FAQ: Ceramic & Porcelain Tile

Ceramic and Porcelain tile offer many advantages. Their durability makes them the work horses of flooring. They are available in a vast array of colors, shapes, sizes and designs which makes them suitable for any room in your home. From old world, to traditional, to modern contemporary, Ceramic and Porcelain tile can be incorporated into any aesthetic. They are easy to clean and maintain as they are odor, moisture and stain resistant. These tiles are also resistant to bacteria and allergens making them an excellent choice for bathrooms and kitchens.
Ceramic tiles are made up of a combination of clays, polymers and powders that are fired in a kiln for a set time and at a set temperature. This process gives the tile its strength and stability.

Porcelain tiles are a type of Ceramic tile with some unique production differences. Porcelain is pressed under high pressure and fired at a higher temperature for a longer period of time than Ceramic. This process results in a tile that is very dense and strong with low porosity.

Yes. Some tiles are specified for wall installation only. These tiles are typically thinner and their glazes are not formulated to handle the heavy wear of foot traffic. Floor tiles are often applied to walls as long as the wall can support the weight of the tiles and proper installation procedures are applied.
If properly installed and maintained, these tiles can last a lifetime, with Porcelain being the more durable of the two.
Ceramic and Porcelain tile floors are among the easiest to maintain.  Sweep or vacuum often and when mopping, always use a cleaner that is pH neutral.  Never use cleaners containing bleach, ammonia, or acid as they could compromise the stability of the finish and the tile itself. When occasional spills happen, simply clean them up with a damp sponge or cloth. It is recommended to have floor mats placed at the exterior and interior entrances of your home to help prevent dirt and debris from entering.

FAQ: Travertine

Travertine is an extremely durable flooring material that if properly maintained can last for centuries as exemplified by ancient ruins in Europe. This beautiful stone possesses a unique look comprised of subtle monochromatic tones. Travertine is a resource that is naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial which makes it an environmentally friendly product.
Travertine is a natural stone product.  Color and shading can vary because it is a natural stone. The minerals that make up natural stones can be reactive to certain acidic solutions such as vinegars and fruit juices. The floor tiles should be sealed which provides some protection. Sealing helps the stone in being stain resistant but not stain proof.
This procedure is highly recommended. Sealing a porous stone like Travertine will help maintain its beauty by protecting it from staining and pitting. Resealing is recommended once every 3-5 years (depending on the amount of traffic it receives and the quality of the sealer used).
Sweep or vacuum (with the beater turned off) regularly. In an effort to keep abrasive materials (such as sand) from damaging the finish, place door mats near exterior entryways as well as inside the entrance. Clean spills immediately with a damp sponge or cloth using a neutral cleanser. Do not use vinegar or any acidic cleanser on your Travertine. String mops are preferred over sponge mobs as sponge mops can push the dirt into pits and grout lines where as string mops tend to “grab” dirt and hold onto it.

FAQ: Limestone

Limestone is a beautiful and versatile flooring choice. It comes in a variety of colors, tones and textures which allows it to enhance many design styles. Limestone has an earthy, timeless appeal.
Limestone can be less expensive when compared to other natural stone products such as Marble.
Family rooms and dens tend to be rooms designed and decorated to reflect a casual, relaxed atmosphere. The muted tones and textures of Limestone help create a soothing, warm feeling.
Keeping abrasive materials off of the floor to avoid scratching its surface is key to floor maintenance.  This is accomplished by frequently sweeping or vacuuming the floor as well as door mats placed at entrances and exits to collect and prevent dirt from entering the home. Clean up spills immediately with a soft cloth or mop using a neutral cleanser. Never use cleaners that contain acid (such as bath and tub cleaners), or any general purpose cleaners containing vinegar, ammonia or bleach. Use a cleaner that is pH neutral.

