Dec 4, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on A Practical Guide To Flat Roofing Materials

A Practical Guide To Flat Roofing Materials

your practical guide to flat roofingIf you’re reading this article the chances are that you’ve a flat roofing matter on your mind. Your could be planning an extension, property garden project or maybe looking to replace an old flat roof. There’s plenty of choice out there and deciding on the best option for you is a juggling act between cost, durability and flexibility.

After a few ‘flat roof’ related Google searches you’ll discover a multitude of flat roof materials can be found, offering a range of interesting features and coming with a range of costs. Some are DIY-able, others you’d be better employing a flat roofing expert. We say flat roofing expert because general roofers might not have the expert understanding necessary to fit a flat roof correctly. This comes with ability and experience so you want to chose your roofing company carefully. It you would like to take advantage of a flat roof it should be installed adequately, or else you expose yourself to a number of complications.

In this article we hope to make clear some of the main types of flat roof & offer a little help with choosing which sort of flat roof might be best for you.

But to begin with, in case you’re still on the fence between getting a tiled or slated pitched roof and a flat roof allow us to explain why we believe flat roofs are the best.

The Main Benefits of Flat Roofs

The main benefit of a flat roof is its low maintenance and high durability. Once a flat roof is installed you can more or less leave it alone and it’ll hold fast no matter what our mother earth tosses at it (in the UK at least).
Flat roofs are generally cheaper than tiled/slate roofs- taking installation, maintenance and maintenance costs into account, flat roofs are versatile- you could have a roof garden, a veranda, or even easy access to your first floor windows and gutters and they’re quick to install. If you want to talk to the specialists in flat roofing, Churchill Roofing is a well established roofer in Manchester, experts in all aspects of flat roofing and would be pleased to take your call & help you with your flat roofing dilemma.

So, the next question to answer is- which material will be best for your flat roof?

Types of flat roofing

Felt & Asphalt
Also Called: Felt Paper, Asphalt Felt Paper (comparable to tar paper)

Pros: Affordable, is effective within it’s lifespan

Cons: Degrades quicker than other kinds of flat roofs, confined aesthetics, exposure to the sun can lower its lifespan

There are a range of types of felt roofs so lets start with the earliest one we’re going to cover- Mastic asphelt. Asphalt is more commonly known to be used in road and pavement construction but its also a valuable roofing material. This material was used in the early 20th century as it worked well on properties made with dense, bonded material due to their limited movement. Mastic felt isn’t very flexible, movement, specially in winter when it can be brittle, may cause it to crack.

Felt is frequently found on garage and shed roofs, they’re quick to install, are lightweight and the cheapest choice for flat roofing projects.

However, they have a short lifespan of around 10 years and are susceptible to weather damage, becoming soft and pliable in hot weather and brittle in cold temperature. It can still be a good solution for small projects though, especially garden buildings, tool sheds as well as garages.

grp roofing imageGRP roofing

Also know as: fibreglass roofing and glass reinforced plastic.
Pros: Durable, light weight, resistance against corrosion, affordable, suited for smaller roofing projects

Cons: Needs dry weather to install (could be a struggle in the UK!), high-priced, inflexible

GRP, or Glass Reinforced Plastic, is a really popular flat roofing solution for most home jobs in addition to small to medium sized commercial roofing projects.
Fibreglass flat roofing is really strong and durable, it comes with a guaranteed warranty of 20 years but its life expectancy is in excess of 40 years if effectively maintained. GRP roofs are weatherproof and so are at little risk of leaking or establishing frost damage.
Their durability also makes them very good for footfall, which can be practical if you plan to use your flat roof for access to first floor windows and gutters.

