Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How is Bamboo Flooring Made?

How is Bamboo Flooring Made?

 Bamboo Forest in Hakone Gardens, Saratoga, California Bamboo is one of the strongest building materials and understanding how bamboo flooring is made will help the consumer choose the best type of flooring for their needs.

Bamboo is a high-yield renewable natural resource. It is grows all over Asia. Most of the bamboo available in the United States has been harvested and manufactured somewhere in Asia. It is considered to have a low environmental impact. It is not classified as a tree, but is actually a grass, and so grows very quickly. It is, in fact, the fastest growing plant that we know. It can grow up to 4 feet in a day. Where oak takes 120 years to grow to maturity and 25-35 years for Spruce, Pine or Fir, bamboo can be harvested in 3 years.

Harvesting Bamboo

The largest bamboo, known as timber bamboo, can grow to 120 feet with a 13-inch diameter in three years, and it is named timber because it is at least two times stronger than lumber of the same proportions. Bamboo is self-renewing; after harvesting the root system remains healthy and unharmed, ready to produce more shoots, just like a grass lawn.

It is critical that bamboo is harvested at the height of maturity and strength. The best time to harvest bamboo is in the fall or winter when the ambient moisture level is relatively low. Harvesting in the summer will likely cause the bamboo to split during the curing process.

Carbonization and Inspection

After cutting the bamboo, logs are sliced into long strips and then are ready for further processing. The strips are then cut into approximately the width that you see in the final bamboo flooring. The bamboo can be left it’s natural color or it can be darkened. The process of darkening the bamboo is done next. This brings out the color.

Strips are often steamed and then boiled to eliminate sugars and insects. This is called carbonization, and this process weakens the bamboo. Dark shades of bamboo are not recommended for flooring because of the potential for damage especially in high traffic areas.

After this purification process, inspection takes place to grade bamboo. There's always a market for good or average bamboo. Grades A or B are sorted. Grade B is sold to discount manufacturers for inferior flooring.

Drying

To insure proper moisture content bamboo goes through a drying process. Improper drying of bamboo can lead to fungus and deterioration of the flooring. The drying process takes a few days and is done in a kiln.

Gluing

The next step in the manufacture of bamboo flooring is the gluing process. The strips are glued together under extremely high pressure and heat in either vertical or horizontal formation creating large boards. The pressure and heat assure a strong, stable bond.

Using formaldehyde glue, the strips are bound together. There are no quality controls in place to monitor the amount of formaldehyde used during this process.

Usually any manufacturer of quality bamboo flooring uses less than the amount of formaldehyde allowed by United States quality controls. In producing low quality bamboo products, high levels of formaldehyde glues are used. Formaldehyde glue is a known carcinogen and it’s presence in bamboo products will emit a gas for years after manufacture. Low quality bamboo flooring should be avoided.

Bamboo flooring may also be classified as Vertical and Horizontal. Vertical flooring results in a smooth uniform appearance. Horizontal flooring results in a look that appears more natural. The nodes of the bamboo remain visible at random intervals. Vertical flooring is available only in one thickness but horizontal flooring is made with many layers depending on the thickness desired by the manufacturer.

Much like traditional hardwood, bamboo flooring is designed in a tongue and groove system. You can determine quality by examining the edges of the planks. If you can see gaps and splits, either filed with adhesive or left as is, then you know it is an inferiorly manufactured plank. The ends should be uniform to insure maximum adhesion and prevent movement.

Finishing

After milling, the bamboo is given an aluminum oxide coating to increase it’s strength, endurance and protect it from stains. It is then ready for installation.

http://www.greenyourdecor.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/bamboohome_02.jpg

Bamboo is quickly becoming an eco-friendly alternative to hardwood flooring. In addition, it can also be a durable, high quality and beautiful choice for your flooring.

The following article was taken directly from Online Tips (http://www.onlinetips.org/how-bamboo-flooring-made). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Marble Flooring Pros and Cons

There is no doubt about it, marble flooring has become one of the hottest new materials on the market for those wanting a sleek, elegant surface on their home floors. But before you make the financial commitment to this beautiful and pricey flooring material, take a look first to see exactly what you are getting into. Along with the benefits, a few disadvantages also appear immediately and with the long-term use of that gorgeously stylish marble floor.

Hard, Cold, Beautiful

The first thing to consider when going over marble flooring pros and cons is its hardness. Of course, that's one of it's attractions: With this type of floor, you won't worry about the dog's paw nails scratching the surface like you would if you selected a wood flooring surface. But then again, if you're thinking about using marble as the material in a kitchen, don't ever plan on dropping a glass dish. That good, hard marble surface will most likely cause even the toughest types of glass to shatter if dropped from any distance at all.

Another thing to keep in mind when evaluating marble flooring pros and cons is their warmth, or rather, the lack thereof. If you habitually run around the house in bare feet, better buy some house shoes if you're seriously considering marble floors. Especially in winter, those tootsie toes will absolutely freeze when you walk across the floor in the morning for that first cup of java. Conversely, however, cool is downright, well, cool, if you are thinking hot summer days/evenings when a nice, cool floor would be welcomed.

Cost

Marble flooring runs on the expensive side. Marble flooring pros and cons must include pricing, which at anywhere from $4 to $8 per square foot, makes this type of material one of the most expensive. You can purchase vinyl tile that looks remarkably like marble for a fraction of the cost of real marble.

You also get some of the benefits marble doesn't offer like a softer feel, ease of maintenance, and simplicity of installation. The fact that marble flooring does cost so much puts in the getting ahead of the Joneses category, however. It costs a lot, so not too many people, at least those sans a silver spoon in their mouths at birth, are going to be using it, which makes it that much more sought after to people for whom that matters.

Maintaining Its Beauty

Probably one of the biggest reasons marble flooring pros and cons should be considered is when it comes to keeping it shiny and clean. Marble does not hold up well in heavily trafficked areas. You will need to regularly polish it to maintain its beautiful sheen.

Also, marble cannot tolerate cleaning products with chlorine, which is guaranteed to ruin its gorgeously shiny finish. The rebuttal to this con is that if someone can afford to have marble flooring installed, they can afford to have it cleaned and maintained properly, a good, logical argument for those who heed it.

Marble flooring pros and cons make it one of those flooring materials each homeowner must decide for him- or herself whether or not it's right for their particular home. It's beautiful, hard to keep that way, hard, cold and inimitable in its league as far as imparting elegance and class. But only you can decide if it's the flooring for you.

The following article was taken directly from Online Tips (http://www.onlinetips.org/marble-pros-cons). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Carpet Cushion History And Affect On Carpet

HISTORY OF CARPET CUSHION

In the early twentieth century, Americans placed carpet cushion beneath area rugs for added comfort underfoot and increased insulation. Eventually, carpet cushion use was expanded as homeowners took advantage of its inherent thermal qualities for increased insulation.

