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sustainable flooring

The Facts You Need to Know About Sustainable Flooring

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As people become more conscious about their personal environmental impact, they start to take steps to reduce their burden on the world’s resources.  Some immediate actions may include recycling, changing diet or reducing the amount of water used.  However, the materials one uses for home construction can also play a role in environmental sustainability.  In this article, we go over some of the facts you should know about how sustainable flooring can reduce your environmental impact.

 What Is Sustainability?

When choosing your flooring materials from an environmental perspective, you’re typically looking to reduce your carbon footprint.  Ways to do this include installing floors made of reclaimed wood, choosing materials that are manufactured with low carbon output, using materials that don’t need to be shipped long distances, buying materials that are long lasting and deciding on manufacturing processes that use fewer natural resources.

Sustainable Flooring Options

Reclaimed Woods

A current trend is using woods that have already been used for some other purpose.  This not only eliminates the need to cut down more trees, but it also stops older building materials from entering the landfills.  Reclaimed wood can come from many sources and quite often has the carbon footprint benefit of being sourced close to home.

Cork

Cork is considered a sustainable material because it’s composed of the bark of the cork tree.  Creating cork flooring materials does not require cutting the tree down or killing it.  The outer bark is removed, leaving the tree intact and allowing it to continue growing.  The bark grows back quite quickly with it taking about 10 years for another usable layer to grow back.  Most of the world’s cork is grown in Portugal meaning there are long distance shipping issues for locales outside of Europe.

Hardwood

Hardwoods are considered a sustainable resource for the fact that they are incredibly durable and can last for decades.  Hardwoods are also grown all over the world which means that most areas have easy access to supplies of hardwood lumber.  In North America, oak is considered to be the most sustainable hardwood because of forestry management practices that ensure consistent replanting.

 

engineered hardwood floors

Is Engineered Hardwood Flooring Durable?

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When deciding on wood flooring materials, there are a few different options available.  Solid hardwood is probably the most familiar material to your average lay person, but there is also the possibility of engineered hardwood or laminates.  This article will compare engineered hardwood with solid hardwood and laminates and explain how durable engineered hardwood is in comparison.

Solid Hardwood Vs. Engineered Hardwood

The main difference between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood is that a plank of solid hardwood is composed of a single, solid piece of hardwood.  As for engineered hardwood, the plank is composed of several different layers. The top layer is a hardwood veneer to give a similar look to solid hardwood.  However, below that veneer are several crosswise layers of plywood made of a hardwood that are glued and pressed together under high pressure. The result is a sturdy plank that’s resistant to moisture and warping.  This allows engineered hardwood planks to be used in places that solid hardwoods aren’t used, such as bathrooms and basements.

Engineered Hardwood Vs Laminates

Many people confuse engineered hardwoods with laminates because they are both composed of several layers of wood.  However, all the layers of engineered hardwood planks are composed of hardwoods, whereas the different laminate layers may include fibreboard and other materials. This means that laminates, similar to solid hardwoods, do not react well to moisture.  Also, the laminate veneer is typically only a photographic image which means they cannot be sanded down as part of a resurfacing project as can engineered hardwood boards

Engineered Flooring Finishes

Engineered hardwoods are typically prefinished and feature a durable coating that’s been applied at the factory.  This adds to the plank’s durability and gives it a lustrous shine. Solid hardwoods come both unfinished and prefinished.  Unfinished hardwoods need to be treated during installation which can add time and money to the project. Prefinished woods are typically much more durable than those finished during installation which gives engineered hardwood an advantage over unfinished solid hardwoods.

The Janka Score

The type of wood that engineered floor boards are composed of determines their hardness and durability.  The industry standard for quantifying a wood’s hardness is the Janka score. A higher Janka score means a harder wood and a more durable plank.  The optimal Janka score for a hardwood floor will depend on the amount of use a floor will experience.

 

cork flooring

5 Reasons to Love Cork Flooring

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Cork flooring may not be as popular as wood, carpet or other flooring materials, but that may be beginning to change with time.  There are many advantages to cork flooring that may not be as apparent with other materials. In this article we’ll go over five reasons to love cork flooring.

