Archive for the ‘Flooring’ Category

Non-Slip Kitchen Floors Reduce Risk Of Accidents

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Slip and fall accidents are a common cause of at-home injuries; and the kitchen is a location where this type of accident often occurs. That’s because kitchens generally have a smooth floor made of tile, linoleum, or hardwood. When this surface gets wet during cooking and cleaning (or when someone drops an ice cube on the floor), it’s all too easy to put a foot wrong. What can you do to reduce the risk of slipping on your kitchen floor?

Install Slip Resistant Flooring

There are actually a number of products that create a non-skid surface. Commercial kitchens often feature rubberized concrete coatings to prevent accidents. However, you will probably want something a little more attractive for residential use. Cork is one option for homeowners who like hardwood but don’t want a slick surface. This material can be sealed to keep out moisture and is highly durable – perfect for high traffic areas.

kitchen-floorCeramic tiles don’t have to be slippery. Many manufacturers offer these in non-skid varieties for use in wet areas (bathrooms, kitchens, and poolside). Vinyl flooring products can also be purchased in styles that are designed for greater home safety. Finally, rubber flooring is always an option – and an especially good choice if you spend a lot of time on your feet in the kitchen. Now that it is being used more frequently in residential applications, there are plenty of colors to choose from.

Concrete Kitchen Flooring Options

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Even for home owners who love wall to wall carpet, there is one room in the house that always has hard flooring. That’s the kitchen. Tile is currently the most popular option for this area, but alternatives are starting to garner attention in the home improvement world as well. Finishing the surface of bare concrete to create a variety of attractive effects is a great example.

Of course, concrete needs to be relatively unmarked for this to look good. The slab must be protected during construction or repaired after the existing flooring is removed. It should be free of pitting, flaking, dips, and uneven patches. Hairline cracks are usually ignored since they can be masked with a visually interesting pattern.

The Finishing Touches

Stained Concrete

Stained Concrete

Multi-colored stains or glazes are often used to create a faux marble or natural stone look for concrete. The floor may be scored or etched to add interest. For large, abstract designs, dyes are often used over staining to develop eye popping colors. Sealer and wax are applied on top of the colorant to preserve it and protect the underlying surface.

If your concrete slab is too damaged to be easily smoothed out for staining, an overlay may be your best bet. These can be sprayed on, poured on, or applied with a gauge rake to ensure a perfectly level result. The surface may be stamped or stenciled to create the look of tile. Color can be incorporated into the mix or applied after the overlay is dry depending on the product used.

What You Need To Know About Bamboo Flooring

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Bamboo is a very fast-growing renewable resource. It has been used for centuries in countries like China for all sorts of tools and building materials. It can be used as a substitute for a variety of items (including paper) that are normally made from wood or other fibers in the West.

Bamboo is lightweight; but it can be very hard as well. Quality bamboo floors tend to be about twice as hard as oak and extremely durable. The grain is similar in appearance to that of more traditional hardwoods making it an excellent substitute.

How Bamboo is Prepared

When high-quality bamboo is first harvested, it is already very strong. Boiling, chemical treatments, and gluing processes make it much stronger. It also becomes resistant to termites, scratches, and UV light damage.

The length of boiling time will control the carbonization of the grain. This determines the darkness and final look of the flooring. Once it is dried, it can be treated to resist moisture.

The Right Stuff

Several types of bamboo flooring are available. Solid bamboo is often not the most expensive option. Nor is it considered the best choice in many cases. The various treatments used to make the other kinds of bamboo flooring render them more durable. Some contractors consider the strand woven products to be the best.

Be cautious when you go shopping. While old growth bamboo is quite strong, new growth tends to be very soft. New growth products have recently flooded the market to keep up with demand. Such materials can be far inferior to hardwood flooring.

Purchase quality flooring from a reputable dealer who offers a reliable guarantee. Good bamboo products should last 25 years or more. Junk bamboo may need to be replaced after a single year. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is the fingernail test. If your fingernail makes a mark in the material, it is poor quality.

How To Fix Scratches on Hardwood Floors

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Most hardwood flooring is made from either oak or maple and then stained to achieve the preferred tone or finish. If you have a beautiful hardwood floor, you want it to stay that way for decades. A hard, polyurethane protective coat on top of the wood finish can help. This layer tends to minimize deep scratches into the surface. However, despite your best efforts wood floors will eventually become scratched.

Fortunately, fixing these scratches is relatively easy

First assess the extent of the damage. Minor blemishes can be sanded smooth with steel wool or extremely fine sandpaper. More extensive ones will require heavier duty sandpaper. Always sand with the grain of the wood and do so slightly on either side of the scratch as well as directly over the damaged area itself.

Finish with 0000 steel wool (or very fine paper if you starting with a heavier grade). Wipe the area clean with a rag dipped in water for water based finishes and mineral spirits for oil or polyurethane based ones.

The repair area needs to match the rest of the wood finish. With minor scratches, the sanding may not have even reached the bare wood. For deeper scratches you may need to apply premixed wood filler or perform a subsequent stain touchup.

Dry Brush Finishing Method

Refinish the surface using the dry brush technique. Dip the very tip of a dry paint brush in varnish or polyurethane. The bristles should be almost completely dry before you touch them to your hardwood flooring. Brush lightly over the repair area with long strokes in the direction of the grain of the wood.

If you need more varnish, you can always brush on additional coats later. The idea is to not overdo it; this would create a puddle on the floor. Let the top coat dry over night; don’t let anyone walk on the repair site while it dries.

Flooring Your Sunroom

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Sunroom FlooringSunrooms are often added later in the life of a house. This means you may not be able to exactly match the flooring in this type of addition to what you already have in other areas of your home. Tile, carpet, and other products are often produced in “lots” that vary from one run to the next. So, finding an option that simply compliments your existing flooring is your best bet.

Laminates

Faux wood and tile laminates are the least expensive flooring options. They are easy to keep clean. If you expect mud to be tracked into your sunroom, consider one of these materials. They can look very nice if you choose a durable, name brand product.

Carpet

If you plan on using your sunroom as a cozy conservatory, you may wish to carpet it. High quality UV blocking glass will reduce carpet’s tendency to fade in the sun. Select a stain resistant indoor/outdoor product for this area if you have kids or pets.

Tile

This is a classic flooring material for sunrooms. However, it will be chilly underfoot until the sun warms it up. Add textured throw rugs made from natural fibers such as sisal or coconut to wake your feet up. Or, install under-floor heating to make this flooring more comfortable.

Wood

Depending on the style of your sunroom, you may want a natural wood deck surface underfoot. The darker you stain it, the more warmth it will absorb from the sun. Seal it just as you would an outdoor deck to keep out moisture. Apply a scratch resistant finish to keep the wood looking nice.

Concrete

Are you having a fresh concrete slab poured for your sunroom? If so, it won’t have blemishes like adhesive residue or scratches typically found after pulling up existing carpet or tile. This means the concrete surface will be in perfect condition for glazing – a very modern effect.