Sound Insulation Performance in Historical Houses

Improving the Sound Insulation Performance in Historical Houses
Improving acoustic performance is achieved by improving a material’s ability to reduce the amount of sound transmitted from one side of a construction element to the other. For airborne sound is usually means the more dense and thicker the material is, the better its sound insulating performance should be as the sound waves simply rebound.

Heavy concrete floors and masonry walls therefore have very good sound insulation properties; whereas single met-sec walls with 1 layer of standard plasterboard either side and lightweight timber walls are much poorer acoustically and usually fail the sound insulation tests. This isn’t the whole storey as by isolating materials by utilising resilient fixings and/or layered systems, the better the insulation performance for absorbing impact sounds.

Many companies try to improve their sound testing results by improving  wall thickness and weight of material, however by simply adding layers of plasterboard to a standard wall system often has little impact to the sound test results. There is also the problem of covering important architectural internal features found in historic buildings, such as detailed cornices and other mouldings; therefore this is often a contentious issue, especially if it’s an upgrade to a listed building.

Installing baffles within airbricks and blocking up redundant chimney flues are often enough to greatly improve the sound test results, secondary measures such as the installation of draught-proof strips to doors and applying acoustic sealant to the skirting’s boards at the wall/floor junction can also be beneficial and improve the acoustic levels.

To improve ambient noise levels it may be better to make acoustic upgrades to the front of the house where roads etc. are usually located. There is usually just a garden at the rear so this will usually be less noisy.

In all instances, acoustically the weakest part of external walls will be the window units. These are often Sash units and subsequently are one of the most important features within the external façade of historic buildings.

Many councils/local authorities will not let you remove and replace original window units unless the frames are rotten and beyond reasonable repair, however decent acoustic improvements can be made by installing a draught-proofing strip to the opening lights, and by providing an acoustic caulk seal around the window frame. If it’s extremely noise a secondary glazing units along with demountable shutters may an option. One of the simplest improvements can be made via the installation of good quality heavy curtains fixed close to the wall; this can also be one of the most attractive upgrades.

If the building is being subdivided into new apartments then the walls between apartments will need to be sound tested in-line with Part E for Converted Dwellings. In this instance we can undertake sample sound testing on walls and floors to check the existing sound insulation performance. Thereafter we can forward an acoustic design to comply with Part E of Building Regulations as well as undertaking the final pre-completion sound testing.

If you would like more information in regards to sound testing and acoustic design for your historical development, please contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or phone us on: 07775623464 or visit the APT Sound Testing website today.

Designer Bathrooms. Helping Improve your Home

Designer Bathrooms. Helping Improve your Home
One of the best things a homeowner can do to increase enjoyment of the home and improve the odds of selling the home at a good price is to upgrade the bathrooms. Particularly where older homes are concerned, a stellar bathroom remodel increases the home’s resale value by making it more appealing to potential buyers of all ages.

Fortunately, more people these days are in a better position to take on home improvement projects of this size, and a number of bathroom design features that were once purely the domain of palatial residences have become more affordable and more widely available.

If you feel ready to take that step toward significantly improving your home for now and for the future, it is wise to learn more about bathroom upgrades that have become popular in recent years and that will provide the best value both in terms of your own enjoyment and a potential home sale.

Natural, clean colours
Neutral and cool shades of blue, grey, white, silver and black give a sense of both cleanliness and serenity as compared to gaudy colours or gold or brass accents, which are best saved for other parts of the house. One exception to this rule is the powder room: unlike the trends in master bathroom remodelling, it has become ever more popular over the past year to add dark hardwood flooring, furniture-like cabinetry and other colours and accents more commonly associated with other parts of the house.

Master shower cubicles
To some extent, bathtubs in master bathrooms are going out of fashion, being relegated to children’s bathrooms and replaced in the master bathroom by multiple-head showers with frameless glass enclosures. When opting for multiple shower heads, installing two or more different kinds of shower heads adds value in that different home buyers will then have options which suit their individual preferences. Brands such as Hansgrohe make a variety of showers which should meet the needs of most anyone undertaking a bathroom remodelling project.

