What do ceramic nano beads mean for softness underfoot?
Q. I am puzzled about the ceramic bead layers advertised as being part of the finish on Wicanders Cork Flooring. Does this add considerable hardness to the cork surface? I’m seeing the comfort aspect of cork, and am actually replacing ceramic tile with the cork – so I don’t want to replace hard ceramic with hard ceramic!
A. The ceramic beads are crystals that are embedded in the layers of the UV- cured urethane finish that is topically applied at the plant during the final stages of the manufacturing process. These tiny microscopic particles do not add to the hardness of the cork, but rather to the long-term wear-ability of the finish. Continue reading…
Natural oil finishes gain popularity as consumers get more familiar with product benefits
But with the number of customers who are beginning to ask about oil or low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) floor finishes, I would have to say that a trend is emerging.
And floors that are standing up to customers and spilled drinks in a downtown Cincinnati bar where the floor was finished with plant-based oil last fall is debunking doubt about durability. Continue reading…
Luxury Vinyl Tile’s realistic patterning and glue-less installation boost demand despite uncertain “green” product attributes
A floor does not have to be natural to look natural. And the new natural looks of a number of luxury vinyl tile (LVT) brands – coupled with glue-less installation options — are noticeably boosting LVT sales.
Newer, self-locking installation systems do not require adhesives for installation, and replication improvements mean fabulous imitations of wood, ceramic and other patterns.
“Gone are the days of needing adhesive,” says Ben Lanich, manager of Carpetland Carpet One in Cincinnati. “This enables the products to be more versatile, both in their installation and repair processes. Not to mention they are 100% waterproof.” Continue reading…
When are pigments dangerous?
Q. I just read your article titled “Part Three: The Problem with Paint” published on January 19th, 2011. I have two questions: You had interviewed the owner of Earth Paint, Inc. and he said that “pigments used to color paint should be chosen carefully as the dust from raw earth pigments is often more toxic than synthetic pigments.”
Is there any way to find out what kind of pigments they use in AFM Safecoat paints? Please advise. I am pregnant and we are planning to paint our house next week and any information you can provide will help us make our decision about which paint to buy.
Also, AFM Safecoat has two kinds of paint: Their regular Safecoat and their new AFM Naturals. Which is better?
A. AFM and its dealers use special zero-VOC liquid machine colorants, eliminating the risk of any dust exposure. Unless you are actually mixing dry powder pigments yourself, pigment dust ingestion or inhalation could only occur if you are sanding previously painted surfaces in preparation for a new paint job. Wet sanding and a painter’s mask are recommended to avoid this still unlikely exposure. Continue reading…
A non-green product that still has some environmental certifications
Q. I am getting mixed advice about whether laminate flooring is durable. I also have been told that it contains plastics and glue and can be bad for indoor- air quality and the planet. What, if any, advantages are there to laminate floors and is there anything environmentally correct about them?
A. Many laminates are very dent- and scratch-resistant and offer incredible value. Also when doing remodeling work, laminates require less height restrictions, which helps maintain the look of baseboards and a smoother flow from room to room.
Laminates do contain melamine resin, which is widely used in other products too, including countertops, dry erase boards, dinnerware and cooking spoons. Our store, Buddy’s Flooring America in Beavercreek, maintains scorecards that list health and environmental certifications for every product we carry – green or not. Continue reading…
Do nanotechnology and antimicrobial agents pose risks for my children?
Q. I am trying to select a cork or hardwood floor that is safe for my children to sit, crawl and play on. Some that I have looked at are finished with nanotechnology, and some contain antimicrobial agents.
Are you aware of any dangers posed by any of these?
A. A floor that is prefinished at the factory, instead of onsite in your home, poses less immediate impact on your indoor-air quality because the finish is cured before it enters your house. The risk of exposure, therefore, is usually at the factory. But there are questions being raised about the safety of nanoparticle finishes and antimicrobial agents like Triclosan, as finishes wear off over time.
Nanotechnology is a relatively new technology that involves the infusion of microscopic particles onto a product. Early research indicates that nanoparticles might have toxic properties. In addition, because of their extremely small size, concerns are being raised that nanoparticles might be able to penetrate the defenses of cells in the human body, carrying chemicals with them. Continue reading…
New Natural Interiors® scorecards are more credible with third-party certifications, but when do you make exceptions?