Some of the first carpet cushion was made from cattle hair, obtained as a by-product of the leather tanning process, because of its great resilience and durability. However, between the 1930s and 1950s, the tremendous growth of the tufted carpet industry caused an increase in carpet production, which exceeded the availability of cattle hair. Gradually, hair carpet cushion became a mixture of the jute plant because its qualities were similar to those of cattle hair. Today, this natural fiber underlay of hair and rubberized jute comprises about 2 percent of the current carpet cushion market.

Synthetic carpet cushion, also part of the fiber cushion family, is made by needlepunching off-grade carpet fibers. Although synthetic carpet cushion use has experienced rapid growth over the last three decades, it constitutes about 5 percent of the current carpet cushion market.

After World War II -- to meet the burgeoning demand for tufted carpet -- sponge rubber carpet cushion emerged. Made from natural rubber or styrene and butadiene rubber developed by tire companies during the war, sponge rubber is, by definition, an elastic porous mass with interconnecting cells obtained by combining rubber with blowing agents under heat-intense conditions. This gives the cushion its sponge-like effect. Today, three plants in the United States manufacture sponge rubber carpet cushion, totaling about 4 percent of the carpet cushion market.

The remainder of today’s carpet cushion business in the United States belongs to polyurethane foam -- both prime and bonded -- mainly because of its versatility, permitting it to be used in the manufacture of prime, graft, densified, bonded, and mechanically frothed carpet cushion. Each year, around 700 million pounds of polyurethane foam trim is gathered from all over the world from the manufacture of such items as sofas, chairs, mattresses, automotive interiors (i.e. door panels, seat cushions, etc.), textiles and clothing. This polyurethane foam trim is compressed, baled and transported to approximately 30 U.S. factories where it is recycled into bonded carpet cushion, making it one of the largest uses of recycled materials in the world.


Carpet cushion can add a useful life to a carpet

A common misconception made about cushion is that you can save money by increasing the pile weight of a caret and eliminating the cushion. Actually, a cushion may result in more useful life in some carpet applications than slightly heavier unprotected carpet can offer.

Carpet is seldom replaced because it "wears" out. It is usually changed because it "uglies" out—or loses its fresh, new appearance. By reducing pile height loss and pile crushing, cushion can help keep a carpet “new” looking—and therefore stretch its usable life span.

A carpet installed over separate cushion can be more economical

Separate cushion can prove to be the most economical installation over a period of time.

In wear resistance tests done by Independent Textile Testing Service, a variety of cushion types added to the wear resistance of carpet.

And in a test to determine loss of pile height, which gives the appearance of wear, carpets without cushion showed a 19.3% loss in thickness. Carpets with cushion may suffer only 5-10% pile height loss. So an installation with cushion can be more economical since most carpets without any form of cushion may need to be replaced sooner. The fibers of a carpet installed without cushion can become compacted more easily, and the “new” look of the carpet may disappear more quickly.

Carpet cushion makes a carpet seem richer and more luxurious

The most universally accepted benefits of carpet cushion are that it makes a carpet feel better and look better longer.

While the luxury is a subjective quality and cannot be measured, cushion does impart resiliency and resistance to pressure, which contribute to a carpet’s feeling on luxury.

In research conducted by Independent Textile Testing Service, a test was used whereby different carpet/cushion systems were subjected to rolling a chair with 150 lb. Weight over them 20,000 times. The results indicated that carpets with no cushion had an average of 19.3% loss in pile height (thickness) as opposed to a 5-10% loss in thickness for carpets with a separate cushion. The favorable effect of cushion in reducing the appearance of wear was indicated by decreased loss in thickness. So since carpets with separate cushion remain thicker, they could also appear more luxurious for a longer period of time. And with separate cushion, it’s possible to select the degree of luxury or firmness of tread you desire.

Carpet cushion can significantly improve a carpet’s acoustical properties

A carpeted environment is quiet because the pile surface absorbs surface noise at the source. But a carpet installed with separate cushion can make the room even more quiet.

Tests conducted in the Kodaras Acoustical Laboratories reverberation chambers substantiate this. For example, in floor sound absorption tests, a carpet laid directly on concrete floor, with no cushion, measured a Noise Reduction Coefficient of 0.25. In a like test, the same carpet with a cushion on a concrete floor measured a Noise Reduction Coefficient of 0.65, a considerably better performance.

Separate cushion can also reduce impact noise transmission. On a concrete floor with no cushion, a carpet registered an impact noise rating of +14. The same carpet with separate cushion had an impact noise rating of +25—again significant improvement.

Carpet cushion can improve the thermal insulation properties of the floor covering

Another of the undisputed qualities of carpet cushion is that it improves the overall thermal insulation properties of a floor covering.

In fact, typical carpet cushions have been measured to have “R-values” from .75 to 2.0. R-values are commonly used to measure a material’s resistance to heat flow.

Carpet cushion can reduce the impact exerted on floor covering by one-half

Another factor related to luxury is the underfoot cushioning properties imparted by cushion properties imparted by carpet cushion.

In tests conducted at the University of Chicago, the effects of people actually walking over carpet and cushion were measured. The tests revealed that carpet by itself and cushion by itself have only limited impact absorption value. However, when the carpet and carpet cushion are combined into a proper system, the ability of the floor covering to absorb walking impact rises dramatically. And this can improve your comfort by reducing walking fatigue.

Carpet cushion makes carpet easier to maintain

Maintenance costs are often lower during a cushioned carpet’s life

Vacuum cleaning is more efficient with separate cushion since most machines “lift” the carpet to provide air circulation, thus insuring maximum cleaning power. This can help reduce the grinding action of embedded dirt that can cut and fray fiber.

Carpets with separate cushion can be less costly to install

At first glance, carpet installations without separate cushion seem less costly. But upon further examination, it can be argued that they represent a false economy.

First, direct glue down or attached cushion installation may be less expensive initially. But the difference could be made up in removing worn carpet in glue-down installation when labor costs for removal and clean up of the floor will most likely outweigh the original savings.

A carpet with separate carpet cushion will mask surface irregularities. A carpet alone cannot conceal crack and trowel marks as effectively as a carpet with cushion. This often means that less floor preparation is required before the carpet is installed.

In fact, a study of carpet workrooms (professional installers) indicated that when all installation factors are taken into consideration—floor preparation, carpet installation, carpet removal, and cleaning and repair of the floor after removal—the costs of a separate cushion are significantly reduced over that of a direct glue down installation.

The following article was taken directly from the Carpet Cushion Council. (www.carpetcushion.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Carpet Padding Explained

The abundance of carpet cushion choices can easily confuse most consumers. By the way, cushion is the politically correct term. Not only are there different material types, most of them are available in varying thicknesses. If you make a mistake, you will shorten the life of your carpet and potentially be uncomfortable.

There are three major types of carpet cushions that most homeowners recognize: fiber, sponge and foam rubber. There are different types and grades within each grouping. Thickness of cushion and weight in ounces per square yard are the yardsticks which allow you to differentiate one from another.

The type and amount of foot traffic in a room determines the type of cushion you should use. Heavy traffic areas, stairwells, and hallways require cushions that are no thicker than 3/8 inch. These cushions should also be dense and heavy. Do not use a thick, light weight cushion in these areas. It will allow the carpet backing to flex too much. This can cause the carpeting to fall apart.