Let there be light & Warmth in the Bathroom
Lots of light in the bathroom is also very popular nowadays, contributing as it does to that light, airy and above all, clean feeling that everyone wants to experience upon walking into the bathroom. Consider adding skylights wherever space allows – even directly above the shower cubicle!

Features that make the bathroom warmer and more inviting in cool weather are also increasingly common. After all, who wants to step out of a deliciously warm shower taken under the natural light from a skylight and step onto a cold surface in an equally cold bathroom? Features such as heated floors and designer radiators, from brands such as Bisque and Reina, are much more affordable than in years past and a very worthwhile component of a larger bathroom remodelling project.

P.T. Ranson has been providing branded bathroom supplies and service for bathroom remodelling projects for years. With more than 30 years of collective experience and a commitment to providing the best possible products and service for each individual bathroom remodelling project.

When buying online from P.T. Ranson, deliveries on the UK mainland are free of charge. For more information, call today on 0191 4696999 or visit the P.T. Ranson website today.

Personalised Thimbles: An Alternative to Christmas Cards

Personalised Thimbles: An Alternative to Christmas Cards
Do you enjoy sending Christmas cards when the holiday approaches but find it more difficult each year to find a card that truly captures the spirit of Christmas? If so, then try this idea on for size: instead of sending cards, send personalized thimbles!

Much like custom-ordered Christmas cards with a family portrait, thimbles can be personalised with virtually any image screen-printed onto them. By putting that same family portrait or cute cat or dog photo on a personalised thimble, you will be creating a novel sort of collectible that will give your recipients an attractive new item to display in their homes at Christmas!

Let’s face it: while some people love to receive Christmas cards of all kinds and display their growing collection year after year, many card recipients on your list do not and will simply toss the card in the rubbish bin once Christmas is over.

Personalised thimbles, on the other hand, offer something fun and different to everyone on your list. Some among them are bound to be thimble collectors already and will greatly appreciate an element of personal or family history in their collection. If you run a small business, then sending personalised thimbles to your clients featuring your company logo can also be a great way to market your services while giving collectors a new addition to their collection.

Even for those who do not collect thimbles, the gift of a personalised thimble in place of a card will give them a new and beautiful porcelain piece to display with other Christmas-related items for many years to come!

The Thimble Guild has been one of the leading suppliers of collectible thimbles and supplies in the UK for years. We offer screen-printing services for personalised thimbles to commemorate any special occasion. To learn more or to speak with one our representatives, call us today on 0844 573 5310 or visit the Thimble Guild website today.

Plantation Shutters – Helping you Sell your Property

Plantation Shutters – Helping you Sell your Property
Autumn has arrived, and now is a great time to take on simple home improvement projects. Unlike with kitchen and bathroom renovations, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to give your living room and bedrooms a facelift with a fresh coat of paint and new window treatments. Among the window treatment options you might consider for your autumn home redecoration are plantation shutters, which are fast becoming a popular alternative to traditional blinds. 

Plantation Shutters will Help you Sell your Property
Housing market confidence has continued to blossom throughout 2014. However, this doesn’t mean that your property will sell right away. If your want your home to sell quickly and for a good price, you need to take steps to set your property apart from the rest. Whether you’ve been trying to sell your home for a while or you’re taking your first tentative steps in the property market, it’s important that you give your home the best possible chance of selling. 

Many people believe that in order to make your home a more attractive investment proposition for prospective buyers, you must create strong visual selling points. Installing plantation shutters is one way to do this. Wooden shutters are incredibly popular at present and more and more homeowners throughout the UK are choosing to make them a feature in their homes. 

An Investment Worth Making
You’ll find that potential buyers will be incredibly impressed with the soft ambiance that plantation shutters can create in a room. Plus, because they won’t have to buy new curtains or curtain poles, wooden window shutters will save them a lot of money (not to mention time!) when they move in. There’s no doubt about it that window shutters can be a worthy investment and can help you sell your home quickly and at the right price. 