Q. I was excited to learn about the Natural Interiors health and environmental scorecards that are now available at Carpetland Carpet One, Buddy’s Flooring America in Beavercreek and ProSource in Cincinnati. What I like most is that most Better for People and Better for Planet designations are based on third-party certifications rather than you making those decisions and acting as the expert as several other “green” companies with icon systems do.
This is Better for Customers! But I’d like a little more information. I noticed in some cases, a product gets a check mark in the icon when there is not a third-party certification listed. How is this decision made?
A. There are two basic situations where a Better for People or Better for the Planet icon might be checked without a third-party certification. The most prominent is when a company provided proof of laboratory testing or had met self-certification criteria set by groups that set limits such as the California Air Resource Board. Continue reading…
Indoor Air Quality Certifications offer some, but not complete, assurance about vinyl flooring
Q. While I am intrigued by natural, linoleum products, my budget is more inclined toward the Naturcor vinyl flooring I am looking at buying from my local Buddy’s Flooring America store. I also am concerned about buying a product that does not emit excessive chemicals, and I have been warned about dioxin, which is a carcinogen, by another blogger.
Still, I have seen some vinyl brands advertise that they are green. What is the truth about vinyl?
A. The truth about vinyl – or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – is that it isn’t the preferred product of environmentalists or most green product enthusiasts. But dioxin is an end-of-product life or house fire issue, because it is released when PVC is incinerated. Continue reading…
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Do synthetic backings on natural carpeting defeat the purpose?
Q. I have been looking into wool carpeting because wool is a natural fiber that does not emit chemicals. But I am learning that most wool carpets have plastics and other synthetics in the backings, and they also are treated with moth proofing agents, which many experts have told me is unnecessary. Does this negate the indoor-air friendly and planet-friendly aspects of natural wool carpeting?
A. All discussions about “green” products involve levels or degrees of greenness. That said, the answer to your question is yes – to some extent. Because it is not made from petrochemicals, the wool fiber in the carpet will be far more indoor-air friendly than traditional synthetic fibers, despite the use of synthetic backings like polypropylene.
Keep in mind that there are products like Nature’s Carpet “Dark Green” line that offer New Zealand and British Wool carpets with no chemical treatments and natural jute backings. Not only does this eliminate any concern you have about chemical emissions, but leads into the second point you’ve raised about planet-friendly aspects. Continue reading…
Proper kitchen design includes hidden collection bin for food waste that prevents clutter and odor
Dishwasher on the right, compost collection bin on the left, or maybe on either side of the sink in the center island – hidden in the counter top. It’s one of the latest trends in kitchen design as the number of people who compost their food waste increases.
No one wants to see or smell a container of food scraps sitting out in plain view, or crammed into the cabinet under the sink, says Jessica Allison, kitchen designer and owner of Essence Design Studios in West Chester, OH. Nor is it always convenient to take scraps immediately outside to the composter.
So, Allison is designing kitchens that have an air-tight compost collection bin hidden in the counter top. Continue reading…
Why do you harp on Indoor Air Quality Certifications? Q. If cork flooring is a natural material, why do you put so much emphasis on whether the manufacturer has gotten the flooring certified through chemical emissions testing? A. There are many natural flooring products on the market. But very few of them are made without [...]
New looks, including stone, wood and textiles, expand uses for cork flooring What is that? Just when we thought we had seen every style and color of cork flooring available today, Wicanders has thrown us a curve. Some of it looks like stone. Some of it looks like marble, granite, wood and textiles. But it [...]
Requirements for damp basements might challenge use of all natural, chemical free carpet pads Q. I want to put carpet that has low chemical emissions in my basement. I also had planned on using a natural fiber carpet pad. I have not ever had water leak into the basement, but there is some moisture, due [...]
Competition in strand bamboo means quality products and competitive pricing from many manufacturers Not long ago, we would have told you that there were just a few reliable brands and several hard-and-fast rules to follow when choosing a strand bamboo floor. But as sales of strand, stained and hand-scraped styles have soared and now dominate in the [...]
Yellow cast on new linoleum is no cause for alarm Q. I wanted to install Marmoleum Click flooring in my daughter’s room because it is supposed to be very good for healthy indoor air quality, and my daughter has allergies. But when the installer from the flooring company started taking the flooring out of the [...]