If you want a soft, luxurious feel in a bedroom or other lightly traveled room, choose a 1/2 inch thick pad. To increase the life of the carpeting, choose a high density or weight cushion. Remember, the cushion is the foundation for the carpet. It just doesn't make sense to install a flimsy, inexpensive cushion beneath an expensive carpet.

The following article was taken directly from Ask the Builder (www.askthebuilder.com). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Area Rug Padding

I have several area rugs in my home over different types of floors. I am wondering if I need rug padding under every rug? If so, what kind and why?

Answer:

Rug pad is a very important part of the placement of area rugs for the following reasons:

  • Rug pad keeps the rugs from slipping on hard surface floors
  • It protects the finish of hardwood floors from the friction of the backing of some rugs as well as color transfer and staining
  • Rug pad also reduces wrinkling of the area rugs
  • Rug pad provides a cushioned feeling when walking on the rugs
  • It can extend the life of your area rugs by preventing wear
  • It allows you to vacuum your rug more easily

There are different types of rug pads for hard surfaces such as ceramic or hardwood and different types for carpet. There are premium pads for more cushion and there is a separate type of cushion for outdoor rugs. Some companies offer different rug pad for oriental carpets. There are also some types of tape that are designed to hold area rugs in place. A full padding works best as provides more of the assets listed above.

When purchasing area rug pad, you don’t want to buy or order the rug pad in the exact same size as your rug. You want at least a 1/2″ on all sides less than the size of the area rug. Pre-packaged rug pads already take this into account so you don’t have to do any trimming.

Another tip: Be sure and read the instructions to make sure you are putting the rug pad down in the correct fashion. Some rug pads have different textures on each side in order to either grip to the rug or provide slip resistance to the floor.

The following article was taken directly from the World Floor Covering Association (www.wfca.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

How Are Area Rugs Made?

The construction of area rugs all comes down to two areas: man versus machine. Or, in many cases, woman versus machine.

If area rugs are indeed a flooring solution for the way you live, any rug you choose will be constructed by either human hands or factory machines.

And while modern technology enables us to mass produce area rugs in a wide spectrum of design, color and sizes, there are differences between machine made and handmade rugs. Differences you should be aware of.

Machine made rugs are less expensive and are not considered long term.

With factory made rugs you’ll have flexibility and variety; you can find the same design, or one close to it, in different sizes and different colors from different manufacturers.

Woven rugs are created on automated weaving looms in which multiple colors of yarn are sewn into a backing material. The rugs' elaborate designs are created by the placement of the different colors of yarn.

Handmade (also called hand knotted) rugs are custom made, one-of-a-kind designs that incorporate creative (often brilliant) uses of color.

With handmade rugs, even if the overall same pattern is created, there will still be unique details and intricacies due to the village, city or country of the creator.

Plus, handmade rugs are often created with natural dyes that provide longevity to the colors. These rugs offer you built-in lasting power.

The bottom line is the bottom line. Handmade rugs are investments (often very valuable investments) that last a lifetime and then some.

Many become precious, revered heirlooms, passed down with pride and honor from one generation to the next.

All reasons why we created this section devoted to the creation of handmade, hand knotted rugs.

We want you, the man and woman seeking flooring solutions for the way you live, to be especially aware of man and woman made area rugs.

So please join us as we share with you this ancient and unique process.

Three elements tie any handmade rug together: weave, knot and dyes.

1. WEAVE

Weave refers to the technique used in making handmade rugs.

There are three major techniques: pile weave, flat weave and hand-tufted.

Pile Weave: knots to you.

Pile weave or knotted weave refers to the method of weaving used in most rugs.

In this technique the rug is woven by a creation of knots.

A short piece of yarn is tied around two neighboring warp strands creating a knot on the surface of the rug.

After each row of knots is created, one or more strands of weft are passed through a complete set of warp strands.

Then the knots and the weft strands are beaten with a comb securing the knots in place.

Even though all pile rugs are woven with knots, different weaving groups use different types of knots.

The weaving process begins at the bottom of the loom and moves upward as the horizontal rows of knots and wefts are added. Do you get the picture?

Every single knot is tied by hand. A rug can consist of 25 to over 1000 knots per square inch.

A skillful weaver is able to tie a knot in about ten seconds, meaning 6 knots per minute or 360 knots per hour.

That means it would take a skillful weaver 6,480 hours to weave a 9x12-foot rug with a density of 150 knots per square inch.

If we divide this number by 8-hour working days, it means it would take one weaver 810 days (approximately two and a half years) to weave such a rug. Can you think of a more painstaking job?

However, a rug as large as a 9x12 is usually woven in a workshop or master workshop setting by two or three weavers, so the above time can be reduced by half or third.

But can you imagine the time and labor if the knot density is even higher!

Handmade rugs are beautiful, functional and exceptional works of art created with great patience. And deep pride.

Flat Weave: knotless, yet boundless beauty.

Flat weave refers to a technique of weaving where no knots are used in the weave.

The warp strands are used as the foundation and the weft stands are used as both part of the foundation and in creating the patterns.

The weft strands are simply passed (woven) through the warp strands.

These weavings are called flat weaves since no knots are used in the weaving process and the surface looks flat.

These rugs have a special beauty, quality and personality all their own. Search for one that matches yours.

Hand Tufted: glue, guns and good value.

A hand-tufted rug is created without tying knots into the foundation, but rather by pushing wool or acrylic yarn through a primary backing, creating a “tuft”.

Then, using a latex glue to hold the tufts in place, a rug maker will apply a secondary foundation, or “scrim”, which is then covered by a third and final cloth backing to protect your floor. Proof that satisfying customers is global.

The final step involves shearing the tops of the looped tufts to create the pile.

The height of the pile is determined by how much yarn is cut off, and how far the initial loop was pushed up.

Hand-tufted rug makers use a tool called a “tufting gun” which holds the yarn to push through the primary backing that is stretched in place on a frame.

This method of rug making is less time consuming than hand-tying each knot, but still requires a high level of craftsmanship to efficiently and accurately portray the intricate designs.

The design is determined by transferring a pattern onto the primary foundation, this acts as a template showing the craftsman where to push through each colored tuft.

Hand-tufted rugs can be made faster than hand-knotted rugs, therefore they are generally less expensive than their hand-knotted counterparts.

The tufting method creates a highly durable and beautifully accurate handmade rug that will weather foot traffic for years to come.

If traffic is a concern of yours, this may be your weave of choice.

2. KNOT

Most handmade rugs are woven by tying knots on the warp strands.

The type of knot used in weaving and the knot density are discussed next.

The two predominant types of knots are asymmetrical and symmetrical.

Asymmetrical (Persian or Senneh) Knot: there is none finer.

The asymmetrical knot is used in Iran, India, Turkey, Egypt and China.

To form this knot, yarn is wrapped around one warp strand and then passed under the neighboring warp strand and brought back to the surface.

With this type of knot a finer weave is created. A fine point worth noting.

Symmetrical (Turkish or Ghiorde) Knot: there’s beauty in symmetry.

