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Hardwood FAQ

Hardwood floors have an elegant, timeless look that adds to the value of your home and are much easier to care for than most people think.
Pre-finished vs. “finish in place”
Generally speaking, pre-finished floors will have around 11 coats of urethane with aluminum oxide blended in to resist scuffing and scratching.  Finish in place floors typically have 1, possibly 2, coats of urethane with no additional protectants.  Additionally, pre-finished floors are habitable immediately after installation and require no drying period. Pre-finished floors typically have at least a 25 year finish warranty.

Engineered hardwood vs. solid hardwood
As opposed to solid hardwood (whose construction is self-explanatory), engineered hardwood is constructed with a veneer of the featured wood (oak, maple, hickory, etc.) atop a multi-layered substrate.  The thickness of the veneer will vary from 1.5 mm to as much as 6 mm.  When choosing between a pre-finished solid floor and a pre-finished engineered floor, the engineered floor has the following advantages:
•    Generally lower cost
•    More stable and resistant to moisture due to the veneer over substrate construction.
•    Can be installed using nail/staple down method, floating method or glue-down method, which is essential if your home has a concrete sub-floor (foundation).
Solid floors can be refinished multiple times, depending upon the overall thickness of the material.  Engineered floors with a veneer of 2 mm or more can also be refinished.  Floors with veneers 3 mm or more can typically be refinished multiple times.  However, given the finish quality of pre-finished floors, it is unlikely that a floor would need refinishing within 25 years of installation.

Oil vs. Urethane Finish
As opposed to the glossier look of a urethane finish, oil-finish floors have a softer, more casual appearance.  They also do not show scratches and dents as easily as do urethane finished floors.  However, most oil finish floors require a bit more maintenance than do urethane floors in that the oil needs to be refreshed every 3-4 years.  While this is not a terribly difficult procedure, it is something to consider. New variations on the oil-finish look include matte urethane finishes and synthetic oil finishes that require less maintenance.

Hardness of different wood species
While some types of hardwood are harder than others there is not necessarily a direct correlation between the species of wood and the durability of the floor, with respect to engineered floors.  The quality of the finish is the most important factor influencing durability in engineered hardwood; followed by the thickness of the veneer and construction of the substrate.

Tile & Stone FAQ

Porcelain tile and natural stone can add a durable elegance to your home.  The design options with tile are limited only by your imagination.
Ceramic, porcelain or natural stone?
Natural stone (Travertine, Quartz, Marble etc.) is largely unequaled when it comes to style and elegance.  However these products are typically more expensive and require more care than ceramic or porcelain. Ceramic tiles have largely been replaced in the marketplace by porcelain although they can still be found at “big box” stores because of their low price.
Porcelain tile is much harder and more durable than ceramic or natural stone.  Modern porcelain tiles are very attractive and available in a huge spectrum of “looks.”  In addition, contemporary porcelain tiles are produced in a way that avoids frequent pattern repeats; resulting in a more natural appearance.

How expensive are tile floors?
With any hard-surface flooring installation, it is unrealistic and irresponsible to quote an installation price without first examining jobsite conditions.  However there are two general conditions that often influence installation costs:
1. The type of flooring being replaced.  For example, it is much less expensive to remove carpet than existing tile or hardwood.
2. The size and type of the tile.  There is a higher “degree of difficulty” involved in installing larger/longer tiles or natural stone.  This is necessarily reflected in the labor price.
In general, materials for tile projects represent a lower percentage of the overall cost than for other types of floorings.

Do you install tile on walls, shower stalls, counter tops, etc.?
For remodeling projects, we recommend that you work with a general contractor on these types of installations.  Too often we’ve found that opening up walls (for example) reveals the need for work that is outside the scope of what is covered by a flooring contractors’ license.

Carpet FAQ

For comfort, style, and value, carpet remains a popular choice for many homeowners.  Modern carpet fibers are exceptionally stylish, durable and stain resistant.
What kind of carpet is right for me?
The right carpet for you is the one that appeals to your sense of style, provides you with the performance you expect and fits your budget.  Only you can answer the “style” question but the type of fiber you select is the most important factor when it comes to performance and cost.