Bargain hunting for flooring installation can cost more in the long run Q. I thought I was getting a great deal on the prefinished, FSC-certified hardwood floor I want to put in my family room and kitchen, until the salesperson figured in installation. This added about $3 per square foot to the total, and the [...]
Styling, price and performance determine engineered hardwood flooring sales, though environmental attributes abound If you’re thinking about putting engineered hardwood flooring in your home, style, performance and price – rather than the product’s planet friendliness – are probably the points you are pondering. “More people in the Midwest are choosing engineered hardwood because of a [...]
Part I: Engineered hardwood flooring can be a greener option than solid, but there are many factors to consider before you buy We knew the day would come. Many of us in the green products industry pushed engineered wood floors because they require less premium wood to manufacturer than solid hardwood floors. Many customers resisted. [...]
How do I choose the right cork floor? Q. I have decided to put cork flooring in my kitchen and throughout most of the first floor of my home. What I am not sure about is whether I should buy solid or engineered flooring. What is the difference, and is there a brand that stands [...]
A word of warning about spray polyurethane foam Winter is coming again, and so are all of the e-newsletters about insulation, weatherization tips and and energy savings. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is big this year because it stops air flow — around that water pipe or that vent through the roof — when other insulations [...]
Proper equipment, settings and training are needed to keep water away from carpet pad and subfloors, where lingering moisture could fuel mold We gave the expert in this week’s Natural Interiors® TV episode an ultimate challenge. We asked him to demonstrate his steam-cleaning on a piece of Nature’s Carpet – an all-natural wool carpet that [...]
Oil-based polyurethane, water-based polyurethane or natural oil? Q. We are building a new home, and our builder is insisting that our hardwood flooring should be finished with oil-based polyurethane. He says it is the best, but we want a low-VOC finish, either with a water-based or natural oil finish. Is there some reason our builder [...]
KW Flooring companies divert 2 million pounds of carpet from landfills annually, while some have never heard of the Carpet America Recovery Effort What is the flooring contractor who’s about to replace your carpet going to do with the old carpet he takes out of your home? Are you afraid to ask? Do [...]
WE Cork demonstrates that “Eco” also stands for economics They have said it themselves: The newest line from WE Cork is the “Eco”-Nomical series. So when they mention that it is made of recycled wine stoppers, remember that this is not the thrust. All cork flooring is made from the waste of the wine-stopper industry. [...]
Measuring moisture content in strand bamboo can puzzle even experienced hardwood flooring installers Q: In Part I: Bamboo 2011-Style, you told consumers to consider their climate and the humidity of the environment before installing strand bamboo flooring. What you didn’t talk about is that the typical moisture meter a flooring contractor has on hand might [...]
From narrow planks that look like hardwood to large, defined tiles, cork’s design possibilities keep increasing As this year began, two manufacturers anticipated huge consumer attention on their newest products – cork flooring planks designed to look like wood. With this introduction, Wicanders Cork and USFloors revolutionized the appearance of cork floors, which until then, [...]
Demand for traditional bamboo fizzles while strand draws attention It’s official: traditional, vertical- and horizontal-grain bamboo flooring is dated. Despite its popularity five years ago, it appears this fad was destined to fade. Strand bamboo, on the other hand, is here for the long-haul, flooring experts say. “There is almost no interest in traditional bamboo [...]
Natural Housewives: Send in your tips for a chance to win! The Natural Housewife says, “Enough! We don’t keep our homes healthy or stylish with toxic chemicals, furnishings or decorating products. And contributing to landfill waste unnecessarily is just so uncool!” Join this conversation, and you could win prizes that include $500 in Nature’s Carpet [...]
Sales – not standards – will determine the success of FSC, SFI, PEFC and other certified wood labels, even though Forest Steward rocks Forest Steward gives me a look that’s somewhere between angry and sad when I tell him we have to do another take. Now that Part Two of When Labels Talk is running [...]
Top Ten DIY Weatherization projects can still be done this New Year Are you wishing that you had protected your home from drafts and lost energy, now that the snow and New Year are upon us? If you delayed because you didn’t know where to start, here’s my simple, Top 10 DIY Weatherization project list. It’s not [...]