The symmetrical knot is used in Turkey, the Caucasus and Iran by Turkish and Kurdish tribes.

To form this knot, yarn is passed over two neighboring warp strands.

Each end of the yarn is then wrapped behind one warp and brought back to the surface in the middle of the two warps, forming a beautiful symmetry.

If your decorating style is equal, even and matched, this is your knot.

Knot Density: thick with numbers and measurements.

Knot density refers to the number of knots per square inch (called KPSI) or square decimeter in a handmade rug.

Knot density is measured in the imperial system in square inches and in the metric system in square decimeters.

Every decimeter is equal to 10 centimeters and approximately 4 inches.

Knot density is measured by counting the number of knots per linear inch or decimeter along the warp and weft (visible on the backside of the rug) and multiplying the two numbers.

Since the two numbers are usually the same, one number can simply be squared.

KPSI, (knots per square inch), is sometimes used to indicate value.

The higher the number of knots per square inch, the higher the quality, and thus the price, of the rug. Make sense?

3. DYES

The process of changing the natural color of materials such as wool, silk and cotton is called dyeing.

There are two types of dyes: natural dyes and synthetic dyes.

Natural Dyes: plants, animals and minerals to dye for.

Until the late nineteenth century only natural dyes were used for coloring weaving yarns.

Natural dyes include plant dyes, animal dyes and mineral dyes.

Plant dyes come from roots, flowers, leaves, fruit, and the bark of plants.

Woad, a plant of the mustard family, and indigo, a bush from the pea family, are used for blue dye.

Yellow is produced from saffron, safflower, sumac, turmeric, onionskin, rhubarb, weld, and fustic.

Madder has been used since ancient times for reds. Redwood and Brazilwood are also used for reds.

Browns and blacks come from catechu dye, oak bark, oak galls, acorn husks, tea, and walnut husks.

Henna is used for orange.

For green, indigo, over-dyed with any of a variety of yellow dyes, is used.

Some animal sources of dyes include insects such as Cochineal, found on cacti in Mexico; Lac, a wild version of Cochineal, found in India and Iran; and Kermes, found on Oak trees near the Mediterranean.

All three produce a range of reds. Kermes was used in Europe, and Lac in Egypt and Persia until Cochineal, the cheapest of all three, gradually took their place.

Kermes, the most ancient of all three, has been used even before the 16th century. Can you believe that?

Mineral dyes come from ocher (yellow, brown, red), limestone or lime (white), manganese (black), cinnabar and lead oxide (red), azurite and lapis lazuli (blue), and malachite (green).

Dyers are able to get a variety of colors and shades from the same source depending on the type of material used, the characteristic of local water, and the use of different mordants.

Today, natural dyes are still used in some traditional dye-houses and villages where natural sources are readily accessible.

Synthetic Dyes: chemistry comes to the aid of consumer demand.

In the mid-nineteenth century, as the demand for handmade rugs increased in the West, their production increased in the East.

The need for easy-to-use and less expensive dyes with a wider range of colors caused the development of synthetic dyes in Europe and especially in Germany.

Synthetic dyes were soon imported to Persia (Iran), Anatolia (Turkey) and other Eastern countries.

The first synthetic dye, Fuchsine (a magenta aniline), was developed in the 1850s.

Shortly after, other synthetic aniline dyes followed.

Synthetic aniline dyes made from coal tar were brilliant, inexpensive, and easy to use; however, they faded rapidly with exposure to light and water.

In 1903 Nasser-e-Din Shah, the Persian king of Qajar Dynasty, banned the use of aniline dyes in Persia (Iran).

Persian weavers discontinued the use of synthetic dyes until the modern synthetic chrome dyes were developed in the years between the First and Second World Wars.

Chrome dyes are colorfast, they retain their intensity despite exposure to light and water, and are produced in an infinite variety of attractive colors and shades.

Today, mostly chrome synthetic dyes are used for coloring weaving yarns.

Natural dyes are used in places where they are easily obtainable.

But one thing is certain. If you buy an area rug made from natural or synthetic dyes, you can be confident that it will only improve with time.

In fact, even rugs made with aniline dyes in the late 19th century are valuable today simply because of their age.

Machine made or handmade, area rugs create a special area in your home.

We hope this section, and all the area rug sections, help you become a special floor covering shopper.

One that’s smarter, more savvy, more understanding and more aware of the flooring solutions for the way you live.

The following article was taken directly from the World Floor Covering Association (www.wfca.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ceramic/Porcelain Styles

If you love style options you’ve come to the perfect place. Ceramic tile has a style selection that is practically endless.

Today, smart shoppers are incorporating ceramic tile for its function and design options; inside and outside of their home. You can too.

Ceramic tile flooring and wall products are offered in a broad range of textures, patterns and sizes, and when combined with a spectrum of grout and glaze options, they offer significant styling options for any buyer, any home, any style.

We invite you to join us as we describe the beautiful and vast world of ceramic tile styles. A universe so large there’s bound to be a ceramic tile flooring solution for the way you live.

The basic 3: alluring, ageless and artful.

There are 3 types of ceramic tile: glazed, unglazed and porcelain. Understand them and you’re home free.

glazed ceramic tileunglazed ceramic tileporcelain floor tile

Glazed ceramic tiles:
are coated with glass-forming minerals and ceramic stains. Typically, they have a matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish.

They can offer better stain and moisture resistance than unglazed tile.

Glazed tiles can also have different finishes and you should be aware of them for future considerations. High gloss finishes can be more slippery and scratches can become more visible, while matte or textured finishes help with traction and scratches, and dirt is less visible.

Unglazed ceramic tiles:
are very hard and dense. They come in various surface treatments and textures. Typically, these are installed outside your home as they do not offer much protection against stains compared to glazed ceramic tile.

Unglazed tiles do have good slip resistance, however please note that they do require sealing to help prevent staining.

Porcelain tiles:
Porcelain tile is made up of 50% feldspar and is fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tile.

This makes porcelain tile much harder and more dense than other tile products. Because of its highly durable make-up, porcelain is more resistant to scratches and can withstand temperature extremes.

Also, because porcelain is non-porous, it’s very stain resistant, has very low water absorption ratings (Less than 0.5%) and thus can be used for interior and exterior applications as well as heavy-use and commercial areas.

Finally, because porcelain’s color goes all the way through, small scratches or chips are less noticeable

A rule: think room size, not tile size.

When considering what size tile would be appropriate for your given space, start by determining the size of the room.

Often times, people think that small rooms call for small tile. That is not necessarily true.

In fact, incorporating a larger size tile in a smaller room will visually increase the size of the space. And fewer grout lines will help create a cleaner surface appearance. The choice is yours.

Conversely, using a tile size that’s too small creates more grout joints that may make the floor look too busy, again depending on the size of the space.

The bottom line here is that, as with all design elements, scale plays an important role in creating a room’s overall balance. So, please consider it carefully to achieve your desired look.

A master of disguises.

The look of natural stone is very popular but some consumers prefer ceramic over stone due to price and maintenance considerations.

stone floors

In answer to consumers’ demands, ceramic and porcelain manufacturers have created tiles that offer textures, colors and patterns resembling natural stone products.