FAQ: Marble

The biggest advantage of using Marble flooring is its ability to instantly elevate the status and grandeur of a room. The elegance of Marble is unsurpassed. It is often used in the creation of mosaics due to its tolerance to being cut into various shapes and sizes. Marble is also a very good conductor of heat, making it a great choice to use when installing a below surface radiant heating system to create a warm cozy flooring under foot.
Marble has been used as a floor covering for centuries. With proper cleaning and maintenance, it can retain its beauty for years and years to come. Marble is however susceptible to damage from acidic and  abrasions. Because it is a porous material (meaning that spilled liquids could seep into the body of the stone) a sealer or impregnator should be applied to protect the surface and help retain its natural beauty.
Marble is a popular choice for bathrooms because of its smooth appearance, wide variety of subtle to bold colors and its flowing patterns.  Marble also lends itself well to being intricately carved then applied to fireplaces surrounds. Note that Marble should be sealed when used in bathroom applications.
The first rule of thumb in keeping your floors pristine is to clean up any spills as quickly as possible! Especially spills that contain acidic liquids such as tomato or orange juice or vinegar based products as they will harm the finish.  Sweep or vacuum often and clean your Marble floors when needed with a pH neutral cleanser using a soft cloth for spot cleaning or a mop for larger areas.

To maintain your Marble floors beautiful appearance keep abrasive materials (such as sand) from entering your home and damaging the floors finish by placing  door mats near exterior entryways as well as inside the entrance. The mats will capture the dirt particles and prevent them from harming the floors surface.

FAQ: Slate

There are many advantages to using Slate as a floor covering.  One is its unique appearance.  Slate comes in many geometric shapes, textures and colors making it an extremely versatile stone.  It lends itself to almost any design style.

Slate is also a very durable stone. Its inherent durability makes it resistant to cracks and scratches. Slate is naturally weather resistant as it tolerates drastic temperature changes very well.

Slate flooring is excellent at transmitting and retaining heat which makes it an ideal choice if you are interested in installing a radiant heating system beneath it.

Slates use is only limited by your imagination. It can be used anywhere inside or outside the home. Flooring, feature walls, hearths as well as exterior applications such as patios, pool decks and pathways.
Slates earthy and rustic appearance makes it a natural choice for exterior applications. Due to its durability and natural slip resistance even when wet, Slate is a great material to use on patios, walkways or pool areas.
As with all natural stone products, frequent sweeping/vacuuming and mopping is key to maintaining your Slate flooring. Always vacuum/sweep before mopping.  Mop only with a pH neutral cleanser as acidic chemicals can damage your stone. To maintain your floors beautiful appearance keep abrasive materials  from entering your home and damaging the floors finish by placing  door mats near exterior entryways as well as inside the entrance. The mats will capture the dirt particles and prevent them from harming the floors surface.
Yes, but you must make sure the substrate is properly prepared for driveway use.

FAQ: Wood

Solid Wood flooring is just that….a solid piece of wood from top to bottom.  The wood plank has tongue and groove sides and can come prefinished or unfinished. One of the many benefits of solid wood is that it can be sanded and refinished many times.  Solid Wood floors will react to the presence of moisture more so than engineered wood. In colder weather when the heat is on, moisture leaves the wood causing the floor to contract.  In the summer when the humidity is higher, the wood can expand. Too much moisture can cause the wood to cup or buckle. Because of this fact, it is important to maintain the proper humidity level in your home in order to protect your solid hardwood floor. Because of the moisture issue, Solid Wood flooring cannot be installed below grade (such as basements).

 Engineered Wood flooring is made of real wood. It is manufactured using multiple layers of wood veneers with each layer running perpendicular to the other resulting in a flooring product that is dimensionally stable and more durable than Solid Wood.  Because of its construction, Engineered flooring will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring when humidity and temperature levels fluctuate. Therefore, Engineered Wood flooring can be installed below or above grade.  An asset of some Engineered Woods is an aluminum oxide finish which results in a hard protective finish. Note, a flooring professional should be consulted when considering sanding and finishing an Engineered Floor.

