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Onsite, UV-cured hardwood floor finishes are starting to beam BulldogWe talk a lot about low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) floor finishes, and the scientific advancements that have produced less-toxic polyurethanes and natural oil floor coatings.  But the truth is that our search for the perfect people-and planet friendly option continues daily. “Water-based” and “waterborne” now are second only to “low-VOC” on the list of buzzwords that put our minds at ease. But when you consider that zero-VOC paints are readily available, the VOC content in floor coatings can seem high, in addition to other chemicals that some formulas use. This reality has made the ultra-violent curing machine the latest proven weapon in our arsenal of remedies for unhealthful indoor air. It stops chemical emissions by instantly curing the finish that would ordinarily take days to weeks to completely dry and stop off-gassing. In addition, waterborne polyurethanes with VOC content as low as 17 grams per liter are now available.

Couple turns former Anderson Township barn into spectacular natural home [caption id="attachment_4423" align="alignleft" width="168"]After After[/caption] It started with a vision: Preserve the spacious serenity.  Restore and transform the barn into the grand centerpiece. Gaze out from any window and feel the tranquility of sprawling pastures, a winding creek and the natural acoustics of wildlife and waterfalls. Instead of a collective group of neighboring farmers ready to hoist the beams and hammer the nails, it took 18 months of intense focus by Karen and Jerry Whitney who, all the while, lived in a trailer on the property. [caption id="attachment_4438" align="alignleft" width="210"]Before Before[/caption] "It’s sustainable,” Karen says. “It was the natural thing to do, and it has paid off in the way the home looks and feels. Coming home from work is like entering a spa or a retreat.”

Custom design in cork gives light and warmth to dark kitchen Laura cork 2IMG_0037Laura wasn’t kidding when she said her new kitchen floor had to create a warmer, brighter space than the brown vinyl that once covered the floor in this room with very little natural light. Something natural that was indoor-air friendly would also be a plus, Laura thought as she began to research different floors.  Tile was her first choice. But the cement board  required as an underlayment would have raised the kitchen floor much higher than the adjoining rooms of carpet, hardwood and slate. She found a design – in cork flooring tiles – that she liked online, and selected colors for her own custom look. 

Cork, hardwood, tile and wool carpet – installed in five days and looking great seven weeks later

As should be done with all new construction projects, moisture levels were monitored for weeks before the hardwood flooring installation began. After acclimating the boxes of flooring on-site for three days, the transformation began. It took five days:

004032 All of the wood meets CARB 2 standards for formaldehyde emissions. The brown, grey and travertine-look cork flooring meet GREENGUARD Gold.

Deteriorated floor gets new life and attracts buyer just two days after completion 046A lot of people would have decided to tear out the floor and start over. But Interior Designer Jen Phillips was determined to do the right thing. The pine floors in the historic, downtown Cincinnati row house were damaged by water and years of abuse. Sections of the subfloor were rotten. And as the work began, termite damage was quickly discovered. Phillips, owner of Interior Renaissance, called in her experts and got the answer she was looking floor. “The contractor we hired determined that we could replace only the bad subfloor and flooring, then use a special machine to sand and refinish the entire floor to make it all blend and look uniform,” Phillips recalls.

Managing flooring heights and ensuring floors contain no urea formaldehyde mean extra work on this job 012I made myself very clear on this project: All products would be proven to contain no added urea formaldehyde, and there would be no transitions. The homeowner had selected three styles of cork flooring that were almost ½-inch in thickness; prefinished solid hardwood that was ¾-inch; and the tile, the first flooring to go in, was sitting at 1-1/16th inches in height once installed. To complicate the job further, the cork was a floating floor, meaning that it does not get glued or nailed to the subfloor, which typically requires transitions, such as T-molding, where it meets up with other floors like tile and hardwood. So, we decided on a modified transition.

Air conditioning gets installed in the nick of time to achieve proper moisture levels 003“The relative humidity is still reading 65 percent. Should we open or close the windows?” In preparing to install hardwood flooring, we have been monitoring moisture levels at this new construction site for weeks. It’s part of our normal preparation for installing hardwood and cork floors. “Don’t leave the windows open overnight or we’ll be sabotaged by night-time condensation,” our quality-control manager says. “The air conditioning is being installed tomorrow, and as long as that happens, we should be fine.” Tomorrow will be just 24 hours before all the flooring is delivered to acclimate in the home for three days prior to installation. The moisture content in the subfloors has been measured and was fine, but the relative humidity has been climbing since the walls were painted.

How can a floor that was supposed to be more stable start curling?

VGN-swatchQ: I have a vertical grain bamboo floor that I was told would be stronger and more stable than hardwood. After it was in for a few weeks, some of the boards started curling upward at the ends. I was told there was too much humidity in my home, so I turned off the humidifier.

Now, the boards are shrinking and leaving gaps. I am very disappointed because I did my research and purchased a brand that was supposed to be the leader in quality. Can you shed any light on whether this is a common problem or an isolated incident?

A: You are not alone. While I would not call your situation a common problem, it is not an isolated incident.

Carpet padding can now be held to the same standard as carpet for indoor-air quality

green-labelAt last, a moment many of us have been waiting for has arrived.  A testing program is now available for carpet padding that will actually ensure it does not emit unhealthful levels of chemicals.

A lot of people think we already have this through the CRI Green Label program for testing pad.  But the CRI Green Label Plus program that is used for carpet is far more stringent, and soon, we will be able to look for this label on carpet padding, too.

The Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) and the Carpet Cushion Council announced earlier this week that the Green Label Plus program is being opened up to pad manufacturers.

 "This offers cushion manufacturers the opportunity to qualify their products according to these more stringent standards and provide additional assurance for consumers concerned about indoor-air quality or potential VOC emissions," a CRI spokesman told TalkFloor.

Weigh all the finishing options before selecting grey hardwood flooring

007By definition, grey is: Of a neutral tone, intermediate between black and white. It has no hue and reflects and transmits only a little light.

This line from the dictionary does little to explain the dramatic, contemporary looks grey flooring can create in a room.  But discerning homeowners  frequently are choosing it for their walls and floors in everything from tile to hardwood.

The grey porcelain tile photos in the post are from a bathroom with a zero-entry shower. The shades of grey and white throughout the room are a popular look.