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What do ceramic nano beads mean for softness underfoot?  005Q. 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.

Water-based stains offer better indoor-air quality and a different aesthetic, but applying them requires an experienced professional There is a critical question you should put to your hardwood flooring contractor if you are planning to finish your floor with a water-based stain: Does he know how to apply it? The question is easily overlooked. Most of us would assume this knowledge is a given. But applying water-based stain requires a different technique than what is used with traditional oil-based products. And so can applying a water-based polyurethane over the water-based stain. If you try to use these stains like traditional products, you most likely will not be happy with the final appearance of your floor. And you will face the costs of refinishing in order to fix it.

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. You don’t need adhesive to install these products. So the products much easier to install and repair, they are more indoor-air friendly, and they’re water-resistant, too.

Natural oil hardwood flooring finishes gain popularity as consumers get more familiar with product benefits Some would say that using plant-based oils to finish a hardwood floor is unique. Not the norm, the road less-traveled and, possibly not suited for standing up to high traffic. 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.

Are you relying on retailers who are “being green,” or screaming green? Each time a regional publication distributes its annual “Green Issue,” loaded with “green” business advertising, I am naturally reminded that some retailers still don’t get it. Particularly when it comes to environmental flooring and interior products. Their advertising messages scream that they are “green” because of such things as selling recyclable nylon carpet, other products from manufacturers who meet their own “environmental stewardship standards,” or they sell cork, bamboo and linoleum. Much like 10 years ago when the “green” interior product market started getting attention, these businesses still view “green” as a specialty market that is of interest to a small percentage of customers and, therefore, requires occasional advertising but little in-depth knowledge or understanding. This theory ignores market research that shows more consumers are seeking healthful products, in addition to an increase in the U.S. green building market from $10 billion in 2005 to an estimated $85 billion in 2012, with expectations that it will exceed $200 billion by 2016.

Demand will mean more product selection, but can your retailer tell you what standards a product meets? Even if you are not consciously seeking people- or planet- friendly products, it’s more likely in 2013 that the product you buy will have some environmental advantage -- particularly if it’s a building or interior finishing product. The U.S. green building market has grown from $10 billion in 2005 to an estimated $85 billion in 2012, with expectations that it will exceed $200 billion by 2016, according to a recently published analysis by Environmental Building News. The top motivators behind this movement? Health-related factors including indoor-air quality, in addition to energy use reduction, according to U.S. and global surveys. Not building a new home? These findings still affect you.

Painstaking remake of historic Rauh home in Cincinnati means authentic replication, along with new, environmental features The squares within the new parquet floor had to be just so. They were the design foundation in restoring the former home of Frederick and Harriet Rauh in Wyoming, Ohio – one of the oldest Modernist residences in the state, built in 1938. All you have to do to understand this is to look at all the squares and rectangles in the flat-roofed, International Style home designed by architect John Becker. A grand landmark in its day, the home eventually fell victim to deterioration and vandalism. But with funds donated by Emily Rauh Pulitzer, and the expertise of noted Cincinnati architects and contractors, the Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) oversaw a two-year renovation, completed this year, and returned the building to its original glory. With some new, modern efficiency improvements, the project is setting new standards for historical preservation.

Glass backsplash adds just the right color and dimension In a perfect world, you would remodel your master bathroom all at once, making every selection in advance to ensure all components of the finished product complement each other. In reality, remodeling in stages is sometimes forced upon us. In this case, the latest addition of a recycled glass countertop, new vanity, mirrored cabinets and sink were supposed to mark the completion of this bathroom overhaul. But there was something noticeably missing. The counter area needed a backsplash for a finished look that pulled the whole room together.

Repurposed wood, certified dimensional tile and natural, zero-VOC finishes position new Cincinnati bar for lasting attention Architects and designers know that designing the perfect bar means creating a unique atmosphere for respite and escape. It must invite, perhaps with warm, dimly lit nooks perfectly suited for comfortable conversation.  It must have an attention-getting focal point, and logical pathways that help customers find their way through the building. Now add to that a requirement for a natural aesthetic that uses building materials that are better for people and the planet. For the design-build team coordinated by Core One Resources in Cincinnati, OH, this meant reusing floor joists for interior woodwork and wall paneling, restoring salvageable wood floors, laying environmentally certified tile and finishing new and old wood floors with odorless, Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)-free natural oil. No, the architect explains, this was not done to seek tax abatements through Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) certification. No certification was sought. Is it possible that today’s green building standards have become common practice for the creators of this new, downtown Sixth Street bar, who simply see environmental considerations as the right thing to do?