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Frequently asked questions

I recommend an absolute minimum of 600mm from the edge of the table to a wall, and this is tight. To allow other diners to move away from the table and not disturb anyone else I would recommend a minimum of 1000mm and ideally 1200mm. So the overall free floor-space need to achieve free and easy movement for eight diners is: 4.4 metres by 3.4 metres. The smallest space would be 3.2 metres by 2.8 metres, but this would be very tight and restrict the movement of some diners wishing to leave the table. You should also take into consideration other aspects of the area when making your decision, such as radiator, door and window positions and so on.
All KBSA members have vast experience in fitted kitchens; the materials, the design possibilities, the optimum shape and dimensions according to your personal requirements, the appliance content etc. Most can carry out a physical survey prior to any construction work or architects are instructed to ascertain exactly what the possibilities are. Clearly there will be a variance between our members in their skills and there may be a small charge for the survey, but any KBSA member should be able to give you all the help and advice you need for your project. Use the search facility on this site by typing in your post code; a list of members will appear in order of distance from your home.
I always recommend that you try and achieve 1350mm between the front edges of opposite worktops, especially where there are cupboards and appliances to access. This dimension also allows two people to work safely in the kitchen at the same time. In my opinion, 1200mm is the minimum safe dimension for this situation. The distance between an island and a wall can be less as there are cabinets only on one side. However, if cabinet doors face the wall I try to achieve 1200mm with a minimum of 1000mm, and only if there is a blank panel opposite the wall do I relax this discipline to 800 or 900mm. There are guidelines for the designers and everyone has their own opinion, manufacturers and designers differ in these all the time, but there is no legislation, or legal rules; common sense is the overriding control.
There is a fantastically large choice of material for worktops: laminate, granite, man made quartz, concrete, slate, ceramic tiles, stainless steel, man made mineral-based materials and so on. Solid wood is tactile and aesthetically pleasing; often beautiful, smells wonderful and looks terrific – especially in traditional sets. Unfortunately it does have some downsides. The main one is the risk of drying out and splitting. This is prevented by regular applications of Danish Oil or similar and is especially necessary on some types of wood that are more susceptible to drying out: Beech is a good example and needs an oil application every six to twelve months. Wood is flexible and can be used in many situations, cut into almost any shape without difficulty. Wood will damage easily, it can scratch, burn, dent, split, chip, stain; but all can usually be repaired to a large extent. It is no good for food preparation and a chopping board must be used to protect the worktop; a granite, glass or laminate food preparation board will be required for rolling out pastry and other tasks. Wood is affordable being priced somewhere in-between laminate and granite. Wood prices differ according to the material: Beech is probably the most affordable whilst Oak is amongst the most costly.
The characteristics of these two popular worktop materials are similar in many respects, but there are some aspects that you should be aware of. Granite is a natural material, mined from the earth and fabricated into worktops, gravestones, monuments, sculptures, building materials etc. Because it is a natural material, basically quartz stone, it requires some work to create a finished product: machining, polishing, waxing and sealing. At the end of the process you get an individual worktop that is unique and often beautiful that should last for many years. The price for granite is generally determined by its rarity and not the quality. The higher the price, the rarer the material, but the characteristics remain virtually identical. Because granite has a waxed, polished and sealed surface there is always a possibility that this protective barrier may break down, which may result in staining, but this is rare. Granite is supplied in slabs and the maximum size without a joint varies with fabricator and granite type. However, joints are generally no wider than a thin pencil line and sealed against all eventualities. Granite is heat resistant and stain resistant and waterproof to a high degree. Granite is practical in every sense of the word but can chip and scratch; however, it is extremely hardwearing. It is easy to clean and maintain the original good looks. It can be machined in different shapes with radii and angles. It can be used for splashbacks, window sills, skirting board and architrave; flooring, threshold strips, feature panels, wall tiles and so on. It is ideal for pastry and other food preparation tasks. There is no real solid evidence that natural granite emits radiation to a dangerous level, as has been reported from time to time. Quartz Composite worktops have the same basic characteristics as natural granite but the main differences are: Quartz Composite worktops are manmade granite, therefore consistent in colour, finish and thickness. There are no additional waxing and sealing processes, so there is no surface finish to break down. Price is determined by the complexity of the manufacturing process and this varies from make to make; there is no discernable difference in quality.