An unfinished wood flooring product is shipped from the factory in its natural state.  The process of sanding, staining and finishing are done on site once the boards have been installed. A prefinished wood flooring product has been sanded, stained and finished at the factory.
  • Allows for selection of custom stain color
  • Allows a better chance of closely matching existing hardwood flooring.
  • Some wood species and or plank sizes are only available in an unfinished state.
  • Custom designs/inlays can be installed.
  • Floors can be walked on immediately after installation. No curing or drying time needed.
  • The flooring product arrives sanded and finished.
  • No chemical odors.
  • No dust from the sanding process.
  • High performance finishes are applied and dried in a factory controlled environment.
What finish to select is a matter of personal preference. A High gloss finish will offer you the most shine as it will reflect the most light. Semi-gloss finishes offer some shine, with Satin offering less, and a Matte finish will offer the least amount of shine. All of these finishes offer the same protection to your floor. The only difference is the sheen. Keep in mind that a matte finish will show less imperfections while a high gloss finish tends to accentuate imperfections such a small scratches.
Selecting a species of wood flooring is completely a matter of personal preference, use and budget. Keep in mind your design style when selecting your wood product. Lighter woods such as maple or ash will give a room an open, airy feel. Medium tone woods such as oak or hickory tend to reflect a warm, cozy feeling while dark woods such as walnut or mahogany give the room a stately, refined appearance. You also need to consider how your floor will be used. Are you empty nesters or do you have an active household with children and pets? Wood varies in hardness from species to species. Each wood species is rated for its hardness and durability using the Janka Scale. This rating system can give you a good indication of how well your wood floor will hold up under your lifestyle and living conditions.
Yes. According to NWFA National Wood Flooring Association over 95% of Interior Designers find that wood floors work beautifully with most design styles. Whether modern, traditional or formal wood flooring compliments the decor and style of the room.
Yes. Wood is a renewable resource. On the 486 million acres of forestland in the United States, substantially more wood is added in new growth each year than is harvested. Also legislation such as the Lacey Act protects the industry by requiring all importers to declare the species and country of origin of any wood product. The Act makes it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any wood that comes from illegally logged trees. The Lacey Act protects forests worldwide from deforestation and prevents illegitimate wood products from entering the United States.
Yes. Wood flooring will add significant value to your home. According to a survey commissioned by the National Wood Flooring Association, by a four to one margin residential real estate agents say that a house with Wood floors will sell faster than a house without Wood floors. 90% say a house with Wood flooring would bring a higher price.
Preventing abrasive particles from getting on your floor in the first place is the best way to guard against scratches. By placing floor mats at entryways into your home they can trap the dirt particles and prevent them from entering your home and scratching the surface. Also frequent sweeping or vacuuming helps remove and particles that rugs or mats failed to contain.

Your best defense against pets scratching your Wood floors is by having your pets nails trimmed on a regular basis.

Place stick-on felt protectors under furniture legs to prevent scratches. Always pick up furniture to move it. Never slide it along the floor as this could scratch or gouge the wood.

Wood floors do not harbor dust and other microorganisms like other flooring options. Tests by leading allergists have proven that Wood floors provide a healthier environment for allergy sufferers.
Below are the NWFA National Wood Flooring Associations recommendations for cleaning and maintaining wood flooring:

“With today’s advances in Wood flooring stains and finishes, cleaning your Wood floors has never been easier. Regular maintenance requires little more than sweeping with a soft bristle broom, and vacuuming with a soft floor attachment if your Wood floor includes a beveled edge that could collect debris. You should also clean periodically with a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by a Wood flooring professional,“ such as the Bona Cleaning System.

“There are other steps you can take to minimize maintenance and maintain the beauty of your Wood floors as well.