Rubber roofing

Also termed as: EPDM, ethylene propylene diene monomer, waterproof felt, single play membrane roofing.
Pros: durable, flexible, cheap to repair, economical, weather resistant

Cons: Easily damaged/vandalised, risk of joint glue contamination, expensive

Rubber roofing is a type of single ply membrane roofing, we know we’ve covered single ply membranes in the next section below, but rubber roofing is specially popular and so we thought we’d give it specific attention. In brief single ply membrane roofing is a single layer of water proof roofing material. They’re lightweight, quickly installed and cost effective roofing systems which are produced to extremely strict manufacturing quality control requirements making them increasingly popular in both domestic and commercial roofing.

Rubber roofs are incredibly durable and long last coming with a 20 year warranty and a life span of over 25 years. EPDM comes in a number of grades and the higher the grade the better quality the materials. It’s glued instantly to the timber roof structure and joints are glued together making this type of roof very waterproof when it’s in good condition. It comes in a small range of colours, grey shades being the most in-demand and so its also the cheapest.

kingspanSingle Ply Membrane

Also Known As: Upside-down roofs, protected membrane roofs
Pros: lightweight, cost effective, flexible, durable, weather proof, mostly simple to install.
Cons: not often recyclable, often calls for very clean installation.

Single ply membrane roofing is slowly but surely becoming a seriously popular roofing solution for homes, gardens and corporations. It’s main benefits come from it’s long-lasting durability, easy installation and cost effectiveness. There are a selection of single ply materials available coming in a range of colours and with a variety of joining or fixing methods making it a sensible selection for most budgets.

Single ply membranes are fantastic for all roofing projects including new builds, refurbishments, flat, pitched or curved roofs, garages, extensions, conservatories and dorma conversions.

To bring the primary pros and cons of each flat roofing material we’ve covered in this post we’ve created a venn diagram. It covers durability, flexibility and cost effectiveness. We hope it helps display how the options pan out.

flat roof diagram

If you want to examine your particular flat roofing needs with a professional and friendly flat roofing specialist contact Churchill Roofing in Manchester.  Consultation and initial estimated cost is a completely free of charge service, accurate estimates are only offered after a full survey has been completed.

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Nov 29, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on Lime Plastering Advice For Contractors

Lime Plastering Advice For Contractors

the guild logoWhether you’re a contractor required to procure in this service or an interior decorator needing to understand the nuts and bolts of the different terms. Here’s my lime plastering tips and advice you must think of before engaging on a lime plastering job. I worked with a couple of specialists over the years on Lime projects, including a good friend of mine Noel Dunn. Noel is a very skilled plasterer in Manchester and a long time member of the Guild of Craftsmen. He kindly lent a hand putting this article together and is happy to field any queries you might have if you have an upcoming project. Or if you need a hand with a project in the North West Noel and his team are great to have on the team!


Considerations When Lime Plastering

Previous drawings – If you want to replicate or restore a period look, it is useful to seek drawings from archives or deeds.

Budget – The above mentioned directly has an effect on this as detailed work will need a higher budget.

Deadline to completion – Look ahead in order that you/your customer can work it proficiently into your timetable.

Challenges to work around? Think about access, previous damage that we may want to know about.

Timing of project – Perhaps you will need to avoid factors such as risk of frost damage (resulting from ice crystals forming within the lime mortar).

Requirements – Decide if you should replace or repair.

Buildings HeritageGrade-listed buildings might have strict rules to abide to. If a building is considered to be of special architectural or historic interest it will be included in a list of such buildings.

Preparing the wall for rendering

lime rendering applicationFor stone and brick any hollow or decayed render should be hacked off and any loose pointing must be raked out and replaced ahead of rendering. Brush the wall to remove loose material. Do not rake out pointing to provide a key. Do not use plastering bead on corners as this gives a modern appearance. Do not use chicken wire or metal lath to form a key as it can cause stress in the render due to differential thermal movements and can lead to large-scale failure, specially when it rusts.

