Home & Real Estate

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.

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.

Research indicates LED day-time health benefit, but possible nighttime risk It’s not yet cost-effective for residential use. But Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology is improving every day and ultimately slated to replace most other artificial light forms. Will it yield, I ask hopefully, a more natural and healthful light than the compact fluorescent light bulbs I am using? “You seek the Holy Grail,” answers Phil Richards, a senior instructor with The Juno Lighting Group. “And what you are asking about is an amazingly complex topic, currently being addressed by the American Medical Association (AMA) and medical societies in the European Union as well.” The AMA issued an alert in June because of research that shows certain types of nighttime lighting suppress our natural circadian rhythm, and shift-workers have been shown to have an increased incidence of breast cancer and other medical conditions.  Additional research published in April suggests a possible reason: The blue light -- in LED and all non-incandescent light forms in use today -- affects non-visual, blue-sensitive photoreceptors in the retina, which in turn suppresses melatonin production.

DuChateau strives for vinyl flooring that is better for people and planet More mainstream flooring manufacturers are paying attention to the growing controversy over phthalates – a plasticizer – in vinyl flooring, even though studies suggesting a link between phthalates and lowered IQ, endocrine problems and respiratory ailments have been dismissed as independent and fringe. DuChateau Floors is now making vinyl without phthalates, though the product’s backing, made using recycled content, still may contain trace amounts because old product is recycled by the company. This switch by DuChateau follows the introduction by competitor Tarkett of its “phthalate-free except for recycled content” vinyl flooring earlier this year. “Only a very small portion of phthalate-containing plasticizer can be detected from the recycled bottom layer,” says Don Bufalini, western regional sales manager for DuChateau Floors.  “The tile should not really be affected by the phthalates if they are in the bottom layer.”

Why didn’t you mention reclaimed trees in your reclaimed wood article? Q. Your article, The Truth about Reclaimed Wood, did a good job demonstrating that a number of mainstream companies make reclaimed flooring from deconstructed barns and other buildings. But you didn’t mention flooring made from trees that are removed to make way for development. Companies that make lumber from trees that have to be cut down also help produce wood products without cutting down trees that can keep growing and helping the planet. Please let your visitors and people who want to build LEED-certified homes know that this option exists. A. Making flooring, mantels and other items from trees that have to be removed for a variety of reasons is a very cool idea. This type of salvaging, however, does not qualify for reclaimed wood credit under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Only wood salvaged from old structures counts toward LEED’s Resource Reuse Credit.

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/ Indoor Air Quality Certifications offer some, but not complete, assurance about vinyl flooring Q. While I am intrigued by natural, linoleum products, my budget is more inclined toward the Naturcor vinyl flooring I am looking at buying from my local flooring dealer. I also am concerned about buying a product that does not emit excessive chemicals, and I have been warned about dioxin, which is a carcinogen, by another blogger. Still, I have seen some vinyl brands advertise that they are green.  What is the truth about vinyl? A. The truth about vinyl – or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – is that it isn’t the preferred product of environmentalists or most green product enthusiasts.  But dioxin is an end-of-product life or house fire issue, because it is released when PVC is incinerated.

Do synthetic backings on natural carpeting defeat the purpose? Q. I have been looking into wool carpeting because wool is a natural fiber that does not emit chemicals.  But I am learning that most wool carpets have plastics and other synthetics in the backings, and they also are treated with moth proofing agents, which many experts have told me is unnecessary.  Does this negate the indoor-air friendly and planet-friendly aspects of natural wool carpeting? A. All discussions about “green” products involve levels or degrees of greenness. That said, the answer to your question is yes – to some extent. Because it is not made from petrochemicals, the wool fiber in the carpet will be far more indoor-air friendly than traditional synthetic fibers, despite the use of synthetic backings like polypropylene. Keep in mind that there are products like Nature’s Carpet “Dark Green” line that offer New Zealand and British Wool carpets with no chemical treatments and natural jute backings. Not only does this eliminate any concern you have about chemical emissions, but leads into the second point you’ve raised about planet-friendly aspects.