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Friday, September 9, 2016

Floors Your Pet Will Not Destroy

Tile, laminate, and vinyl are all great choices for homes with pets.  But maybe hardwood floors are what you have your heart set on.  Or you want budget-friendly carpet for your bedrooms but you have an older pet that has accidents.  There are definitely wood and carpet options that are designed with pets (and kids) in mind; you just need to select the right product. 

What If You Just Have to Have Wood Floors?
There are some wood floors that are better suited for dogs. Not indestructible, but certainly more practical. Some features to look for:

~~Wire Brushed. A way to distress wood flooring by machine for an antique look. The weathered yet elegant authenticity of wire-brushed hardwood flooring uses wire bristles to remove the sapwood (soft wood) and open and enhance the wood grain, adding texture & character. The matte finish hides scratches and wear particularly well.

~~Character Grade. A natural appearance displaying the full characteristics of the hardwood floor. All color variations occurring naturally in the specie are allowed. Knots, burls, and worm holes which occur naturally in the forest and mineral streaks are not only allowed but desired in this grade. These visually less "perfect" floors help in hiding scratches and indentations.

~~Distressed Hardwood Flooring. Refers to the intentional scratching, scraping and/or gouging of a flooring surface to create an antique look. These processes may involve darkening the edges of the planks, wire brushing, sculpting, and hand scraping the hardwood floor. Doing so results in a floor with a lot of texture and character. You won't know if the dent in your floor was one that you paid for or one your dog made! Scratches can also be easily touched up with a color matched touch-up pen.  (NOTE: Don't like handscraped floors? No worries---there are many distressed floors that are not scraped.)

~~Low gloss, satin, matte finish. These sheen levels are far more practical than semi-gloss and high gloss finishes. Less sheen helps hide the normal wear and tear from walking, chair movements, pets, toys and high heels. In addition, lower gloss finishes show footprints less due to the lower luster. The glossier you go, the more light reflects off the floors. This in turn, shows more dirt/dust as well as imperfections in the floor. Dark floors also show imperfections more easily than medium to lighter toned floor colors.

~~Sliced Cut Engineered. A cutting method for the real hardwood veneer that is glued on the top of engineered hardwood flooring. It produces a veneer that looks exactly like solid hardwood and generally costs more than other engineered cutting methods. Look for a top veneer at least 3mm thick as these engineered floors can be sanded and refinished at least twice.

~~Aluminum Oxide. An amphoteric oxide of aluminum, commonly used to finish flooring because of its strength. Second in hardness to diamond, it serves as a hard protective coating for most prefinished hardwood floors. The technology does not currently exist for use in site finished flooring and refinishing.

~~Acrylic Infused/Impregnated. A process in which acrylic resins and stain are injected into the face veneer under intense heat and pressure to fill the cell structure of the wood. The boards are substantially more crush-resistant than unprotected wood of the same species, protecting against dents, dings and damage to the floor. Most acrylic infused products have commercial warranties. Because the stain is injected in the actual wood fiber, the color is more permanent and greatly minimizes wear and visible scratches.

~~Oil Rubbed Finish. A very low gloss finish typically using tung or linseed oil instead of polyurethane or wax. An oil finish tends to make the wood look old, as if it had been installed for a very long time. Prior to the use of various urethane and similar finishes, oil was the traditional finish of choice. Since an oil finish actually penetrates and becomes a part of the surface of a wood floor, it is not nearly as sensitive to scratches and wear as a urethane finish. It is easy to maintain (DIY) and, if done properly, will prevent a wood floor from ever having to be sanded. Expect these floors to be on the upper end of the price scale.

Carpet....It Just Feels Better! 
Soft, warm in the winter, comfortable to sit and lay on.  Less expensive than wood and tile floors, you don't have to buy rugs to protect it----so many reasons to love carpet.  But you have pets, and carpet is so hard to keep clean with animals, right?  You may be surprised to know that there are carpet and pad choices that keep your new carpet looking great for years, in spite of your dogs and cats (and kids!)

Mohawk and Karastan's SmartStrand Forever Clean carpets offer All Pet Protection, the only pet-friendly carpet protection system that covers all pets, all accidents, all the time.  Look for these brands:  Sorona, Triexta, Silk, and SmartStrand Forever Clean to get the carpet that is 3X easier to clean dirt, hair, and pet dander from than many other carpets.  The fibers have 0% moisture absorption to reduce pet odors in the carpet fiber and utilize Nanoloc™ spill and soil shield for quick and easy cleanup.  The stain protection is built-in and does not wear, walk, or clean off.  In fact, you will find that most stains come up with just a damp towel!  And SmartStrand Forever Clean is super durable, too, for a carpet that is as pretty as it is practical.