For plastering onto existing wooden laths be sure they are solidly fixed and free from lumps of old plaster. New laths should preferably be riven oak or chestnut. Sawn laths are low quality because they are smoother and weaker than those split over the natural grain of the wood. Laths should be fixed so the distance between them is roughly 8-10mm. This allows the correct amount of space for the plaster to be pushed between the laths and flop over to form a key. Do not apply preservative treatments to either old or new laths as they could add harmful salts into the plasterwork. Metal lath is sometimes employed internally rather than timber laths because it is quicker to fix and less expensive, but it is harder to plaster onto as it’s slippery and the sharp edges may cut into and weaken the plaster key. Plenty of hair in the mix is critical.

For masonry, adequately wet the wall with clean water using a hose-pipe . The more porous the background the more water is going to be required. Let the water to soak in a bit then spray again, and repeat until the surface layers of the wall are extensively damp. Brush the wall to remove loose material. Do not rake out pointing to provide a key.

Do look out for further job tips and advice on lime plaster and lime render coming out on the blog during the next few months.

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Nov 4, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on Check Regular For Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Check Regular For Carbon Monoxide Leaks

THE SILENT KILLEROften called ‘the silent killer’, carbon monoxide poisoning is a household danger which various campaigns have sought to bring to consumer attention – but just why is it important to frequently check for leaks? I sought the answers from  M Bell Plumbing & Heating, a Wallsend Plumber approved by Check a Trade and the Gas Safe Register for the answer:

The hazards

To comprehend why carbon monoxide poisoning is so hazardous, you must first know what it is. Carbon monoxide is a virtually undetectable gas which is odourless, tasteless and colourless. It’s produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels that contain carbon (specifically gas, oil, wood and coal).
Once inhaled, carbon monoxide impairs the transportation of oxygen around the body and long periods of exposure is often fatal. The most significant threat is the fact that it is very difficult to detect – leaving homeowners vulnerable and blind to the risk they might be in.


are your appliances safeThe solution

Carbon monoxide alarms operate in a very similar way to smoke detectors but they are just one way to protect you from the dangerous gas. Regular servicing of your boiler is one other crucial step in the ongoing battle against carbon monoxide poisoning and according to the NHS the most common sources of carbon monoxide leaks are defective or incorrectly installed boilers and gas appliances.

To legally work on gas appliances, individuals have to be Gas Safe registered so always look for this when hiring somebody to service your boiler. The service needs to look at all parts of your home heating – from the boiler to chimneys, flues and appliances – and be performed at least once annually.


When To Undertake a Boiler Service

Prime times to experience boiler issues are when your dependency or usage of it changes – most notably when the seasons change. Boilers are put under a bigger degree of stress throughout the winter season when cold weather prompt us to turn up the thermostat. Having your boiler serviced in advance of this is highly recommended and the period from February to October is normally the ideal time to have your boiler checked if you’d like peace of mind.
To keep an eye on the situation in-between services, carbon monoxide sensors installed throughout your house is a good idea.

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Nov 2, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on Refurbishing Your Home With a New Staircase

Refurbishing Your Home With a New Staircase

Considering a staircase renovation?

Whilst a staircase is a key feature in almost any home, its potential for design impact is frequently overlooked in older properties. With so many brilliant ideas and eye-catching solutions available these days it’s worth considering an update after a renovation or hallway redecoration.

Fees begin at around £200, dependant upon the materials and design, but you can spend as much as £30,000 on a bespoke design in high quality finishes. Providing the staircase is structurally sound, it is usually more cost-effective to makeover the already present steps and balustrading.

Recladding the stairs in timber costs from about £500 with a company such as Complete Joinery Solutions, who specialise in Wooden staircases in Newcastle while new spindles are as low as £3 each. Hiring a business for a total refurbishment service costs from approximately £2,000.

DIY staircases

Complement timber flooring in a classic interior by cladding your older staircase in natural oak. Staircase Kits, such as those supplied by companies Like Chiltern Timber help you transform the steps and risers by lightly sanding the surface, then glueing and screwing 20mm thick wooden strips on top. You can finish and seal the oak to match the floors, walls or furniture in your house.

diy staircases

Adding a light staircase

If your hallway is narrow with few openings, or your staircase is a natural part of an open-plan living space, dark wood steps and spindles will block the flow of light, making the area really feel gloomier than it really should be.

