FREE DESIGNS AND ESTIMATES

How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors

Article by: Bonnie McCarthy

Although installing hardwood flooring is usually more expensive than rolling out new carpet, it’s an investment worth considering, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. Surveys show that 54 percent of home buyers are willing to pay more for a house with hardwood floors. The question now: What’s the best way to clean and care for that popular flooring and keep that natural beauty (and value) shining through? Here’s how.

It’s not the wood — oak, maple, mesquite, bamboo, engineered hardwood or something more exotic — that determines how the floors should be cleaned, but rather the finish.

Surface finishes, often referred to as urethanes or polyurethanes, are among the most popular treatments today and are usually applied to hardwood floors after installation to protect them and make them more durable and water resistant. These finishes create a protective barrier. There are four types of surface finishes, according to the American Hardwood Information Center: water based, oil based, acid cured and moisture cured.

Homes built before 1970, including historic residences, may have original wood floors that were sealed with varnish, wax or shellac. These require a different approach to cleaning. The American Hardwood Information Center says these types of finishes work by penetrating the wood to color the planks and form a protective shield. Using a wax coating after staining provides a barrier against wear and tear and gives the floor a beautiful low-gloss satin sheen. The classic look requires a little extra TLC, however, since water-based products and mopping can damage the finish.

How to Determine Your Wood Floor Finish

To figure out whether or not your wood floors are finished with a polyurethane, shellac, wax or varnish, or have a finish that has worn away and is no longer providing coverage, the American Hardwood Information Center suggests these tests:

  • Run your hand over the wood. If you can feel the texture of the grain, the floor has a “penetrating” finish (usually a combination of a natural oil, such as linseed or tung oil, mixed with additives for drying) topped with wax.
  • In an out-of-the-way spot, dab on a little paint remover. If the finish bubbles up, it is a surface finish, like polyurethane, which coats the floor in a protective layer.
  • In an out-of-the-way area, place a few drops of water. If the water beads up and does not soak into the wood, the finish on the floor is intact. If the water is absorbed into the floor or leaves a dark spot, the wood is unfinished or the protective layer has worn away.
  • If you sprinkle on a few drops of water and white spots form beneath the droplets after about 10 to 15 minutes, the floors are sealed with wax. To remove the white spots, use a piece of fine steel wool lightly dampened with wax and rub gently.
  • If you suspect a varnish or shellac, take a coin and scratch the surface of the floor in an inconspicuous corner. If the floor has been sealed with one of the older finishing methods, it will flake off.

Preventing Dirty Wood Floors

Not wearing shoes in the house is one of the best ways to significantly reduce dirt, scuffs and daily wear and tear, and lessen cleaning time.

The National Wood Floor Association, or NWFA, is more specific and warns against walking on wood floors with cleats, sports shoes and high heels. It also offers this cautionary example: A 125-pound woman walking in high heels has an impact of 2,000 pounds per square inch. Furthermore, an exposed heel nail can exert up to 8,000 pounds of force per square inch. 

Whether you got out your calculator or not, the possibility of impact and denting appears to be undeniable. However, while you can’t always ask guests to shed shoes at the door, it might be a policy worth considering for family members.

What Not to Do

No matter what type of wood flooring you have, the NWFA advises against using cleaning products meant for vinyl or tile flooring. Their take: Self-polishing acrylic waxes cause wood to become slippery and appear dull quickly. 

Another no-no: wet-mopping wood floors, since standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood and leave a discoloring residue. Along the same lines, avoid overwaxing unfinished wood floors in an attempt to restore luster. If a waxed floor has become dull, try buffing the surface instead.

Regular Wood Floor Cleaning

Cleaning floors with contemporary polyurethane wood finishes (for floors installed after 1970) starts with vacuuming, sweeping or dust-mopping the surface.

Vacuuming. Vacuum wood floors daily, or at least once a week with a vacuum fitted with an attachment for wood floors. For regular machines, the American Hardwood Information Center advises turning off interior rotating brushes or beater bars if possible.

Regular vacuuming helps remove dust and dirt particles that play a leading role in scratching and dulling the surface of the floor.

Sweeping. The American Hardwood Information Center says choosing a broom with “exploded tips,” also known as synthetic fiber ends, is step one.

Damp mopping. Damp mopping should be done with a simple solution of pH-neutral soap (like dishwashing soap) and water; or one capful of a mild cleanser such as Murphy Oil Soap in a bucket of water; or a solution using products specially formulated for wood floors, such as Eco Mist Colloid W, Dr. Bonner’s or Method.

In conscientious cleaning circles, controversy swirls around whether to use a mixture of vinegar and water for damp-mopping wood floors. Ultimately, everyone has to do what works best; however, within the past 10 years this method has lost favor, and popular belief now holds that the solution causes floors to dull more quickly and is not as effective as simple soap and water.

To begin mopping, dampen the mop in the prepared solution, wring it out completely, and mop in the direction of the wood grain. Repeat as necessary. As the water in the bucket becomes dirty, dump it out and refill. Many experts (including Martha Stewart) believe scrubbing wood floors with a damp cloth by hand is the ultimate cleaning strategy — unless abundant square footage or protesting knees prove problematic.

But avoid cloths or mops dripping with water. If your floors do get wet or worse, dry them immediately!

Another technique: After the floor has been swept or vacuumed, put your cleaning solution of choice in a spray bottle and mist the floor, then use a dry microfiber mop or cloth and mop in direction of the wood grain. 

It’s important to note that just because a floor is clean doesn’t necessarily mean it will be shiny. If the floor has lost its luster, it may be time to have it refinished professionally. Whatever you do, don’t wax a polyurethaned finish.

Unfinished or Waxed Floors

Unfinished or waxed floors, like those in older and historic homes, as well as floors in which the protective seal has worn away, should never be treated with water or liquid cleansers, which may penetrate, stain or warp the wood. Instead, according to cleaning experts, sweeping with a soft-bristled broom and vacuuming should be done as the primary line of defense. The NWFA says to step away from the mop: Never damp-mop a waxed floor.

Beyond basic care, buffing and waxing the floors once or twice a year should maintain the shine. 

Old-fashioned shellacked floors are not common in most homes. However, if you find yourself the proud owner of this vintage flooring, regular care should include sweeping and vacuuming often. Avoid water and liquid cleansers.

Engineered Wood Floors

Engineered wood flooring is created with a thin veneer of hardwood fused atop a plywood base. The material is stronger and more durable than regular hardwoods, and as a result has become a popular choice.

The cleaning procedure for this type of wood is the same as for hardwood floors with urethane finishes. Keep clean on a daily basis by sweeping and vacuuming and use a slightly damp mop as needed.

