave behind a lot of dust and potentially cause problems for anyone who suffers from allergies.

Buff your floor for an immaculate finish

While most of us don’t have time to buff our floors every time we vacuum or mop, you will be rewarded with a shiny, flawless floor if you can manage to fit this into your schedule from time to time. After mopping or wiping your floor and ensuring it is spotlessly clean, take a soft cloth – such as a microfibre one – and buff it gently all over. The result will be a pleasing shine that makes your floor look as though it has just been laid.

Go easy on the water

Laminates don’t like too much moisture and even those specially designed to withstand the humid conditions of a bathroom or kitchen should not be left immersed under pools of water for too long. If you are using water to clean your floor, wring out the cloth or mop thoroughly beforehand and ensure water does not pool on the floor. If you have laminate flooring in a bathroom and the floor is very wet after the shower or bath has been used, always soak up the water with a soft towel or cloth.

Posted on by Paul Smith | Posted in Laminate Flooring

Caring for your Axminster carpet

Axminster is one of the UK’s most recognised and respected names in carpets, with many homeowners opting for an Axminster when they want a high-quality carpet that will stand the test of time. If you want to keep your Axminster looking as good as new for longer, here are a few tips to help you.

Treat your carpet with respect

Take your shoes off when entering the room and encourage the other members of your household and any guests to do the same. While the occasional wearing of shoes will not ruin your carpet, repeated traipsing in heavy, dirty shoes will. Certain types of footwear – such as those with deep grips – can damage your carpet’s pile and leave it looking less than pristine.

It is also important to vacuum your carpet regularly, which helps to stop the pile looking flat and lifeless. Vacuuming against the direction of the pile will help to lift it and give it an instant boost. Regularly vacuuming also helps to remove any fibres your carpet sheds, keeping it looking clean and attractive.

Clean up spills instantly

In an ideal world, there would never be any spills on your beautiful Axminster; however, accidents are always going to happen. If anything is spilled onto your carpet, clean it immediately to help prevent staining. If it is a liquid spill, start by gently soaking up as much liquid as possible using a clean cloth. Never rub the carpet with a cloth, sponge or anything else, as you will risk ruining the pile and leaving your carpet with an unattractive flat or frayed patch. If a cleaning product is required, always read the label carefully and ensure it is specially designed for your carpet type.

If you are dealing with a food spill, carefully scrape up any food before tackling the stain in the same way you would a liquid spill. Always work from the outside of the stain in when dealing with any spill. This helps to minimise the area affected and will prevent the stain spreading.

Move furniture occasionally

Heavy furniture can cause unattractive dents in your carpet that can be very difficult to shift. To avoid this, move your furniture from time to time. You do not need to completely rearrange your room; instead, moving heavy items just a couple of inches will ensure the load is spread over different sections of carpet.

Posted on by Paul Smith | Posted in Carpets

Accurately measuring a room for carpet

If the time has come to replace your flooring and you are currently browsing the multitude of carpets available online, having accurate measurements to hand will make it far easier to estimate how much you will need to spend. While you can get a decent idea of costs by using rough measurements, you will need to know the exact dimensions of your space when the time comes to place an order. You don’t want to spend more than you need to by ordering too much carpet; even worse, you don’t want to fail to order enough to cover your whole floor.

There is no standard method for measuring up a room for a carpet; however, there are a few simple tips to help make sure you end up with the correct measurements.

Regular-shaped rooms – those that are perfect squares or rectangles and don’t have any alcoves, bays or unusual architectural features that affect the floor area – are the easiest the measure up, as you simply measure the room’s width and length and multiply them to get the floor area. Many rooms are not so easy to measure, however, and require slightly more effort. Depending on the exact shape and size of the room, it may be easier to measure your floor in sections. If you have a very large room with a number of alcoves, for example, measuring each section of floor separately and then adding all the measurements together will ensure you get an accurate result.

As most carpets are supplied by manufacturers in standard widths, such as 12 feet or 13 feet, you might need more than one section of carpet if you have a large room. This can become very complicated if you are ordering a patterned carpet; in this case, it is usually best to leave the measuring and fitting to a professional carpet fitter, especially if the carpet has a fairly infrequent pattern repeat. You will almost certainly need to order more carpet if you choose a patterned variety over a plain one, so be sure to factor this in when setting your budget. There is nothing worse than spending a small fortune on your dream carpet and then realising that due to the pattern requirement, you did not order enough to ensure a neat finish.

Finally, remember to keep your measurements somewhere safe for next time you need to replace your flooring! Keep a record of the exact dimensions and also how much carpet you used.

Posted on by Paul Smith | Posted in Carpets

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