Consider origin, construction, chemical emissions, innovation and responsiveness when you choose cork flooring The call was one no flooring retailer wants. The customer was furious. Her husband had damaged the cork flooring Cline’s Carpets had just installed in her home outside of West Lafayette, Ind. “She was really honked off, not at us, but at her [...]
Does a material that naturally resists mold need Microban? The definitive answer isn’t proven. But USFloors has made up its mind. USFloors, in addition to Qu-Cork supplier Global Market Partners, added Microban – a mold inhibitor – to their cork flooring products some time ago. While Qu-Cork still feels this was a cutting-edge move, USFloors has decided [...]
CFLs, LEDs and Plasma Induction all reduce utility bills, but which one is right for you? By Heather Curless The Department of Energy estimates that electric lighting accounts for about 11 percent of a home’s energy usage. This percentage can be more for businesses as they use artificial lighting for longer periods of time each [...]
Understanding how solar power is harnessed — in addition to determining which financial incentives are available — is easier than you might think By Nancy Kibbee Even the Sun was intimidated when he heard the word “photovoltaic” during the Cincinnati Solar Tour a few weeks ago. But this is just a big word for producing [...]
Part One: A Focus on the Finish By Nancy Kibbee You might not see it. But when you inspect the most popular cork floors, you’ll feel the difference. The surfaces on prefinished cork floors range from rough to smooth. The looks range from stone-like to clear and natural. Only the leaders have obtained “green” certifications [...]
The water bill might be okay with you, but it’s time to think about the planet By Heather Curless More than 70 percent of the Earth is water. So why worry when your water pressure rises, and your sprinkler waters your driveway in addition to your lawn? Because almost 97 percent of the world’s water [...]
Counter Strategies for the Snooty Neighbor Dear Heather: My neighbor, I’ll call her “Nina,” is gloating about her new granite countertops. She has come up with a number of reasons lately to invite the women in our subdivision into her kitchen. It’s clearly a status thing for her, and her constant show-off style is annoying. [...]
How To Choose “Green” Carpet Carpet gives us a great demonstration of the many levels of “green” that exist in today’s marketplace. If you remember that “green” is defined as better for human health or the planet’s health, the Nature’s Carpet featured in this week’s episode of Natural Interiors® TV qualifies on both points. But [...]
Part Three: Choosing a Salesperson There are a few hints sales people drop that can mean they know little or nothing about bamboo flooring. The first is failure to include bamboo in the choices he or she shows you when you say you’re looking for hardwood flooring. But this is not reason in itself to bolt. [...]
Part Two: Formaldehyde Alternatives Can Pose Dangers, Too It has been observed that in trying to solve a problem, we often create another. The U.S. Green Building Council was trying to solve a problem in 2007 when it clamped down on Urea Formaldehyde – an ingredient in the adhesive used in many bamboo and engineered [...]
Bamboo 2010 Style Part One: Urea Formaldehyde I was taken aback. “Respected” brands of bamboo, two of them were named, don’t contain Formaldehyde, read a recent article in a respected “green” products magazine. I don’t mean to criticize the author. The landscape of bamboo manufacturers and formaldehyde adhesives used in their products has changed quite [...]
Tell Us Your Story Many businesses – “green” and not — claim they are dedicated to the safety, fair treatment and welfare of their workers, customers and the planet. What happens when they’re not? We become victims of unnatural exposure. Something seemingly as innocent as a carpet deodorizer used by housekeepers at your hotel might [...]
What the Video Didn’t Tell You: Look under the Carpet If you are trying to eliminate chemicals from the products you use to furnish your home, you need a deeper understanding of what the CRI Green Label Plus label means, particularly when it comes to carpet pad Yes, as this week’s Natural Interiors® TV [...]
Play Ball! Matt Wallar of Milford, OH, is thrilled with the flooring he bought from Carpetland Carpet One Floor & Home. Prefinished maple flooring from Somerset — which has FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification — was installed throughout the first floor. And the basement is now home to a floor designed to look like a [...]
FloorScore® vs. GREENGUARD, FSC® vs. SFI® – more details about this week’s Natural Interiors® TV Forest Steward, you rock! But it might be time to change your thinking. The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification you represent in the July 19, 2010 episode of Natural Interiors® TV is the true, independent third-party certification we have all [...]