Friday, March 26, 2010

All About Cork

History

Cork is not a new fad, it can be traced back to ancient Egypt. In the 18th century, Dom Perignon used cork for champagne making it a significant discovery that would lead to many other uses of cork.
A law in the 1930’s called “The 9 Year Law” was passed to keep cork from being harvested any sooner than every 9 years. The tree has to reach 60 cm in circumference before it can be harvested. The first harvest from a cork tree can only occur at age 25. Portugal is the largest producer of cork today.

Harvesting

  • Cork is harvested by hand from the bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus Suber) that grows primarily around the Mediterranean Basin no less than every 9 years.
  • After the cork is stripped, the planks are sorted and stacked for 6 months in the forest. The exposure to air, sun, rain and wind during this time trigger chemical transformations that improve the quality of the cork. Then the bark of the mature cork trees are ground up, mixed with resin, processed into blocks, baked, compressed and cut into tiles or planks.
  • Burning the cork before it is compressed in combination with varying granule sizes creates the different colors and patterns that make cork such a unique product.
  • The tree is not destroyed or damaged when harvesting cork.
  • The average life span of a cork tree is 150-200 years. The older the tree, the better quality of the cork.
  • To complete the environmentally sound process, water based finishes and adhesives should be used.

1659599207_135a88a6c6_m.jpgGood for the environment:

  • An environmentally sound choice for flooring.
  • Better than a renewable resource because it is a harvested resource (only the bark is harvested from the tree)
  • A recycled product because cork floors are made from the waste cork that makes wine stoppers.

Properties/Benefits:

  • Cork is very lightweight and low in density.
  • There are many different shapes, designs and colors available.
  • It is very durable. It is often used in public buildings because of its durability.
  • Cork is often ukids.jpgsed in libraries and churches because of its sound absorption qualities.
  • Cork is more forgiving on your joints than hard surface floors because of the millions of air filled cells. This is what makes cork a great choice for kids playrooms, retail or other places where people are on their feet for hours at a time.
  • If damaged, cork can be repaired.
  • Cork is also a great insulator because it reduces the transmission of sound, vibration and heat. Air is sealed in each of the cells insulating from the adjacent cells with a moisture resistant, waxy like substance. A cubic cm of the honeycombed shaped cork cell contains about 40 million hexagonal cells. The cells are composed of almost 90% of an air like gas. This makes cork flooring a great choice for recording studios and other places where sound needs to be kept to a minimum.
  • Cork also reduces heat loss in rooms because of the encapsulated air cells. Unlike ceramic tile, it never gets cold on your feet. It maintains an even temperature that is not too warm or too cold.
  • A substance called Suberin that naturally occurs in cork makes it resistant to bugs, mold, mites and termites. Because of this substance, cork also will not rot. Also because of this substance, cork is naturally a fire inhibitor. Upon combustion, cork does not release any toxic gasses.2184288872_fb4194bc50_m.jpg
  • People with allergies are big fans of cork floors because of their hypoallergenic properties. Cork floors do not absorb dust and are very useful for people with asthma and respiratory diseases.
  • Cork is also very resilient. Because of those same air cells that help with heat loss, sound absorption and softness cork can return to its original shape even when exposed to heavy weight and pressure. This is an advantage over hardwood flooring.

Installation types:

  • Cork comes unfinished and pre-finished. There are many different types of finishes that are both harmful and safe for the environment.
  • In wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens, most manufacturers recommend a water based polyurethane sealant.
  • Cork comes in tile shapes as well as plank shapes.install.jpg
  • These floors can be glueless and clicked together for installation, pre-glued or glued as long as the subfloor is dry and level.
  • These floors can also be floated because of their tongue and groove
  • Some floors have beveled edges that allow the floor to naturally expand and contract without buckling.


Care and Maintenance

  • Cork is very easy to maintain especially with polyurethane coatings.
  • Cork will fade if exposed to direct sunlight. Furniture and flooring should be moved periodically to even out the fading from sun and UV exposure.
  • It will also react to humidity and moisture. Humidity should be maintained at 50-60%.
  • Cork floors should be swept and vacuumed often to avoid the build up of dirt. Dirt can scratch the finish.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners or solvents, especially those that contain glycerin. These products can harm the finish making it impossible to refinish.
  • A neutral PH detergent (PH of 6-8) should be used to clean cork floors either with a wrung out sponge or misted over the floor and damp mopped.
  • Spills should be wiped up immediately.
  • Chairs with casters should have minimum 2” casters.
  • Mats should be used under chairs with casters to protect the finish from becoming dull.
  • Furniture or chair feet should sit on wide coasters to prevent excessive indentation.
This article was taken directly from WFCA (www.WFCA.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Concrete Flooring: The Pros vs. Cons



Concrete flooring is growing in popularity as more homeowners realize the fantastic benefits concrete offers. Additionally, new processes and technologies have been developed to make concrete one of the most affordable and versatile flooring materials. There aren’t many disadvantages associated with concrete flooring. However, homeowners should consider whether the benefits of concrete flooring outweigh the few disadvantages.

