4 Bathroom Tile Trends You’ll Love

tile floor in bathroom with white vanity and tile showerYour bathroom may not be the most exciting part of your home, but it can be.  New tile trends, new styles are coming out every day that can make your bathroom a statement piece that you can be proud of.  Here are our favorite new bathroom tile ideas and trends that can make your bathroom striking—and make you want to spend time in your updated bath.

Chevron pattern

Subway tiles installed in a chevron pattern are all the rage.  It’s easy to see why: it looks great and is terrifically different and unique.  Add another color tile into the pattern for a bold statement that draws the eye of your guests—and keeps it.

Tile everywhere

If you love the tile you chose for your bathroom, set your sights beyond the floor or around the shower.  Cover your walls with a fun mosaic tile or with a neutral rectangle tile that coordinates with your bathroom décor.  In a larger bathroom, cover the walls around your shower and bath tub.

Vertical tile

If you want to add height to your bathroom, consider having your tile installed vertically instead of horizontally.  A vertical tile can make a small bathroom feel larger, or give a unique look to your shower and tub.  This style can also be used in your kitchen for a distinctive look.

Look of wood

We’d probably see more wood floors and countertops in our bathrooms if it wasn’t for that pesky risk of water damage.  With new tile styles, you can now have the look of wood without fear of a water stain.  Use tile that looks like wood with variegated colors for an accent wall around your shower, or make it look like you were crazy enough to have wood floors installed in your bathroom.  Choose a color that coordinates with the rest of your décor at a local tile store—or ask for more tile options that’ll make your bathroom a showstopper.

Which flooring is right for your home?

picture of kitchen remodelChoosing the right flooring for your home can be overwhelming. There are so many floor options: hardwood, tile, luxury vinyl, carpet…the list can go on and on.  It’s easy to be floored (pun intended) by so many products; it gets even more complicated when you start to add in the other factors that help you decide whether that beautiful floor is a good long-term option.  After all, you don’t want to install a floor that looks great but is susceptible to damage because you didn’t know that about moisture and its effect on your floor.

We’ve put together a full list, and breakdowns of all the important factors, to get you started in your decision.  From here, head into your local flooring store with a few of your favorite flooring options, where they can give you the advice that gets you down to the right product (and look!) perfect for your home.

Hardwood

warm wood floors in home that need deep cleanThe look: Hardwood floors are timeless and classic.  Available in almost every color and plank width, the right wood floor can complement the décor of any room.  For a more contemporary look, choose a wide plank floor with a dark finish (consider a handscraped variety to add texture).  To give your home a traditional, classic look, a lighter finish can make your home feel timeless.

Pros: Can add value to your home, beautiful look, very durable flooring, can be sanded down and refinished many times

Cons: Should not be installed in a basement or over radiant floor heating, can be damaged by water spills, can be damaged by steam cleaning, cost

Best rooms: Living rooms, bedrooms

Note of caution: Hardwoods can be installed in kitchens, mudrooms, and bathrooms, but be careful of water puddles. Do not put down any area rugs for the first six months after installation to avoid any issues with discoloration.

Tile

tile floor in bathroom with white vanity and tile showerThe look: Tile floors can make a statement that you can plan your décor around or be a neutral backdrop that offers a lot of décor options.  Choose a tile with variegated colors for a floor that catches everyone’s glance, or a tan or grey tile that looks great.  In addition to tile color, tiles can also be installed with any color grout that coordinates with your décor.

Pros: Can be installed over radiant floor heating, water, odor and mildew resistant

Cons: Can be prone to cracking, items may break when dropped due to hardness

Best rooms: Entryway/foyer, kitchen, bathrooms

Laminate

installing luxury vinyl plank in a basmentThe look: Laminate floors have come a long way over the years.  With the look of wood and an incredible durability, laminate floors can take all the activity that your family and pets can throw at it.  Laminate floors come in a variety of colors and widths.  For a neutral and modern look, choose a grey laminate with wide boards.  To keep your home looking classic, choose a laminate floor that looks like a 100-year old hardwood, like a laminate that has the look of hand-scraped hardwood flooring.