Painted Wood Floors

Painted wood floors make a strong style statement and are a clever way to disguise wood flooring in less than perfect shape. To clean them, sweep, vacuum or dust-mop regularly. Avoid scratching or damaging the painted surface by staying away from abrasive cleansers and opting for a simple soap and water solution for damp mopping. Experts suggest drying the surface immediately by hand to avoid streaking and unnecessary moisture.

What to Ask Before Choosing a Hardwood Floor

Article By: Mitchell Parker

So you’ve decided to get hardwood floors. Easy enough, right? Pick a wood and be done with it. 

Not so fast. There are a lot of factors that will determine what kind of hardwood floor your home can accommodate, and what will look best with your existing or planned furnishings and decor. 

You have some basic options: solid wood and engineered wood. Solid wood is what you generally think of as a hardwood floor: thick, solid planks of wood. Engineered wood is made of a veneer layer that sits atop a core of plywood. This construction deals with moisture a bit better and is recommended for concrete slab subfloors. Which brings up another point. The construction of the floor you’re working with pretty much will dictate what kind of wood you can use. 

Here’s how to prepare yourself for choosing a hardwood floor for your home. 

1. Where will the wood be going?

Installing hardwood floors on a second story is much different than doing so in a basement. A space beneath ground level is what’s known as below grade. A floor that’s even with the outside ground level is on grade, and any floors above this are above grade. Where you’re installing the wood will limit your recommended options.

“For example, you’re not supposed to put solid wood below grade, because the moisture coming up through the ground can cause problems,” says Bob Hagen, who owns Magnus Anderson Hardwood. “So an engineered wood is recommended.”

 

 

 

 

 

2. What is the subfloor made of? 

Find out what kind of subfloor you have. The three most common types are concrete slab, plywood and particleboard. This will help you determine whether you can install solid wood floors, or if an engineered wood would be best. 

Concrete. “If you have a concrete slab floor, you’re pretty much limited to engineered wood,” says Andrew Zheng, manager of Unique Wood Floors, which specializes in and ships prefinished hardwood. But don’t fret. You can still get any type of wood in an engineered format. And the thickness of the veneer on engineered wood varies. Higher-end engineered woods “are no less than solid woods in performance and price,” Zheng says. 

(Note: Even the hardest woods, such as Brazilian cherry and hard maple, will ding on an engineered floor if the plywood onto which they are veneered is soft, like lauan, which is a commonly used base.)

Another option is to install plywood over the concrete, but you’ll have to pay for the additional plywood, insulation and labor. “Most people just choose to stick with what they have,” Zheng says. 

If you’re still not sold on the engineered product, Hagen says there’s a way to still have solid wood on a concrete slab (as long as it’s on grade). It just needs to be glued down, preferably by an experienced professional. 

The downsides are that you need completely flat boards (hard to come by in longer lengths), and the glue is so strong that there’s a permanency to it. “If you have a leak or a flood, getting the material up is incredibly difficult,” Hagen says. “You’ll also want to check the VOCs [volatile organic compounds, which are toxic] in the product. And we ask clients about any chemical sensitivities.” 

Plywood. This is probably the most common subfloor and allows for the most versatility with hardwood floors. You can nail solid wood on top or use engineered wood. 

Particleboard. This material was commonly used under carpet in homes built in the 1970s. It’s basically a cheaper version of plywood. For hardwood floors, you’ll need to replace the particleboard with plywood. Then you can add engineered or solid wood.  

3. What are your living habits?

Think about how much abuse your floors will take and learn about specific wood species and their durability. Do you have kids and pets? Have large parties often? Or are you a single person who travels a lot? 

If you have a high-traffic house, you’ll want to go with a harder wood. The Janka scale measures how strong a wood is; basically a BB is fired into a plank and the size of the dent it leaves is measured. “Red oak is considered the bell curve,” Hagen says. “It’s pretty hard and medium priced.” 

You can also play with grain patterns as well as with stains and finishes that will hide dents and scratches. 

4. What style is your home?

You might love the look of hickory but then think differently when you see it covering a floor in a kitchen with modern cabinets. That’s because some woods lend themselves better to certain styles. 

When choosing a wood, consider cabinets, trimwork and door casings to make sure the wood won’t clash with other design elements. And coordinate with the colors of the walls and the amount of natural light. This will affect color choice. If you have a lot of windows and skylights, then you probably have enough light to balance out really dark floors. If you have a dark house already, a lighter floor choice will help brighten things.

If your style is modern: Natural maple lends itself well to modern styles. “It’s more of a Norwegian-looking design with a clean look and not a lot of variation,” Zheng says. Gray-stained oak and boards without knots create a clean aesthetic that also works in modern settings.

If your style is traditional: Go with something like hickory. “It mixes lighter and darker pieces, and it’s more like a traditional cabin feel,” Zheng says. Also, boards with knots and wider planks fit a more traditional style.

Of course, designers do incredibly creative things with mixing old and new, so don’t discount a wood just because it’s considered more appropriate for a certain style. Playing with grain pattern and stains can yield all sorts of interesting results. 

5. What’s important to you? 

Is budget the biggest factor? Or is the appearance all you care about? Determining what’s most important to you will help you determine the right wood for your floor. 

Cost. Engineered wood isn’t always the cheapest route, so don’t think you can’t have solid wood floors on a budget. Zheng says you can purchase generic oak flooring in various stains for $3.50 to $4 per square foot, while lower-end engineered floors start at $2.50 to $3 per square foot. Beautiful hardwood like the popular acacia species can be as high as $6 per square foot.

Maintenance. If you want something that will hold up over time, you’ll want to look at the harder woods (with higher Janka ratings). Also pay attention to the stain. 

The traditional method for staining wood uses a polyurethane finish, which produces a higher sheen. If the floor gets dinged or scratched, light bouncing off the semigloss finish can exacerbate the appearance of those flaws. 

Oil finishes are increasingly becoming more popular these days. They soak into the wood and provide a more matte finish. This can help hide wear and tear; plus, they last longer. While the up-front cost is higher, you won’t need to restain the floor as often, saving you money in the long run.

You can play around with finishes too. Hand-scraped or wire-brushed treatments rough up the appearance, creating a worn look so that if something does scuff it, the mark is not as noticeable. Note that the thickness of the veneer on an engineered floor affects how often it can be sanded down and finished. 

Appearance. Everyone’s preference is different. Some people are attracted to oak more thanwalnut, and vice versa. 

Acacia, shown here, is an exotic wood from Asia that Zheng says is a hot seller right now, because of its mix of lighter and darker tones; plus, it’s harder than hickory. The cost ranges from about $4 to $6 per square foot at his warehouse. The unique look is worth the higher cost for some. 

Pay attention to knots and grain pattern. Patterns in hickory and maple are different than in oak. You might want to spend the extra money for a unique grain pattern, or you may want to save money and go with a less-expensive wood with a better stain.