Of the sought after looks in ceramic and porcelain tile, slate, travertine and marble are just a few.

To further enhance the natural look, tile can also be made to feature heavy textures, chiseled and hammered edges, and even resemble tumbled stone.

Ceramic tile texture is related to its style. So feel free to feel! The feel of a tumbled stone or slate looking ceramic tile will be irregular and somewhat rough.

A tile simulating marble or granite on the other hand, will have a very smooth, polished feel. In addition to the feel, textures also vary in degree of shine, ranging from dull to semi-gloss to glass-like.

The strong, rugged, outdoor type.

ceramic tile ideas

Ceramic tile is a versatile product, with many styles designed for today’s popular outdoor living areas.

Outdoor tile typically features non-skid finishes designed for safety when wet, sometimes installed on patios, walkways, or around pools.

Another important characteristic of ceramic tile designed for outdoor applications is its resistance to frost.

It’s a cold, hard fact, shopper. Ceramic tile manufactured for outdoor use has very low water absorption, minimizing the cracking, chipping and other effects of expansion when the temperature falls below freezing.

Beyond earthy styles there’s a universe of options.

In addition to ceramic tile styles, manufacturers also offer decorative inserts, medallions and mosaics that are used to create intricate patterns and beautiful borders.

Tile size 2”x2” and smaller are usually referred to as mosaics and are often used with different colors to create a pattern or decorative inset.

Some of these smaller tiles also come in different shapes, such as hexagon, so feel free to let your imagination run free.

decorative ceramic tiles

Patterned borders made up of different size tiles or different colors can create beautiful looks.

Simple variations in color, shape or size can be patterned within a room, or across several adjoining rooms.

When creating a pattern with different tiles, you should know that the more prominent tile that is throughout the largest areas is called the “field tile”.

With a little imagination, even the simplest design appears customized.

Combining styles and patterns of ceramic tile flooring with countertop and wall products can also create beautiful designs, and give your room an aesthetic balance.

Floor and wall tiles may be designed to look similar, but floor tiles are generally thicker and are textured to make them safer to walk on.

Wall tile styles are typically designed to have higher gloss, and are manufactured in smaller sizes. The large floor tiles are not designed to adhere to walls.


ceramic mosaic tile

There’s no doubt grout influences style.

Grout is a type of cement that is used to fill the space and provide support in tile joints.

There are two types of grout commonly used in home installations; Portland cement based, and epoxy based. (Now there’s a conversation starter at your next party!)

Both of these grout compounds may have sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint.

Sanded grout is recommended for tile joints 1/8 th of an inch and larger. Unsanded grout is typically used in joints that are smaller than 1/8 th of an inch.

Grout can be pigmented to give a nearly infinite range of colors, shades and hues. Pigment is added to the cement at the job site when the grout is mixed.

Grout color and thickness will change the appearance of the floor and room dramatically.

Using a white or a light colored grout highlights the color in tile. Choosing a dark grout with a light tile, or light grout with a dark tile will emphasize the geometric pattern of your layout. So be wise and plan accordingly.

Whether you’re designing a simple geometric pattern or creating a mosaic, ceramic tile provides a lasting, naturally appearing floor.

Unmatched in style options, aesthetic appeal and durability, ceramic tile is a beautiful addition to any home. Perhaps yours!

The following article was taken directly from the World Floor Covering Association (www.wfca.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Laminate Styles

For many of us, when it comes to picking a style of any product, we usually “know it when we see it.” Perhaps that describes you, too.

Regardless, when it comes to laminate floor styles, there are many to choose from. And if laminate interests you, it’s virtually guaranteed you’ll find one that suits you -- a style that’s the right solution for the way you live.

Now, other sections in this website let you see numerous laminate styles up front and personal. (It’s a shopper’s paradise.)

This section explains laminate styles, and offers you all the information you need to make smart choices for you and your home.

So read on shopper, and we promise to be as clear and helpful as possible.

Fake has gone out of style.

If laminates looked fake the last time you checked, it’s time to check again!

Today’s laminates are looking better and better, and often need close examination to be identified.

Laminates have truly come a long way. Why, you may ask?

Because of the growing popularity of laminates, manufacturers are creating an increasing array of traditional, rustic, and exotic wood grain designs.

In fact, presses have improved to the point where the texture imprinted on top of the design looks more real than ever, even with distressed wood or natural stone designs.

laminate kitchen floorsdream home laminate flooring

What’s new in laminate?

As with sheet vinyl floors, some of the new laminates really have the look of natural materials, particularly the textured products that give the floor dimension.

The most common, basic laminate designs have a wood grain appearance. Some of the most popular laminates have rustic or historic wood grain patterns.

If you’re curious about what are the best sellers, it’s the natural stone look-a-likes, particularly slate and tumbled tile varieties.

Photography makes laminate true to life.

The quality of the laminate partially has to do with the photography and the number of photographs per style, which is known as "screens".

Here’s an example for you. When manufacturers emulate a natural stone tile, they try to recreate the variation in color, pattern and texture that is a result of cutting a natural product.

The more screens a product has, the more variation it can offer. And the more “authentic” the laminate looks. That seems to make sense, right?

Color is your key, shopper.

laminate wood floors

Like any floor, select the laminate to compliment the size of your room and the activities taking place in it.

Remember that lighter colors will make a smaller room appear larger, while darker colors will absorb the light and create a more intimate setting.

Choose a color that either coordinates or contrasts with your cabinets and other furniture.

Avoid matching everything to the same color and style. Let your creativity guide you! And remember, contrasts can make your room more interesting.

Laminate flooring types – yours will be installed in one of these 4 forms.

1) Glueless laminate flooring.

click laminate flooring

No mess, glueless installation makes these floors quick and easy-to-install.

They come in a variety of laminate and wood designs and colorations, as well as some manufacturers offer a real, hardwood veneer instead of a printed layer. It looks amazingly hardwood-like.

These floors come in both planks and squares. A thin, plastic underlayment is needed to seal out moisture from below. (Remember, moisture is the enemy of your flooring.)

In fact, most laminate floors require a plastic underlay sheet (4 mil poly) be installed directly underneath the laminate planks or tiles.

This helps the floor float freely over the subfloor. Another option is to add a vapor barrier or noise reduction underlay before installing the laminate flooring.

2) Laminate flooring with attached underlay.

These floors come with several different types of tongue and grooved locking systems and an attached underlayment to reduce noise levels. Now that’s sound thinking!

3) Glued laminate flooring.

These are the original laminate floors that do require a special formulated glue to be applied to the tongue and grooved areas for each plank.

Once the glue is dried the planks are almost impossible to pull apart. These floors are offered in both planks and squares.

4) Pre-glued laminate flooring.

No mess, because the glue is already applied to the tongue and grooves which makes these floors quick and easy-to-install.

A thin, plastic underlayment is needed to seal out moisture and prevent the glue from sticking to the substrate.

Finish off your creation with moldings.

Laminate moldings also affect the overall style and give your room a beautiful finished look.