  1. Use throw rugs both inside and outside doorways to help prevent grit, dirt and other debris from being tracked onto your wood floors. This will prevent scratching.
  2. Do not use sheet vinyl or tile floor care products on wood floors. Self-polishing acrylic waxes will cause wood to become slippery and appear dull quickly.
  3. Do not wet mop a wood floor. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood and leave a discoloring residue.
  4. Wipe up spills immediately with a slightly dampened towel.
  5. Put stick-on felt protectors under the legs of furniture to prevent scuffing and scratching. Replace these often as dirt and debris can become imbedded on the pad and act like sand paper on the flooring surface.
  6. Avoid walking on your wood floors with cleats, sports shoes and high heels. A 125 pound woman walking in high heels has the impact of 2,000 pounds per square inch. An exposed heel nail can exert 8,000 pounds per square inch. This kind of impact can dent any floor surface.
  7. When moving heavy furniture, do not slide it on wood flooring. It is best to pick up the furniture completely to prevent scratches.
  8. For wood flooring in the kitchen, place an area rug in front of the kitchen sink.
  9. Use a humidifier throughout the winter months to minimize drying gaps and cracks. A humidity level of at least 35% should be maintained to protect your wood product and prevent shrinkage due to excessive drying.

FAQ: Carpet

Carpet is an ideal choice for almost any room.  There is nothing like the soft feel of Carpet under foot. It adds a warm and cozy feeling to any space as well as acting as an excellent noise buffer. Today’s carpeting comes in such a wide variety of colors and textures it can enhance any design style and décor. Carpet is relatively inexpensive compared to other flooring products and is one of the easiest types of flooring to maintain. Vacuum regularly and clean up spills promptly and have carpets professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months. Today’s advanced stain resistant carpets allow your floors to remain beautiful for years to come.
You should ask yourself several questions before selecting Carpet.

  • Will you have light, medium or heavy traffic on your Carpet?
  • Do you live a formal or casual lifestyle?
  • Do you like patterned or solid carpet?
  • Do you have children and or indoor pets?
  • Are you traditional or trendy?

By answering these questions ahead of time, your Carpet selection process just became easier. Discuss your findings with a flooring professional and they can guide you to your perfect floor.

From an appearance standpoint, Wool is a luxurious and beautiful carpet choice. It is easily cleaned and naturally resists dirt and stains. Because Wool carpets soil less rapidly than manmade fibers do, the reduction in the use of cleaning products makes a positive contribution to the environment. Wool carpet is also naturally flame retardant. It is difficult to ignite and will self extinguish when the flame source is removed. Wool is a natural resource that is renewable and biodegradable and is a non-allergenic fiber and does not promote bacterial growth. It also has a unique ability to absorb moisture so pressure marks from furniture will disappear when the fiber is lightly moistened and allowed to recover.
Carpet color selection is a personal preference. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind:

  • Lighter colors can visually expand a space
  • Darker colors can visually “cozy up” a space
  • Bright colors make a very bold focal statement
  • Neutrals (beige or tans) are very flexible as they work well in almost every décor
  • Earth tones are always a favorite and are also flexible to work with
  • Medium to dark colors as well as textured carpets are good at hiding soil in high traffic areas
  • Look in your clothing closet for color inspiration. Do you wear conservative, neutral colors or bold and bright? If your closet is full of neutrals chances are you will be more comfortable living in a “calmer” color environment.

Most importantly, always take a sample of the Carpet you are considering home with you. The color can look much different in your homes light exposure than it did in showroom.

The longevity and performance of your Carpet is greatly increased by using quality Carpet Padding. It will also improve the feel and comfort of your carpet as well as act as a noise reducer. Carpet Padding also provides valuable insulation qualities.  Carpet Padding contains varying levels  moisture barriers that can prevent liquid spills from penetrating into the pad and subfloor. A good rule to remember is the better the padding the higher the benefits.  Padding with “Pet Protect” is a stand out in this area.
Shedding or piling is normal for new Carpet. When the Carpet is sheared, some pieces will fall back into the Carpet. After installation the pieces loosen. With regular vacuuming most of the shedding will stop after a short period of time.
Most Carpets can be installed over radiant heating systems. Check with your heating system andcarpet manufacturer for their recommendations on carpet and padding specifics.
Per CRI Carpet & Rug Institute, as a rule of thumb, you should vacuum at least once a week with a quality vacuum cleaner. However, the more foot traffic over your Carpet, the more you need to vacuum.