There are many shutter companies throughout the UK and many will offer a full range of wooden shutters to meet your needs and style choices. Whether you’re looking for full height shutters, tier on tier shutters or café style shutters, most companies will be able to cater to your needs. With plantation shutters, you’ll find that you can get really creative with the design, colours and rods.

Give your House the Edge
Chances are that your home isn’t the only property for sale in your area. Therefore, it’s essential that you give your home the edge if you want to sell your property as quickly as possible. Potential buyers will love plantation shutters not only because they are a permanent fixture that they don’t need to change but because they’ll fit in with any décor that they might choose to have.

Whether your home’s prospective buyers favour the contemporary look or they want their new home to be more traditional in its design, window shutters can integrate perfectly. Plantation shutters can give your home the edge over other properties in your area and can help you to sell your home sooner rather than later.

The Beautiful Shutter Company has been in the window dressing industry for many years and places a great deal of importance on working directly with homeowners to achieve the desired result the first time, every time. Our extensive product knowledge and commitment to providing high-quality workmanship will ensure your complete satisfaction from the shutters you order from us. To learn more about our wide selection of shutters or to book an appointment, call us today on 01642 688049 or visit the Beautiful Shutter Company website.

Keep Your Dog Warm and Dry This Winter with Dog Coats and Towels

Keep Your Dog Warm and Dry This Winter with Dog Coats and Towels
Autumn is here once again, as we can all tell by the crispness in the air, the beautiful fall foliage and the sun setting earlier with each passing day. The fact that the days are gradually becoming shorter and cooler again need not mean cutting short the amount of time your four-legged friend gets to spend outside.

While concerns related to sickness and injury are just as real for canines as they are for us, simple precautions and preparations will ensure that your dog gets just as much enjoyment out of autumn and winter as the rest of us.

Helping Protect your dog from illness
Just like their human counterparts, dogs can catch a chill. And even when it seems inevitable that your beloved dog will sometimes get wet and dirty, such as during walks through the neighbourhood when it unexpectedly starts raining, or going for walks in old, dirty snow – because let’s face it, the weather isn’t going to stop your dog from needing to use nature’s facilities – it is important to be prepared for those unavoidable moments when a short jaunt outside leaves your friend in need of a quick bath and drying off.

A number of reputable companies specialising in pet care offer supplies such as thermal dog coats and dog towels made of advanced microfibre materials designed to pull more moisture away from your dog’s coat than a cotton towel. Keeping such a towel and a dog brush by the front door at all times will also ensure that any puddles or snow your dog might walk through outside won’t accompany you into your home.

Helping Protect your dog from injury
Whether you’re an enthusiastic runner or simply cannot go a day without a lengthy walk through the city or countryside in the evening, your dog is undoubtedly a big part of the time you spend outdoors. When the days are getting shorter, or if you generally take your leisurely outdoor stroll or jog during the wee hours of the morning, it is extremely important that your dog have protection in the form of some sort of reflective lead or jacket so that any cars you pass along the way will be aware of the other living creature trotting along beside you.

While many dogs prefer to run in grass and dirt rather than on pavement, this may not be an option everywhere along the path your take for running or walking, and most dogs do not easily recognise which parts of a paved surface are areas where vehicles may legally pass.

Likewise, as most early-morning and after-dark joggers and walkers already know, drivers typically don’t expect to encounter foot traffic of any kind, which places the burden on the pedestrian, dog or no dog, to anticipate problems and prevent accidental injury to both humans and pets. One of the best ways to make your dog visible in low light is with a reflective dog vest, which are available online in a wide range of sizes to fit any breed.

Waggers Dog Beds and Pet Supplies
Waggers specialises in pet care products and offers a wide range of dog coats, dog towels and other supplies to keep your best canine friend healthy and happy all through the year. We offer a 100 percent money back guarantee with free returns on the UK Mainland, and we will even take £10 off your first order when you request our catalogue!

For more information, call us today on 0844 573 5310 or visit the Waggers Online Pet Store website today.