The term Foil Wrap, Polyester Wrap and Vinyl Wrap are various terms for the same basic product: thermoformable laminate. This material is provided in large sheets that can be heated and bonded on to a core material, usually MDF, using heat, adhesive and pressure, to create a number of different door styles. During the bonding process, the adhesive applied to the surfaces to be bonded is heat and pressure activated so that the two different materials almost become one when the process is complete, which creates an affordable and flexible, product of reasonable quality. Finishes can be matt, gloss or satin; woodgrain, leather-look, painted-effects or almost any other finish one can think of and the surface is robust and easy to clean. Prices vary as do quality of finish, but by and large, foil or vinyl or polyester wrapped doors are a good choice for an affordable kitchen.
Chipboard quality is determined by weight and therefore density. Some basic, utility 16mm or 18mm thick chipboard is lightweight and largely unsuitable for furniture manufacture. Thickness is not necessarily a guide to quality; weight and density are more relevant. Ask the retailer if he can tell you the quality of the material. There are European wide standards and all furniture manufacturers should know what quality and weight of board is used for their furniture. This information should be freely available to the retailer and it is in their interest to know this information. Chipboard is a perfectly suitable material provided it is finished to a good standard; usually as Melamine Faced Chipboard or MFC. All exposed edges should be covered, or lipped; there should be no raw, exposed chipboard. Pull out a wall unit shelf and check if it is edged all round. Another good guide to a quality product is when there is a thickened, usually with ABS, front edge to the shelf and cabinet. ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a hard plastic that will withstand knocks better than a thin melamine tape. The use of good quality, High Density MFC is important as it will be more suitable for retaining hinge and drawer-runner screws. Low Density, often referred to as Weetabix amongst those in the industry, is less successful at retaining screws, often pulling out in large chunks when placed under pressure.
Depending on the overall floor space, you could consider using wardrobes fitted back to back in the centre of the room. This can also act as a room-divider if space is shared between two youngsters or to split the room into two areas; sleep and play/work for example. Two 1200mm wide wardrobes fitted back to back take up less than one-and-a-half square metres of floor space and yet provide up to 2.8 cubic metres of storage space between them, maybe more depending on the height. Double-hanging space with some shelves, maybe an internal drawer or two is often sufficient for a boy or girl’s regular clothes. Alternatively, is it possible to fit a wardrobe outside the room, in the landing space for example?
Put simply, MFC is Melamine Faced Chipboard (Melamine is thin laminate). MDF is Medium Density Fibreboard, a heavyweight board available in a number of thicknesses that requires further finishing treatment: laminating, painting, lacquering etc. MFC is, in general, used for cabinet or carcase construction. MDF is generally used for front finishes – doors and drawer fronts – and some components such as plinth, cornice, light baffle and fillers etc.
It depends on the pans you have. An induction hob has an electro magnet (induction coil) positioned below the glass. When the hob is switched on the coil will cause a magnetic (induction) field and heat the pan placed on its surface. The pan must be made of ferrous metal (iron or steel) for the heat to be transferred. If you are unsure about the suitability of the pans test the base with a magnet. If the magnet sticks, the pan is suitable.
Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer. It depends on factors of circumstance and quality (and that, to a point, depends on price). A good quality, energy-efficient fridge or freezer will have high performance insulation to keep the heat out. A good quality, energy-efficient oven will have high performance insulation to keep the heat in. The same oven will probably have top quality door seals to prevent heat seeping out at the sides. A built-in fridge, i.e. one that is in a housing, has the added insulation of the housing sides, as has a built-in oven. A floor-standing fridge, even if “integrated” with a door matching the kitchen units, will lack this extra bit of insulation, as will some built-under ovens. Clearly the optimum is to have a good quality fridge or freezer and a similar quality oven with two thicknesses of chipboard or other cabinet side material between them. It’s a common configuration and there should be no problems. It’s the fridge or freezer that suffers when things are wrong and where problems have occurred, or are likely to occur, the manufacturer often says in the installation instructions, “Avoid installing next to…”, which is a bit too late. So, when buying, ask the retailer’s guidance and if this is not convincing, ask to see installation instructions or contact the manufacturer. With most reputable appliance brands, this sort of configuration, especially with “eye-level” ovens and fridges, works perfectly well. Caution is recommended with very low price and little known brands.
Without seeing the room it is difficult to provide firm solutions, so try and visit your nearest KBSA Bedroom studio for a full range of ideas. However, you might consider a King or Queen-sized bed or maybe two extra wide single beds, perhaps with electric motors for height adjustment etc. A small lounge area is a good idea, and practical: Maybe with a Chaise Lounge, a sofa or other soft seating of some kind and some book shelves, a reading lamp perhaps. Watching television is not necessarily a good way to spend the last few hours before sleep. However, it may be possible to build a bespoke entertainment console near the foot of the bed that contains a television, DVD player and lighting and is both practical and a design feature. All equipment could be controlled by a remote kept on the bedside table. Dedicate some space for an exercise machine of some kind, a cross-trainer or rowing machine or even just a mat for Pilates or Yoga. Alternatively, just enjoy the space.