  • Vacuum daily in high-traffic areas.
  • Vacuum twice weekly in medium-traffic areas.
  • Vacuum weekly in light-traffic areas, using attachments at the carpets edges.
  • A quick once-over doesn’t do much. Slow and steady does the trick.
  • When vacuuming, don’t ignore those corners and crevices where dust builds.
  • “Top-down” cleaning saves you the step of vacuuming again after dusting. Dust blinds, windowsills, and furniture surfaces first and then vacuum away fallen dust.
  • Remember to replace or empty vacuum bags when they are half to two-thirds full.
A regular Carpet maintenance program extends the life and original appearance of your Carpet. Today’s Carpet fibers are designed to hide dirt and reflect light and have the ability to resist soiling and stain. However, the lack of apparent soiling does not eliminate the necessity of regular cleaning.  Have your Carpet cleaned by a trained carpet care professional every 12 to 18 months. Check the warranty on your Carpet and follow the cleaning schedule and MAKE SURE you keep your cleaning receipt. You will need to present it in the event of a claim made on your Carpet.
High-performance vacuum cleaners have a significant impact on indoor air quality (IAC). At the same time, vacuums that effectively remove and contain soil will help Carpet last longer while retaining its original beauty. Ultimately, better performing vacuums provide a greater return on your investment and ensure a healthier indoor environment. Use of the CRI Carpet & Rug Institute Seal of Approval/Green Label program assures proper and easy Carpet maintenance.  So look for the Seal of Approval/Green Label Logo or label on packaging, displays and on the machine itself.

Some Carpet styles and types are sensitive to brushing and or rubbing from vacuum brushes or beaters so look for a vacuum that has an adjustable beater bar or even a feature to turn the beater bar off completely so just suction only will be used. Now every style Carpet or rug in your house can be safely maintained by using one vacuum cleaner. It pays to do your homework before making a vacuum cleaner purchase.

FAQ: Natural Fiber Flooring

Sisal, Sisal Wool, Seagrass, Jute and Coir are some of the most popular natural fiber carpet/rugs.
Aside from its visual beauty, natural fiber flooring is very durable for residential and light commercial use. It adds an organic look of nature to a space. It is a non-toxic, anti-static product. Because it is plant based, the natural fibers can help maintain indoor humidity levels by absorbing moisture from the air and then releasing it into dry air.
Sisal is a rugged fiber that is extracted from the leaves of the agave plant. Over half of the Sisal produced comes from the East Africa region, an area that is considered to be the producer of some of the highest quality Sisal.  Because of its fine consistency it can be spun into a smoother yarn. The Sisal fiber is sustainably harvested by hand, where some fibers can be up to 3 feet in length. Sisal is stronger and more durable than other natural fibers.
As the name implies, it is a combination of t Sisal and Wool. This creates the look and the durability of Sisal along with the soft feel of Wool, which is too a natural product.
Natural Fiber rugs are durable products that can last up to 10 years depending of course on the amount of traffic it receives and its exposure to moisture.
Seagrass flooring is made from fibers that come from tall reed-like grasses that grow in the wet areas of South Asia-Pacific region. These non-porous fibers are smooth and reflect a slight natural sheen. Seagrass is almost never dyed and comes in a variation of soft sage colors which allows it to hide dirt very well and naturally resist stains.
Jute is a long, soft shiny fiber removed from the stalk of plants grown in the Bengal Delta Plain of India and Bangladesh.  After harvesting, the stalks are bundled and soaked in water for approximately 20 days to loosen the fibers and allow them to be separated. Then the fibers are stripped, washed, dried. Jute is a soft fiber and has a similar feel as cotton.
Coir is fiber that is taken from the husk that surrounds the coconut.  This fiber is very durable and is commonly used in manufacturing welcome mats. Coir is very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity so it is not recommended for use in a wall to wall application. It can warp and shift.
Natural Fiber rugs are durable products that can last up to 10 years depending of course on the amount of traffic it receives and its exposure to moisture.
Natural fiber flooring is easy to maintain. It does not show dirt readily as dirt does not cling to the fibers. Regular vacuuming is the best care you can give this type of flooring. It will prevent dirt build-up from evolving into a stain.  Special note: When vacuuming sisal wool carpet/rugs set the vacuum on the highest level and turn off the beater bar. The suction alone will be sufficient to remove any dirt and your carpet/rug will not be damaged.