Consider plank width, too, which alters the appearance of your hardwood floors. Wide-plank walnut and 7-inch European oak are popular in traditional homes at the moment. 

The best thing you can do is see and feel the wood in person. “Wood is a living species. You need to feel what you’re attracted to. You’re the one living in the house, not the designer pushing you,” says Ilan Zamir, CEO ofAmber Flooring. 

6. How will you stain and finish it? 

A stain adds color to the wood. The finish protects the floors from getting dirty. Any stain or finish can be applied to almost any wood. Some people like the color of oak but want the grain pattern of walnut. That’s where staining can come into play. 

Some people can’t tell the difference between unstained black walnut and white oak that’s been stained espresso. Others can look at those woods and their grain patterns and immediately know the difference. It all depends on what’s important to you. 

A finish affects the maintenance. A solid wood that’s been hand scraped for a lower-sheen matte finish is easier to maintain, because you won’t see as much wear and tear. But maybe you want a semigloss look. 

Also, purchasing wood that’s been prefinished will give you a good idea of what it will look like and will save you the time and effort of finishing the floors onsite. Engineered wood is usually prefinished. 

7. How will you test it? 


This step is incredibly important. The last thing you want to do is install 800 square feet of black walnut based on a photo or tiny sample you saw in a showroom only to find it’s overpoweringly dark and contrasts poorly with your furnishings. 

Always ask for a 2- by 2-foot sample of what the floor will look like with a stain and finish on it. Use this to test it with your paint colors and decor to make sure it’s exactly what you want.

Get the Luxury Look for Less

Best and Worst Kitchen Appliances, Countertops, Flooring and More


kitchen-remodel-jpg_180258.jpg

(Photo: Thinkstock)

Got a bottomless budget for your dream kitchen? You could pay for the sleekest pro-style appliances the most luxurious stone countertop, and the trendiest hardwood flooring and still end up paying again to fix things that break down, crack, or dent. Or you could use our advice to make every dollar count by sidestepping high-priced pitfalls in the first place. 

And if your budget is more in the $15,000-to-$30,000 range that most homeowners spend on renovations, relax: You can have a beautiful kitchen that’s functional and efficient, and only looks expensive, like the example here. It combines semi-custom cabinets, quartz countertops, and vinyl flooring to achieve an urban sophistication befitting its city setting.

Appliances


Kitchen Aid.jpg

KitchenAid KDRU763V $6,000 (Photo: Consumer Reports)High End: A pro-style, 36-inch range with high-Btu burners; a built-in refrigerator with panels that match the surrounding cabinetry; and whisper-quiet dishwashers are expected in today’s luxury homes. “If buyers walk into a high-end home and see apartment-grade or even midrange appliances, they’re going to wonder what else is missing from their wish list,” says Jim Hamilton, regional Vice President of the National Association of Realtors.

Separate steam ovens, which can cost several thousand dollars and are pitched as a healthful way to prepare vegetables, fish, and even desserts, are a popular trend in high-end appliances. “Restaurants have been steaming food for years. Now the technology is finally coming to the residential market,” says Laurie Haefele, a designer-architect in Santa Monica, CA. Some models combine steam and convection cooking to lock in moisture while browning foods that require it.

But not all high-end appliances deliver. Though we recommend KitchenAid dual-fuel ranges, its electric and gas models have been repair-prone, as have Jenn-Air’s electric ranges, wall ovens, and cooktops. And some of Viking’s Professional-series built-in refrigerators are at the bottom of our ratings.


Samsung.jpg

Samsung FTQ307NWGX $1,700 (Photo: Consumer Reports)

For Less: Many mainstream brands have upped their styling with “faux pro” features, including beefy controls and a stainless-steel finish. And they equal or surpass their pricey counterparts when it comes to cooking and reliability. GE’s $1,500 Profile PGB910SEM has sleek styling, and it’s our top-performing gas range. Or consider an induction range or cooktop,which uses electromagnetism to deliver pinpoint heating and control. Among refrigerators, cabinet-depth models offer the streamlined look of built-ins for thousands less. 

Flooring

High End: Wood has warmth and elegance and can be used in adjacent rooms, creating a seamless flow between spaces. “Plus if you drop a teacup on a wood floor, the cup has a fighting chance,” says Kelly Stewart, a National Kitchen & Bath Association-certified kitchen designer in Stamford, CT.


Mullican Flooring.jpg

Mullican St. Andrews Solid Oak Strip 10930, $6.30 per sqft (Photo: Consumer Reports)Antique wood floors, milled from timbers reclaimed from centuries-old buildings, have character, but they’ve been particularly prone to wear and tear in our tests. Performance-wise, you’re better off with solid wood flooring with a factory finish, which costs more up front than unfinished flooring but lasts longer and eliminates the mess of on-site finishing. 

Even the most durable wood floors are no match for heavy traffic, especially if it includes sandy shoes and dog’s claws. Durable stones such as granite and quartzite offer more protection and a sense of permanence. “People subconsciously associate stone with stability underfoot, so its a natural choice for flooring,” says New York City architect Leonard Kady. 


Ansel Oak.jpg

Quick-Step Perspectives Ansel Oak UF1259, $4 per sq ft (Photo: Consumer Reports)For Less: Engineered wood flooring, which has a veneer or real wood over substrate, can be floated over the subfloor, saving on installation costs. The downside is that most can be refinished only once, whereas solid flooring can be refinished multiple times.

Tile is an all-natural option that realistically mimics costly materials. “Antique limestone floors from a mansion in France are marvelous, but you can use ceramic tile to achieve a similar look for a fraction of the cost, and they’re a lot easier to maintain,” Kady says. Vinyl flooring is another less expensive option with some very convincing faux patterns, including wood and natural stone. 

Countertops


White Carrera Marble.jpg

White Carrera Marble, $150 per sq ft (Photo: Consumer Reports)High End: Authenticity is the catchphrase in countertops. That means natural stone for top-tier designers, though many are moving away from speckled granites such as Uba Tuba in favor of wavy marble, especially in popular white kitchens. But given its susceptibility to staining and scratching, marble is not for everyone, cautions Jonas Carnemark, a design-builder in Washington, D.C. who is certified by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

“Designers talk about patina, but you have to remember that’s just a fancy term for scratches and stains,” he says. If, like many homeowners, you want things to stay looking new, consider quartz, a highly durable engineered stone that can resemble natural stone. All white-quartz countertops are also popular thanks to improvements in technology that give them the purest tone. 


Formica IdealEdge.jpg

Formica IdealEdge Laminate, $16 per sq ft (Photo: Consumer Reports)For Less: For example, shop around for affordable stone slabs. If you can fall in love with a Danby marble from Vermont instead of one of the more expensive Italian imports, you’re going to save at least 20%. There are even bigger savings out there with granite, especially if you choose from remnants at the stone yard. Some granite has wavy marble-like veining.