Another carpet fiber that you will want to consider is Stainmaster®PetProtect  It is made from Superiasd® fiber, a solution dyed nylon 6,6 polymer engineered with inherent stain resistance and built-in color that resists fading. So when pet accidents happen, you can use hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners without fear. The 6,6 nylon fiber is generally regarded as the best wearing synthetic fiber available, second only to wool.  Stainmaster® PetProtect®carpet also uses proprietary technologies and chemistries applied to the carpet that reduce the force of attraction between pet hair and the carpet, allowing the hair to be more easily removed with normal vacuuming. And anyone with a German shepherd can tell you that's a breakthrough!

Solution dyed fibers have been available for years and years, particularly in commercial products, and are available in both polyester and nylon.  Without giving you a chemistry lesson, simply put, solution dyed has the dye added to the liquid fiber solution BEFORE the fibers are extruded. This allows the color to be mixed into the solution thoroughly, bringing the color all the way through the fiber once it is extruded.  In this instance, picture a carrot:  unlike a radish, which has color only on the outside, a solution-dyed fiber has color all the way through the fiber.

What difference does the dye method make?  A lot, if you are looking for a colorfast carpet!  Solution-dyed fibers are some of the most colorfast in the industry.  Since the color goes all the way through the fiber, it is nearly impossible to fade or bleach the color out of the carpet. Solution-dyed fibers can typically be cleaned with a mild bleach solution.  (NOTE: Many outdoor fabrics are made with solution-dyed yarns.  Not only does this keep the sun from fading the fabrics almost immediately, but it also allows homeowners to clean the cushions and pillows with bleach if stains or mildew occur.) 

Solution-dyed carpets are also very easy to clean and maintain, making them great for homes with pets.  Almost every carpet manufacturer makes styles from solution-dyed yarn.  It will be declared on the product label, usually abbreviated SD, as it is most definitely a selling feature.  You will pay more for solution dyed nylon than the more budget friendly solution dyed polyester.

Now let's talk about pad.  There are many different pads designed to reduce pet odors.  Think of a typical rebond pad---it looks and acts like a sponge.  If liquid seeps through the carpet into the pad, and there is an odor (like urine), it is now in your pad, and it is very hard to remove it.  Since spills, urine, and vomit are unfortunately always a concern with pets, invest in a pad or cushion with a breathable moisture barrier that helps prevent spills from penetrating the padding and subfloor, allowing for more thorough cleaning which reduces lingering odors. 

Most of your upgraded pad choices also have antimicrobials added during the manufacturing process, providing an added level of defense against bacteria, mold and mildew that can cause stains, odors and deterioration of your carpet.

Now that you know that there are definitely some carpet choices available that are great for homes with pets, here are a few tips for keeping your new carpet looking great.  Always treat any stains and spots immediately. The longer the spill sits there, the harder it'll be to remove the stain. Keep a spot cleaning guide specific to your carpet fiber handy.  You can even call the manufacturer for instructions on particularly hard to remove stains. Don't use just anything on a spot, you could lock-in the stain by using the wrong product.  And blot, don't scrub.  Vacuum your carpet regularly to prevent soil from embedding itself in the pile. And have your carpet professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months.

Looking For A Pet Friendly Floor?

Are you one of the 65% of homes in America with a pet? And do you struggle keeping your floor clean and undamaged by your beloved dog or cat? If so---it may be time for a new floor!

Our "Dog Days of Summer" Sale is all about floors that are designed with pets in mind. Here is everything you need to know to find your next floor:

Not Your Grandmother's Vinyl
If you have pets, you really must consider luxury vinyl.  Also called LVT, LVP, and WPC, luxury vinyl is smaller individual pieces of vinyl material available in wood looks (3" to 7" wide planks) and tile and stone visuals. The tiles can sometimes be grouted if desired, and are available in a variety of sizes, including popular 16" x 16" and 12" x 24" sizes. The technology being utilized creates extremely realistic patterns and textures.

Luxury vinyl is an extremely moisture resistant floor. There are a variety of installation techniques for luxury vinyl, including fully adhered (glued) to the subfloor, click (floating), and grip (loose lay) methods. Luxury vinyl is very durable, stain resistant, and most are rated for commercial use.