With glass panels designed to let the light shine through, in addition to white oak for a vivid and contemporary feel, this staircase is ideal to replace a heavy, outdated style.

adding a light staircase


Floating staircases

Make a striking impact with a cantilevered staircase, where the treads look as if they’re defying gravity but are in reality completely supported by the wall on one side.

This brand of staircase may be fitted into an older house during a renovation and needs a structurally sound wall to conceal the support construction; alternatively, a steel wall can be built to anchor the treads. Finishes for the steps include timber, stone, Corian or even glass, for an awe-inspiring minimalist look.

open plan living staircases

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Oct 29, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on System Boilers Pros and Cons

System Boilers Pros and Cons

I installed many a boiler in my time refurbishing homes and properties throughout the UK. Not exactly my area of expertise in terms of advice and selection but I worked with an industry leader to offer the best service to my clients. AR Johnson is a gas safe registered plumber in Chorley installing upwards of 1000 boilers annually throughout the North of England. Anthony is one of the most trusted engineers around and the quality of their work is unrivalled but he also happily fields questions from consumers all over the UK who just need a little help and advice when considering a new boiler installation. Every single installation job I took on myself was with the help of Anthony and his team and the article below has been provided by Anthony himself explaining the pros and cons of a system boiler for your home.

So how exactly does a system boiler perform?

A system boiler, (often called a ‘sealed system’) works on the process of stored hot water. However is different slightly as many of the systems associated with a conventional system are self contained within the one housing.

This means that hot water is pumped from the system boiler through the home heating system to the radiators and hot water cylinder, this results in a fast response time and more economical operating costs.

A system boiler is preferred for large homes with multiple bathrooms or en-suites.

Benefits of using a system boiler

System boilers have a variety of benefits these include:

  • Near instant, unrestricted domestic hot water
  • These types of boiler have no tank(s) within your loft area – which is good if you either have no loft area or confined loft space
  • More than one hot tap / shower can readily function at same time


As with all boilers there are some downsides. examples include:


  • Hot water is not instant but is still fairly fast
  • When the water in the storage cylinder runs out you must wait for it to reheat.
  • You’ll have to find space for the cylinder (normally an airing cupboard)

system boiler diagramThe Baxi Megaflo System HE, Baxi EcoBlue System, Baxi Megaflo System Compact GA and Baxi Avanta System Plus are extremely efficient, with a SEDBUK 2005 >90% efficiency. This means lower fuel bills and a decline in your carbon footprint when updating an old, standard efficiency type.

If you’d like to future-proof your home heating system, use free direct sunlight and lower the total amount it costs to heat your water, system boilers are compatible with solar thermal domestic hot water systems, like Baxi Solarflo and the Megaflo eco solar cylinder.



If you are considering a system boiler installation in your property you’ll find the video below from British gas useful:

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Oct 25, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on Flooring Options for Your Home or Business

Flooring Options for Your Home or Business

Solid wood or engineered? Laminate or Vinyl? Tiles or Carpet? If your looking to modernise your home by changing the flooring you have a multitude of options. Within this post you will find a short run down of the pros and cons of the various options available to you. I’ll cover:

  • Engineered Flooring
  • Laminate Flooring
  • Wooden Flooring
  • Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl is still a mainstay of flooring material. Its easy-to-clean surface and range of offered colors and patterns make it a functional, cost-effective and low-maintenance solution. There are various vinyl choices that feature new technology in texturing and durability for a more contemporary and authentic look.