Collecting Thimbles with the Thimble Guild

Collecting Thimbles with the Thimble Guild
Collecting thimbles may seem like just a hobby for some, but for others, it is a way of life. When you first look at a thimble, it may appear to have little potential of being anything other than an article created to make sewing a more functional and an easy activity. In fact, most people see a thimble as a finger protector.

Thimbles are diminutive in size, so they leave limited space for enhancement, and their operational side is almost always spotted with holes. Despite their small size and rather strict limitations, thimbles have been a favourite for collecting as a hobby and are quite collectible. People collect thimbles for a variety of reasons, but the initial craving begins with those who have been sewing for years and have attained thimbles as part of their sewing ensembles. As the capacity of work expands, so does the level of the collection. Furthermore, most collectors are surprised to find that they have antique or vintage thimbles on hand without even trying – and can be quite valuable.

During the 1800’s, thimbles were actually measured as fashionable, and carried as an accessory making a stylish statement. Some small thimbles were showcased on the pinkie finger. Women and men of the upper class regarded the thimble as a fine fashion accessory, and these thimbles were created as a decoration piece. Other times, thimbles were used as advertising accessories for politicians.

Collector thimbles vary from each other and can be made from mother of pearl, silver, brass, and some are even made from gold. Additionally, porcelain, wooden, and carved stone also make up a few collector thimbles as well. Some thimbles highlight intricate details around their sides, and others have stood-in as holders for tiny perfume bottles and self-styled sewing toys.

Some thimbles can surprisingly be quite ornate in their construction and appear to make a great canvas for many artists. Some artists have hand painted thimbles and display some beautiful pieces of art. In today’s technological era, even photographs can be displayed on a thimble!

From the 19th century, the Fabergé thimbles are probably one of the most well-known. Some of these particular thimbles had polished stones or other types of semi-precious gems set in their tops. Other thimbles were fancily decorated on the sides with beautiful patterns or designs.

Not only did collectors look for thimbles, thimble racks and cabinets also became a collector items. In the late 19th century, thimbles were sold by various companies and frequently came with a holder to display the personalised thimbles. From England, dorcas thimbles sold attractive display cases at about the same time, which also are a collector item. Thimbles racks and cabinets are sold separately as well for a collector to find a way to showcase their collection. Display cases vary and there are a variety of styles available to suit any style.

In America, thimbles were sold in identical, oval aluminium cases, or cast-iron holders shaped like animals. Thimbles from Germany were held in holders formed of carved Black Forest hardwood in the shapes of birds or bears. There were even thimble containers made from wood into various shapes such as shoes, as well as equally tiny, hand-painted mother of pearl ships, complete with ropes and a loop to hold the thimble.

To access the value of any antique thimble, research and patience is necessary. The condition of the antique thimble is the most significant key in determining the value of your collector’s item. Additionally, other contributing factors in determining the value include the material that it is made out of such as silver, porcelain, or wood. Knowing the history of the thimble can be extremely beneficial as well. Most antique thimbles reveal the history of the times when they were created. Usually there are dates and places that the manufacturer recorded giving some insight into the history of the antique thimble. Collector thimbles can be found all over the world in some shape or fashion and give valuable clues as to how people worked and lived during that time.

Regardless if the thimble is for protecting your finger while working or to add to a growing collection, thimbles have a fascinating history. When arranged together, collector thimbles make for a delightful display.

For more information on all things thimbles and access to a great selection of thimbles to add to your collection, visit the Thimble Guild website or call us now on 0844 573 5310.

Made-to-Measure Blinds for the Windows You Want

Made-to-Measure Blinds for the Windows You Want
Even though autumn is here and winter will soon be upon us, it’s still not too late to consider replacement windows throughout the home. For some homeowners, the decision isn’t about whether it’s time to replace the windows (in many older homes with the original windows, the answer is a resounding “yes”) but what to do next. Some people might worry about their decision being determined by the window treatment options available for the windows they are interested in as replacements.

There is no reason to let this be a limiting factor, because a number of reputable companies offer made-to-measure blinds for unusually-sized or unusually-shaped windows in the home and conservatory.