Laminate, the most affordable countertop option by far, has come a long way. The latest printing technologies result in faux patterns that look like real stone, or you can choose a solid white that’s suited to contemporary kitchens. Formica has even eliminated the unsightly black line along the edge of the countertop that used to be laminate’s telltale sign. 

Cabinets


Fieldstone Custom Cabinet.jpg

Fieldstone Custom Cabinet, $475 (Photo: Consumer Reports)High End: In the most expensive kitchens, cabinets are custom-built to the precise dimensions of the room. The result is a fully integrated look that’s in keeping with the current taste for clean, minimalist design. 

The good news is that this style is inherently less expensive – and easier to clean – than the once-fashionable country kitchen, which called for cabinetry with elaborate moldings and applied detail. The bad news is that custom cabinets of any description cost tens of thousands of dollars. “It’s half the cost of the kitchen,” says designer-architect Laurie Haefele, recalling projects for which the cabinet bill alone ran to six figures. 

For Less: If the layout of the existing cabinets works and the units are plumb, square, and sturdy, you could refinish them with a fresh coat of paint or reface them by replacing the cabinet doors and drawers and applying veneers to the face frames and ends. Retrofitting the cabinets with pull-out drawers, lazy Susans, and retractable trash cans can improve their function.


IKEA Stock cabinet.jpg

If your cabinets are too far gone, you can save 30% or more by choosing semi-custom units. Stock units save even more, without necessarily sacrificing style. Ikea Stock Cabinet, $330 (Photo: Consumer Reports)

“There are a plethora of showrooms where you can get the full kitchen from Italy or Germany, but we’ve been able to integrate Ikea cabinets for budget-minded clients that offer a similar look,”says Chicago architect Pam Lamaster-Millet. “The trick is finding a skilled installer who knows the tricks for making the units look built-in.” That might include applying a toe kick to base cabinets or a valance to upper cabinets to conceal the undercabinet lighting.

Whether semi-custom or stock, the features that held up best in our cabinet tests include solid-wood or plywood doors; boxes made of ½- to ¾ -inch plywood;solid-wood drawer sides with dovetail joints, full-extension glides, and a plywood bottom; and adjustable, ¾-inch plywood or medium-density fiberboard shelving.

Spending Traps to Avoid

  • Poor Planning – changing the design after the project is under way is guaranteed to break the budget. Proper planning, including showroom visits and meeting with professionals, will take a couple of months.

  • Skimping on Labor – sooner or later the cracks will show with poor construction. Invest in quality, especially for cabinet installation and tile setting, where small mistakes can lead to big disappointment.

  • Paying More for Pointless Features – smart appliances are supposed to save money by powering down when electricity rates are highest. But you’ll only reap the rewards if your home has a “smart” meter and your utility company offers time-of-use rates. Otherwise, you’ll be paying more for a technology that may be years away.

  • Expecting a Fridge to Prevent Spoilage – Food preservation features are the latest thing for marketing. But the claims are hard to measure. What you can do is find a refrigerator that delivers top temperature performance in our tests.

  • Falling for High-Priced Fixtures – stainless steel sinks top our ratings, even in less expensive thickness. Popular pullout sprays are available on entry-level faucets. As for lighting, the illumination that matters most comes from inexpensive – and hidden – undercabinet fixtures.

(Photo: American Cabinet & Flooring Designer: Clay Bernard)

Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.

20 Years Then & Now: Flooring Innovations & Evolutions

Innovative technologies have revolutionized the business world over the last 20 years. Smartphones, social media, search engines, information storage and digital photography have created an entirely different business and communications environment since 1992. Personal assistants – the real, human kind who used to answer phones and schedule meetings – have been replaced by scheduling software and the instant accessibility of mobile phones, email, social media, instant messaging and texting. Almost anyone can be reached anywhere at any time. 

While the floor covering industry has taken advantage of those technologies, just like every other industry there’s also been rapid innovation in manufacturing over the last 20 years, often the result of changing tastes, economic realities, or simply the need to create a better product. For example, hardwood with knots and nail holes was considered a defective product in 1992. Today, character wood is one of the most significant style trends in hardwood flooring. Click systems weren’t yet invented in 1992, but in 2012 they account for significant portions of the laminate, hardwood and LVT markets. And Saxony carpet, with its footprints and vacuum tracks, has been replaced with textured carpet, which offers greater durability.

Here’s our list of the most significant innovations in the flooring industry, as well as a number of developments pre-1992 that became widely accepted the last two decades.

1992 TO PRESENT: INNOVATIONS, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENTS, EVOLUTIONS  & ADAPTATIONS

Soft Surface Flooring

Saxony to Texture

When: Early to mid 90’s

Texture innovations advanced soft surfaces beyond Saxony (cut pile). Saxony was soft but it showed every footprint and vacuum track. Newer textures that incorporate fiber with added twist and crimp were introduced into carpet styles called “trackless”, which ultimately evolved into what we now call friezes. The technology used a Stuffer Box developed by Superba. The transition also resulted in greater variety for the consumer.

Staple to Filament

When: Early to mid 2000s

Continuous filament fiber has taken significant marketshare from staple due to its lower cost and improved uniformity. The labor costs to produce staple fiber are twice as high as bulked continuous filament. While BCF technology has been evolving since the mids 80x, it was the ever increasing costs of polymer along with the continued advancements in extrusion technology that drove the carpet producers to make the investment to convert their fiber processes over to BCF. The fact that it doesn’t shed like staple fiber offers a significant benefit for the consumer.

BCF Polyester

When: 2007 to present

Multiple factors have led to the rapid growth of BCF polyester. Pricing for nylon chip has continued to rise as nylon car parts have increased in popularity as a lightweight alternative to heavier metal parts. While nylon is still heralded by many as the best performing synthetic carpet fiber, carpets made with nylon can no longer meet the price points where much of the volume is generated at retail. Polyester, on the other hand is a much cheaper polymer and the global capacity to produce polyester chip is abundant due to its wide use in apparel markets. In addition, extrusion technology has advanced (with the development of the Neumag S5 extruders) along with the heatsetting equipment that gives the fiber bulk and twist. So the polyester BCF fiber used in carpet today is much more advanced than the fiber of the 80s and 90s.

Composite Secondary (SoftBac)

When: 1997

The first evolution in carpet backing came when the industry shifted from jute to synthetic fibers in the 70s. But in the last 15 years, producers have discovered that more substantial materials could be attached to carpet in the coating process to enhance the carpet’s performance and bring added value to the end user. The most widely used example is SoftBac, which Shaw Industries developed with Synthetic Industries (which Shaw later acquired). SoftBac offers a host of performance advantages. It’s more dimensionally stable than standard carpet backing so it reduces the need for installed carpet to be restretched, and it reduces potential damage to walls and baseboards during installation.

