Archive for September, 2008

Altro Safety Floor Preparation Begins

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Week 36 of the build has seen the start of the preparation to lay the Altro Safety Flooring . You might remember reading a few weeks ago that Altro Safety Flooring became one of our partners to showcase their non slip vinyl flooring product in all of the wet areas. We are using a new product from Altro call Suprema . The Altro Safety Flooring product is extensively used throughout Australia in commercial and institutional applications. However Suprema  does not have the same “sparkle” look which is common to safety flooring. This subtle understatement makes Altro Suprema better suited to domestic applications. Safety flooring is now increasingly being used in domestic situations as more people realise that falls in wet areas of the home are a significant contributor to household accidents. This is particularly the case where you have owners or visitors that are not as stable on their feet due to age or disability.

The first part of the process for installing the Altro Safety Flooring is to prepare the surface. The surface needs to have less than 3 mm variance across the area to be laid. We were able to get our tolerances to within 1 mm.  The process then requires a primer to be applied, reinforcing in the interfaces between the walls and the floors. (This is because the flooring coves up the wall, in our case about 200mm.) And then a waterproof membrane is applied. You can see the process in the following 3 photographs.

Altro Safety Flooring Preparation 1   Altro safety Flooring Preparation 2  Altro Safety Flooring Preparation 3

The blue in the first photo is the primer and you can see the reinforcing fibreglass tape on the interface between the walls and the floor. You can also see that the Altro Safety Flooring continues into the shower cubicle. (on the right of the Stormtech grate drain) This way we get a completely sill-less entry into the showers. In the second photo you can see that the green polyurethane waterproofing membrane has been applied. All of this will be left to thoroughly dry before the Altro Safety Flooring is laid. The vinyl flooring comes in rolls that are 2 metres in width and these are welded together on-site forming a completely water impervious continuous layer in all of the wet areas of the house. I will be posting further details next week when the Altro Safety Flooring is laid.

Dulux Suede Effects Top Coat

Friday, September 12th, 2008

When we were discussing what options we had for the top coat of paint internally we had, our friends at Dulux suggested that we consider using a product called Suede Effects. This is an easy to apply product that has the look of suede when the second coat is applied in a criss-cross fashion. Not only does it make for an interesting effect but the paint will hide imperfections and resists mild burnishing. This is particularly so when you also apply a coat of Matt Clear Coat . This gives the Suede Effects improved washability and better resistance to wear and tear. This is an important factor in terms of Universal Design. Materials and surfaces need to be resilient so that they can sustain the occasional knock from a wheelchair.

Dulux Suede Effects on feature wall   Applying the first coat of Dulux Suede Effects  

The first coat of the Dulux Suede Effects can be applied with a roller, so that you get good even coverage. The second coat is applied with a wide paintbrush in a criss-cross pattern. This application technique gives you the suede effect. It is interesting as the effect is not evident as you are applying but starts to stand out as the paint dries. Its a bit like writing in invisible ink but in reverse. The other thing that we noted was that the suede effect was more noticeable on the dark red colour than the lighter colour. However the next day when we applied the Matt Clear Coat the suede effect was more noticable on the light colour as it seemed to darken it slightly.

So here is how we did the internal painting if you click on any of the bold product headings below you will download a Dulux data sheet for that product.

  1. After the plasters had finished we did a really good dusting down and a damp wipe to ensure that we had a sound surface to work with. We then did all of the drop sheeting and held it down with masking tape. We then applied one coat of Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Sealer to all of the walls and ceilings. This acted as both a sealer and an undercoat.
  2. The next step was to apply the ceiling paint. Here we used Dulux Ceiling White.This is a high opacity thick paint that does not drip or run as much as normal wall paint.
  3. We then applied the first coat of Dulux Suede Effects using a roller. A second coat was applied the next day using a wide brush in a criss-cross fashion.
  4. The final step was to apply a coat of Dulux Clear Coat Matt. This improves the Suede Effects resistance to wear and tear.

You can see more photos of the painting process in the picture gallery in week 34 , week 35 and week 36 .


Being Green – Sustainable Living Wise

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

We have tried hard to make our project sympathetic to the environment. We have included a number of resource saving systems into our plans. These include photovoltaic solar panels from BP Solar for electricity production that we feed back into the grid, vacuum tube solar hot water from Apricus , on-site water storage and grey water reticulation. We have also tried to use building materials that either use by products from other industries, such as the Boral cement blocks and the Hebel Power Panel or come from renewable resources such as the compressed bamboo flooring from Style Plantation or the laminated veneer timber beams that came from Carter Holt Harvey . In the garden we intend to use as many plants that are native to the area as possible to encourage the local birds to make this place their sanctuary. There is a great population of rosellas , Australian king parrots , lorikeets and black cockatoos that inhabit the area.