Moldings are important because they cover the space that is allowed for the flooring to expand and move naturally on top of the subfloor, and they help with the transition to an adjacent floor.

Most manufacturers offer coordinating moldings for all styles and colors for any laminate flooring you choose.

However, be aware that moldings for laminates are slightly larger than their wood or laminate tile counterparts.

Here, to familiarize you with some standard moldings, are some definitions.

The Step Down Stairnose is a coordinating piece providing the proper transition for all the steps in your home.

A Reducer Strip is the transitional piece the installers use to connect the laminate with another type of floor covering such as vinyl, thin laminate tile, or low-pile carpeting.

An End Molding or Carpet Reducer is used as a transition from laminate floors to different flooring surfaces when the reducer does not allow enough height, such as on high-pile carpet or thick laminate tile.

T-Molding is commonly used in doorways to join two laminate floors in adjoining rooms. It's also recommended when making transitions from a laminate floor to another floor that is approximately the same height.

Finally, a Quarter Round may be installed wherever the laminate floor meets the wall or baseboard.

We recommend that you work closely with your retailer to become familiar with the moldings and transition pieces.

Ask to see samples if possible, so there are no surprises come installation time.

With a lot of knowledge, hopefully from the above, and a little imagination (that’s your department), you can create a laminate flooring style solution for the way you live, and the way you feel about your home life.

The following article was taken directly from the World Floor Covering Association (www.wfca.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

How is Ceramic/Porcelain Made?

All floor covering products for your home are constructed in some manner, but how ceramic tile is made is in a class by itself.

The process is ancient and the resulting benefits are long and desirable: beauty, durability, practicality, versatility -- a work of art you walk on.

Come join us as we describe how this unique product is born, and who knows, with the knowledge gained from this section, ceramic tile just may be the flooring solution for the way you live.

A product of earth and fire.

The main ingredients of ceramic tile and its general manufacturing process has not changed that much throughout the centuries.

All ceramic tiles are created from natural products extracted from the earth that are shaped into tiles and then fired in kilns at extremely high temperatures.

In this section we will take a look at ceramic tile types, the manufacturing processes, and tile rating systems. Ready? Good. Let’s get started.

On the surface, there are two kinds of tile.

There are 2 main types of tile construction: glazed and unglazed.

When you look at a glazed tile from the side you can see 2 layers. The body of the tile, or largest layer, is called the bisque. The top layer is called the glaze, as in glazed donut.

ceramic tile floorsceramic tile flooring

Glazed tiles have a hard non-porous, impermeable surface after firing. They are more stain resistant than unglazed tile and are easy to clean. Something to consider for those more active areas of your home like the kitchen and baths.

Unglazed tiles add a whole different beauty to your home.

They are solid colored all the way through and do not have a top layer of glaze. This is often referred to as through-body construction.

They have no additional surface applications and are typically more dense and durable than glazed tile. Thus they are more suitable for interior and exterior applications where wearability is a concern.

If your home has areas of heavy activity or kid “zones,” unglazed tile may be just the answer.

There are 5 steps in the ceramic tile manufacturing process: Mining, Blending and Mixing, Pressing, Glazing, and Firing.

Unglazed ceramic tiles are very hard and dense. They come in various surface treatments and textures. Typically, these are installed outside your home as they do not offer much protection against stains compared to glazed ceramic tile.

Unglazed tiles do have good slip resistance, however please note that they do require sealing to help prevent staining.

An enduring alternative is porcelain.

porcelain ceramic tile

Aside from the 2 types of ceramic tile, glazed and unglazed, there is another category that continues to gain popularity – beautiful, elegant, porcelain tile.

Porcelain tile is made up of 50% feldspar and is fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tile. This makes porcelain tile much harder and more dense than other tile products.

Their high performance and low water absorption ratings of less than 0.5 percent make these tiles a worthy choice for your home.

Additionally, porcelain tile can be used for interior and exterior applications as well as heavy or commercial areas.

After the finished tiles have been inspected for quality assurances, they are packaged, crated and ready to be shipped.

Be a smart tile shopper.

Not all ceramic tile is suitable for each area of your home. The beautiful, decorative tile you might put on your kitchen backsplash may not be recommended for installation on the floor.

A rating system is called for and that’s exactly what the tile manufacturers have provided. Now let’s take a look at that system.

Got traffic? Here’s just the ticket.

Most manufacturers will have a rating system that is based on or supported by the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM). Many times you can find these ratings on the tile sample or in the product catalog.

The most common system rates ceramic tile abrasion resistance or the overall durability of the tile. There are 5 classes you should be aware of.

Class 1: no foot traffic.

ceramic bathroom tiles

These tiles are suggested for interior wall applications only and not for the floor. May a shoe never touch them.

Class 2: light traffic.

ceramic wall tile

These tiles are suggested for interior wall applications and for residential bathroom flooring only.

Class 3: light to moderate traffic.

ceramic floors

These tiles can be used for residential floor and wall applications including bathrooms, kitchens, foyers, dining rooms and family rooms. They’re a good all-around performer.

Class 4: moderate to heavy traffic.

white ceramic tile

These tiles are recommended for residential, medium commercial and light industrial floor and wall applications including shopping malls, offices, restaurant dining rooms, showrooms and hallways.

Class 5: heavy/extra heavy traffic.

ceramic subway tile

These tiles can be installed anywhere. They will hold up in floor and wall applications at airports, supermarkets and subways. Tile doesn’t get any tougher.

The following article was taken directly from the World Floor Covering Association (www.wfca.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How is Vinyl/Cork made?

Vinyl seems to be everywhere in our lives, part or all of a million different products for thousands of uses.

Life without vinyl would be inconvenient at the least.

Given that, you would think the construction of vinyl flooring would consist of a simple, age-old process, repeated as needed. Well, think again, shopper.

The manufacturing of vinyl flooring uses highly sophisticated techniques, complex methods and precise systems. All to provide you with quality vinyl flooring.

Recently, a newer process has been developed that offers you even more beautiful, durable and fashionable choices.

So come along with us as we explain how vinyl flooring is made.

Who knows. What you learn here and in the other vinyl sections just may be what you’ve been shopping for: a flooring solution for the way you live.

Rotogravure Construction: spinning endless possibilities.

The rotogravure printing process is the most commonly used method for making residential vinyl floors.

It offers you unlimited possibilities in pattern and design. Imagination, start your engine!

This process involves a print cylinder that spins around while the vinyl's core layer (called the gel coat) passes underneath.

The cylinder systematically prints various colored ink dyes to create the pattern.

After the print dyes are set a clear wearlayer is applied to the surface.

Like the inlaid vinyl floor, the appearance retention of a rotogravure vinyl floor is dependent on the durability of the clear wearlayer.

The wearlayer: not just important, crucial.

resilient sheet

The wearlayer is absolutely critical to the performance of your vinyl floor – it’s lasting potential.

The thickness of the wearlayer varies with each vinyl product collection, or series, and is generally measured in mils.

The thickness of a mil is about the same as a page in your telephone book.

So a 10-mil wearlayer would be comparable in thickness to about 10 pages of your telephone book.