EcoWorx

When: 1999

When carpet tile was first developed for the commercial market, vinyl was most commonly used on the back for dimensional stability. But as Shaw sought to find a PVC-free alternative that could be recycled into carpet backing more than once (cradle to cradle), the company developed EcoWorx – an olefin based material that it now uses on the majority of its tile products. 

Triexta


triexta.jpg

When: 2005

DuPont created a new class of fiber with its triexta, a PTT polymer that has superior resilience and stain resistance to polyester. About 37% of the fiber’s composition comes from corn. The fiber is marketed by DuPont under the Sorona name and is sold exclusively to Mohawk for residential carpet, called SmartStrand by Mohawk. The fiber is also available in the commercial sector from several different carpet producers but has not yet achieved wide acceptance.

Soft Fibers

When: 1998 to present

Anso’s Caress and Stainmaster’s Tactesse were the first soft fiber products with approximately ten deniers per filament in 1998. Today, Invista’s TruSoft is four to five deniers per filament, the thinnest nylon carpet fiber on the market. Earlier this year, Mohawk introduced SmartStrand Silk, which is a fine denier fiber made out of triexta. 

Computerized Servo Tufting

When: Mid 90s

Servos originally were incorporated into the tufting process to enhance product and setup reliability, and they also made setups easier and quicker. However, servos soon began to be used to create patterned carpet by allowing for better control of yarn in the tufting process. Today, servo control allows for better carpet styling and constructions, and makes operating a tufting machine more efficient.

Precision Cut/Uncut

When: Early 90s

Precision cut/uncut creates sophisticated styles similar to the look of carpet produced on a Wilton Velvet loom. It can combine rows of cut pile and uncut loops within a tuft row in varying amounts, which makes it possible to produce a wide range of textures, geometrics, solids, or multi-colored patterns in any combination. It can also create tip-sheared effects without the shearing process. Cut pile and loop pile can be combined in the same tuft row and at essentially the same pile height without burying yarns. 

The Growth of Carpet Tile


carpet tile_shaw.jpg

When: First major U.S. installation – 1972

U.S. consumption of carpet tile has doubled in the last ten years, reaching over 80 million square yards of annual consumption. Today, carpet tile has a 36% marketshare in dollars compared to broadloom in the U.S. commercial market. The key benefits of carpet tile include compatibility with open office systems, design flexibility, reduced installation time, ease of shipping, reduced waste, low carbon footprint, and improved lifecycle performance.

Continued Backward Integration

When: From 1978 to 2006

Backward integration into backing started with Carl Bouckaert when Beaulieu ventured into this area in the 80s. But it wasn’t until the mid 2000’s that the two larger carpet mills made a move with major investments. Within a year, starting in 2005, Shaw bought Synthetic Industry’s plant in Chickamauga, GA and Mohawk bought Wayn-Tex in Waynesboro, VA and a Propex plant in Roanoke, AL.

Beaulieu also led the way in making its own carpet yarn, dating back to the late 70s. Shaw and Mohawk picked up some extrusion capability along the way with several of the acquisitions they made in the late 80s and through the 90s. Mohawk’s fiber integration got a big boost with the acquistion of Image in 1999 and it’s been incrementally adding its own extrusion equipment ever since. But it wasn’t until 2005 that Shaw picked up much of its nylon 6 capacity with the acquisition of Honeywell’s nylon plants. Today, independent yarn suppliers like DuPont and Invista keep themselves viable through innovation (creating new fibers like triexta and TruSoft). Universal Fibers and Aquafil also remain nimble suppliers of specialty performance fibers.

Environmental Achievements

Evergreen Recycling

When: 1999to present


evergreen recycling.jpg

The Evergreen nylon recycling plant in Augusta, GA was built in 1999 as a joint venture between AlliedSignal and DSM. The plant was shut down in September 2001 because at that time virgin caprolactam, a key ingredient in nylon 6 polymer, was cheaper than caprolactam produced from recycled carpet. Shaw purchased 50% of the plant as part of its Honeywell acquisition in 2005 and bought the rest a year later. In February 2007, Shaw re-started the plant and it now has the annual capacity to convert 100 million pounds of post-consumer carpet into 30 million pounds of caprolactam. Evergreen’s ability to convert used nylon 6 back into the key components of carpet is exactly what architect Bill McDonough was referring to when he coined the term cradle to cradle. 

Last year, Aquafil opened a similar plant in Slovenia for the same purpose, offering 100% recycled content fiber.

Plastic Bottle Recycling into PET Fiber

When: 1999to present

Mohawk released its Everstrand, a 100% post-consumer recycled content PET staple fiber, to the market in 1999. And in 2010 Shaw opened its Clear Path Recycling plant in partnership with DAK Americas to convert recycled plastic bottles into carpet fiber for Shaw’s ClearTouch carpet products. Today, PET BCF fiber has grown to account for about 25% of the market. 

Hard Surface Flooring

The Rise of Engineered Hardwood

When: last 20 years


engineered hardwood.jpg

Although first produced over 50 years ago, engineered hardwood has been taking share from solid hardwood at a more rapid pace in the last 20 years. Last year for the first time engineered hardwood surpassed solid, taking a 51% share in dollar value. Engineered hardwood is composed of multiple real wood veneers bonded in a crossply construction. The resulting product has more dimensional stability than solid wood and is less susceptible to shrinking and bowing. In addition, manufacturing engineered wood produces less waste than the production of solid hardwood, creating greater yield from harvested wood. 

Character Wood

When: 2001

Character woods – handscraped, weathered, distressed, chattered, rustic and other looks – enhance the inherent grade and color variation found in real wood. Previously these “defects” were either cut out or relegated to the inner piles of wood floors, where they would not be seen. However, many of today’s consumers appreciate the fact that wear and tear is more easily disguised in character wood floors than in traditional glossy hardwood, which makes them friendly for commercial environments or for residences with kids and pets.

The Growth of Pre-finished Wood

When: 1997 to present

An estimated 85% of all hardwood flooring is now finished in the factory rather than on site. The wear surface of a prefinished wood floor is usually harder due to the aluminum oxide coating that can only be applied at the factory. This technology was first introduced on hardwood floors by Anderson in 1997. Another more recent driver of the growth of pre-finished flooring is that home construction is way below normal levels, and most site finished flooring is installed in new homes. The growing preference for engineered hardwood has also accelerated this trend, since most engineered wood is pre-finished. Seventy percent of solid hardwood is now pre-finished as well.