You might be thinking that for both windows and window dressings, you’re limited only to the inventory available at your local home improvement shop, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is becoming more and more common for homeowners to custom-order everything for their home from windows themselves to luxury bathroom upgrades.

If you’re interested in a particular type of window that you think will suit your home particularly well and even improve how it looks from the street, then don’t hold back! The right supplier of made-to-measure blinds will be prepared to offer you a quote based on the window’s measurements and the type of blinds you would like to install.

If your home has a conservatory, then conservatory blinds are an excellent way to improve energy efficiency in the space, allowing you to use your conservatory all through the year. If you’re worried about the cold coming in through the glass, opt for blinds in thick materials which will prevent air currents from passing through or heat being lost through the glass panes.

The Beautiful Blind Company is a family-run business in the North East specialising in made-to-measure window blinds and conservatory blinds. With our expertise and commitment to providing the best possible service on every installation, you’re certain to love the bespoke blinds you order from us. For more information or to request a free quote, call us today on 01642 688049 or visit the Beautiful Blind Company website.

Lego Won’t Renew Contract with Shell after Greenpeace Campaign

Lego Won’t Renew Contract with Shell after Greenpeace Campaign
Danish toymaker Lego will not renew a promotional contract with Royal Dutch Shell following pressure from environmental group Greenpeace. But Lego did not say when its “long-term” contact with Shell expires.

Greenpeace has been campaigning against Arctic drilling by oil companies such as Shell and has accused Lego of associating with “bad company”.

Lego toys are handed out to people filling up at Shell gas stations in more than 30 countries. As part of a branding deal first signed in 2011, Lego has also sold toy brick sets in the shape of petrol stations and drilling rigs with Shell’s logos on them.

Greenpeace said Shell has been using Lego to build brand loyalty with millions of children who are the “next generation of consumers”.

As part of its campaign, the lobby group uploaded a Youtube video showing Lego toys drowning in oil in the Arctic, which received nearly six million hits.  “It should choose its partners more carefully when it comes to the threats facing our children from climate change,” Greenpeace said in response to Lego’s decision.

Lego Group president and chief executive Jorgen Vig Knudstorp said the company should never have become part of Greenpeace’s dispute with Shell.

“The Greenpeace campaign uses the Lego brand to target Shell,” he said in a statement. “We firmly believe Greenpeace ought to have a direct conversation with Shell.” “We do not agree with the tactics used by Greenpeace that may have created misunderstandings among our stakeholders about the way we operate,” he added.

Shell said its contract with Lego “has been a great success and will continue to be as we roll it out in more countries across the world”.

Shell has been exploring for oil in the Arctic since 1918 and is forecast to spend billions of dollars drilling for oil and other fossil fuels in the Arctic over the next decade.

In recent years, the practice has come under intense scrutiny because of concerns it will damage the environment and contribute to global warming. “The extreme Arctic conditions, including giant floating icebergs and stormy seas, make offshore drilling extremely risky,” Greenpeace said. “Scientists say that in the Arctic, an oil spill would be impossible to clean up meaning devastation for the Arctic’s unique wildlife.”

Devices Being Remotely Wiped in Police Custody

Devices Being Remotely Wiped in Police Custody
All the data on some of the tablets and phones seized as evidence is being wiped out, remotely, while they are in police custody, the BBC has learned. Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Durham police all told BBC News handsets had been remotely “wiped”. And Dorset police said this had happened to six of the seized devices it had in custody, within one year.

The technology used was designed to allow owners to remove sensitive data from their phones if they are stolen. “If a device has a signal, in theory it is possible to wipe it remotely,” said Ken Munro, a digital forensics expert with Pen Test Partners.

A spokeswoman for Dorset police told the BBC: “There were six incidents, but we don’t know how people wiped them. “We have cases where phones get seized, and they are not necessarily taken from an arrested person – but we don’t know the details of these cases as there is not a reason to keep records of this,” she added.

