Friday, September 7, 2012

Laminate Flooring Throughout the House

What It Is

The advent of laminate flooring has changed the way designers view floors in a house. It has enabled the creation of living spaces with a base restricted only by the designer's imagination.

Laminate flooring, in its simplest form, is a photographic image imposed upon a number of base layers, and then cut into a number of regular sized boards which lock together, either with or without the use of adhesive.

Why Use It?

Firstly, laminate flooring is an economically sound proposition. Although it can be manufactured to look like expensive wood, tiling, marble etc., it is a fraction of the cost.

It is easy to install, doing away with the need for expensive contractors. The only requisite for a fabulous finish is a level sub-floor for it to be attached to.

Finally, it is relatively maintenance-free. It will not stain or scratch easily, and it is usually UV treated so that fading is not an issue. In the worst case scenario, if a board needs to be replaced, the procedure is easy and cheap. The life of the average floor ranges between fifteen and twenty years.

Where can You Use It?

Laminate flooring is suitable for use throughout the home, but some care is needed in the selection of the correct grade for the area concerned.

Light Traffic Areas

These areas, which would include such rooms as bedrooms, are the ones where the designer can let their imagination run free. All types of laminate are suitable for these areas, from the conventional 'wood -grain' effect, to the ultra-modern Disney themed photographic print floors for children's nurseries. As the floor is subject to minimal foot traffic, durability of the floor is not really an issue, and there are no restrictions on what can be used.

Heavy Traffic Areas

These would include areas such as lounges or hallways, and more consideration needs to be given to the durability of the backing boards, perhaps selecting a thicker board to ensure an economic life span for the floor. As detailed above, the whole range of designs is usually readily available, once again making laminate a sound choice.

Kitchens and Bathrooms

These areas would normally present a challenge to the designer, due to the presence of moisture in the atmosphere, and the possibility of water being spilled on the floor.

Once again, laminate can provide the ideal solution for kitchen flooring, but you would have to use boards which are certified water resistant. This would rule out the cheaper 'click together' flooring, as the joints would allow the ingress of water, eventually destroying the floor. For this application you need to use a more expensive floor that is either glued together when laid, or has wax in the joints, forming a water-tight seal when the boards are pressed together. These floors are also available in a wide range of designs, providing a viable solution in an area where wood or carpet would be seriously inappropriate, and tiling seriously expensive.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The History of Bamboo Flooring

For thousands of years the bamboo plant has been used as a versatile and popular building material in East Asia and Southeast Asia. China is known as the Kingdom of Bamboo, as it is home to over 400 different species of bamboo, and boasts the most bamboo of any other country. In ancient China, bamboo was also used to make books, paper, and food. In testament to its strength, bamboo was even used historically in the support of suspension bridges. Today bamboo is still regularly used to make scaffolding in the building of skyscrapers in Hong Kong.

Because bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, it is currently enjoying great popularity as a sustainable and natural resource. Bamboo plants can regenerate themselves within 4-6 years, whereas hard wood trees can require 20-120 years to regrow to maturity. Laminated bamboo flooring became popular in the Western world in the 1990's and has grown into a staple product for large retailers such as Home Depot. In considering the history of bamboo and bamboo flooring, much of the rise in popularity of this building material is a direct result of the incredible trade boom in China that has taken place over the last twenty years.

The bamboo flooring that is currently being marketed is a laminate flooring material made of the Moso, or Mao, variety of bamboo plant and grown in China. To make the laminate flooring small strips of bamboo are boiled to kill bugs or bacteria in the material; the boiling also hardens the bamboo through heat. The bamboo is then laid down in strips, dried, planned, and then coated several times with a durable and clear polyurethane. When dried the bamboo laminate floor is harder than many varieties of hard wood floors. The finished bamboo floor is lustrous and flexible with a texture that looks very much like the woodgrain of a hardwood floor.

The combination of longevity and flexibility makes the bamboo plant an excellent choice for creating fabric, paper, and laminate flooring. Bamboo flooring is a bargain priced to sell at 25-50% less expensive when compared to the cost of hard wood flooring. Another benefit of bamboo flooring is that it is resistant to moisture and insects, making it sanitary, allergenic, and mold resistant.

