Ask Alice: about flooring, crockery, and alternative heating

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The Independent Online

Lots of pros and no real cons, Lisa. Bamboo flooring has many advantages over hardwood, one of which is that it comes from a totally renewable source; the same plant can be harvested every five years. It's also cheaper, with prices from £18.50 per square metre. In addition, it is stronger than most hardwoods and extremely difficult to dent. It's also very resistant to moisture and warping, making it suitable for use in kitchens and bathrooms, too. I think it looks beautiful, tightly grained with darker banding, available in a range of shades and preparations, suitable for all types of installation methods. Take a look at Simply Bamboo (, 01273 241 299) for examples of finished floors.

I've got a friend who has a fantastic collection of modern crockery and I would like to impress him with a present - do you have any ideas?
Paul Robinson, Tufnell Park

I've got just the thing, Paul. How about a witty and stylish plate entitled "Greetings from Trellick Tower", with a picture of Goldfinger's architectural masterpiece from the Sixties? It comes from a cooperative (, whose range celebrates the mix of vernacular and landmark homes in the capital. I'm sure your friend will love it.

I've got quite a large bathroom which only has one radiator and is a bit cold. Do you know of any heated benches or seats which might warm it up a bit as well, as providing seating space?
Abigail Wilson, by e-mail

One solution would be to buy a Partito bench from Aestus. It comes with a solid oak seat, under which is a cosy radiator in a white powder-coated finish and there are a range of sizes; prices from around £329 (for stockists call Aestus on 0870 403 0115

Dear Alice, my husband is dead set on installing solar panels on our roof. I have told him that I think we should get the equipment properly installed, but he is insistent. Is this a feasible DIY idea, or is he just showing off to his friends?
Naomi Gibson, by e-mail

Actually, this is not a very complicated job, and I would admire anyone who is prepared to work 40 foot up on the roof. My first concern, however, is that you may find your local authority does not permit installation of solar panels on the roof. The panels will work just as well at ground level, so provided that you have a big enough garden, the job should be even easier. All that is involved is angling the panels to maximise the amount of sun that falls on them, running a cable through the wall of the house via an inverter (that converts DC to AC), and plugging into it. I think we'll all be at it within a couple of years.

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