Pros: Easy-to-clean, very durable, ideal for high foot traffic rooms, can be a do-it-yourself project, affordable

Cons: Can be damaged by water spills, may be scratched

Best rooms: Living areas, bedrooms

Luxury Vinyl

luxury vinyl_showroomThe look: Luxury vinyl floors look like wood but without any of the worries about water.  These floors come in almost any color or plank width, giving you a variety of options to choose from when planning your décor.  Luxury vinyl floors look great and can leave you and your guests in awe of a beautiful floor.

Pros: Easy-to-clean, durable, can handle water better than laminate or hardwood, can be a do-it-yourself project, can be installed over radiant floor heating

Cons: Can be scratched, more expensive than laminate

Best rooms: Entryway/foyer, mudroom, living areas, bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms, basement

Carpet

Carpet_installed by ysThe look: Carpet is one of the most common flooring choices because of the variety of styles and colors, and the soft feel under your feet.  This flooring is also affordable and can be a striking part of any home’s decor.  Carpet can come in plush styles that your feet love, or with patterns or textures that enhance the look of any room.

Pros: Easy-to-clean (just a regular vacuuming and annual carpet clean), soft underfoot, affordable

Cons: Cleaning can be more complicated than hard floors

Best rooms: Living rooms, basement, bedrooms, hallways

Carpet tile

The look: Carpet tile comes in squares and is pieced together to make a fantastic pattern in any room.  These tiles are available in different colors and textures.

Pros: Easy-to-clean, can be swapped out with another carpet tile when stained, affordable

Cons: If not installed with pads, may not be as soft underfoot, cleaning can be more complicated than hard floors

Best rooms: Living rooms, bedrooms, basement (play areas!)

10 Tips that Keep Your Vinyl Floors Looking Great

picture of shaw floors luxury vinyl plank floor with cabinet

Courtesy of Shaw Floors

Vinyl floors, especially luxury vinyl floors, are getting more and more popular today.  They’re durable, beautiful, and easy to keep looking great—with a little bit of upkeep and preventative maintenance.

Use mats to your advantage.

Put mats outside and rugs inside to catch all the gravel and debris that can scratch your floors.  Train your pets to stop after they enter so you can clean their paws.

Be careful about rugs.

Before you lay down area rugs or mats, make sure you do your research. Many flooring manufacturers do not recommend using rubber- or latex-based mats because the mats can permanently damage your floors.  Look for the “colorfast” label or talk to experts at your local flooring store. They can recommend area rugs and backings they’ve seen in other homes that kept their luxury vinyl floors looking great.

Sweep regularly.

If you want to keep your luxury vinyl floors in new condition, make a habit of sweeping your luxury vinyl floors.  A routine sweep removes any gravel or stones that are tracked in and can scratch your floors. ALWAYS make sure you sweep before you mop.

Vacuum with care.

Vacuuming your vinyl floors is a good thing, but only if you make sure NOT to use a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar.  Beater bars are on the bottom of your vacuum and are usually covered with bristles.  They rotate rapidly and may damage hard floors.

Clean up puddles.

Vinyl floors are one of the most durable floors on the market, but puddles can still damage your luxury vinyl floors.  Whether someone spills a drink or you’re mopping your floors, make sure you dry any excessive moisture and don’t leave it sitting on your floors.

Be careful about cleaners.

Abrasive cleaners can compromise the finish of your floors or damage your floor.  To make sure your warranty stands and your floors stay in like-new condition, be very selective about the cleaner you use when you clean your floor.  Avoid wax-based products that can damage the floor in the long-term.  To find the best cleaner for your floor (and to purchase a manufacturer-approved cleaner that doesn’t void the warranty), visit a local flooring store to get the best floor cleaning product for the job.

Stock up on gentle scrubbing tools.

Just as you shouldn’t use abrasive cleaners, don’t use abrasive scrubbing tools.  A soft mop is usually your best bet for a deep clean.  Don’t worry just because you can’t use an abrasive scrubbing tool, you can still use elbow grease.

Floor stripper may be your grout’s enemy.

If your vinyl floor has grout lines, avoid floor strippers.  Floor stripper can breakdown grout, so don’t hesitate to ask the experts before you roll up your sleeves for a deep clean.

Be generous with felt pads.

Put felt pads on all your furniture: your couches, love seats, recliners, coffee tables, dining tables, chairs—everything.  Felt pads are your first line of defense to keep your luxury vinyl floor from scratches.