UV Cured Urethane Finish

When: 1986

Today’s polyurethane finishes are rapidly cured in the factory under ultra violet light, replacing the need for slow drying solvent based finishes. This speeds up the production process significantly – one coat takes minutes rather than hours – and enables manufacturers to apply more layers of finish in less time, resulting in a more durable finished product. Mannington was the first company to convert to this innovative finishing system. 

Strand Woven Bamboo

When: 2003

Strand-woven bamboo was developed to overcome the softness of traditional bamboo flooring. It’s made by shredding the bamboo fibers into strips, which are coated with phenolic resin and pressed into a mold with high pressure. The resulting wood has twice the hardness of domestic oak. 


strand woven bamboo.jpg

Mechanical Locking Systems (Click Systems)

When: 1994

The first mechanical locking system that didn’t require spring clips was developed by Välinge in 1994. Alloc, in 1996, was the first company to incorporate the system into a product. Today, glueless installation systems account for 90% of all the laminate flooring sold. Besides eliminating the need for adhesives, these systems also speed  up installation. Today, mechanical locking systems are also seen on engineered hardwood, LVT and some ceramic tile systems.

Embossed-In-Register Surface Texture

When: 2003

Faus was the first company in the U.S. to earn a patent for embossed-in-register laminate flooring. This method of matching the texture of the surface with the grain lines or veining of the visual, makes the product look more like real wood or stone. 

Aluminum Oxide Finish

When: 1994

Aluminum oxide is added to the melamine finish of laminate flooring to increase the product’s durability. Products with aluminum oxide finish get improved Taber cycle (rate of wear) ratings. This process can only be done on product that is finished in a factory.

High Glass Laminate

When: 2010

High gloss or piano finish laminate flooring with an AC5 rating, the top durability rating, was introduced to the marker just last year.

Resilient

Bio-Based Tile

When: 2009

Armstrong‘s bio-based composition tile is created using Bio-Stride polymer, which is made from corn. The finished product contains approximately 3% bio-based content. Over one billion square feet of bio-based tile is installed annually.

Fiberglass-Backed/Floating Sheet

When: 2002

First manufactured in North America by Tarkett, fiberglass backing adds stability to resilient flooring, making it flexible and more capable of overcoming irregularities in the subfloor. In addition, fiberglass-backed resilient flooring is more durable than felt-backed vinyl.

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)

When: 1988 to present

Now one of the fastest growing categories in the flooring industry, LVT was first developed by Congoleum in 1988. LVT products on the market today provide some of the most realistic looking visuals achievable using synthetic materials. LVT is composed of a detailed print design bonded to a solid vinyl carrier. It has durable wearlayers and greater wear resistance than standard vinyl tile. LVT is used in both residential and commercial applications, and comes in both tile and plank formats. 

Groutable LVT Tile

When: 2009

First introduced to the market as Congoleum DuraCeramic, groutable LVT tile offers a look akin to ceramic tile without the weight or expense of installing real ceramic. For colder climates, it offers the look of ceramic, without being cool to the touch.


duraceramic_scene.jpg

The Continuing Growth of Porcelain in the U.S.

When: 1986

Crossville built the first porcelain tile plant in the U.S. in 1986. Before then, all tile produced in the U.S. was ceramic. Ceramic tiles, made from clay that’s fired in a kiln are more porous than porcelain and don’t provide as much strength. Porcelain tile, made by pressing and heating finely ground ingredients, is more suitable for commercial applications due to its increased durability.

Digital Glazing

When: Early 2000s

Digital printing revolutionized the ceramic tile industry, enabling realistic stone, leather, fabric, marble, and wood visuals, as well as new hybrid and design-oriented looks. The digital printer sprays the glaze, much like a digital paper printer, rather than applying it via a system of rollers. Digital printing is often used in combination with surface texture methods.

What: Roller Hearth Kiln

When: 2001

A roller hearth kiln uses a conveyor belt to transport the tile through the kiln. This type of kiln has superior efficiency as well as a condensed firing cycle. The roller kilns in the early 80’s could only produce 6 to 7 million square feet of product per year. Today’s kilns can make 30 million square feet with fewer workers.

1992-2012, 20 Years Then & Now: Flooring Innovations & Evolutions

Innovative technologies have revolutionized the business world over the last 20 years. Smartphones, social media, search engines, information storage and digital photography have created an entirely different business and communications environment since 1992. Personal assistants – the real, human kind who used to answer phones and schedule meetings – have been replaced by scheduling software and the instant accessibility of mobile phones, email, social media, instant messaging and texting. Almost anyone can be reached anywhere at any time. 

While the floor covering industry has taken advantage of those technologies, just like every other industry there’s also been rapid innovation in manufacturing over the last 20 years, often the result of changing tastes, economic realities, or simply the need to create a better product. For example, hardwood with knots and nail holes was considered a defective product in 1992. Today, character wood is one of the most significant style trends in hardwood flooring. Click systems weren’t yet invented in 1992, but in 2012 they account for significant portions of the laminate, hardwood and LVT markets. And Saxony carpet, with its footprints and vacuum tracks, has been replaced with textured carpet, which offers greater durability.

Here’s our list of the most significant innovations in the flooring industry, as well as a number of developments pre-1992 that became widely accepted the last two decades.

1992 TO PRESENT: INNOVATIONS, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENTS, EVOLUTIONS  & ADAPTATIONS

Soft Surface Flooring

Saxony to Texture
When: Early to mid 90’s

Texture innovations advanced soft surfaces beyond Saxony (cut pile). Saxony was soft but it showed every footprint and vacuum track. Newer textures that incorporate fiber with added twist and crimp were introduced into carpet styles called “trackless”, which ultimately evolved into what we now call friezes. The technology used a Stuffer Box developed by Superba. The transition also resulted in greater variety for the consumer.

Staple to Filament
When: Early to mid 2000s

Continuous filament fiber has taken significant marketshare from staple due to its lower cost and improved uniformity. The labor costs to produce staple fiber are twice as high as bulked continuous filament. While BCF technology has been evolving since the mids 80x, it was the ever increasing costs of polymer along with the continued advancements in extrusion technology that drove the carpet producers to make the investment to convert their fiber processes over to BCF. The fact that it doesn’t shed like staple fiber offers a significant benefit for the consumer.

BCF Polyester
When: 2007 to present

Multiple factors have led to the rapid growth of BCF polyester. Pricing for nylon chip has continued to rise as nylon car parts have increased in popularity as a lightweight alternative to heavier metal parts. While nylon is still heralded by many as the best performing synthetic carpet fiber, carpets made with nylon can no longer meet the price points where much of the volume is generated at retail. Polyester, on the other hand is a much cheaper polymer and the global capacity to produce polyester chip is abundant due to its wide use in apparel markets. In addition, extrusion technology has advanced (with the development of the Neumag S5 extruders) along with the heatsetting equipment that gives the fiber bulk and twist. So the polyester BCF fiber used in carpet today is much more advanced than the fiber of the 80s and 90s.