  • Budget friendly
  • Sturdy – offers “give” and cushioning underfoot
  • Easy to maintain
  • Great deal of colors/patterns available including new textures
  • Very good sound absorbing qualities
  • Can be laid without seams depending upon the size and shape of the room


  • Not quite as eco-friendly or made with ecological materials as other choices
  • At risk of cuts and tears (i.e. for example when moving/dragging large objects over it such as refrigerators)
  • Not a renewable surface like wood
  • Not heat resistant and can scorch or burn
  • Seamed/tiled vinyl gives paths for spilled liquids to get to the backing and subflooring
  • At the mercy of permanent dents from table and furniture legs and even pointed-heeled boots and shoes
  • Edges and seams might be visible and affect the decorative pattern depending on quality of installation

Laminate Flooring

Laminate Flooring copies the appearance of some other floor materials by employing a picture of real wood, stone or tile engrossed in a wear-protective coating. Some laminates are practically indistinguishable from the real thing while costing a lot less too. There are various brands and products available such as Armstrong laminate, Quick-Step, Shaw and Mannington for starters. Care of laminate flooring is fairly easy, armed with a sweeper and a little understanding on how to care for it.


  • Durable – some use advanced coatings manufactured to hold up against high-traffic
  • Cheaper than wood especially for higher end exotic woods
  • Can be applied over existing floors
  • ‘Glueless’ laminate is transportable – they can be taken off and reinstalled someplace else (although some guarantees become void if the floor is taken apart over 3 times)
  • Many style solutions both in wood and stone styles
  • Installation process is simple enough for someone with do-it-yourself competencies


  • Needs full replacement when worn out – no resurfacing possible
  • Seams between planks and edges gift a path for spills/water intrusion which may lead to edge-swell
  • Floating-floor characteristic leads to a hollow sound if no acoustical underlayment is applied

Wood Flooring

wooden floor stair colour chartThe beauty and natural variability of real wood flooring is difficult to beat. There is a whole world of choices available with wooden floors beginning with varieties like maple, oak, hickory, and birch to the exotic woods like Merbau, Jatoba and Teak.

If those possibilities don’t resonate with you what about floor surfaces made from old growth Douglas Fir, antique wide plank heart pine or even extinct American Chestnut? Reclaimed wood flooring gives these options using wood salvaged from sunken logs, old structures and other related sources. There’s a bonus too in that it’s an eco-friendly choice since no new trees are consumed.

You also have a choice on whether to apply solid wood or engineered wood. Solid wood is just what the name suggests – solid throughout. Engineered wood includes a top layer of real wood bonded to various other layers of wood beneath it, a lot like plywood. Solid wood can be bought prefinished or it can be finished on-site using unfinished hardwood stock. Engineered wood is normally bought prefinished. Solid wood and some engineered wood floors are capable of being refinished repeatedly.


  • Durable and long-lasting specially when well-maintained
  • Renewable – could be refinished many times
  • Wide diversity of style choices available from stain color to sort of wood species
  • Provides a warmer feel than stone, tile or concrete
  • Cost effective choice in the long run resulting from it’s renewability
  • Pre-finished wood does not require on-site finishing and its associated inconveniences



  • Liable to scratches and wear from grit and dirt
  • Susceptible to damage from lengthened presence of moisture and liquids (not advised for the bathroom)
  • Can develop squeaks and creaks as time passes on account of loosening between the wood and nails that fasten the planks to the subfloor
  • Susceptible to gaps or “cupping” (curving of the wood surface) with normal humidity changes if poorly installed


Carpeting offers a warmth and gentleness not found in other surfacing options but it’s certainly not for all applications. Carpeting not only comes in a multitude of colors and patterns but in many various textures as well, rendering it a versatile style option. There’s plenty of options too, from well-known manufacturers like Karastan®, Shaw®, Mohawk® and others. There’s even carpets for children. New synthetic fiber technology provides you better choices for stain resistance, greater resiliency and even “green” carpeting options. If natural fibers appeal to your interest, wool carpeting is still the measure that all synthetic carpets aim to imitate, with natural resilience, durability and softness.