A spokeswoman for Derbyshire police confirmed that the force had had one incident of a device being remotely wiped while in police custody. “We can’t share many details about it, but the case concerned romance fraud, and a phone involved with the investigation was remotely wiped,” she said. “It did not impact upon the investigation, and we went on to secure a conviction,” she added.

Meanwhile Cleveland police told the BBC that it too had had a case of a phone that had been wiped but it was not clear “whether it was wiped prior to coming into police hands”. Asked whether the police felt that the issue had damaged their investigation, the spokeswoman said: “We don’t know because we don’t know what was on the phone.”

Other police forces affected by the issue include:

Cambridgeshire – one incident between August 2013 and August 2014
Durham – one incident during the same period
Nottingham – one incident
Microwave help

Mr Munro, who analyses hundreds of laptops, tablets, phones and other devices for corporate clients, said: “When we seize a device for digital forensics, we put it immediately into a radio-frequency shielded bag, which prevents any signals from getting through.

“If we can’t get to the scene within an hour, we tell the client to pop it in a microwave oven. “The microwave is reasonably effective as a shield against mobile or tablet signals – just don’t turn it on.”

SecureDrives, which develops hard drives for the military, is releasing one next year that can be physically destroyed just by sending a text message. The hard drive -which will cost more than £1,000 – is also immune to the radio-frequency blocking bags.

“The hard drive is constantly looking for GSM [Global System for Mobile Communications] signals, if it is starved of them it it would destroy itself. It would see such a bag as a threat,” said James Little, head of sales at SecureDrives.

Improving Your Home with a Designer Bathroom

Improving Your Home with a Designer Bathroom
One of the best things a homeowner can do to increase enjoyment of the home and improve the odds of selling the home at a good price is to upgrade the bathrooms. Particularly where older homes are concerned, a stellar bathroom remodel increases the home’s resale value by making it more appealing to potential buyers of all ages.

Fortunately, more people these days are in a better position to take on home improvement projects of this size, and a number of bathroom design features that were once purely the domain of palatial residences have become more affordable and more widely available. If you feel ready to take that step toward significantly improving your home for now and for the future, it is wise to learn more about bathroom upgrades that have become popular in recent years and that will provide the best value both in terms of your own enjoyment and a potential home sale.

Natural, clean colours Neutral and cool shades of blue, grey, white, silver and black give a sense of both cleanliness and serenity as compared to gaudy colours or gold or brass accents, which are best saved for other parts of the house. One exception to this rule is the powder room: unlike the trends in master bathroom remodelling, it has become ever more popular over the past year to add dark hardwood flooring, furniture-like cabinetry and other colours and accents more commonly associated with other parts of the house.

Master shower cubicles To some extent, bathtubs in master bathrooms are going out of fashion, being relegated to children’s bathrooms and replaced in the master bathroom by multiple-head showers with frameless glass enclosures. When opting for multiple shower heads, installing two or more different kinds of shower heads adds value in that different home buyers will then have options which suit their individual preferences. Brands such as Hansgrohe bathroom taps and showers should meet the needs of most anyone undertaking a bathroom remodelling project.

Let there be light! Lots of light in the bathroom is also very popular nowadays, contributing as it does to that light, airy and above all, clean feeling that everyone wants to experience upon walking into the bathroom. Consider adding skylights wherever space allows – even directly above the shower cubicle!

Warmth Features that make the bathroom warmer and more inviting in cool weather are also increasingly common. After all, who wants to step out of a deliciously warm shower taken under the natural light from a skylight and step onto a cold surface in an equally cold bathroom? Features such as heated floors and designer radiators, from brands such as Bisque designer radiators through to Reina, are much more affordable than in years past and a very worthwhile component of a larger bathroom remodelling project.

P.T. Ranson has been providing branded bathroom supplies and service for bathroom remodelling projects for years. P.T. Ranson has more than 30 years of collective experience and a commitment to providing the best possible products and service for each individual bathroom remodelling project. When buying online from P.T. Ranson, deliveries on the UK mainland are free of charge. For more information, call today on 0191 4696999 or visit the PT Ranson Website today.