Water Resistance

Cork is naturally water resistant and as such, makes a great flooring material for bathrooms and kitchens.  Cork is much better in high moisture environments than carpet or wood by because of its ability to withstand water’s degradative tendencies.  Cork is durable and requires a lot less maintenance than most other flooring materials

Insulation Properties

Because of the internal cellular structure of cork, it’s a highly insulative substance.  Unlike flooring materials such as stone or tile, cork is much warmer under foot due to its unique cellular structure.  Again, this makes cork ideal for the bathroom or anywhere that you find yourself barefoot. The insulative properties of cork will not only make a room feel warmer, they dampen the sound of footsteps and keep the room quieter.

Sustainability

Cork is a renewable resource that makes it a highly sustainable material.  There’s no need to cut down old growth forests to fulfill demand for cork. As a matter of fact, trees don’t need to be cut down at all.  Only the bark of cork trees is removed to create the raw materials and it grows back within 10 years. There aren’t any trees in the world that can be grown to commercial maturity within 10 years.

Aesthetic Feel

Cork flooring is very soft underfoot which makes it comfortable to walk on in barefeet or socks.  Cork gives a feeling of cushion that just isn’t found in wood, stone or tile floors. This also adds to the quiet factor mentioned above.

Air Quality

Cork is a hypo-allergenic material which means that it doesn’t attract dust, hair or other microscopic materials.  This makes the floor easier to clean and promotes a higher level of air quality in the house. Cork also has antimicrobial properties, due to a substance called suberin, which repels insects and rodents while resisting the growth of funguses and moulds.

 

tile floors

4 Natural Ways to Clean Tile Flooring

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One of the hardest parts of keeping tile floors looking clean is dealing with the interstitial spaces known as grout.  And although tile flooring typically stands up well to harsh chemicals, most people would rather avoid using them if at all possible.  By using natural cleaning methods you’ll introduce fewer harmful chemicals into your environment.  This article will go over some of the ways to keep your tile floors clean without having to use harsh chemicals or solvents.

 Reduce Humidity

Humidity can play a large role in allowing mold and mildew to grow on tile floors and the grout.  By reducing the humidity in the room, you can prevent this growth from happening in the first place.  This can be easily accomplished by opening a window, employing a dehumidifier or using an exhaust fan.  Also make sure to wipe up any spills which can contribute to the air’s moisture.

 Baking Soda And Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are two of the most important tools for cleaning tiles floors without the need for harsh chemicals.  Baking soda by itself acts as a mild abrasive which can help remove dirt, mold and mildew.  It is also a natural deodorant.  Vinegar is also effective on its own for disinfecting dirty surfaces.  Combing the two results in a foaming action which can help with stubborn stains or calcium build ups.

 Lemon Juice And Salt

Similar to baking soda and vinegar, lemon juice and salt also provide an acid and an abrasive that can be used separately or together.  You won’t get the foaming action provided by the combination of baking soda and vinegar, but you will be able to easily remove stains.  Lemon juice also has a naturally fresh scent which leaves your floors not only looking, but smelling clean.

 Borax And Hydrogen Peroxide

A solution of borax and hydrogen peroxide works as a disinfectant and can be more effective than most commercial cleaners at eliminating bacteria.  Borax works to disinfect and deodorize while hydrogen peroxide is a fungicide that also acts to lighten stains.

 

 

cherry hardwood

5 Benefits of American Cherry Hardwood Flooring

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American cherry hardwood flooring is becoming a more popular option for homeowners in recent years.  There are a number of reasons for this increase in acceptance. This article expands upon five benefits of using cherry as a hardwood flooring material.

Sustainability

Since there are species of cherry that are native to eastern North America, the wood is easily available, doesn’t require logging in foreign countries or shipping over long distances.  Although the trees have been known to live for over 300 years, American cherry trees grow relatively fast and produce seeds after only ten years of growth.

Durability

American cherry isn’t the hardest wood available which means it can be prone to denting and scratches, but it is, nonetheless, an extremely durable wood.  This makes it ideal as a flooring material. It is also warp resistant which gives it stability and allows it to be used as an underflooring material as well.

Looks

American cherry is a good looking wood with a straight but attractive grain and a range of colours. Cherry wood can be quite light; similar to pine and birch which allows it to match most home interiors. That said, the wood has a slightly reddish hue that can become darker upon exposure to sunlight.  Using sealants causes the wood to become even darker. So there are a variety of shading options available depending on your tastes and needs.

Surface

American cherry hardwood floors provide a smooth surface that gives a pleasant underfoot feel.  The floors feel solid, but gentle. The surfaces also reflect sound quite well which makes listening to music that much more pleasurable.  Dust and dirt aren’t readily attracted to American cherry so they’re easily cleaned and maintained.