Be sure to take a look at Armstrong Flooring's Vivero Luxury Vinyl (WPC), available in dozens of wood and tile looks.  Vivero features an exclusive finish made with Diamond 10™ technology. This flooring is 100% waterproof and resists scratches, stains, and scuffs like no other Armstrong floor.  With Diamond 10 technology, Vivero flooring endures kids, pets, and today's most active homes.  This floor is designed for real life!

Laminate Floors and Pets
Go together like coffee and cream or French fries and ketchup.  You can't have one without the other!  In fact, Pergo, the company that invented laminate floors and introduced them in the U.S. in the early 1990's, uses a Great Dane in their advertising.  (NOTE:  Pergo is one of the best known of the many brands of laminate floors. Pergo has become a generic name for laminate flooring, like "Kleenex" tissues and "Xerox" copies. Pergo does not make all laminates, and all laminates are not Pergo.)
Homeowners who want the look of popular high-end flooring (exotic species, white washed looks, oil rubbed finish) but not the costs, are finding that laminate flooring can be a great option. But if you are among the skeptics who hear the word "laminate" and immediately think of hollow-sounding, imitation flooring that is easily discernible from the real thing, you may be surprised. Today's high-end laminates include authentic-looking textures, beautiful design options, and impressive realism that can make these durable floors hard to tell from the real thing. Laminates can even be manufactured to replicate distressing techniques such as wire-brushing and handscraping.
What are laminate floors and why are they so great for pets?  Laminate floors mimic wood, tile and stone. The visual is actually a computer-generated picture.  A laminate floor is comprised of several thin layers of different materials. Most laminates have a plastic backing, a wood based core, and a heavy finish consisting of multiple layers of melamine (a hard plastic coating) with aluminum oxide added for better wear and scratch resistance.   One of the advantages of laminate is that it is very easy to maintain. Laminates are very scratch and indentation resistant and are perfect for busy, active households, especially homes with pets.
Laminate flooring is typically available in planks that range from 7 millimeters to 12 millimeters in thicknesses.  Impact resistance, or the ability of a laminate floor to withstand the impact of a falling object, is related to plank thickness. In general, the thicker the plank, the more resistant the floor becomes to fracture from a dropped object. Thicker laminate products can also help reduce noise and sound.  Naturally, the thicker the plank, the more it costs.
The European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF) developed the Abrasion Ration System. They rate every laminate based on a series of tests, including Tabor Abrasion Test, impact resistance, stain resistance, burn resistance and swelling resistance. Each product is assigned an AC number. Most of the laminate floors that we carry are AC3 and AC4.  AC3 is Heavy Residential & Moderate Commercial, suitable for all residential applications, plus light commercial use, including hotel rooms and small offices.  AC4 is General Commercial, suitable for all residential plus general commercial applications, including offices, boutiques and cafes.  You want at least an AC3 for your home.
A laminate floor can be used in almost any room, including kitchens, basements and any heavy use areas of your home.  If there is a downside to laminate, it is that it can be sensitive to excessive moisture and cannot tolerate standing pools of water for long periods of time (we call it the 30-minute rule!)  However, let's be clear that neither solid hardwood nor engineered wood can tolerate standing water, either. For heavy moisture, you need a very impervious surface like vinyl or tile.  And NEVER use a steam mop on your laminate floor!
One final note--- maintenance on a laminate floor could not be any easier--just sweep, dust mop, or damp mop with the manufacturer's recommended cleaner.  Laminates are super durable, extremely stain and scratch resistant, and very pet forgiving.

Tile May Be the Best Choice of All
If you have pets in your home---tile is stain proof, almost impossible to scratch, wears well for decades, cool in the hot summer for your dog or cat to sleep on, plus there are now stain resistant grouts available.  Or use a rectified (very squarely cut) and/or large format (24" x 24" or bigger) tile for minimal grout joints.  There are wood-look tiles that have great realism if you don't want a traditional tile look.  If you want a very light colored floor, tile is the way to go for ease of maintenance.
Ceramic tiles are a popular choice of flooring due to their aesthetic appeal, as well as their durability and easy care. A properly installed tile floor will outperform and outlast any other floor covering product created for the same application. Glazed ceramic tile resists stains, odors and dirt and can be cleaned with a damp mop or common household cleaners. Additional benefits of ceramic tile include:

  • Cleanliness: Environmentally friendly, ceramic tile is manufactured using natural materials and does not retain odors, allergens or bacteria.
  • Versatility: Modern ceramic manufacturing technology has created a virtually limitless number of colors, sizes, styles, shapes and textures that can add rich beauty and character to any room in your home.
  • Water Resistance: Most glazed ceramic tile has a dense body that permits little or no moisture accumulation.
  • Fire Resistance: Ceramic tile doesn't burn or emit toxic fumes. Even hot kitchen pans or skillets can't scorch or melt the surface of glazed ceramic tile!
NOTE:  Don't get hung up on porcelain vs. ceramic tile.  They are essentially the same, with only a few slight differences, primarily that porcelain has 0.5% or less water absorption rate.  In heavy traffic installations (like a shopping mall) a porcelain will outlast a ceramic, but in a home, you will not see a difference between a good quality (PEI 3 or higher) ceramic and a porcelain.  Some porcelains are through-body (the color goes all the way through the body of the tile, making chips far less noticeable) but not all are.  You will pay much more money for a through-body porcelain.
There are a few negatives to tile:  cost, hardness, cold in the winter (get a rug!) and expensive to remove if you tire of the color or it was poorly installed.  Also look for a tile with texture and slip resistance, both for humans and your dog.  But when it comes to the most common problems with pets---accidents, scratches, stains, cleanability---tile is a clear winner.

Don't Make These Mistakes

From Lauren Flanagen on
Everyone makes decorating mistakes. Even the most seasoned of decorators slip up every now and then. But knowledge is power! Once you know the most common mistakes it's far more likely you won't make them.  Here are 15 of the most common decorating mistakes along with a few tips on how to avoid them.

Rugs That Are Too Small
Area rugs should fit under all of the key furniture pieces in a room, with 10"-20" between the edge of the rug and the wall.

Matching Everything
The days of matched sets are over! Try to find things that complement each other rather than match.

Too Much Stuff
Editing is one of the most important elements of decorating. Every item needs a little room to breathe, so don't try to cram too many things together.

Not Enough Stuff
An empty room is a boring room. Make sure you have sufficient seating, places to set down drinks, and a few things on the wall for people to look at. And don't forget accessories. They're what give rooms their spirit.

Not Considering the Location of the House
Sometimes what's outside is just as important as what's inside. Tropical d├ęcor doesn't look good in a cold climate, just as cozy Aspen style doesn't look great in the Caribbean. Always consider the environment.

One Stop Shopping
Don't buy everything in one store. The items in your home should look like they were collected over time. After all, your possessions should tell the story of your life, not the story of a big box store.

Ignoring Scale and Proportion
Balance is important. While different shapes, sizes and heights should all exist in a room, pieces need to work together. For example, a giant sofa next to dainty side chairs will look unbalanced. Instead, find pieces that speak to each other.

Too Formal
If your style is formal that's fine, but it should never be so formal that people feel like they're stepping into a museum. A home should be welcoming, not intimidating.

Uncomfortable Furniture
Furniture is meant to be used. If your sofa and chairs are not comfortable to sit in, why bother? Art is for gazing upon; sofas and chairs are for sitting.

Purchasing Before Measuring
Always measure before buying.  You don't want to get a piece home only to find that it won't fit through the door, or is far too big or small than it should be for the space you intended.

Choosing Paint Colors First
When it comes to decorating a room, paint is one of the smallest investments you'll make. So why choose it first? Choose the more expensive items such as the sofa first, and then decide on a paint color.  NOTE:  This is a mistake we see clients make all the time.  They have already painted, then have to search for the perfect floor covering that works with it.  There are thousands upon thousands of paint colors and far fewer flooring colors.  Please DON'T select your paint color first!

Hanging Artwork Too High
Artwork should always be hung around eye level. If you have to strain your neck to see it, it's too high.

Keeping Pieces You Don't Like
Sometimes it can be hard to get rid of things, particularly if you've spent a lot of money on them. But if a piece doesn't bring you joy when you look at it or use it why are you keeping it around? If you don't like it, toss it.

Pushing Furniture Against the Walls
Pulling furniture away from the walls help to create cozy conversation areas. If space allows, when you're arranging furniture create seating areas in the middle of the room.

Being a Slave to Trends
Decorating trends are only good when they're easy and/or inexpensive to change.  If you're going to follow some trends make sure they're not big commitments. Chances are you'll be sick of them in a year or two