Generally, the more expensive vinyl floors have thicker wearlayers.

Your expectations for how long your vinyl floor will look new and fresh are based on the wearlayer's performance.

To help you understand wearlayer construction we need to define what the performance characteristics are that we are looking for in a vinyl floor.

These performance characteristics can be divided into several areas:

  • Easy to clean.
  • Stays looking like-new.
  • Resists staining from normal household products.
  • Doesn't show scratches easily.
  • Easy to clean up spills.
  • The easy to clean characteristic relates to how tough it is to remove soiling and other marks from the floor's surface.

When a floor begins to look old and drab it is usually caused by hundreds of fine hairline scratches in the wearlayer.

These fine scratches come from dirt, grit and sand laying on the wearlayer's surface.

However there’s good news, shopper. The new generation of vinyl floors has all the ingredients to resist showing wear and staining.

Plus all the beauty, style and value to certainly put vinyl in the running as a potential flooring solution for the way you live.

The following article was taken directly from the World Floor Covering Association (www.wfca.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Friday, November 27, 2009

How is Stone Made?

You might think that getting natural stone from a quarry to your home’s floor is a fairly simple process. Something like just slice and ship.

But like all pieces of art, which natural stone should be considered, there’s also a real art to its production.

Part art, creativity and passion, part science, system and technology.

We invite you to join us in this section as we explain all the parts to you -- in the event you choose natural stone as the flooring solution for the way you live.

For a long time, a combination of heat and pressure created blocks of natural stone, including granite, marble, travertine, limestone, and slate.

As the earth's crust began to grow and erode, it pushed minerals up from its core, forming massive rock deposits, which we refer to as “quarries”.

stone quarrystone cutting


Think of quarries as the birthplace of natural stone.

These quarries are found in many countries throughout the world: Italy, China, Spain, India, Canada, Mexico and the United States.

There, people who have been quarrying stone for generations, work with precision and passion, with expert selection skills, and a devotion to their craft that’s second to none.

They are among the world’s last true artisans and their pride and heritage runs as deep as the stone they quarry.

We’re sure they would be honored to see their artwork showcased across the floors of your home.

However, science now plays a major role at the quarry.

Recent advances in the stone industry’s equipment and technology have greatly impacted the process of extracting stone from the quarry and installing it in a home.

Today’s modern tools can accomplish this with speed and efficiency.

Diamonds are a worker’s best friend.

At the quarry, giant blocks of stone are cut out of the earth with diamond studded, high-speed equipment.

This diamond wire cutting system has revolutionized the extraction process; a once laborious and time-consuming manual task.

A slab off the old block.

The blocks of stone are then moved to a processing plant where they are cut into slabs.

High speed gang saws are used to slice the blocks into multiple slabs.

A gang saw is fitted with several blades, typically about 12 to 15 feet long, that make simultaneous parallel cuts. Not your typical hand saw.

If you’re wondering what happens to all the heat produced, water cools the blades while in motion and also helps control the dust.

And would you believe it takes about 2 days for a gang saw to completely cut a 20-ton block of stone?

Next, machines take a shine to the slabs.

The slabs are sent through a polishing machine that puts the desired finish on the piece.

How is this done? A polishing machine operates using spindles that rotate polishing pads at high speeds over the top of the stone.

Most of these polishing machines can produce a number of different finishes, from a rough, rustic texture to a mirrored polish. These options are another one of the beauties of natural stone.

During this stage, the slab is also calibrated, meaning its surface is worked down to a relatively uniform thickness across the length of the material.

The next collaborator is the fabricator.

At the fabricator’s facility the slab is customized for specific installations.

Edges are shaped and polished. This is done with a series of small saws, or router bits, which are, again, diamond studded and water-cooled.

They rotate at high speeds and pass across the edge of the slab to shape the sides into the desired edge detail.

If the slab has been designated to become tiles, the slab is cut down into smaller squares such as 12” x 12”, 16” x 16”, 18” x 18” etc.

A different, more precise machine will give the tiles their final polish after they have been cut.

The tiles are then packaged, shipped and stored uniquely: they are stored vertically, never one package on top of the other.

These are the solid facts on how natural stone is made.

We hope they build a firmer foundation of knowledge – make you a smarter shopper.

Perhaps they’ve even laid the groundwork for a decision to make natural stone a flooring solution for the way you live.

We end this section with a few words on Manufactured Stone.

Also called Agglomerate Stone, this is a synthetic stone made from natural stone chips suspended in a binder such as cement, epoxy resins or polyester.

Some of the most popular types of Manufactured Stone products are those made mostly of quartz.

The natural quartz gives the product depth and radiance while at the same time strength and consistency.

It offers you the look of natural stone but also can be more cost-effective.

Today, Manufactured Stone is available in a wide array of colors ranging from subtle neutrals to dazzling bright colors.

Manufactured Stone is scratch resistant but not scratch proof.

It doesn’t require sealing because it’s non-porous. That makes it highly resistant to staining, very hygienic and maintenance free.

Manufactured Stone is strong, it has four times the flexural strength of granite, so there’s less chance of chipping or cracking.

It can be used in many applications, including flooring, in all the rooms of your home.

The following article was taken directly from the World Floor Covering Association (www.wfca.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

How is Laminate Made?

In the section “Why Laminate” we told you laminate is a manufactured product that is a true look-a-like of hardwood flooring, natural stone and many other types of flooring.

Now, you may be wondering, how can laminate flooring resemble these other products so closely?

The answer lies in the process of how laminate is made.

It’s a combination of the precision of today’s manufacturing techniques and the expertise of the men and women behind the materials, machines and methods that create laminate.

All work in harmony to produce a beautiful, functional flooring that closely simulates other beautiful, functional floorings.

Please join us and let’s discover how this is possible – how laminate comes to life.

And who can tell, with the knowledge gained from this section, laminate just may be the flooring solution for the way you live.

To celebrate laminate, you should think of a four-layer cake.

Today’s laminate floors are available in a multitude of designs, patterns, and textures, yet they all consist of four main components that are bonded together.

The bottom layer, or backing, is a melamine plastic layer that lends dimensional stability to the planks and also helps guard against moisture from the sub-floor. (Moisture infiltrating any flooring, is the enemy.)

The next layer is a core board, generally made from high-density fiber board or particle board which may also contain melamine plastic resins that help improve the moisture resistance of the core.

Then a decorative layer or print film is adhered on top of the core board giving the floor its hardwood or tile look.

This decorative layer is a printed high-resolution photo-reproduction of wood grain, natural stone or laminate tile pattern. (Now you know how the look-a-like is born.)

And the frosting? On the top of our “cake” is a durable wear layer, providing protection and stain resistance.

Now many wear layers also contain aluminum oxide, as well as melamine resin, and that creates exceptional durability. The kind that will stand up to the most active household – even yours.

All four layers of our “cake” are then combined in a high-pressure process.

Now we’ll take you through the manufacturing process of laminate, and easy does it -- one step at a time.

Step 1: the deck is stacked, with precision.

The process begins with the assembly of the 4 layers of raw materials in large sheets.