  • Comfy material from a tactile and aesthetic point of view
  • Endless variety of styles, colors, patterns and textures from which to choose in addition to a number of different fiber types
  • Quiet – acts as a great sound insulator
  • Softer surface gives greater cushion and can protect against injury from falls (particularly with infants and elderly)
  • Effortless to replace (more so than wood and tile)
  • Hides some irregularities in subflooring that might not be likely with a tile floor (without correction)


  • Less effective as other surfaces for radiant heat systems (as a result of insulating qualities of the carpet and pad) though it is possible with lower-insulating cushions
  • Stains a lot more readily and spills are harder to clean up as opposed to hard surface areas
  • Harbors allergens and dust unless routinely vacuumed and cleaned (dirt and allergens can also be ground into the carpeting after some time making them much harder to draw out)
  • Potential source of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) triggering poorer indoor quality of air
  • Prone to damage from water/moisture that could trigger mold growth

Finding A Local Flooring Contractor

If you know the type of floor you’re interested in but don’t know a good contractor take a look at Stenhouse Flooring, established in 1981 Stenhouse is a mainstay in Newcastle when it comes to all types of flooring, established in 1981 Stenhouse is an accomplished floorlayer working on projects such as the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool and are long standing members of the Guild of Master Craftsmen. Wood flooring Newcastle, carpet, vinyl, commercial fitting. Stenhouse offers a full service and is a good place to start.

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Oct 25, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on Improving Your Property With a Resin Drive

Improving Your Property With a Resin Drive

As a multi skilled contractor I completed many groundwork projects throughout the UK bit and small, from re lays and edging to full excavations and re surfacing. With so many surface options available these days I thought it may be worthwhile explaining the pros and cons of the key options for re surfacing a driveway:

  • Block paving
  • Tarmac Surfacing
  • Resin Surfacing
  • Decorative Concrete

In this article i’ll be looking at Resin Surfacing for driveways covering the pros and cons when compared with other surfaces and how this relatively new surface works.

The following article was written in part by Titan Paving, a Check a Trade approved paving company in Newcastle with over 100 verified references available online. Titan paving still trade to this day and are key surfacing contractors in the North East with a wealth of experience.

Resin Surfacing For Your Property

Resin bound surfaces for driveways are a fairly recent product on the UK market. They’re not used domestically a great deal because they’re pretty expensive and not that well-known. But resin bound surfaces are very flexible, particular in relation to colour, and can be set on the top of an existing surface if it’s in adequate condition.

Typically where you see colour being used on the streets, that’ll be carried out with a resin bound or resin bonded surface. Red bus lanes, green cycle trails and other designs marked out on existing highways are likely to be resin based.

How Resin Based Products Work

The resin acts as a top surface layer to which Gravel, or any other aggregate, may be laid. Being essentially a glue, the aggregate will stick to that layer. There are two main types of resin drive systems, resin bonded and resin bound, and the distinction is in the procedure for applying the aggregate.

In resin bonded systems, the gravel is dispersed onto a pre-applied resin layer before it sets. In resin bound systems, the aggregate and resin are mixed together and then applied to the surface together. In either case, the drive or path will set quite quickly and be able to accept light traffic within an hour or so. Obviously, this also means that the job needs to be planned thoroughly in order that everything proceeds smoothly and the surface can be completed before the resin dries out.

Domestic Usage

The principal rationale why resin based driveways can be more expensive than other drive coverings is that it has to be laid on a solid base like Concrete, Tarmac or block paving. So you have got to lay a driveway and after that lay the resin product over it, which for lots of people is a waste of time. But if you want the looks, which can be very professional and smooth, then that’s what you have to do.

Of course, if you have an unsightly concrete or tarmac drive but it has no splits or other structural problems, then you can lay resin over it. This is where resin bonded or resin bound products really do score. Not only can you cover over the unwanted surface, but you can mix colours, make patterns and other designs. Application is a specialist job but can be carried out by someone who’s a dab hand at DIY, provided that health and safety cautions are heeded, as the fumes from the resins aren’t toxic. You can learn more about resin surfacing here.


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