The Benefits of Concrete Flooring

Eco-Friendly & Energy Saving – If sustainability and eco-friendliness are important to you, then concrete flooring is a great option. Concrete floors are eco-friendly for several reasons:

1) They use less energy in production compared to any other flooring type.

2) No trees need to be cut down.

3) Concrete is recyclable.

4) Choosing concrete floors helps minimize waste. Other flooring types create lots of waste, such as the waste from carpet padding and carpet scraps.

5) Concrete floors do not contain harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds), as many synthetic carpets do.

Concrete floors have energy-saving capabilities. They can make you feel cooler in the summer, so there is less of a need to use the air conditioning. During the winter, concrete floors absorb the heat from the sun, helping to keep your home warm.

Economical – Concrete flooring allows you to save by eliminating the need to purchase an additional floor covering. When you choose concrete flooring, the floor slab is the floor covering.

Cost-Efficient – The average cost of concrete flooring is more than other residential flooring types but the return is higher as the floor will never need replacement. The higher cost results from the finishing of the floors, often completed by a concrete artisan. The average cost for concrete floor installation (including the decorative finishing) is about $15-$18 per square foot.

Design Options – There are literally endless design options. Concrete floor artisans can create and design a floor to your specifications.

Durable – Concrete floors can last a lifetime if maintained properly. There are no tears, staining, flood damage or signs of wear associated with concrete flooring.

Low Maintenance – Depending on the amount of traffic, concrete floors need to be resealed about every two years. This inexpensive process will help ensure a long life for your floors. Cleaning is easy: simply sweep and wash with vinegar or a gentle floor cleaner.

Improves Indoor Air Quality – Unlike carpeting, concrete floors do not harbor dust mites. For allergy sufferers, concrete floors can be a blessing.

Disadvantages

Professional Installation – Concrete floor installation must be installed by an expert. It cannot be completed as a DIY project, whereas other flooring types can.

Messy Installation – Concrete installation is an extremely messy process.
Care needs to be taken to protect the walls and furniture in your home during installation.

Hard and Cold – Some homeowners who have installed concrete floors report feeling cold, despite adding area rugs. Additionally, concrete floors can be tiring for those standing on it for a long period of time.

Re-sealing – While maintenance is rare for light traffic areas, concrete floors with high traffic must be re-sealed every few months.

Transmits Sound Easily – Even after placement of area rugs, some homeowners feel that concrete floors transmit too much sound and create echoes.

Not for Every Floor – Before considering a concrete floor, consult an experienced concrete contractor who has installed similar floors. Often, extra preparation to the subsurface and structural support is necessary and can add to your installation costs.

Cost – Custom designed concrete floors can be expensive. If you choose to add several colors and designs, you can end up paying $30 per square foot (or more).

This article was taken directly from WFCA (http://floortalk.wfca.org). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Linoleum Floors

Renewable


Linoleum is made from all natural materials.

As long as the sun shines and the rain falls, Linoleum can be produced.

Life-cycle assessment scores, show exceptional performance for Linoleum and it is nature that provides the great start by providing renewable raw materials.

To produce Linoleum oxidized linseed oil (or a combination of oxidized linseed oil and tall oil) and rosin are mixed with the other raw materials to form linoleum granules, which are pressed onto a jute backing, making Linoleum sheets. These are then hung in drying rooms to allow them to cure and to acquire the required flexibility and resilience. To achieve maximum waste reduction all linoleum remnants are recycled back into the production process. All manufacturing takes place in accordance with ISO 14001 standards.

The natural raw materials used to create Linoleum are available in abundance:

Linseed oil

Linseed oil, the most important raw material used to make linoleum, is obtained by pressing the seeds of the flax plant. In the past linseed oil was used as cooking oil, as well as for lighting. Tall oil, a recycled post-industrial by-product of the Kraft paper industry, is a resin based fatty acid. In combination with linseed oil, it optimizes the oxidation process in the production of linoleum.

Rosin

Rosin, the binding agent in Linoleum and Artoleum, is tapped from pine trees, without affecting growth. Together with linseed oil, rosin gives Linoleum and Artoleum its strength and flexibility.

Wood flour

Wood flour is used to bind the pigments and to ensure colorfastness. Linoleum and Artoleum thus keep their beautiful, vibrant colors throughout their lifespan. Another reason for using wood flour is that it helps to optimize a smooth surface. We have chosen not to use tropical hardwood flour but wood flour made from timber grown in controlled European forests, where every tree felled is replaced.

Cork flour

Cork flour is made by grinding the bark of the cork oak, which is grown around the Mediterranean. The bark is peeled every seven to ten years without affecting the tree's growth. Cork flour is used as a raw material in two of our products: Bulletin Board and Corklinoleum.

Limestone

Limestone is found all over the world in enormous quantities. Very finely ground, it is a valuable ingredient of Linoleum and Artoleum.

Pigments

The most beautiful colors are created by using ecologically responsible pigments that do not contain heavy metals such as lead and cadmium.

Jute

From the wide variety of materials available for making the floor covering's backing we prefer natural jute. The yarn for the webbing is spun from jute grown in India and Bangladesh. This also makes vital economic contributions to these developing countries.