This typically takes place on a production line, where modern technology enables each layer to be stacked on top of another with incredible accuracy and precision.

How precise you may ask? Most manufacturers use sophisticated electronic calibrating equipment and digital camera systems to keep the sheets in perfect alignment.

The backing layer is first on the line, with the core board placed directly on top of that.

Next, the printed decorative layer is stacked on top of the core board. The final layer to be stacked on is the wear layer.

laminate hardwood flooringlaminate wood floor

Step 2: start the big squeeze please.

Once the 4 layers have been stacked, they are ready for pressing.

The presses used to create laminate flooring have hydraulic rams that apply tremendous pressure to the stacks.

The stacks of layers are pressed at high temperatures reaching 400 degrees Fahrenheit, with up to 600 pounds per square inch of pressure for 20 to 30 seconds.

Manufacturers carefully monitor the time and temperature when pressing the layers to successfully cure and bond the stacks into a single sheet of finished decorative laminate.

If the laminate that is being manufactured is designed to have a textured surface, the press has specialized plates that imprint the textured pattern onto the sheets, creating more natural looking planks or tiles.

Step 3: it’s time for a cooling off period.

After the sheets are pressed they are left to cool to ensure that they fully cure and to prevent any surface imperfections.

Then the sheets are stacked and stored for a time so that they can continue to acclimate, thereby enhancing the stability of the boards.

Step 4: cut to the profiling scene.

Once the boards are fully acclimated, they are milled, or cut into planks.

The freshly cut planks then move on to be profiled. Multiple profiling saws create the tongue and groove edges on the sides of the planks that enable the floor to lock together with ease.

The blades on the profiling saws use electronic and laser systems that produce incredibly accurate edges for a perfect fit. Further assurance of the precision of your floor.

The finished planks then go through a quality inspection and are checked for color, texture, finish, size and correct interlocking capabilities.

Once approved, the planks are then stacked, packaged and loaded onto trucks for distribution. Your flooring could be on one of those trucks.

It’s your decision of course.

But now that you know how laminate flooring is made you can understand why it’s a beautiful, durable and cost-efficient flooring solution for many homes, and homeowners, across the county.

The following article was taken directly from the World Floor Covering Association (www.wfca.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How is Hardwood Made?

engineered wood flooring

Knowing how home floor covering products are made is the sign of a savvy shopper. So well done, you’ve come to the right place to learn about the ins and outs of hardwood construction.

So please read on, and we’ll do our best to help you understand how hardwood is made, the various types of construction, and the advantages and disadvantages of each for you and your home.

To begin, remember the classic and the common.

When we think of solid wood floors we generally are talking about a 3/4" thick plank that is 2 1/4" wide.

This is the classic strip wood floor, although it is possible to find a narrower width or a slightly thinner gage. The strips are generally in random lengths from 12" – 84".

The most common wood species used for solid strip floors are red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory or pecan.

And the three common types of wood floors are Solid, Engineered and Longstrip Plank, each of which we will now address.

Type 1: the solid yet sensitive type.

Solid wood floors are one solid piece of wood that have tongue and groove sides.

When we talk about solid wood floors, we tend to think of floors that are unfinished, but it’s important to know that there are also many pre-finished 3/4" solid wood floors. hard wood floors

And you should also be aware of the moisture factor. Solid wood floors are sensitive to moisture and because so they are used in nail down installations and are not recommended for installation below ground level, or directly over a concrete slab.

The good news is that these floors can be refinished, or recoated, several times, which adds to their appeal and to their long life in your home.

In fact, there are solid floors that are over 100 years old that are still in good condition with rich patina and character – enhancing the beauty of the home.

Because they’re a natural product, hardwood flooring will expand and contract in response to seasonal changes in moisture.

In the winter heating months, moisture leaves the wood causing the floor to contract, which creates unsightly gaps between each plank. In the summer months, when the humidity is higher, the wood will expand and the gaps will disappear.

engineered wood floors

If there is too much moisture it may cause the wood planks to cup, or buckle. Not something you want in your home.

This is why it is important when installing a solid strip floor to leave the proper expansion area around the perimeter and to acclimate the wood prior to installation.

This will help assure a lasting, beautiful application.

Consider oak, for its qualities.

Oak is commonly used for solid unfinished wood floors and there are several different qualities of oak for you to choose from.

These qualities are clear, select and better, #1 common, and #2 common.

The clear has no visual blemishes or knots and is extremely expensive.

While the select and better quality has some small knots and very little dark graining.

The #1 common and #2 common have more knots and more dark graining.

So be aware that when buying an unfinished solid oak floor and make sure you know which quality of wood you are buying.

Type 2: engineered to perform.

Engineered wood floors are generally manufactured with 2,3, or 5 thin sheets or plies of wood that are laminated together to form one plank.

These wood plies are stacked on top of each other but in the opposite directions.

This is called cross-ply construction which creates a wood floor that is dimensionally stable and less affected by moisture than a 3/4" solid wood floor.

In the presence of moisture, solid wood planks will always expand across the width of the planks, rather than down the length of the boards.

The advantage of cross-ply construction allows the plies to counteract each other which will stop the plank from growing or shrinking with the changes in humidity. The other advantage for you is versatility.

You can install these floors over concrete slabs in your basement as well as anywhere else in you home.

Most engineered floors can be nailed down, stapled down, glued down, or floated over a wide variety of subfloors, including some types of existing flooring.

Engineered floors will range from 1/4" to 9/16" in thickness, and vary from 2 1/4" to 7" in width.

The widths can also be mixed, such as 3-5-7-inch planks installed side by side.

By varying the board widths you can change the total appearance of the floor. Create a truly custom look for your home.

The lengths will be random and range from 12" – 60" in length.

For versatility, engineered is tops.

Because engineered wood floors are made up of several layers of wood the top finish layer can be a totally different wood species.

A variety of domestic or exotic hardwood species are available such as Oak, Maple, Hickory or Cherry.

You’re free to pick the one that suits your style!

Type 3: the long and short of longstrip.

Longstrip plank floors are similar to engineered floors and have several wood plies that are glued together.

The center core is generally a softer wood material and is used to make the tongue and groove.

A hardwood finish layer is glued on top of the core. The top layer can be almost any hardwood species and is made up of many smaller individual pieces that are laid in three rows.

Longstrip planks are approximately 86" in length and 7 1/2" in width. They generally have between 17 and 35 pieces that make up the top layer of each board. This gives the effect of installing a board that is 3 rows wide and several planks long.

Each longstrip plank looks like an entire section that has already been pre-assembled for you.

This alone can create a unique look all your own. Longstrip planks are designed for the floating installation, but most can also be glued-down, or stapled down.

Because these floors can be floated they are extremely versatile – they can go over a wide variety of subfloors and on any grade level.

Like engineered floors, longstrip floors come in a wide variety of domestic and exotic hardwood species. Find the one you love and go for it.

Longstrip plank floors have another advantage. When damaged, they are easy to replace. Good news for active families!

This article was taken directly from World Floor Covering Association (www.wfca.org). Please visit our others sites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com