Price

The fact that American cherry is a native species and doesn’t need to be shipped over long distances means that it’s quite affordable compared with some of the more exotic hardwood flooring species.  That said, the price of American cherry is mostly dependent on the grade of wood, which is the based upon imperfections and knots.

oak wood

8 Advantages of Oak Hardwood Flooring

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Oak hardwood flooring is a high quality and prestigious flooring material.  Hardwood oak is also easy to maintain and installation can be accomplished without the need for professional help.  Modern technology has made oak flooring even more user friendly. This article covers eight advantages of installing oak hardwood flooring in your home or place of business.

Easy To Clean

It’s easy to keep oak hardwood flooring clean by sweeping with a broom on a daily basis.  Similarly you can use a dry microfibre mop head to gather up any dust. If you end up with spills you can wipe them down with a damp cloth.

Long Lasting

Oak is a strong and durable wood.  This allows it to be long lasting with minimal maintenance.  As your hardwood oak flooring ages it will gain even more character.

No VOCs

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been found to be problematic with carpets, laminates and vinyl floors.  These can cause allergic reactions and exacerbate existing health conditions. VOCs aren’t used in the manufacture of solid hardwood or engineered wood flooring.

Wide Price Range

You can find oak flooring available across a wide range of prices.  For those on a budget, there are applicable oak flooring options. For those who are looking for a luxury flooring option, plenty of those are available in oak as well.

Increase Your Home’s Value

Hardwood oak floors are highly sought after in the housing market.  Oak floors give buyers options which may not be as apparent with carpet or other types of flooring.

Durability

As a hardwood, oak is one of the more durable flooring types.  When compared with softwoods such as pine, oak is considered much more durable and long lasting.

Resistance

Oak is naturally resistant to funguses and insects.  Oak floors don’t need to be treated with harsh chemicals to prevent attacks from occurring.

Looks

Oak has a very prominent grain which makes it an attractive wood for use in flooring.  It has a natural light colour that allows it to be used in a variety of decorative situations.

replace flooring

What to Know Before Replacing Your Flooring

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If it’s time to upgrade your house, you’ll probably need to consider your flooring while you’re at it.  Remodeling may lay waste to the floor you currently have, so having a plan for a replacement should be part of your scheme.  That said, there are certain things you’ll need to think about when it comes to your floors that you might not need to worry about with other parts of your house.  This article will outline some of the things you need to know when replacing your floor.

 Asbestos

If you have an older house, you’ll want to make sure the floor doesn’t contain asbestos before you start ripping it out.  Asbestos was used as a fireproof building material for many decades before it was realized it could cause lung cancer.  In its undisturbed form there are few problems, but if its fibres are allowed to fly about, severe health problems can ensue.  If your floor was installed previous to 1980, you should call in an expert for analysis.

Cost

Although certain materials such as marble can be incredibly expensive, you’ll also want to avoid the other end of the spectrum and refrain from installing a floor that’s too cheap.  You don’t want to have to be replacing your floor every few years.  Beware of cheap flooring materials that will save you money in the short run but cost you a fortune in frequent replacements.

 Resale Value

Realtors will tell you that hardwood floors have some of the best resale values of all flooring types available.  Home buyers find them more flexible when it comes to decorating or remodeling compared to materials such as carpets or higher end stone.  They also provide a sleek and attractive yet neutral first impression when compared with other flooring materials.

 Moisture And Humidity

Understanding that amount of moisture and humidity a certain room will experience should play an important role in what type of floor you install in that room.  Certain flooring materials do not stand up well to moisture and therefore should be avoided in places like the bathroom and kitchen.  Keep this in mind when deciding where you’ll be using specific types of flooring materials.

vinyl flooring

3 Great Vinyl Flooring Options

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Luxury vinyl flooring has become more prevalent in houses in recent years due to advances in its construction, texture and looks.  Vinyl patterns and styles can be used to resemble hardwood and stone flooring without the inherent drawbacks of those materials. Vinyl is easy to clean while remaining waterproof.  As opposed to stone and hardwood, vinyl resists stains and is a cheap fix if anything untoward happens. This article covers three types of vinyl flooring options that can be tailored to match your home decor.