Composite Secondary (SoftBac)
When: 1997

The first evolution in carpet backing came when the industry shifted from jute to synthetic fibers in the 70s. But in the last 15 years, producers have discovered that more substantial materials could be attached to carpet in the coating process to enhance the carpet’s performance and bring added value to the end user. The most widely used example is SoftBac, which Shaw Industries developed with Synthetic Industries (which Shaw later acquired). SoftBac offers a host of performance advantages. It’s more dimensionally stable than standard carpet backing so it reduces the need for installed carpet to be restretched, and it reduces potential damage to walls and baseboards during installation.

EcoWorx
When: 1999 

When carpet tile was first developed for the commercial market, vinyl was most commonly used on the back for dimensional stability. But as Shaw sought to find a PVC-free alternative that could be recycled into carpet backing more than once (cradle to cradle), the company developed EcoWorx – an olefin based material that it now uses on the majority of its tile products. 

Triexta
When: 2005 

DuPont created a new class of fiber with its triexta, a PTT polymer that has superior resilience and stain resistance to polyester. About 37% of the fiber’s composition comes from corn. The fiber is marketed by DuPont under the Sorona name and is sold exclusively to Mohawk for residential carpet, called SmartStrand by Mohawk. The fiber is also available in the commercial sector from several different carpet producers but has not yet achieved wide acceptance.

Soft Fibers
When: 1998 to present 

Anso’s Caress and Stainmaster’s Tactesse were the first soft fiber products with approximately ten deniers per filament in 1998. Today, Invista’s TruSoft is four to five deniers per filament, the thinnest nylon carpet fiber on the market. Earlier this year, Mohawk introduced SmartStrand Silk, which is a fine denier fiber made out of triexta. 

Computerized Servo Tufting
When: Mid 90s 

Servos originally were incorporated into the tufting process to enhance product and setup reliability, and they also made setups easier and quicker. However, servos soon began to be used to create patterned carpet by allowing for better control of yarn in the tufting process. Today, servo control allows for better carpet styling and constructions, and makes operating a tufting machine more efficient.

Precision Cut/Uncut
When: Early 90s

Precision cut/uncut creates sophisticated styles similar to the look of carpet produced on a Wilton Velvet loom. It can combine rows of cut pile and uncut loops within a tuft row in varying amounts, which makes it possible to produce a wide range of textures, geometrics, solids, or multi-colored patterns in any combination. It can also create tip-sheared effects without the shearing process. Cut pile and loop pile can be combined in the same tuft row and at essentially the same pile height without burying yarns. 

The Growth of Carpet Tile
When: First major U.S. installation – 1972

U.S. consumption of carpet tile has doubled in the last ten years, reaching over 80 million square yards of annual consumption. Today, carpet tile has a 36% marketshare in dollars compared to broadloom in the U.S. commercial market. The key benefits of carpet tile include compatibility with open office systems, design flexibility, reduced installation time, ease of shipping, reduced waste, low carbon footprint, and improved lifecycle performance.

Continued Backward Integration
When: From 1978 to 2006

Backward integration into backing started with Carl Bouckaert when Beaulieu ventured into this area in the 80s. But it wasn’t until the mid 2000’s that the two larger carpet mills made a move with major investments. Within a year, starting in 2005, Shaw bought Synthetic Industry’s plant in Chickamauga, GA and Mohawk bought Wayn-Tex in Waynesboro, VA and a Propex plant in Roanoke, AL.

Beaulieu also led the way in making its own carpet yarn, dating back to the late 70s. Shaw and Mohawk picked up some extrusion capability along the way with several of the acquisitions they made in the late 80s and through the 90s. Mohawk’s fiber integration got a big boost with the acquistion of Image in 1999 and it’s been incrementally adding its own extrusion equipment ever since. But it wasn’t until 2005 that Shaw picked up much of its nylon 6 capacity with the acquisition of Honeywell’s nylon plants. Today, independent yarn suppliers like DuPont and Invista keep themselves viable through innovation (creating new fibers like triexta and TruSoft). Universal Fibers and Aquafil also remain nimble suppliers of specialty performance fibers.

Environmental Achievements

Evergreen Recycling
When: 1999 to present

The Evergreen nylon recycling plant in Augusta, GA was built in 1999 as a joint venture between AlliedSignal and DSM. The plant was shut down in September 2001 because at that time virgin caprolactam, a key ingredient in nylon 6 polymer, was cheaper than caprolactam produced from recycled carpet. Shaw purchased 50% of the plant as part of its Honeywell acquisition in 2005 and bought the rest a year later. In February 2007, Shaw re-started the plant and it now has the annual capacity to convert 100 million pounds of post-consumer carpet into 30 million pounds of caprolactam. Evergreen’s ability to convert used nylon 6 back into the key components of carpet is exactly what architect Bill McDonough was referring to when he coined the term cradle to cradle. 

Last year, Aquafil opened a similar plant in Slovenia for the same purpose, offering 100% recycled content fiber.

Plastic Bottle Recycling into PET Fiber
When: 1999 to present

Mohawk released its Everstrand, a 100% post-consumer recycled content PET staple fiber, to the market in 1999. And in 2010 Shaw opened its Clear Path Recycling plant in partnership with DAK Americas to convert recycled plastic bottles into carpet fiber for Shaw’s ClearTouch carpet products. Today, PET BCF fiber has grown to account for about 25% of the market. 

Hard Surface Flooring

The Rise of Engineered Hardwood
When: last 20 years

Although first produced over 50 years ago, engineered hardwood has been taking share from solid hardwood at a more rapid pace in the last 20 years. Last year for the first time engineered hardwood surpassed solid, taking a 51% share in dollar value. Engineered hardwood is composed of multiple real wood veneers bonded in a crossply construction. The resulting product has more dimensional stability than solid wood and is less susceptible to shrinking and bowing. In addition, manufacturing engineered wood produces less waste than the production of solid hardwood, creating greater yield from harvested wood. 

 

Character Wood
When: 2001

Character woods – handscraped, weathered, distressed, chattered, rustic and other looks – enhance the inherent grade and color variation found in real wood. Previously these “defects” were either cut out or relegated to the inner piles of wood floors, where they would not be seen. However, many of today’s consumers appreciate the fact that wear and tear is more easily disguised in character wood floors than in traditional glossy hardwood, which makes them friendly for commercial environments or for residences with kids and pets.