Take protective measures when you move heavy objects.

When rearranging anything heavy, such as your appliances or furniture, don’t drag them across your floor.  Instead use smooth pieces of plywood to create a path that you can drag your heavy items across.

5 Tips for a Smooth Basement Floor DIY Install

installing luxury vinyl plank in a basmentWe’re stating the obvious: home projects do not always go as planned.  A little bit of research can go a long way toward a smooth project, especially when it comes to installing new floors in your basement.  Whether you’re looking forward to new luxury vinyl floors, carpet tiles, or engineered hardwood, use these tips to get your flooring project from start to finish efficiently and easily.

Be very careful about MOISTURE.

Most basements are made of concrete or cinder block, both of which are very porous.  Moisture seeps through the wall and floor—and into the air.  That’s why you should stay away from solid wood floors, which can be damaged by the moisture.  There are several other (beautiful) basement floor options to choose from, but make sure you keep the humidity in the room down—both for the floor and your furniture.

Excess moisture can cause mold to grow on furniture, make your basement smell musty, and damage your floors if you don’t keep the humidity down.  Use a humidistat to measure the moisture in your basement.  If you find the air is too moist, use a dehumidifier to maintain a level between 30-50%.

Make sure you’ve resolved basement flooding—or choose floors that can take the water.

Swimming pools should be outside—NOT in your basement.  When you decide to finish your basement, make sure you have resolved any issues that could cause your basement to turn into a swimming pool OR choose a floor in that can take an occasional flood when it happens.  Vinyl flooring is your answer; we’ve seen this floor look great even after being under two feet of water.  As a bonus, new luxury vinyl floors come in a variety of colors that look great (and even mimic the look of wood perfectly).

Buy more than you need.

“Measure twice, cut once” is the old home project saying.  For flooring installs, use another saying, “measure twice, buy more.”  Always purchase more flooring and supplies that you need for those just in case situations (just in case you find a bad board, underestimated, things don’t go as well as planned, etc.).  If you are buying a large amount, you may also be able to get a discount for buying in bulk.  When installing plank floors, make sure you mix and match planks from each box to make sure you get an even look.

Acclimate your floors before you install.

Installing new basement floors is not as easy as buying a box of new flooring, bringing it home, and laying new flooring.  New basement floors need to be acclimated to the room for a smooth install.  It’s easy to do: after you buy the flooring, put the boxes in the room for at least 48 hours before you start install.  This simple step prevents the flooring from being damaged during install.  Radiant floor heating should also be turned down to about 60 degrees while the flooring acclimates.

Use the experts and their advice.

If you want a smooth project, don’t get at it alone; even if you’re doing a do-it-yourself project, talk to local flooring experts about the supplies and information you need for your install.  A simple conversation or contact can help you with your basement flooring project; they’ve helped other homeowners and get information straight from the flooring manufacturer.  As an added perk, staff at your local flooring store can also help you get more supplies if you don’t buy enough; everything you need to get your flooring installed smoothly so you can enjoy the finished project.

What flooring can be installed in a basement?

carpet in basement that can handle basement moistureWhen winter hits, Wisconsinites head down to our basement for some indoor fun.  If you haven’t finished your basement getaway, it’s time to plan all the important details: space design, construction, wall colors, flooring.  Your last choice may be the most important: not all types of flooring are meant for basements.  Most notably, wood flooring can warp and crack from the moisture that seeps through your basement floors and walls.

If your basement is constructed like most homes, your basement walls and floor are concrete or cinder block. Though durable and affordable, basement walls made of concrete and cinder block are porous, allowing moisture to seep through the floor and walls.  While hardwoods are not a great floor choice for basements, there are still many floor choices that do work in a basement—and many of these floors have the look of wood (or stone or whatever look you want…).

Luxury Vinyl

luxury vinyl flooring that looks like woodLuxury vinyl comes in planks (as a free floating floor) or sheets, and looks spectacular.  The benefits don’t stop there: luxury vinyl is easy-to-clean, durable, and can be installed professionally or as a do-it-yourself project.  Many luxury vinyl plank products snap together, making it suitable for DIYers who want new, durable flooring they can install themselves. Luxury vinyl flooring can also be glued or installed with grout.  If you want to install luxury vinyl on your own, you can buy large quantities at a discount at your local flooring store (and get excellent advice to go with it!).

