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Wintertime’s dry air means special precautions for hardwood floors

030Q.  I had solid Red Oak select installed throughout my first floor last summer. It was sanded and  finished with low-VOC waterborne polyurethane on site. It was absolutely perfect.

But now that winter is here, there are spaces between the boards. Is it possible that I was sold inferior wood?

A. Gaps between floor boards are common in the wintertime. Your installer should have told you that you have to control the humidity in your home to prevent inordinate gapping. In fact, most hardwood manufacturers recommend maintaining your indoor environment at 40 to 60 percent humidity year-round. But 36 to 50 is better if you want to prevent mold growth.

009For some homeowners, the perfect porcelain tile doesn’t look like tile at all At first glance, this floor looks like hardwood. It does on second glance, too, which often is not the case with vinyl wood-look products. Even upon third inspection, most people don’t imagine that this floor is porcelain tile. This look is increasing interest in a product that already was popular because of its durability and ease of care and maintenance.

Gray or brown, this hardwood floor blends seamlessly with home’s bold natural colors 018The color of this stained Maple floor is called “Jellybean.” When you look at it in natural daylight, it is gray. Put it under artificial light, and it takes on a deep brown. But no matter where you look in Brittany’s new  Milford, OH, home, this floor from Mirage Hardwood is the perfect background for her sky blue and terracotta walls, and her kitchen backsplash tiles that look like they were painted with watercolors. These colors are just spot-on.

Demand will mean more product selection, but can your retailer tell you what standards a product meets? 053 “Renee, Renee, Renee. This is fabulous!” Friends are in awe when they walk into Renee’s new master bathroom, one of many rooms she is remodeling in her newly purchased Indian Hill home, just northeast of Cincinnati, OH. This room used a perfect balance of both textured and smooth surfaces. Line patterns within the porcelain tile are the perfect upscale-spa backdrop for the sleek lines of the bathtub, shower enclosure and plumbing fixtures.

Long-term recycling solution for polyester carpet becomes pressing with increased sales, but national director says: “The glass is half-full” Mohawk Plastic BottlesIt has been observed throughout history: Cleaning up one mess often creates another mess. To clean up a mess, carpet manufacturers have been recycling billions of discarded plastic bottles into polyester (PET) carpet every year. But discarded PET carpet is not recyclable. And it now accounts for 30 percent -- up from 4 percent in 2007 -- of the used carpet headed for landfills. Because 35 percent of the residential carpet market is now PET, which is cheaper but not as durable as recyclable nylon carpet, carpet manufacturer Mohawk has announced Continuum – it new, proprietary PET carpet. The proprietary process results in a more durable, cleaner PET carpet, the company says.

Medical problems caused by negligent hardwood flooring manufacturer put focus on compliance with California Air Resource Board (CARB) standards Carb II CompliantConsumer complaints of severe allergic reactions to flooring -- followed by news that one of the nation’s largest flooring retailers was importing floors that exceeded limits for formaldehyde -- should call our attention to the term, CARB Compliant. Small amounts of formaldehyde occur naturally. But excessive amounts can be emitted from certain glues. Excessive amounts of formaldehyde are carcinogenic.  Flooring manufacturers who are supposed to comply with California Air Resource Board (CARB) standards, should no longer be using adhesives that exceed standards. But how are consumers supposed to know?

Properly done, seams should not be an issue in linoleum installation Forbo QA1Q. We are remodeling an older home and I was "sold" on Marmoleum, until I kept coming across questions about repairing seams which have buckled. I want to use it in the bathroom floors, but I am really hesitant since reading all these questions about repairing the seams. Have you had questions on this and/or how do you feel about using Marmoleum in the bathrooms? Many thanks! --  LM Sequim, WA A. Dear LM: If you are using Marmoleum sheet goods that are installed by a contractor who is properly trained, you should have no problems with seams that need repair.

Latest  designs encourage movement and discourage assigned work stations and offices Steelcase 2There is a counter-height desk on wheels for the worker who is more productive walking through the office while working on his computer. There are areas for groups of employees to collaborate. And private spaces for when workers need to take important or private calls. Work areas, equipped with traditional seating as well as counters for people who prefer to stand, are arranged for use by all. The corner offices for high-ranking  executives are gone. So are traditional work stations assigned to a specific worker. A work café – for group and individual work – also is a must. What is this place? It is the workplace that promotes health, wellness and the most efficient use of space at a time when businesses do not want to spend for new buildings, says John Shideler, workplace consultant for Steelcase.