The Growth of Pre-finished Wood
When: 1997 to present

An estimated 85% of all hardwood flooring is now finished in the factory rather than on site. The wear surface of a prefinished wood floor is usually harder due to the aluminum oxide coating that can only be applied at the factory. This technology was first introduced on hardwood floors by Anderson in 1997. Another more recent driver of the growth of pre-finished flooring is that home construction is way below normal levels, and most site finished flooring is installed in new homes. The growing preference for engineered hardwood has also accelerated this trend, since most engineered wood is pre-finished. Seventy percent of solid hardwood is now pre-finished as well.

UV Cured Urethane Finish
When: 1986

Today’s polyurethane finishes are rapidly cured in the factory under ultra violet light, replacing the need for slow drying solvent based finishes. This speeds up the production process significantly – one coat takes minutes rather than hours – and enables manufacturers to apply more layers of finish in less time, resulting in a more durable finished product. Mannington was the first company to convert to this innovative finishing system. 

Strand Woven Bamboo
When: 2003

Strand-woven bamboo was developed to overcome the softness of traditional bamboo flooring. It’s made by shredding the bamboo fibers into strips, which are coated with phenolic resin and pressed into a mold with high pressure. The resulting wood has twice the hardness of domestic oak. 

Mechanical Locking Systems (Click Systems)
When: 1994

The first mechanical locking system that didn’t require spring clips was developed by Välinge in 1994. Alloc, in 1996, was the first company to incorporate the system into a product. Today, glueless installation systems account for 90% of all the laminate flooring sold. Besides eliminating the need for adhesives, these systems also speed  up installation. Today, mechanical locking systems are also seen on engineered hardwood, LVT and some ceramic tile systems.

Embossed-In-Register Surface Texture
When: 2003

Faus was the first company in the U.S. to earn a patent for embossed-in-register laminate flooring. This method of matching the texture of the surface with the grain lines or veining of the visual, makes the product look more like real wood or stone. 

Aluminum Oxide Finish
When: 1994

Aluminum oxide is added to the melamine finish of laminate flooring to increase the product’s durability. Products with aluminum oxide finish get improved Taber cycle (rate of wear) ratings. This process can only be done on product that is finished in a factory.

High Glass Laminate
When: 2010

High gloss or piano finish laminate flooring with an AC5 rating, the top durability rating, was introduced to the marker just last year.

Resilient

Bio-Based Tile
When: 2009

Armstrong‘s bio-based composition tile is created using Bio-Stride polymer, which is made from corn. The finished product contains approximately 3% bio-based content. Over one billion square feet of bio-based tile is installed annually.

Fiberglass-Backed/Floating Sheet
When: 2002

First manufactured in North America by Tarkett, fiberglass backing adds stability to resilient flooring, making it flexible and more capable of overcoming irregularities in the subfloor. In addition, fiberglass-backed resilient flooring is more durable than felt-backed vinyl.

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)
When: 1988 to present

Now one of the fastest growing categories in the flooring industry, LVT was first developed by Congoleum in 1988. LVT products on the market today provide some of the most realistic looking visuals achievable using synthetic materials. LVT is composed of a detailed print design bonded to a solid vinyl carrier. It has durable wearlayers and greater wear resistance than standard vinyl tile. LVT is used in both residential and commercial applications, and comes in both tile and plank formats. 

Groutable LVT Tile
When: 2009

First introduced to the market as Congoleum DuraCeramic, groutable LVT tile offers a look akin to ceramic tile without the weight or expense of installing real ceramic. For colder climates, it offers the look of ceramic, without being cool to the touch.

The Continuing Growth of Porcelain in the U.S.
When: 1986

Crossville built the first porcelain tile plant in the U.S. in 1986. Before then, all tile produced in the U.S. was ceramic. Ceramic tiles, made from clay that’s fired in a kiln are more porous than porcelain and don’t provide as much strength. Porcelain tile, made by pressing and heating finely ground ingredients, is more suitable for commercial applications due to its increased durability.

Digital Glazing
When: Early 2000s

Digital printing revolutionized the ceramic tile industry, enabling realistic stone, leather, fabric, marble, and wood visuals, as well as new hybrid and design-oriented looks. The digital printer sprays the glaze, much like a digital paper printer, rather than applying it via a system of rollers. Digital printing is often used in combination with surface texture methods.

What: Roller Hearth Kiln
When: 2001

A roller hearth kiln uses a conveyor belt to transport the tile through the kiln. This type of kiln has superior efficiency as well as a condensed firing cycle. The roller kilns in the early 80’s could only produce 6 to 7 million square feet of product per year. Today’s kilns can make 30 million square feet with fewer workers.

 

 

An Angie’s List Guide: Carpet or Wood?

Which flooring is best for your home: Carpet or Wood?

When purchasing a new home or remodeling your current home, one of the most important decisions you need to make is whether to install carpet or hardwood flooring. 

Some people love the warmth and silence carpeting offers. Other prefer the sleek design and easier upkeep of hardwood flooring. Both types of flooring have advantages and disadvantages depending on the homeowner’s preferences. The cheaper of the two options, carpeting can be harder to maintain and keep clean.

Here are some tips for maintaining your new carpet:

  • Prevention – tracking mud and dirt from outside is a great way to shorten the lifespan of any carpet. By taking steps to prevent dirt from getting into your carpeting, such as with door mats, you can maintain the appearance and lifespan of your carpet.

  • Vacuum – regularly vacuuming will help keep mud and grime from getting into carpet. It is important to change the bag on a vacuum as much as possible to prevent dirt and dust from getting back into the carpet while vacuuming.

  • Minimize exposure to the sun – UV rays can damage carpet and cause its color to fade. It is important to keep blinds closed during the day to prevent color fading in any carpeting.


The Kemper Remodel - After Carpet Installation -

Hardwood may be more expensive than carpet but many people prefer it for various reasons. Upkeep is much easier and wood flooring typically lasts much longer than carpet if kept in good condition.

Here are some tips for taking care of hardwood flooring:

  • Wipe your feet – much like carpet, it is important to keep dust and dirt from outside off your floor. Make it possible to wipe these substances from shoes by placing floor mats at different entryways around the house.

  • Use the right cleaner – its important to use a cleaner that will not damage the flooring. Cleaners that leave filmy residues are ill-advised for cleaning hardwood floors.

  • Minimize exposure to sun – like carpet, hardwood floors also need to be protected from the sun rays during the day. The sun will cause the color of the wood to fade and not look as pleasing in different sections of the home.


Kinner Built Homes - West 31st Street Development - Stairs

There are differences and similarities in what it takes to protect and upkeep both carpet and hardwood floors. People who are debating between the two materials should factor the upkeep into the decision. Those who are not prepared for the more involved upkeep of carpet should probably get hardwood floors. Either option is a great way to update a home or decorate a new home and increase its value.

Need help deciding which type of flooring fits best with your home and lifestyle? Come see one of our talented and expereicened Design Specialists, they are here to help you with your project from start to finish!