Premium quarter sawn oak replaces flood soaked tiles in large family home in Wimbledon village, SW19
Beautiful oak floor planned for new kitchen extension
We were very happy to be contacted again by a previous customer with a request to continue their beautiful quarter sawn oak floor in their new open plan kitchen extension. They already had large Italian tiles laid but the customer’s wife was in love with the wooden floors in the rest of the house and they wanted to continue the craftsmanship throughout their home.
Refurbishment brings a large family home in Wimbledon up to date.
Large Italian tiles in kitchen extension
Unexpected moisture rings alarm bells
We know from experience how difficult it can be to remove tiles from a large area so we were prepared to painstakingly remove each tile. The extra large tiles (60 x 120cm) were fitted under the kitchen cabinets made from easy to chip composite panels so we needed to chisel the tiles out very gently. As soon as we started lifting the tiles we noticed the tiles in the kitchen were damaged and cracked. We also spotted some wet areas under the tiles which rung serious alarm bells.
Extra large tiles fitted under the kitchen cabinets
Tiles in the kitchen were damaged and cracked
Investigating the source of the problem
The customer called a building surveyor and a plumber to examine if it was a leak in the under floor heating system (UFH). But they found that the UFH (wet system with pipes) was working well with no loss of pressure. At that stage the conclusion was that it must be the cleaner using a very damp mop. So we carried on removing tiles but found more and more water and tiles were coming off in one piece. It became clear that we needed to re-work the plan due to the high moisture level and investigate the source.
Wet patches under the tiles
Moist tiles came off in one piece
The secret flood
The owner got in touch with the builder who did the extension two years ago, commissioned by the developer, and the builder remembered there was a flood from a faulty pipe when the screed was poured. He remembered it happened during the weekend when no one was in and on Monday morning he found a huge puddle. The builder confirmed they waited for the screed to dry and it was dry when they installed the tiles, but evidently it was only touch dry, not dry in its core. The excess moisture couldn’t dry properly as due to the extra large tiles all the moisture was sealed in.
Watching the floor dry
We had to wait for the screed to dry before we could start our work. In order to give the customer a smooth surface and basic floor in the kitchen, we grounded off lumps of adhesive and used a latex based self levelling compound (SLC). This specialist SLC is free of moisture in itself and can be laid over wet screed because it is a mineral and is permeable. It is the best in the range of specialist SLC, the Bentley of SLC, and it was dry in a couple of hours.
Pouring the specialist self levelling compound with properties that support the drying process.
We placed relative humidity (RH) meters on the floor and kept monitoring the readings. The readings were so high at the start and the floor was so wet that the display switched off which had never happened before. It was happily a warm Spring outside, about 30°C, and we asked the customer to put his UFH onto maximum. So although it was rather uncomfortably hot in the house it helped to speed up the drying process but it still took four months. (Another customer sadly had a similar problem in the Autumn and it took almost a year to dry as there was no UFH to help it out.) After months of waiting we reached a satisfactory level of 60% RH and we could go back to do the actual floor installation.This project reminds us how a simple job can turn into a major one full of risks if you don’t have the skills or experience to manage complications successfully.
A very high relative humidity reading
A satisfactory level of relative humidity after months of drying.
Before we started the floor installation, for extra protection we applied liquid damp proofing membrane to make sure the surface was completely sealed as a backup. A traditional Romanian saying is that If you get burnt with the soup you will also blow into the yoghurt!
Characterful quarter sawn oak
Quarter sawn oak flooring characterised by beautiful flecking and medullary rays
The customer had quarter sawn oak boards in the rest of the house and was keen to continue this throughout the rest of the house. Quarter sawn oak flooring is a really special floor with plenty of character. The sawing method cuts the log into quarters, which is then flipped round so the timber is cut across the grain. This means that the grain is much closer together and straighter than other cuts of oak, resulting in a very strong, stable material. The wood is characterised by beautiful flecking and medullary rays. Sadly the supplier had run out of the product but in order not to compromise the design he decided to purchase a premier grade of the same size oak boards in a large quantity and we hand selected the quarter sawn boards in the most prominent areas to resemble the rest of the house.
We aligned the floor in the kitchen with the floor in the hallway that we previously installed. We had to precisely cut the floor to seamlessly join it with the composite end panels in the kitchen and the bottom frame of bifold doors.
We aligned the floor in the kitchen with the floor in the hallway
We precisely cut the floor to seamlessly join it with the kitchen cabinet.
Another seamless join with the bifold doors
Perfect inside outside living
An elegant change of direction
In the downstairs toilet we opted for change of direction which seemed to be the most elegant option based on the position of the toilet, otherwise we needed to do a strange cut for lengthwise boards. In a small room, small details make a big difference.
The old classic toilet tiles
An elegant change of direction based on position of the toilet
Statement pieces of furniture
Another challenge was our customer’s very expensive furniture including a fabulous but ultra heavy table. Except pianos it was the heaviest item we’ve ever had to move. In the end we had to move it four times but we delivered it safely in one piece back in its original position. We put an extra coat of oil for added protection and sealed the joints for protection against potential spillages especially likely in a kitchen.
The new wood floor helps to showcase the customer's artistic taste
A fabulous but ultra heavy table
A great result for the customer
The customer was grateful for our work and delighted with the finished floor. “If I could score Alin and team higher than 10 then I would! This is the second time we have used Fin Wood and this time Alin and his team were confronted with a complex situation that required patience and attention to detail. Great result, and superb service!”
The customer was delighted with the finished floor
“If I could score Alin and team higher than 10 then I would!”
“A complex situation that required patience and attention to detail”
“Great result, and superb service!”
Location: London SW19