Before you start remodelling a room, consider who will be using it. Children may want a playroom, teenagers will need a den with space to do homework, and adults would probably like an oasis of calm and tranquillity. Bear this in mind when planning colours, fabrics and furniture. Maybe use a professional interior designer! Bear in mind there might be an additional cost and some bathroom retailers can help with the colours and fabrics within the cost of the project, so talk over your ideas with the Kbsa bedroom retailer.
Always wipe the sink down with warm soapy water and a cloth. This will remove most everyday stains from your sink. In hard water areas limescale deposits can build up on the sink over a period of time. The limescale can become strongly coloured by such liquids as coffee and red wine. To remove lime scale we recommend the use of mild acids such as lemon or vinegar or use a branded or own-brand limescale-remover solution; available from most Supermarkets and general stores. If stains become ingrained in the bowls, a 30 minute soak using diluted bleach or diluted biological washing powder (1 part cleaning agent to 10 parts water ) should remove the marks easily. Rinse the sink with water afterwards. For Stainless Steel sinks an excellent stain-removal/cleaning product is Bar-Keepers Friend.
There is no straight-forward answer but usually, yes. The only way to determine this is to contact your local Kbsa retailer and discuss your overall requirements. It will be necessary for a surveyor to physically inspect the installation to check if this is possible. The survey could alternatively be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered gas engineer.
Look for an up-to-date certificate, which should be on display in the showroom. You can also check whether a retailer’s membership is up to date by calling the Kbsa on 01623 818808.
You can find your nearest Kbsa retail member either by calling 01623 818808 or by looking on the website and clicking on the ‘Approved Retailer's’ link and inputting your postcode.
A traditional free standing bath such as a slipper style is ideal for a Victorian bathroom. Even if your bathroom is of a modest size, there are many manufacturers who include designs which will fit easily into a small bathroom or even an en suite. There is also a vast choice of different feet to ensure the look totally fits with your style. Use the internet and buy consumer magazines to get as many ideas as possible before you make any firm decisions. Your sanitary ware will also need to be either very plain or include traditional detailing – again many manufacturers offer good ranges of traditionally styled products. You will need to think about the style of your shower and taps – many shower and tap manufacturers have a traditional range in either brass or nickel so that all of the extra touches can suit your room perfectly. For the floor I would recommend tiling with larger tiles being more popular, having numerous tiles are perhaps more in-keeping with the Victorian look. Finally, the colour of your bathroom is important. Plain or pale colour's are likely to work better. For more information please visit one our bathroom retailer members – find your nearest retailer with the find a retailer search function on the site.
There are products on the market that will create the same experience and provide a contemporary look and designer style to your bathroom. The Eclisse from Cesana uses a unique ‘snail shape’ design which is particularly clever as it creates a space that retains water well in the wet area, yet also provides a complimentary warm and comfortable walk-in area. There is sometimes the option of raising a floor level slightly to accommodate the plumbing for a wet room, so ask your designer if this is a suitable method of overcoming any technical problems for you. If a wet room isn’t achievable without extra cost and upheaval, consider a low-profile shower tray and a glass screen, no door, just a walk-in shower instead. Contact your local Kbsa bathroom retailer for more information.
Having a typical UK bathroom is no longer a barrier to creating the ‘wow’ factor. For example, a freestanding bath is an ideal way of creating a stylish focal point in your bathroom and these don’t have to take up as much space as you think. You can now buy freestanding baths which can be fitted against a wall, into a corner or can have a shower over, making them ideal for small bathrooms and even en-suites. Or forget the bath altogether and install a good-sized and stunning shower area. Choose petite sanitary ware: a small toilet and washbasin. Keep it simple, don’t over complicate the layout. Lighting can have an amazing effect on any room and especially a bathroom. LED lighting has become much more varied over the last five years or so and there is now a huge choice pf products and effects. Clearly, any electrical work in the bathroom must be installed by an electrician who has taken the appropriate courses and training. There are also plenty of clever storage options that again allow you to make the most of your space. So be sure to shop around and plan your bathroom in detail. Use the internet and magazines for research for general information and visit your local KBSA bathroom retailer. Talk through your ideas with your chosen retailer who will be able to advise on how to make the best use of your space.
