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

How Is Carpet Made?


how carpet is made

So, you’re curious about how things are made. Good for you -- it pays to know how carpeting is constructed. Because that knowledge can help you decide if carpeting is a flooring solution for the way you live.

Just remember this: when selecting carpet, thicker is not always better. What you need to look at is the construction of the carpet.

You want a tight twist in each yarn, not loose and frayed at the end. Like the hair commercial on TV, you don’t want split ends in your carpet either!

A firm, dense pile is also the mark of a quality carpet. How to check the density? Bend a corner of the carpet and see how much backing shows. The more backing you see, the less dense and durable the carpet.

And for high traffic areas, consider lower profile carpets that won’t have the potential to matte and crush.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. To start at the beginning, check out our construction story that follows—and happy learning!

Today’s healthiest carpets get plenty of fiber.quality carpet

Fiber is the basic material that a carpet is made up of. Over ninety percent of all of the carpet made today is made up of synthetic fiber. The rest is natural fiber, most commonly wool. First, let’s look at the most common synthetic fibers.

Synthetic fibers are usually made up of one of three materials: nylon, polypropylene or polyester. All three are created by similar chemical processes using oil and natural gas.

You can rely on nylon.

70% of carpet today is made of nylon and, compared to the other fibers below, it performs the best overall. Nylon is the leader in: appearance retention, fade and heat resistance, soil and stain resistance, and color and styling. The highest performance nylon is Type 6.6, which has a tighter molecular construction, making the carpet more resistant to stain penetration.

Go slow, long word ahead.

The next most common material used in carpet manufacturing is polypropylene, also referred to as olefin. Introduced in the late 1950’s in Italy , polypropylene BCF has seen fast growth over the last twenty years, and today represents more than thirty percent of the total fibers used in the carpet industry.

While polypropylene is not as resilient or resistant to abrasion as nylon, it is naturally stain and fade resistant. Its natural resistance to moisture means that it must be dyed before being extruded, resulting in a more limited range of color options. Polypropylene is most often used in loop pile carpet constructions.

Does polyester suit you?

The third type of material commonly used in carpet manufacturing is polyester. Polyester was introduced to the carpet industry in the mid 1960’s, and has been well accepted for its bulkiness, color clarity, and good stain and fade resistance. While not as resilient as nylon, Polyester fiber carpet constructed with today’s new technologies can be a good performer.

The dyed-in-the-wool original.

The above three materials make up the majority of synthetic fibers. The other type of fiber used in carpet construction is staple fiber. While some synthetics are used in the creation of staple fibers, the original staple fiber used in the making of carpet is wool.

The wool used in today’s carpet comes primarily from New Zealand, Argentina, and the United Kingdom. Since wool is a natural fiber, it ranges in color from off-white to black, with many earthen tones between.

Berber, now considered a type of carpet construction, actually comes from the name of a group of North African sheepherders called the Berbers. The Berbers were known to produce very coarse wool, with characteristic color flecks in their yarns.

Although wool doesn’t stand up to abrasion and moisture as well as synthetics, it cleans well and is known to age gracefully. Wool is the most expensive carpet fiber, and represents less than one percent of the U.S. carpet market.

The production of carpet, a 3-part epic. carpet fiber

There are basically three steps to manufacturing carpet. The first step is what is called tufting. Tufting begins with the process of weaving the synthetic or staple fiber into a primary backing material. The primary backing material is usually made of woven polypropylene, and its main value is to provide a base cloth to hold the yarn in place while the tufting happens.

The tufting machine looks like a really big sewing machine. It has anywhere from 800 to 2000 needles working in concert to pull the yarn through the primary backing material. The typical tufting machine sits about 12 feet wide, and as its needles penetrate the backing, a small hook called a looper grabs the yarn and holds it in place. This process results in what is called loop pile construction.

Loop pile products hold their appearance exceptionally well. Since there are no exposed yarn tips, only the sides of the yarn are exposed to wear and stress. Generally speaking, low profile loop carpet stands up to heavy traffic best.

Cut to the next scene.

In some carpet styles the looper then rocks back against a knife, where the small loops of yarn are cut, creating what we call a cut pile carpet. The length of these cut pieces of yarn is referred to as the pile height, and is basically the distance between the looper and the primary backing.

