Saturday, June 26, 2010

Where To Use Carpet Tiles

If you're looking for a fantastic alternative to traditional carpets, then think about using carpet tiles. These can give the same look as traditional broadloom carpets but have some significant advantages particularly if you are considering flooring for a room with high family activity and the presence of children and/or pets or even areas of high daily wear and tear, such as in the commercial sector. They can even add a unique element to your interior design scheme, which may not be achievable with conventional wall-to-wall carpeting.

What are Carpet Tiles?

Carpet tiles are made up of the same materials as normally-bonded carpet but come in 'squares', usually in a set size, and of varying thickness. They may not have as dense a pile as normal rolled carpet but this does not affect their function. They come in an endless variety of patterns and colours which makes them a delight to work with when decorating with a specific colour scheme in mind.

Where can I use Carpet Tiles?

Carpet tiles are generally suitable for any room in the house although it may be a good idea to avoid using them in basement areas due to a potential to attract mildew. They can be installed over any surface that is clean and dry.

What are their Advantages?

The great advantage of carpet tiles is when it comes to repair, as just the damaged areas can be replaced through the exchange of a few select new tiles for old, worn or damaged ones. Remember to buy a few replacement tiles when initially installing the tiles as this way you can get an exact match in colour and design when you come to replace any damaged areas. You can even swap tiles around in a room to even out the wear, thus, the tiles under furniture can be exchanged for the ones by the doorway. Another advantage of carpet tiles is the easy access they provide to under-floor wiring and even plumbing. Furthermore, they are very hard-wearing and easy to clean, making them especially suitable for children's play areas and rooms. Their bright colours and variety of styles and patterns appeal to children and make designing the children's floor schemes an easy task.

How about Installation?

One of the great attractions of carpet tiles is their ease of installation which makes them a favourite choice with DIY enthusiasts. Not only do you not have to worry about expensive installation costs but the normally awkward and messy job of carpet installation is transformed into a simple and quick process: fewer special tools are required and the installation process takes less time overall. The usual tools involved are double-sided carpet tape, a sharp Stanley knife with a heavy duty blade, a pencil or chalk marker and some form of straight edge, together with a cutting board and a tape measure. Most carpet tiles will either be dry-backed, which will require a special adhesive, or have a self-sticking backing. As they have this special backing, the usual carpet underlay will not be needed, however, it is very important to ensure that the floor underneath is clean and dry. Also, make sure that the underfloor is level as carpet tiles are designed to lay flat.

How do I Take Care of Carpet Tiles?

No special maintenance is required, just a regular vacuum and quick attention to any spills and stains. Remove as much excess solids or liquids by scraping or sponging and then rinse with water and sponge clean. In some cases, you can actually lift the stained tiles and rinse them under the tap. If you do decide to use some form of detergent, remember to rinse it off thoroughly as any traces left will attract grime and dirt, causing greater staining in the future.

With its low cost, easy installation and myriad of practical advantages, as well as its decorative flexibility, it's easy to see why carpet tiles are becoming increasingly popular as a choice of flooring.

This article was taken directly from Floor Ideas (www.floorideas.co.uk). Also, visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs. We sell all the flooring you read about on the article.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Interview With a Flooring Expert: Choosing a Wood Floor

Trevor Hilditch has worked in flooring for nearly 40 years. Now he manages Earth, Wood and Stone, which specialises in natural products. Here he offers his advice on choosing a wood floor.

Q: Where should someone who is thinking about installing a wood floor start?
A: "You need to think about which type of wood you want. There is such a range – going right across the spectrum from walnuts that are nearly black through to extremely pale maples and beeches."

Q: Which are the most popular woods these days?
A: "The single most popular wood in the UK is oak. This is because English Oak was traditionally used in buildings and people like to be able to match their floors to existing timbers or beams. Any European Oak you buy will be of the same species. American Oak is something completely different though."

Q: Are people also interested in the grain of a particular wood?
A:" Yes they are. Some wood will have a lot of knots or figuring in it and that might be something they particularly like."

Q: So the best thing is to talk to an expert such as yourself for guidance in these areas?
A: "That is important. But I would say the single most important thing to do before you buy is to look at the wood you think you want in an installation. Go along to a show room or to someone’s house where there is the same wood – and see how it looks. You need to get a feel for it within a room or space and to be reassured it looks as you would want it to look."

This article was taken directly from Floor Ideas (www.floorideas.co.uk). Also, visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs. We sell all the flooring you read about on the article.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kitchen Floors

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For the room that is the “heart of the home” the choice of flooring can be especially important. Your choice will depend on many things, from ease of maintenance and cleaning to the way the floor looks; from how environmentally-friendly you wish to be, to how easy it is to install; and from hypo-allergenic properties to longevity…plus, of course, budget and cost.

With the development and refinement of flooring materials, the choice today is endless. Here is a summary of the main types with a discussion of their suitability:

Vinyl (PVC) – despite its reputation as a dated choice from the 1960s, vinyl remains a popular flooring for the kitchen, as it is low maintenance, tough, hard-wearing and generally resilient. It also feels comfortable to walk on and suits a large variety of sites, as well as being available in an enormous variety of colors and patterns. It is inexpensive as well as having a good product life expectancy – for example, modern versions often have inlaid patterns which endure longer than old versions where patterns were only printed onto the surface. As it is water-repellent, it is easy to keep clean with a simple sweep and damp mop regularly to keep it in good condition. However, it can be scratched by grit and pebbles (or become embedded) and the colors and patterns can fade with time. Nevertheless, it remains a top choice for kitchen floors.

Linoleum – although largely replaced by vinyl flooring in the 1960s because of the hassle of having to wax it, this type of flooring is enjoying a revival today as new versions come pre-sealed and do not need to be waxed. Because linoleum is made of natural resources such as ground limestone, wood flour and linseed oil, which are renewable, it is therefore more environmentally-friendly. Even its maintenance is eco-friendly as it only requires a pH-neutral cleaner. Its components also have anti-bacterial and anti-static properties and is anti-allergenic. Like vinyl, it is also comfortable to walk on, hard-wearing and comes in a large variety of colors. However, it can be more expensive and it can be more difficult to find good professional installation.

Tile – it is hard to match this type of flooring for durability, as evidenced by the countless historic buildings across Europe. Tiles are hard and resistant to water, making cleaning and maintenance easy, usually just with dilute all-purpose cleaner and hot water, although it is important to rinse thoroughly. However, this hardness also means that anything dropped can easily break and it may not be so comfortable underfoot, especially if you are standing for hours by the kitchen sink! The other disadvantage is that tiles can become dangerous and slippery when wet – in general, unglazed tiles have better grip and you can also choose a tile with a textured surface to provide more traction. Another thing to consider with tiles is maintenance of the grouting as staining of this is very unsightly. And lastly, tiles can be very cold!

Stone – this is a similar option to tile, although it retains heat better and gives a unique appearance, depending on the stone you choose – for example, black granite gives a look of elegant sophistication whereas uneven limestone gives off a rustic air. Whether it is granite, soapstone, slate or limestone, this type of flooring is very durable, hard-wearing and low-maintenance. For best results, the surface should be sealed (except soapstone) and only pH-neutral cleaners used, as anything which leaves a soap film will only encourage dirt to stick.

Wood – especially for older homes, it is hard to beat the beauty of solid, hardwood flooring. Oak is a popular choice, although other types of wood used include beech, walnut, maple and ash – and pine is often used to create a vintage look. Wooden floorboards have a tongue-and-groove design which enables them to interlock securely and usually only require regular sweeping and vacuuming, with any additional maintenance depending on the floor’s finishing. In general, this is a form of water-based polyurethane. Aside from their beauty, wood floors are warm, comfortable, extremely long-lasting (properly finished and cared for, they can last the life of the structure) and have good resale value. However, maintenance of the finish does need to be taken into consideration and some will expand and contract depending on dampness and humidity. In addition, solid hardwood is very expensive.

Laminate – this type of flooring looks like solid wood but is actually made up of multiple layers of processed wood, such as M.D.F. (medium density fiber board), topped by a photographic image of wood and then all covered by a clear layer of melamine which is hard-wearing and water-resistant.

Because it is installed over a flat “sub floor” (e.g. a layer of plywood or pre-existing vinyl or tile), laminate is often called the “floating wood floor”. While older versions of laminate may have required glue for installations, new models have tongue-and-groove mechanisms similar to traditional wood planking which makes it even more attractive for the DIY market. Laminate is an extremely popular choice nowadays due to its ease and speed of installation and the low cost, compared to traditional hardwood floors. It will not fade or yellow, like vinyl, and yet is also scratch- and water-resistant. It is also comfortable and requires only simple maintenance. However, colors and styles can be a bit limited and the surface can dent if care is not taken; in addition, the fiberboard core can actually trigger some allergies.

Other options – there are several other types of flooring that are gradually gaining in popularity, such as cork which is an environmentally friendly, natural product and is warm, comfortable, hard-wearing and easy to maintain. It is also hypoallergenic and relatively affordable. However, it can still fade and dent and you will need to take care of the finishing. Also, because of its strong ability to absorb water, damp and humidity is a serious issue – in fact, most manufacturers recommend installation during the drier months and finishing carefully with a recommended sealer. Cork also gives off a distinct odor which some people may find offensive.

Bamboo is another type of flooring that is gradually finding favor, especially because it is an environmentally-friendly choice. There is limited choice in colors and styles, however, and it can also be expensive.

Whichever type of flooring you choose, make sure you faithfully follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and maintenance, to ensure maximum longevity of your product.

This article was taken directly from Floor Ideas (www.floorideas.co.uk). Also, visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs. We sell all the flooring you read about on the article.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How to Choose Floor Tiles

Tile flooring is one of the most versatile forms of floor covering with styles catering for every taste and a durable, easy-care surface suitable for every kind of lifestyle. It is not surprising, therefore, that it is one of the most popular choices of flooring and is used in a variety of domestic and even commercial situations.

Why is Tile so Popular?
For those wishing to install hard surface flooring, tile offers one of the most durable options. It is especially suitable for high traffic areas, such as entrances and in kitchens and other high activity rooms. It is also one of the easiest to clean, especially where heavy soiling is involved so again, it is popular in doorways and other entrances where outdoor dirt and moisture is likely to enter the house. Similarly for kitchens and bathrooms, its stain-resistant, waterproof surface means easy care, cleaning and maintenance.

Furthermore, tile is inherently attractive with a natural, hand-crafted look that suits a variety of decor themes and offers the possibility of limitless design patterns with differing combinations of size, texture and color.

What to Look for When Selecting Tile Flooring
Most floor tiles come manufactured to standard sizes, from 4"x4" up to 24"x 24" and are usually 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick. Although usually square in shape, they can come in a variety of other shapes, such as octagonal and hexagonal.

People usually base their choices on personal preference of color and style but it is important to take a few other things into consideration as well. For example, it is important to make sure that the tile is rated for the type of exposure and wear it will receive. This basically depends on where you plan to install it; bathrooms, for instance, will need a water-proof, non-slip surface whereas doorways and entrances require an extremely durable and hard, abrasion-resistant type of tile. Ideally, they should also be water-resistant and non-slip (especially in countries with frequent wet weather, such as the UK); this means treating the surface of the tile so that it becomes 'rougher' and therefore provides more traction or grip. Tiles that are intended for outdoor use need to be of a material for outdoor use only (and some tiles can be used for both outdoors and indoors).

Tiles are rated using a series of standardised tests which evaluate their relative hardness and durability under wear and tear. This is dependent partly on the firing process: usually the longer and hotter the firing, the harder the resulting tile. When tiles are 'double-fired' this means that they are baked a second time after colour or other decoration has been added following the first firing and such tiles are usually thicker.

The tests also measure the amount of water absorbed by the tile. This is termed the porosity and can be a very important value, especially when you are considering tiles for bathroom and kitchen floors. Tiles are usually categorized into Impervious (least absorbent), Vitreous, Semi-vitreous and Non-vitreous (most absorbent). In addition, porous tiles should be avoided outdoors in areas of extreme cold weather and the likelihood of freezing and thawing.

Types of Tile

Porcelain
This type of tile is probably considered the 'luxury' end of the tile market; porcelain is fired at extremely high temperatures, making it very dense and therefore incredibly hard, resistant to wear and tear (especially foot traffic) and most importantly, resistant to moisture. In fact, it is often used as an alternative to stone tiles and is frequently chosen as an ornate option for kitchens and bathrooms. Porcelain comes in a range of colours and finishes and can be installed glazed or unglazed. Its premium look means that it has gained popularity in both domestic and commercial settings, with its combination of sophistication and practicality.

Ceramic
Probably the most common type of tile, ceramic is made from clay and/or other minerals using the traditional kiln firing method; one of the most efficient methods of production. The extruded material is usually shaped and then fired in the kiln, before being further treated with glazing. This means that colour is added and a glass-like surface bonded to the tile. It also means that brighter colours can be used and the tile is made more stain-resistant. Tiles can also be left unglazed (see quarry tiles); if so, such tiles need to be sealed in order to provide stain resistance. Ceramic tiles come in a huge range of colours and styles and are popular for their simple beauty and their easy maintenance.

Brick
Brick tiles are usually used in outdoor settings and come in a range of earth tone colours. As they are porous, they need to be treated with a stain-resistant sealer. They can also be used indoors and tend to be favoured as part of a rustic decor or an informal interior scheme.

Cement
Made by pouring cement into molds which are then fired or left to dry naturally, cement tiles can come as natural or have colour added. It also requires sealing to prevent staining and moisture seepage. Again, it is more commonly used in outdoor settings.

Quarry
Another name for unglazed tile, quarry is often used in commercial settings as it is relatively cheap but still very durable. It is clay-based and usually comes in earth shades of red and orange.

Saltillo
A particular type of tile which has a very rustic appearance, these tiles are the complete opposite to the highly refined urban look of porcelain tiles and may be ideal for certain decor themes.

Mosaic
These can be porcelain or ceramic but their defining feature is that they are two inches square or smaller. They are often mounted on mesh or paper sheets, although they can also be installed individually. They also come in glazed or unglazed form.

Terracotta
Similar to the material used in clay garden pots, terracotta is known for its distinctive earthy colour, however, remember that they are porous and very absorbent and therefore need to be treated with sealer for outdoor use.

Pavers
Similar to bricks and quarry tiles, these are largely used for outdoors, although some are installed as interior flooring. Again, they need to be sealed for moisture and stain-proofing and they tend to be thinner than brick.

This article was taken directly from Floor Ideas (www.floorideas.co.uk). Also, visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.