I was quite looking forward to getting the tiling done – in just a few days we would go from a shell of a room to something which is almost finished. We had a few quotes for doing the work (3 bathrooms, cloakroom walls and utility room floor) which all came in at roughly the same cost so we chose a company that my parents had used recently and whose work they were happy with.
The tiles were delivered a week or two before they were to be fitted – all large format porcelain tiles with the exception of the master en-suite which are very large format (1200mm x 600mm) and pretty heavy. This is where it started to go downhill a little.
A few days before starting, the tiling company boss and his son popped down to check everything was ready for their guy to start work, which it pretty much was. Then they saw the big tiles. “No way”, “Impossible”, “It’s not happening” were just a few of their comments. It was all a bit dramatic and laughable really. Apparently they didn’t want to stick them onto the skimmed plasterboard walls as, they said, with their weight they’d fall off and bring all the plaster with them!
Now, I’m aware that skimmed plasterboard doesn’t have the same load-bearing capacity as tile backer-board but it should still be fine – a test would have proven it one way or the other. Even so, they were refusing point blank to do the work. “Impossible” is a term used by the hard-of-thinking, which this chap clearly was. I told them I was quite prepared to rip the plasterboard down and replace it with whatever was needed to get the job done (he hadn’t thought of that) and the two of them huffed and puffed, trying to put on some air of arrogance and superiority, which fell short somewhat. It might not have helped that I pointed out that I’d got this far building a whole house, so sticking a few tiles on a wall wasn’t exactly the most challenging thing I’d had to do that week. I laughed. They left.
The actual guy that came to do the work was as different from the previous jokers as it was possible to be. Aside from being a decent bloke and doing a great job, the tiles didn’t faze him in the slightest. Yes they are heavy and yes they are very awkward to fit but there was nothing that stopped him fitting them. All done and they look great!
I’ve just realised I haven’t taken any photos of the finished rooms so I’ll update this entry in a few days’ time.
Electric Underfloor Heating
Heating of the house is provided by a wet underfloor heating system (UFH) on the ground floor. Everyone we spoke with that had built a house to the same standards had commented that this was more than enough and in reality would hardly be used, even in the depths of winter.
But there was something nagging at me. We have some very high ceilings (4m+) and heat rises. My fear was that the upstairs would never quite get warm enough on the cold days and we’d have nothing to generate more heat. Doing something during the build phase would be much easier and cheaper than any retro-fit so I looked at the options. I’m still on the page that the ground floor UFH will be sufficient, but towel radiators and electric UFH in each of the bathrooms isn’t that expensive and would provide a heat boost if needed.
The electric UFH is supplied as a roll that can be cut to suit the room, with the tiles applied directly on top. A simple temperature probe and thermostat finishes the installation off. We’ve gone with Heatmiser Neo ‘stats throughout the house – not too expensive, look ok and can be controlled via an app if needed.