Steam cleaning is NOT recommended for natural fiber flooring. Wet shampooing or any method of cleaning that involves a significant amount water should be avoided. It is best to use a dry cleaning process if a deep cleaning is deemed necessary. Consult your carpet cleaning professional on this procedure. During the dry season, Sisal products should be lightly “misted” with water once every 2 to 3 months to prevent excessive drying and cracking.

When a spill occurs, remove it immediately by blotting with a white cloth. Do NOT rub the spill, blot only).  If water spills on a natural fiber rug, blot as much up immediately then dry with a hairdryer or fan to avoid watermarks.

FAQ: Laminate

Laminate flooring is a highly durable and long lasting flooring product.  Its aluminum oxide surface one of the hardest substances on earth. The Laminate core is high density fiberboard which allows this product to be extremely dent resistant. With minimal maintenance, Laminate floors will last a very long time.
Some of the many advantages of Laminate flooring are its durability and its affordable cost. It is easy to clean, easy to maintain, can be installed on all grade levels, even below grade. Laminate flooring has exceptional stain and fade resistance as well as impact and indention resistance.
Laminate floors are easy to clean and maintain. It’s always recommended to read the warranty from the manufacturer of your Laminate flooring. Adhere to their cleaning methods so your warranty stays in place.  Before mopping, it is a good idea to vacuum the floor (make sure the beater bar is turned off to avoid scratches) to remove dirt and debris. Some manufactures prefer mopping with diluted ammonia or vinegar or they may recommend specific cleaning products specific to your brand of flooring. Again, check your warranty. DO NOT wet mop your laminate floor with a bucket of water. A spray bottle and a micro- fiber mop works best.
Laminate is considered hypoallergenic due to its closed cell surface that doesn’t trap dirt, dust or other organisms that can trigger allergy symptoms.
Installing Laminate in areas that are subject to high levels of moisture such as full bathrooms or rooms containing saunas is NOT recommended. Moisture exposure can cause the core of the flooring to warp or swell.
Yes Laminate can be installed on stairs providing the product is glued down with construction adhesive and a stair nose transition is used.
Scratches in Laminate can be masked or covered up with a furniture pencil or marker that is color matched.  Gouges and or chips can often be repaired by with color matched wood filler.
No.  The gloss level is determined during the manufacturing process. It cannot be changed or altered after the fact.

FAQ: Vinyl

Vinyl flooring is very cost effective as it provides the look of natural materials but a much lower cost. The multiple specialized wear layers allow it to be scratch, stain, dent and scuff resistant. Vinyl flooring is inherently water resistant and fairly impervious to wet spills.
Due to its moisture resistance, Vinyl flooring can be installed in wet areas such as a bathroom, kitchen or laundry.
Vinyl flooring can last anywhere from 5 to 30 plus years. There are quality differences between Vinyl flooring products that can vary the longevity greatly. Care and maintenance also plays a major role as well.
Vinyl flooring is very durable as it is constructed to withstand high traffic areas in residential as well as commercial applications. Its construction consists of specialized wear layers 20 to 40mil thick and is top coated with urethane for enhanced durability.  It is not unusual to see a 20-25 year warranty on brand name Vinyl products.
Vinyl flooring is very easy to maintain. Simply vacuum or dust mop regularly and damp mop when needed. Check the manufacturer’s warranty and follow their cleaning product recommendations in order to maintain the product warranty.
Vinyl flooring does come in different shapes and sizes and can vary by manufacturer. Some are available in a plank size such as 3”x 36” or a typical tile size of 12”x 12”, 18”x 18”or 12”x 24” just to note a few.