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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 bamboo flooring category, it’s difficult for any manufacturer to claim leadership.  A number of companies now supply strand products that in some markets have become more visible than those introduced about a decade ago by industry pioneers.

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 boxes, the color did not look like what we chose. Instead, it looked like the material had yellowed, like something does when it gets old. The installer said this was normal and that it would go away. But with the price of this product already being higher than many other options, I did not want to take the chance. I sent the flooring back and cancelled the job. I really wanted this floor. Is it possible that I just got a batch that was defective? A. The problem you are describing is not a defect. It is called “ambering,” which is a yellowish cast that appears on Marmoleum – and the competing brands of linoleum. As the installer said, it is normal. It goes away entirely after the flooring comes out of the box and is exposed to light for a few days.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This article was accurate as of the date it was published, and was signed off on by all of the manufacturer sources quoted. That said, manufacturers frequently change their formulations and ingredients, so this article, given its age, becomes background. DO NOT rely on this article for purchasing these manufacturers’ current products. The questions are relatively simple, but if you would like help in getting guaranteed answers about certifications on a current product, sign up at: https://www.naturalinteriors.com/consumer-subscription/ “Green” certifications that test chemical emissions don’t require compliance until long after the paint is dry GREENGUARD®, Green Seal and SCS Indoor Advantage Gold. They’re all top third-party certifications designed to help us choose paint that will not make the air in our homes dangerous to breathe. But while these labels mean chemical emissions have been measured -- or in the case of Green Seal dangerous ingredients have been prohibited -- none of them tells us what we are breathing at the time the paint is being applied. And certifications that test chemical emissions don’t require compliance with safety limits until 14 days after the paint is dry. “When it comes to verifying sustainable claims, it may be wiser to start by being a ‘doubting Thomas’ instead of a ‘gullible Pollyanna’ …,” says Michael Mauch, AIA, LEED AP and principal of RWA Architects in Cincinnati, OH. “Third-party verification is supposed to work like Politifact -- an organization to sort out the truth. But third-party verification is not a perfect system. In theory, it works, but in reality, there are many influences that can sway the outcome.”

Authentic reclaimed hardwood can have advantages over wood that is made to look old “Distressed or old?” A designer that I work with was going back and forth about reclaimed hardwood and hardwood flooring that is purposefully distressed to make it appear old. “I like the idea of reducing wastefulness and landfill mass by making floors from old barns,” she said. “But could this floor be less durable because it is old and had a past life? Or what if it was salvaged after a forest fire or taken from a tree that was killed by beetles? Could it be infested?” She was thinking it is safer to stick with flooring products that have been made to look old, but are not. This is an example of confusion that has resulted from having too much information.

“Greenest” hardwood from DuChateau is now distressed to look like barn wood The time-worn look of reclaimed hardwood is getting so popular that every flooring manufacturer has to have one. DuChateau Floors – which makes FSC-certified hardwood with a natural, nontoxic oil finish – announced its new Heritage Timber collection today. While the wear layer on these flooring planks is not made from deconstructed barns and buildings, the reclaimed wood is artfully replicated with scrapes, nail holes, notches and saw marks. The company chose to create the look, instead of using barn wood, in an effort to offer a product at a more competitive price.

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 space is about 700 square feet. In today’s economy, combined with the fact that I waited for the slow winter months, I thought I could do better, but I have now checked with three different contractors with very little difference.  With the number of people out there who are in need of work, would it make sense for me to keep shopping? A. What you should be asking is what the experience level of the installer is, and what type of warranty you will get on the work. You are correct that in this economy, fewer installations are being done, and installers need the work.  But what this also means is that the most experienced installers should be available to do the work.

Past and present green building trends mean 2012 will bring increased interest in healthy indoor-air quality, reclaimed and recycled products, and smaller homes Residents on the West Coast have been walking the green building walk longer. But even in the Midwest, which often lags behind, people who build or remodel in the New Year likely will be doing more than talking the talk. From seeking smaller, more energy-efficient homes to using low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints, finishes and furniture, healthier, planet-conscious trends have a firm foothold that can only grow in the future, experts say. “Clients are now asking for sustainable strategies in the first meeting,” says Michael Mauch, architect, LEED AP and principal of RWA Architects in Cincinnati, OH. “We do not have to bring it up. They bring it up. What homeowner does not want clean indoor air? Lower energy bills? And smart design? Now they know they can ask for it up front.”

Year in review shows Natural Interiors visitors focus first on style and indoor-air-quality, then concern for planet health We couldn’t head into a New Year without a baby. Fortunately, the winner of our Natural Housewife Contest – one of our Top 10 traffic generators for 2011 – now has one. 1.  Sara Eickhoff reports that son, Hayden, now two months old, enjoys the sisal-look wool, chemical-free Nature’s Carpet his Mom won by submitting some of the best tips for keeping a natural and healthy home that we received. “ We converted the large piece into smaller area rugs, which we use throughout the house, including one that Hayden uses daily for tummy time,” Eickhoff says. “It's so nice to know he's getting the comfy support he needs for this activity, while at the same time avoiding unnecessary chemical exposure.”