I have just received an email from my friend Alan Stewart who has helped me with my education in web and blog development, that his wife Deb has just started an new blog called Sustainable Living Wise . Deb is an Australian wildlife tragic and the Stewart’s home in suburban Brisbane has become an impromptu sanctuary to a vast range of birds and animals who have come off second best after interactions with us humans.

Deb also refers to herself as a sustainable living nut and has come up with the cute logo for her blog, Sustainable Living Wise you see below.

Sustainable Living Nut

Debs site is all about  information and tips on sustainable development, green living, renewable energy and permaculture. It looks to me like a site that will be full of practical tips on how make sustainable living part of your everyday lifestyle. Check it out at


Getting the Interior Paint Right with Dulux

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Over the last few days the interior painting has progressed well. We have completely done the first coat using Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Sealer . This will ensure that we get consistent coverage with the top coats which will be Dulux Suede Effects for the walls and Dulux Ceiling White for the ceilings. The key to a great paint job is the preparation. So we have spent a bit more time than normal on making sure everything is clean and free from dust prior to applying the paint.

All sealed up with Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Sealer       First coat of Dulux Suede Effects in place

The photo on the left shows the job completely done with the 1 Step Acrylic Sealer . This has been used on the walls and ceilings as the undercoat. It ensures a consistent coverage and good adhesion for the top coat. It is also a cost saving measure. The acrylic sealer is not as costly as any of the top coats. Plaster board tends to soak up paint so using a sealer means that you can use less topcoat to get a really great consistent finish.

The photo on the right shows the first coat of the Dulux Suede Effects in place. It was applied using a power roller. Using a power roller save time (and therefore money) as you do not have to constantly load up the roller. An additional benefit is that as the power roller uses a constant air pressure to pump paint to the roller you get a more even paint application. A better job all round, saving money and a better finish. The top coat of the Dulux Suede Effects will be applied by hand using a wide brush in a criss-cross pattern. This will give the surface a suede like texture.

Here are the Dulux data sheets for the products we are using. Just click to download.

Dulux Ceiling White
Dulux Acrylic Sealer Undercoat Data Sheet
Dulux Suede Effects Data Sheet


A Different Flooring Technique

Friday, September 5th, 2008

On the upper level of our project the compressed bamboo floor was laid directly over a plywood underlay. On the ground level the floor is a concrete slab so the construction technique is to lay battens onto the slab and then glue the compressed bamboo planks to the battens. The key to a sound flat floor is to get the battening right. The floor specifications from Style Plantations called for battens to be placed at 350 mm centres. We have placed the battens at 300mm centres to ensure that we get no bounce what so ever.

 Floor battens for compressed bamboo planks          Laser line to ensure everything is level.

John Bennett the builder has this great laser level that projects a line onto the wall so that you can ensure that all of the battens are packed to ensure that they are in the right position. You can just see the red laser line in the above photograph. Straight and true.

 Battens packed to ensure that they are level              The compressed bamboo floor layed true and straight

You can see in the above photos the packing wedges that have been used to ensure that the compressed bamboo floor is true and flat.  In the right hand photo is the finished floor. Looking great.

Better Preparation – Better Paint Job

Monday, September 1st, 2008

In my early career I was a paint buyer for one of Australia’s largest retail hardware chains. In this job I learnt a lot about paint. The key to  making a good paint job great, is choosing the correct products for the job and doing really good preparation. We chose products from the Dulux range for our project as they are considered to be the best available and they also put a lot of effort into R&D, so you know that you are going to get technically superior products.

Dulux Acratex & Suede Effects       Dulux Acratex Hebel Skimcoat

To ensure that you get consistent colours throughout the project you need to have all of the product on-site before the painting starts. This way a superior painting tradesman can ensure a perfect job. You can see from the above photos that there was almost a tonne of product required.

The first part of preparation is making sure that all of the surfaces that you don’t want paint on are covered. This can sometimes turn in to a job bigger than Ben Hur.

 All protected            Well protected

Now the painting can start. We are using Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Sealer Undercoat . It is a complete preparation product, which provides the convenience of being a primer, sealer & undercoat in one and is suitable for use with both water-based and oil-based topcoats. Because it can be used in a variety of situations we save painting time chopping and changing from one product to another. It has extremely high opacity, which is good when you are using it on a base of paper based plasterboard, and a high adhesion properties. Best of all it is water based, which means easier clean up, which saves time.

Check out the Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Primer Sealer specs by clicking the link below.
Dulux Acrylic Sealer Undercoat Data Sheet

 Gareth applying Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Sealer   Gareth the painter applying Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Sealer

One coat of Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Sealer on all of the walls and ceilings and then we are ready to do a quick dusting sand and we will be ready for the first of the top coats.