The smallest en-suite physically attainable is about 1500 x 1500 with one door and no window. This would accommodate an 800 x 800 shower, a small washbasin and WC. However, this is tight and the showering experience cramped, so consider something bigger. I would suggest a minimum of 2000 x 1800 for the ideal ensuite with a shower, slightly larger if a bath is required. The showering area could be expanded to 1200 x 900, and with a concealed cistern built into furniture with a vanity basin, this would save space and add storage and a work surface. Use Corian (or something like it) for the work surface and walls of the shower and you will have created an attractive and easily maintained en-suite. One final thing, good ventilation is an absolute necessity!
Kbsa retailers offer the consumer peace of mind, as all members are carefully vetted prior to admission and they must have been trading for at least two years in order to be considered for membership. The high standards and strict monitoring applied by the Kbsa to its members means that they are able to offer excellent value for money with plans and prices agreed in advance.
Frankly, I am not surprised that there is a large variance in price. You can almost name your own price, within reason, and always find something to fit the budget. It is important to provide the designer with a rough idea of how much you want to commit to the project, otherwise the inclusion of some items may be far more or far less than you expected and therefore confusing and not right for you and your family. A small bathroom with a shower, bath, WC and washbasin, fully tiled and fully fitted could cost anywhere from around £4,000 to £10,000 or more, so if you only want to spend £5,000 and the retailer has quoted you £10,000 then there is a real possibility that you will not return to buy your bathroom from this outlet whilst there is a distinct probability that meeting your £5,000 budget would not have been a problem. So the retailer might lose an order and the consumer may end up with a cheap and below standard installation. There is a huge choice and prices vary a great deal, so have a look round at individual items, use the internet to help calculate the likely cost; adjust your budget according to quality and sophistication.
There shouldn’t be much difficulty in getting water to the area, it’s getting it away again that usually causes most problems; especially for the WC. It may be possible for you to use a Saniflo macerator within the waste system. This unobtrusive device fits near to the outlet pipe of the WC and reduces all waste matter to liquid in order to flush it away to the main sewer using a small-bore waste pipe, which is easier to install. In this manner the problem is often solved. Contact your Kbsa bathroom retailer or take a look at Saniflo’s website for more information:
Almost all manufacturers provide a good selection of showers that use various amounts of water, some as little as just six litres of water per minute. My advice would be to trawl through some of the shower manufacturer’s websites for more detailed information. For example, take a look at the Hansgrohe Website; where there is a useful water-usage-savings calculator, although this is specifically for their own products of course. This is also a useful site for ideas as it has a good gallery of images. Then call into your nearest Kbsa bathroom retailer to discuss further options.
Ceramic tiles laid on a wood floor are perfectly possible provided all the precautions are taken. The floor needs to be surveyed for any movement or bounce, if determined suitable, the floorboards are covered with a suitable board, such as waterproof plywood, screwed into place. The tiles are laid with flexible adhesive and grout to help prevent cracking in case of movement. If done correctly, this should not present you with any ongoing problems. Alternatives include: Vinyl tiles, maybe Amtico or Karndean – both provide a good selection and are of similar quality and price. These should be professionally laid and plywood or similar board will be needed once again to cover the existing floorboards first. Engineered wood is acceptable as are some laminated floorboards, but there is always a risk of water damage. Sheet vinyl could also be used, and is probably the most cost-effective whilst being practical too, but again plywood or at the very least hardboard, should be used to cover the existing floorboards first. Carpet is always a possibility and is nice to step on to, but the obvious problem here is damp and water spillage.
There are a number of manufacturers of bathroom furniture. Two of which, Mereway and Symphony Bathrooms, are corporate members of the Kbsa. Melamine Faced Chipboard (MFC) is widely used by manufacturers for all kinds of furniture, and provided it is finished to a high degree of quality it can safely be used in humid and damp locations about the home. All exposed edges must be sealed with no raw chipboard on show. Clearly if there is a major spillage of water that goes undetected for a length of time, then there may be some water ingress into the board, but this rare and unlikely in normal circumstances.
If you have no alternative position then there are solutions to the problem; the most obvious problem being excessive water on the window and frame and possible damage to other areas from water ingress. Corian is a mineral-based composite sheet of waterproof material that is available in a good number of colours and finishes. Once fitted it is not possible to see the joints and it provides, essentially, a continuous waterproof covering that is both hygienic and easy to keep clean. Using a combination of Corian and tempered glass it is possible, in most cases, to achieve a good compromise in this scenario. Other methods and products can be used that are similar to Corian; ceramic tiles and glass, acrylic, granite or quartz composite and so on. There are also waterproof laminated panels that may be suitable. In any case, it is important that you contact a reputable company to design, supply and install the shower, so contact your nearest Kbsa bathroom retailer for further advice and a quotation.