The popularity of bamboo flooring is likely to increase in the decades to come. This affordable, eco-friendly, sustainable, and beautiful building material is certain to remain so as long as the quality remains high and the price stays low.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Pros And Cons Of Selecting Flooring

Choosing the right flooring for your home can be a challenging task. Knowing which floors are best for which rooms is a combination of research and taste, what you like and what you can have is often 2 different things. For example, to install a carpet in a bathroom or basement would not be a good choice: basements are prone to sewer backups or accidental flooding, and bathrooms are typically an area which is exposed to moisture and water, which can ruin an expensive carpet. On the other hand, ceramic, porcelain or granite tiles would be an excellent selection for these areas, due to it's near-invulnerability to water. We will examine the pros and cons of different types of flooring, to help homeowners and contractors alike in the decision-making process, and to choose the right types of flooring for the home.
The most common types of flooring are:
  1. Carpet
  2. Laminate
  3. Bamboo
  4. Tile & Stone
  5. Sheet Vinyl
  6. Vinyl Tile
  7. Hardwood / Engineered Wood
Pros: Comfortable to walk on; Has a wide range of pattern and colors; Reduces noise in a room; Hides imperfections in the sub-floor; Can range in price, from cheap to expensive.
Cons: Shows considerable wear in high traffic areas; tends to stain, even stain resistant carpets; Easily soiled and damaged by water.
Maintenance: Frequent vacuuming; Spot cleaning with stain removers; Periodic shampooing and steam cleaning; Application of stain repellents every 3rd cleaning, if necessary.
Pros: Inexpensive alternative to hardwood flooring; Easy installation, either glue-down or floating method; Easy to clean.
Cons: Can chip and scratch easily; Prone to water damage; Damaged sections hard to replace without taking up the entire floor.
Maintenance: Periodic cleaning with laminate flooring cleaner recommended by manufacturer; Water, soap and a damp cloth for spot cleaning; Scratched areas can be blended in with special markers.
Pros: Long lasting and flexible flooring material; Various Patterns, strains and variations of wood; Moisture-resistant; Reasonably priced.
Cons: Prone to dings and bangs; Some Installations is similar to hardwood flooring, specialized tools, such as miter saws and table saws, are required; Bad installation can cause tendency to swell.
Maintenance: Specialty Cleaning products; Damp mopping.
Tile And Stone.
Pros: Wide range of colors, sizes and designs; Suitable for high traffic areas, especially unglazed tiles or stone; Long lasting; Excellent moisture and water resistance.
Cons: chips, cracks and scratches, especially glazed tiles; Slippery when wet; Surface hard to stand on for extended periods of time; The grout collects dirt over time; Amplifies room noise.
Maintenance: Sweep or damp mop; Apply grout sealer every 3 months or as directed, re-grout as needed.
Sheet Vinyl.
Pros: Practical and inexpensive; Can cover sub-flooring with slight imperfections; Comfortable underfoot; Price comparable to quality.
Cons: Tends to stain; Shows wear in high traffic areas; Tends to scuff, gouge and tear over time.
Maintenance: Sweep; Damp mop.
Vinyl Tiles.
Pros: Can be mastic-applied or peel and stick; Easy to install and repair; Low in costs.
Cons: Limited colors and designs; Seams between tiles fill with dirt; Tiles can pop up; High traffic areas show wear over time.
Maintenance: Sweep; Damp mop.
Hardwood / Engineered Wood.
Pros: Natural beauty and long-lasting, especially oak; Timeless appeal; Comes in strips, planks, or parquet tiles.
Cons: Not waterproof; Scratches and scuffs; Requires re-sanding and re-finishing after years of use; Moderate to difficult to install.
Maintenance: Sweep or Vacuum; Clean as directed by manufacturer.
Flooring can be one of the best investments you can make for your home. Combined with other improvements, like painting or decorating, it can totally transform the appearance of a room. There are many different types of flooring available on the market today, so shop around, ask questions, and choose wisely!

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