Vinyl Sheets

Vinyl sheets are easy to install and look great once laid down.  The sheets are specially made for visual impact and there is a wide range of patterns and designs to choose from.  A new innovation with vinyl sheets is known as inlaid vinyl. Inlaid vinyl has coloured granules embedded in the sheets giving them a depth that’s not found in solid colours.  These granules give vinyl sheets a wider range of colours and visual textures. Because of their waterproof characteristics vinyl sheets work well in areas prone to moisture such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Vinyl Planks

Vinyls planks work well for mimicking hardwood flooring without the cost.  As opposed to vinyl planks, hardwood floors are prone to stains, scratches and water damage.  Every vinyl plank will have a unique pattern which gives the entire floor a natural hardwood look.  Self adhesive vinyl planks are much more stable than floating hardwood flooring while remaining easy to install.  Install vinyl planks in any room that you envision the look of a hardwood floor at a fraction of the cost.

Vinyl Tiles

Vinyl tiles are made to replicate the look of natural stone tiles without the cost or weight.  Stone tiles are some of the most expensive flooring options available and advances in vinyl manufacturing have created a great looking option.  Vinyl will also feel much better underfoot as it won’t be as cold or hard as stone tiles. Other advantages of vinyl tiles compared to stone are the ease of repair, a less slippery foundation and a more forgiving surface for dropped items such as kitchenware and glass.

 

questions

3 Questions to Ask Before Buying Your Floor

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Of all the parts that come together to make up a home, floors can be the trickiest. We use them every day and between kids, pets, parties, dirt, etc. they take a beating! Which is why making the decision to purchase the best flooring for your home is so important. Many of us may know this, but not know where to begin. Which is why we have created a list with some of the top questions you should as before buying your brand new floor.

What does each type of wood do best?

Part of choosing the right flooring is understanding what different types of flooring can offer to families. For example, Brazilian Walnut or Oak do very well with high traffic areas. Think about the space you will be adding flooring and what it will be used for. Then talk to your local floor specialist about which options fit that situation best.

What flooring will Fido not ruin?

For those of us with pets, we know they can be as destructive as they are lovable. Look for flooring that will be able to stand up to all the challenges that can come with owning a pet. This may be wood that can handle scratches from sharp nails or flooring that is easily affected by wet substances, like potty accidents. Also, consider how easy it is to clean your floors. Some pets require extensive amounts of clean up, make sure your floors are not so delicate they cannot take the stress.

Should I pay for professional installation?

While it may appear installing hardwood floors are as easy as laying down some glue and getting the pieces to fit just right it is actually much more complex. Professional flood installation requires years of training that will help you understand things like how to properly prep a surface and position the planks properly.

Flooring can be expensive but well worth it. When you buy quality floors made for your home then install them properly, you are ensuring you will have beautiful floors for the longest time possible. This is why it is so important to do your due diligence and ask questions when going through this exciting process.

kitchen floors

The Best Flooring Ideas for Your Kitchen

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Vinyl Planks

Vinyl planks give the appearance of hardwood floors without the drawbacks. As opposed to hardwood flooring, vinyl is completely waterproof which makes it ideal for kitchens. Vinyl is also available in a wide range of styles that mimic hardwood planks including designs like herringbone and parquet. Vinyl is typically cheaper than hardwood and can save you a lot of money if your kitchen is large.

Waterproof Laminates

Quite new on the market and maybe not so easy to find, but perfect for the kitchen floor, are waterproof laminates. The planks are coated in a water repellent coating which make moisture problems a thing of the past. Even the grooves are invincible to dampness making these laminates highly sought after for kitchen use. The natural wood look and feel of waterproof laminate planks, along with their ease of installation, have made this new innovation very popular.

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood planks are more durable than laminate or vinyl floorings. The thin veneer of solid wood on their surface also gives them an authentic look and feel, while being less vulnerable to subfloor moisture that so often adversely affects solid hardwood. Engineered wood is available in a wide range of styles and colours that makes it versatile enough for use in almost any home.

Bamboo

Bamboo has become more popular for use in the kitchen due to its reputation for durability. The fact that it’s also eco friendly, due to its fast growth, has made it popular among new homeowners. That said, bamboo is sensitive to moisture, so you may need to place throw rugs in front of the sink and fridge or wherever else splashed water might be a problem.

Cork

Cork is another material that has become popular as a kitchen flooring material in recent years. Part of this has to do with its eco friendliness, but it’s also very comfortable under the foot. Cork has a unique look and is quite resilient although it is prone to denting and scratching.