These raw materials are harvested or extracted with relatively little energy consumption. The main energy resource for the process is the sun. The plants and trees that supply linoleum's raw materials also contribute to the production of oxygen and the subsequent reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses present in the atmosphere.

Recycability


Linoleum Floors can be easily recycled.

End of life

Sooner or later - usually after around 25 to 40 years - Linoleum floors need to be replaced. Various options present themselves in terms of waste disposal.

Incineration

Burnt in an energy-recycling incineration plant, linoleum products produce a residual calorific value that is comparable to that of coal (18.6 Mj/kg). The amount of C02 released during incineration is roughly equivalent to that taken up by the natural raw materials used (flax plants, trees and jute plants).

Therefore, linoleum is a closed loop system: the energy obtained from incinerating linoleum is roughly equivalent to or even more than that which is used in production.

Landfill

As a common alternative to incineration, linoleum can be safely added to landfill refuse sites, where natural decomposition takes place. Linoleum is fully biodegradable and does not release harmful substances or gases such as chlorine and dioxins.

As linoleum's raw materials are provided by nature, and decomposition returns linoleum to nature, this is essentially the ultimate form of recycling. An additional advantage is that the recycling of other floor coverings, is usually associated with high levels of energy consumption, with very negative implications in an accurate LCA.

Linoleum Flooring Installation

Being socially responsible also means being proactive. All GreenFloors adhesives are 100% solvent free and meet all low VOC requirements, optimizing the environmental performance of the entire system.

USE & MAINTENANCE

Linoleum Floor care

Linoleum floors can be kept in good condition for a very long time without need for major maintenance. The most effective method for removing dust and loose dirt is by dry maintenance. These floor care methods have a positive influence on the environmental performance of linoleum. Cleaning with excessive water is never necessary and therefore very little waste water is generated for disposal. When the life span of floor coverings is taken into account (25-40 years), this positive effect is very substantial.

As long as 'dry' cleaning systems are used and under normal conditions, Linoleum floors in healthcare applications do not need significant quantities of disinfectants to be applied. The limited use of chemicals contributes very positively to the economic life cycle of the product as well.



Toxicity


Linoleum floors contain virtually no trace of toxic material and is naturally benificial to air quality.

Linoleum contains no heavy metals, the ETC finish used to optimize the maintenance properties of Linoleum is water-based.

The product contains no heavy metals such as:

• lead

• chrome

• cadmium

or any other environmentally incompatible additives such as:

• phtalates

• chlorine

• tar

• formaldehyde

• sulphur

• PVC, and/or asbestos

Linoleum is made from natural materials so there is no off gassing. Linoleum’s natural bactericidal and anti-static properties reduce the presence of dust and dirt and the subsequent growth of household mites and/or bacteria. There is also no build-up of dirt-attracting static electricity.



Life Cycle


Durable materials require less frequent replacement, generate less waste, and may also realize lower long-term costs. Linoleum floors are very durable usually lasting 25 to 40 years thus reducing cost per year and the floors impact on the environment.



Installation


Installation can be done using adhesives that are 100% solvent free and meet all low VOC adhesive requirements, optimizing the environmental performance of the entire system.

Maintenance

Floor care

Linoleum floors can be kept in good condition for a very long time without need for major maintenance. The most effective method for removing dust and loose dirt is by dry maintenance. These floor care methods have a positive influence on the environmental performance of linoleum. Cleaning with excessive water is never necessary and therefore very little waste water is generated for disposal. When the life span of floor coverings is taken into account (25-40 years), this positive effect is very substantial.

As long as 'dry' cleaning systems are used and under normal conditions, Linoleum floors in healthcare applications do not need significant quantities of disinfectants to be applied. The limited use of chemicals contributes very positively to the economic life cycle of the product as well.



Manufacturer Processes


The linoleum flooring manufacturing process:

First, oxidized linseed oil (or a combination of oxidized linseed oil and tall oil) and rosin are mixed with the other raw materials to form linoleum granules, which are pressed onto a jute backing, making Linoleum sheets. These are then hung in drying rooms to allow them to cure and to acquire the required flexibility and resilience. Maximum waste reduction takes place by recycling all linoleum remnants back into the production process. All manufacturing takes place in accordance with ISO 14001 standards.

Distribution Methods


LEED credits given for purchasing local materials.


This article was taken directly from Online Tips (www.greenfloors.com). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

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.

http://www.trendir.com/archives/creative-edge-mastershop-marble-rug-flooring.jpghttp://www.wedofloors.co.uk/Assets/layout_images/stone/marble_floor.jpg

This 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.

What is the most expensive flooring in the world?

image

Pietra Firma have recently launched the staggeringly expensive Luxtouch range.

Targeted at the world’s wealthiest individuals, the range includes floor, wall and ceiling tiles that are hand crafted using traditional skills.

Each square metre of marble tile is inlaid with over 1000 diamonds, 2400 pieces of mother-of-pearl, 400 pieces of abalone shell and 500 pieces of black onyx. LuxTouch sells for $1,000,000 /m2.

This article was taken directly from Lussorian (http://www.lussorian.com). Also, please visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs