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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thinking About New Hardwood Floors?

Wood flooring enhances the décor of any room, and provides timeless beauty that will increase in value throughout the years. In fact, in a national survey of real estate agents, 90 percent said that houses with wood flooring sell faster and for higher prices than houses without wood floors.

If you want new hardwood floors for your home, you probably don’t know where to start. Let’s begin with a few questions:

Q. Are there existing hardwood floors in your home that you want to match?

Q. If so, what do you know about these floors? Is the wood something your builder installed or were the floors added later? Do you have any information on your current floors?

Q. What is the subfloor in the rooms you want the hardwoods for? Wooden subfloor (plywood) or cement slab? Is there a basement or crawl space underneath the rooms?

With this information your Design Consultant can begin making product recommendations. First we will determine if you need site finished or prefinished hardwoods. If your subfloor is wooden, and your existing hardwoods were installed by your builder, you probably have site finished floors. If you are not matching existing hardwoods, you may want to consider a prefinished floor.

What does this mean? Site-finished hardwoods are installed raw (unfinished) and then sanded, stained, and coated with polyurethane in your home. You are able to select the stain color and the gloss level of the floor. Prefinished hardwood floors are fully manufactured and finished in the factory. A prefinished floor offers a quicker and more convenient installation. Manufacturers of prefinished floors include companies like Bruce, Armstrong, Mohawk, and Somerset. Both types of wood flooring (site-finished and prefinished) are available in solid and engineered wood.

Next determine if you need solid or engineered wood. Solid wood is exactly as it sounds: a solid piece of wood. Solid wood is usually ¾” thick. Engineered wood is thinner and is made in plies (layers) with the actual species of wood on the top layer. The bottom layers utilize other species of wood for stability. Engineered wood was developed for glue down installation, but some can be nailed and floated. Engineered floors can be ¼”, 3/8” (most common), ½”, or even 3/4” thick. If the area being installed has a plywood subfloor, either type may be used. Solid wood floors can only be installed on a cement slab if special and expensive installation techniques are followed.

If you are adding to existing hardwoods, prefinished or site finished, you will also need to determine what you have: thickness (normally 3/8” or ¾”), width (2 ¼” and 3” are the most common widths), and species. Most wood floors are oak, but there are numerous choices, including maple, Brazilian Cherry, bamboo, and hickory.

If you do not have an existing hardwood floor to match, you get to select exactly what you want! And the possibilities are endless. Wood floors come in a variety of colors that will fit any décor. Today's wood floors come in more than 50 species, both domestic and exotic, spanning the spectrum of color options, finishes, and price ranges. No matter what the look you want to achieve, there are a variety of species to meet your needs. Visit flooring showrooms to look at large product samples and spend some time on the internet looking at pictures of flooring (Pinterest and Houzz are great sites for this) to help you find the wood floor of your dreams.

You may be wondering if prefinished floors are real hardwood floors and if engineered floors are real hardwood floors. Yes, both are composed of 100% hardwood. All ¾” solid prefinished wood floors can be sanded numerous times. Most engineered wood floors can be sanded at least once, except veneers.

Some other things to consider:

• Some floors show wear and damage more readily. Generally, the lower gloss, the less wear and scratches will show. Medium stain colors and wood with a lot of grain will also show less damage. Very light and very dark floors show scratches and wear quickly, and floors such as maple that have very little grain again show imperfections more readily. Distressed hardwoods may be the most practical option for active families and homes with pets.

• If you are having site finished floors installed, there will be certain days and times that you cannot walk on the floors at all. For this reason, many families choose to have the work done while they are on vacation.

• Cost. Hardwood floors cost at least twice as much as carpet, on average around $7.00 per square foot fully installed. Of course, the average homeowner replaces their carpet every nine years, while hardwoods last decades and decades.

• The quality of your installation is crucial because of the permanency of hardwood flooring. Be aware that there is no easy way to fix a bad installation.
Hardwood floors offer warmth, beauty, and value and are one of the most important design elements in your home. You are now prepared with all of the basic information you need to begin shopping for a beautiful new wood floor for your home.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stainless Steel Appliances --- In or Out?

Recently friends of mine had to purchase a new oven, and they asked me should they get stainless steel or something different? It seems like almost everybody has stainless steel appliances, but the stainless trend may be on its way out. After 15 years of stainless everything, manufacturers are now moving on to new finishes.

It is a pivotal moment in kitchen design: while stainless steel is still the dominant look, there are clear signals it has outworn its welcome, even with no clear successor in place. The appliance industry has tried to promote new looks before. In recent years, manufacturers have pitched "oiled bronze," "antique copper" and a gray hue called "meteorite," as well as aluminum and other look-alikes, but none has been able to unseat stainless steel.

Stainless looks professional, elegant, is versatile, and shows you've "arrived." However, as every homeowner with young children knows, true stainless steel shows fingerprints like no other finish.

The newest appliance colors reflect, in part, the kitchen's changing role in the home. In an open floor plan, the kitchen functions as the hub of relaxing and entertaining-a return to its historic role as the center of family life. As kitchens become "warmer" and more of an extension of the family room, many designers are finding that stainless steel feels too "cold" and modern. The new colors and materials, though not as vibrant as the avocado-green and harvest-gold of previous eras, try to blend in with their surroundings, rather than stand out like a trophy of technology the way shiny stainless steel tends to do.

As evidence of the new trend, Whirlpool stainless., the world's largest home-appliance maker, recently introduced its "Ice Collection" of appliances, including glossy white. "White is the new stainless," a Whirlpool news release says.GE is pushing a new line of metallic appliances in a muted gray called "slate."To further confuse you, Wolf Appliance says in a news release for black glass ovens introduced this spring "Black is the new stainless steel."

At the high end, Viking Range Corp., whose iconic open-burner stainless steel range was one of the first to bring pro-kitchen styling into homes, offers 23 color alternatives to stainless steel, including Cinnamon, Wasabi, Kettle Black and Dijon. However, stainless steel dominates. "I'd say 80% of our sales are still stainless steel," says Brent Bailey, design director at Viking Range.

Kitchen looks have just a 10 to 15 year lifespan, on average, according to remodeling experts. The 60s were the brown decade. The 70s, the gold and green decade. The 80s brought us black appliances, the 90s white, and the 2000s stainless steel.

However, a recent Wall Street Journal article says that despite the push to new colors, consumers continue to buy stainless steel. So if you recently switched to stainless, you don't have to worry. It's still the most popular finish. No manufacturer is writing stainless steel off completely. Yet there is a growing sense that stainless steel's popularity is on the way out. But for now it refuses to go away.

I Was Floored By Enhance

This may be our favorite quote ever from a client:

Cindy in Marietta told us "I wish everything in my life was as perfect as my beautiful new hardwood floor!"