What types of carpet fibers are there and how do they compare?
Wool is a very traditional carpet fiber and still a great choice.  In addition to being stylish and elegant, wool is a natural fiber and hypoallergenic.  In general, it is more expensive than synthetic fibers and while it is naturally stain resistant, it is a little different to care for than other types of materials.

Nylon has a long history of excellence as a carpet fiber and remains the top choice for durability.  In addition, most nylon carpets are very stain resistant and carry exceptional warranties.  In terms of cost relative to performance, nylon is very hard to beat.

Triexta (SmartStrand) is relatively new to the carpet industry, having been around “only” about 12 years.  If you want a carpet that is wonderfully soft and incredibly stain resistant, it is an excellent choice.

Polyester is a great choice when budget is the primary concern but that’s certainly not the only reason to choose this material.  Modern polyesters are often exceptionally soft and stain resistant as well as being available in beautiful colors and patterns.  

What does “solution dyed” mean?
Many nylon and polyester carpets are made from solution dyed fiber.  Basically, this means that the fiber (yarn) is dyed before the carpet is manufactured as opposed to manufacturing the carpet before dying the fiber.  The advantage of solution dyed fiber is that is more difficult to stain since the dye completely permeates the yarn.

What does “BCF” mean?
“BCF” stands for “bulk continuous filament.”  Almost all synthetic carpets (nylon, Triexta, polyester) are now made with bulk continuous filament fibers because this prevents the carpet from shedding or pilling.

Is the carpet pad important?
Beyond meeting the manufacturer’s warranty requirements, the primary purpose of the cushion is to support the carpet installation so as to avoid premature stretching or wrinkling.  In addition, the cushion should help the carpet to feel good underfoot.  CCC recommends an 8# density cushion and this is included in all standard installation quotes.

If you’re concerned about spills soaking through the carpet, into the pad and potentially leaving an odor (e.g. pet stains), you may wish to upgrade to a cushion with a moisture barrier.  Moisture barriers hold spills on top of the cushion where they can be removed during regular carpet cleaning.

Laminate & Hybrid Flooring FAQ

These products are a wonderful, less-expensive alternative to hardwood or tile.  Their durability, style and ease of installation make them the perfect choice for many homeowners.
How is laminate different from engineered hardwood?
Engineered hardwood is constructed with a veneer of actual hardwood attached to a multi-ply substrate.  Laminate floors have a photo of wood laminated upon a composite substrate.  Laminates are also constructed with locking, tongue and groove joints to facilitate a floating installation.
Better quality laminate floors are often register embossed to provide a more natural wood look.  In addition, the better laminates will typically have longer planks and other features such as flush stair noses (as opposed to the more common overlap style).  The better quality laminates will also be manufactured using a larger number of photos to avoid pattern repetition.

What are “hybrid” floors?
Hybrid floors are a relatively new product category that combines the advantages in style and durability of luxury vinyl with the installation ease of a laminate.  Unlike laminates which are susceptible to water damage, hybrids are virtually waterproof and as such, are an excellent choice for areas such as laundry and bath rooms where laminate or hardwood may not be well suited.

Luxury Vinyl

If you haven’t seen the latest in luxury vinyl tile and plank, you will be amazed at what’s available.  These products are stylish, durable and cost-effective.
What is “luxury” vinyl?
Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and plank (LVP) have become immensely popular—largely replacing sheet vinyl, linoleum, and frequently laminate, as a preferred choice of homeowners.  The technology used in creating these products results in a look that is often nearly indistinguishable from the natural stone or hardwood its appearance replicates.

What are the advantages of luxury vinyl?
Luxury vinyl flooring (tile or plank) is generally less expensive than hardwood or porcelain tile and comparable to laminate in price.  Beyond the financial aspect, luxury vinyl is more durable than other types of flooring, with the exception of porcelain tile.  Commercial versions of lvt are commonly used in grocery stores and other high-traffic areas.  Most residential lvt also carries a light commercial warranty thus making it more than durable enough for the typical home.

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