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Experience and training of flooring installation crew should never be a question mark for consumers We talk about product quality. We talk about price, which in today’s economy means we bypass some higher-quality products. But except in the instance of installing Marmoleum from Forbo, we have not talked much about installer training. States like Oregon that have mandatory contractor licensing, which means continuing education credits that include some training in flooring installation, might tout their efforts to protect consumers. Some manufacturers, like Forbo, also require that their sheet products be installed by a contractor the company has certified in order for the product warranty to be valid. But flooring distributors – that stock and supply products to flooring dealers – and the dealers themselves are not doing a reputable job unless they routinely provide training for flooring installers, says Victoria Haugen, marketing manager for Wanke Cascade, a Forbo distributor, headquartered in Portland, OR.

Cork, sustainable hardwood, oil and low-VOC finishes top list in homeowner’s meticulous selections Cork flooring upstairs. Hardwood with an oil finish downstairs. Stained Red Oak, from Indiana forests considered sustainable by Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association, reaches from the spacious foyer and into the dining room. It changes to a basket weave pattern in the family room. Lorinn Williams of Indian Hill, OH, began planning this home two years ago. Her 12-year-old daughter encouraged her to select as many “green” products as she could.

Some are born with Natural knowledge, but most of us have learned from mistakes Sixteen years ago, I let my infant sleep on a plastic mattress filled with foam rubber. I had read the baby books and collaborated with pregnant friends. But nothing and no one pointed out that standard mattresses contain petrochemicals or that these chemicals off-gas for us to breathe and absorb. Even when the baby developed sleep apnea -- and had to sleep wearing a halter monitor and alarm because of a family history of crib death -- I did not question the standard crib mattress I had purchased from my local baby supply store. Truthfully, if someone had told me to raise this question, I probably would have laughed and, privately, considered that person to be a little crazy. Everyone in the United States buys and sleeps on traditional mattresses every day.  If there were something wrong with that, we would all know, right?

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. Nor is it always convenient to take scraps immediately outside to the composter. So, the kitchen designer you need will have an air-tight compost collection bin hidden in the counter top.

The story of rugs from Mekizodesigns “Most of the blogs I find become more of an information regurgitation, and I am guilty of that myself,” Melanie Munden, founder of Mekizodesigns, tells me from the start. “We are selling flooring, after all,” she says. “But for me, I am interested in the story of how something began. What inspired me, and who or what is the latest trend in color for fashion trends and textiles for the home.” It only took about 30 seconds for me to figure out that Melanie is an artist, and that this touches everything she does. Her new silk and wool rugs have standalone appeal. But I now want to know the story of how this began.

Linoleum appeal has moved beyond health benefits to include one-of-a-kind designs Vinyl lovers take note: Green-minded Portland residents remodeling kitchens and bathrooms are resoundingly choosing Marmoleum floors. Unlike vinyl, this is all-natural linoleum made primarily from linseed oil. While it traditionally has been sought by the chemically sensitive or those concerned about indoor-air quality, it is now also being sought for its fashion statement, says Sam Snow, owner of EcoFloors in Portland, OR. “It’s an excellent choice for high-use areas because of its durability, lower maintenance and its style options are almost endless,” he says. “In addition, it’s 100-percent natural, antistatic, antibacterial and comfortable underfoot.”

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 chemicals and additives. Cork flooring is beautifully natural and sustainable. But it cannot be made without some extra ingredients – like adhesive. After wine bottle stoppers are punched out of the bark of the Cork Oak Trees in and around Portugal, cork that will be made into flooring is ground up, mixed with pigments, and adhesive. Fortunately, cork producers in the Mediterranean region are known for their attention to environmentally sound adhesives and additives. Once the sheets of cork are produced, more materials are introduced. If the cork will be used for engineered flooring, which is made in layers, the core of the floor with be HDF (High Density Fiber Board). And if the flooring – engineered or solid – will be prefinished, anything from a simple water-based polyurethane to a proprietary aluminum oxide or ceramic finish, to a high-tech nano finish, will be applied to the surface.

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 is an illusion, enabled by the latest digital optic technology that embosses these patterns directly onto the cork. “You cannot tell its cork until you touch it,” says Tim Tompkins, national marketing director for Wicanders. “We are able to print these patterns directly on our cork veneers. The texture of the cork veneer beneath it adds more texture and realism to the finished product, and each floor is a fingerprint of itself as no two planks, panels or tiles are identical.  It’s very amazing technology.”

Anderson Township, OH, family completes new home with natural oil hardwood finish and cork When the original plan for putting strand bamboo flooring in the new home they were building in Anderson Township, OH, went awry, Jennifer and Carlton Monroe reviewed their priorities. “I wanted something natural,” Jennifer recalls. “But it also occurred to me that on the first floor, I wanted something that was spot-repairable.” This was the beginning of a selection process that ended with the Monroes putting hardwood – finished on site with a natural, hard-wax oil -- on the first floor, and cork flooring upstairs in the bedrooms and hallway.