These precision cuts are controlled by a computer, and are sometimes programmed to cut only some of the loops. This method of selectively cutting, called cut and loop construction, creates a recognizable pattern on the surface of the carpet.

Now let’s pause in our construction story to identify and explain some terms and construction variables that you will encounter while making a carpet purchase decision.

Pile height, or nap, is the length of the tuft measured from the primary backing to the yarn tips. It’s usually shown as a fraction, or sometimes its decimal equivalent. Usually shorter pile heights are more durable than longer pile heights.

The stitch rate of a carpet is the measure of how close the yarns are together. Stitch rate is measured in penetrations, or tufts, in a given length of carpet, usually an inch. The stitch rate is controlled by how fast the carpet is moved through the tufting machine. Seven to eight tufts per inch is a good number, while three or four is pretty poor.

Face weight is determined by the actual amount of fiber per square yard, and is measured in ounces. A typical carpet may have a face weight of 35 to 45 ounces for example.

Finally, density is a measure of how tightly the yarn is stitched into the primary backing. Higher density carpet will typically wear better than low density carpet.

carpet binding

The second step of carpet manufacturing is to dye for.

Now the carpet is taken through one of two dyeing processes. The first method of dyeing is called yarn dyeing, or sometimes pre-dyeing, where the color is applied to the yarn prior to tufting.

The advantages of all yarn dyeing methods include good side-by-side color consistency, large lot sizes, and uniformity.

The second method involves applying color to the yarn after the carpet has been tufted. This method is called carpet dyeing. There are several carpet dyeing methods in use, each producing a unique end result.

The first technique, often referred to as Beck, or batch dyeing, involves stitching the ends of the carpet together, and then running the tufted carpet loop through large vats of dye and water for several hours. The Beck process is ideal for smaller production runs, and heavier face weight products.

Continuous dyeing is a similar process to Beck dyeing, but involves running the carpet through several processes in addition to just the dye application. Continuous dyeing applies the color directly to the carpet face by spraying or printing. This process is also used to create multicolor or patterned effects in the carpet.

Screen printing is another common method of carpet coloring, where color is applied through anywhere from one to as many as eight silk-screens.

The major benefits of carpet dyeing, that is dyeing the carpet after the tufting process, are greater color flexibility, and lower cost.

carpet dying

And the third and final manufacturing step is the finishing process.

This process is typically a single production line that completes the final stage of the carpet construction.

In the finishing process, a coating of latex is applied to both the tufted, dyed carpet’s primary backing, and also to secondary backing. Secondary backing is typically made of a woven synthetic polypropylene material. The two parts are squeezed together in a large heated press, where they are held firmly to preserve their shape.

Shearing, one of the last stages in the manufacture of carpet, is the process of removing all of the little loose ends and projecting fibers that might have been created during the tufting process. It also helps achieve the yarn’s tip definition of the finished carpet.

Finally, each carpet is carefully inspected for color uniformity and other manufacturing defects before it is rolled, wrapped, and shipped.

That’s the story on how carpet is made. We hope it helps you be a more savvy shopper. If anything, now you can throw the word “ polypropylene” around at the party to celebrate your home’s beautiful new carpeting.


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

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hypo-Allergenic and Flooring

What Does Hypo-Allergenic Mean Exactly?

When something is hypo-allergenic it simply means that the product is manufactured with as few ingredients as possible — and it doesn’t cause reactions in most people who may suffer from various forms of allergies. In the industrial environment we live in today, many people develop allergies to a multitude of things. They can be allergies to chemicals used in the manufacture of flooring. They can be emissions put into the air by vehicles and machinery. People can be allergic to things they touch or put on

Green Flooring

Green Flooring

their bodies, or even wear. Even plant materials in their natural form can cause some reactions in certain people. Merely brushing up against live or fresh stalks of bamboo can cause a rash and blisters. Sealing this type of product with another natural substance will usually solve that problem. Something that is hypo-allergenic is usually organic or natural, because the simpler and with the least amount of ingredients a product has, there is less chance that someone will react to chemicals in it. Bamboo flooring and hardwood flooring and even textile products such as area rugs and upholstery, can be made with fewer chemicals and less VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These VOCs can be a major cause of allergic reactions in people and an example would be paint that makes you sneeze of even older laminate flooring that makes you itch or cough. A lot of plastic wrap gives off chemical odors when you unwrap certain items. And, formaldehyde used in the manufacture of laminate and other products is a big trigger in sensitive people. Manufacturers are becoming far more aware of these triggers and will often label their products as hypo-allergenic.

Do You Have Allergies?

If you sneeze when you walk down the detergent aisle in a supermarket, or after following someone who is wearing perfume, or if you sneeze when there’s a lot of dust blowing around, then you are allergic to airborne particles. If you eat certain things (perhaps you are allergic to gluten — mostly in wheat products) or other foods like milk or berries or peanuts or shrimp, then those items may cause a rash or cough. Other things that can cause reactions are chemicals in unwashed clothing fabric or textile area rugs or upholstery, or formaldehyde or other chemicals used in the manufacture of some types of flooring. All of these reactions can be controlled by washing or avoidance or in the case of flooring products, looking at the labels and buying those that will be hypo-allergenic for you, personally.

Products That Are Hypo-Allergenic

Many products are made with the eye to help people who are sensitive to some substances. This benefits the consumer, and the aware manufacturer as that person will be grateful that there are many alternatives. Also, if you want to use laminate flooring to make yourself a spiffy new area in the family room, for instance, then unpack the planks (wear a light facemask if you are very allergic) and after disposing of the packing material, let the planks air out where a breeze can blow over them. Avoid moisture. It will help to buy laminates that are marked hypo-allergenic or “green” and that will give you a big head start.

This article was taken directly from Flooring Now (www.Flooringnow.com). Also, visit our site at www.Americarpetfloors.com and www.Stylishrugs.com.

A Brief History of Radiant Flooring


In the beginning, the Romans created the heavens and the earth. Well, not really, though they did do some pretty amazing things. Seriously, around 2000 years ago, the ancient Romans invented a system that utilized steam and hot air to warm a room. They built large public communal bathhouses with heating systems so that the men could bath and soak in warm water. A cold bath is not very relaxing or comfortable and could “give rise to” (or not) some embarrassing moments. So necessity being the mother of invention, radiant heating was born.The roman system was based on the hypocaust (see diagram), which is made of ducts that run under the floor and flues that were built into walls to carry the heat away. Hot air or steam from fires would circulate through this system, warming the floor and walls, with heat passing into the rooms.This turned out to be a fairly dangerous practice. Since the majority of the heat was created using fire, it is believed that carbon monoxide would creep into the rooms through cracks in the bricks. Today, we understand the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, but in ancient roman times, it had the potential to be deadly.Moving forward to the 12th century, Muslim engineers improved this rudimentary heating system by directing the heat and smoke through pipes laid in the flooring instead of openly dispersing it below.Shortly after, the Romans adapted this newer heating methodology, and so did the Koreans. In Korea, they captured heat generated from cooking and called it an Ondol. An Ondol was made up of three parts: a stove or fireplace, a chimney, and horizontal flues under the flooring. On top of the flue system was a thick, flat stone called a Kudul and on top of the Kadul was flattened yellow soil topped with rice paper. And so, the Kadul became warm as a result of the heat passing through the flues under the flooring.In fact, this type of heating is still used in Korea today. When the country switched to the commonly used western forced heating system, many missed their traditional Ondol and returned to their ancient ways. Of course, there has been further advancement in floor heating, but we will get to that shortly.In the early 1900’s, Frank Lloyd Wright was visiting a Japanese nobleman with an Ondol. He liked the idea of radiant heating so much that he invented a new water based system – hydronic radiant heating. Instead of hot air blowing through flues, he routed hot water through pipes. This gave birth to a much safer radiant heating method, resulting in far fewer people being burned or dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Since then, the path of radiant heating has taken many turns, but currently, the most popular methods are hydronic and electric radiant heating. Both types are installed below the flooring and are safe. Both methods are superior to most any other heating system. However, hydronic typically is best for new construction when a whole house method of heating is desired, and electric is best for a specific room application. Most often, it is installed in a kitchen or bathroom remodel, or when putting an addition on your home, like a sunroom.

The article was taken directly from Flooring Now (www.Flooringnow.com). Also, visit out website at www.Americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com.