These floors require literally no maintenance. As a bonus, luxury vinyl flooring can handle any kind of water spills, and has even been known to withstand some minor flooding. As a basement flooring, luxury vinyl can handle water puddles (great for basements near pools and lakes), porous concrete, and all the traffic that your family wants to throw at it through winter and summer.

Engineered Hardwood

If you really, really want wood, consider an engineered hardwood floor for your basement. Engineered hardwood is not as prone to problems with temperature changes because engineered hardwood is constructed of layers.  Since it’s a wood floor product, it looks beautiful.  Engineered hardwood is also durable and easy-to-clean.

Some engineered hardwood floor products can be sanded down and refinished as needed.  Ask your local flooring store which options are available if you want a floor for the long-term.  There is one downfall, however: engineered hardwood flooring can be damaged from water spills. If you choose an engineered hardwood floor, make sure you keep a rag handy to clean up puddles.

Carpet

carpet remnants for basement floorsMany people say that carpet seems warmer that hard floors, and that’s probably why it’s such a popular choice for finished basements.  Carpet is soft, affordable, durable, and comes in a huge variety of colors and options.  It’s also an easy option to clean, though not as easy as hard floors. If you’re trying to finish a small basement space on a budget, ask your local flooring store about carpet remnants which are discounted because they are only available in smaller sizes.  

On the flip side, carpets need to be vacuumed and deep cleaned on a regular basis to rid your carpets of allergens and maintain their look.  This ‘flip’ all depends on how you look at it; it’s easy to schedule a professional deep clean to keep them looking great.

Carpet squares

If you want a durable, easy-to-clean, and fun floor idea for your basement, carpet squares are your answer. Carpet squares come in a variety of colors and styles, and can be laid down as a fun pattern.  If a carpet square gets dirty, just pop it up and replace it with another carpet tile.  Carpet tiles are a very popular choice for basement playrooms.  The only downside of carpet squares is that they don’t usually have a carpet pad under them, making the feel a bit harder under your feet.

Last Minute Tips that’ll Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

Pretty little girl smiling with present near the Christmas tree after last minute preps for family ChristmasWe’re all down to the wire.  It’s the proverbial holiday go time, and it’s up to you to get your home ready for all the Christmas get-togethers, family time, and holiday cheer that your home can take.

Make a list, and check it twice.

It’s time to think like Santa: make a to-do list and check it twice.  Make sure you have an organized list so you can move from one task to another without wasting time thinking about what to do next. If you are in the middle of any home remodeling projects, finish as best you can or make it safe enough for your guests. (If you need any assistance, stop in at your local flooring and tile store for last minute supplies and advice.)

Worry about your exterior.

We’re not talking about adding extra holiday decorations to your home.  When getting ready for your family coming to town or a big family holiday celebration, don’t just concentrate on the inside of your home.  Worry about the outside: the driveway, the sidewalks, the door.  Make sure your walks are clear of snow and ice.  Have your driveway cleaned out, or clean it out yourself so no one gets stuck.

Carry your cleaning supplies together.

If you want to get your home clean, and cleaned quickly, carry your cleaning supplies with you from place to place in a tray or tub.  Just like a list, this saves you time running from place to place looking for supplies.

Deep clean your hardwoods with care.

No matter how much of a hurry you are in, don’t just throw some water on your hardwood floors and walk away.  Also, don’t fast track your hardwood deep clean with a steam cleaner; it can have the same effect and permanently damage your floors.  Follow these steps for deep cleaning your floors, and make sure you don’t leave puddles when you are done.

Prepare for guests.

Anticipate your guests, and their needs, before they arrive.  Stock up on everything your out-of-town guests need, and stock their room and bathroom accordingly.  Add storage options for their things, or clear out closet or dressers they can use.  For shorter term guests, clean out your front hall closet or coat rack to accommodate the jackets and winter gear they are arriving with.  Put out mats at each door to keep the snow on their boots and shoes off your floors.  A few minutes of preparation can make your holidays merrier—for you and your guests.

10 Tips for Protecting Your Floors this Winter

Children playing in the snow ready to come in on wood floorsWinter is hard on all kinds of floors: hardwood, carpet, laminate, vinyl.  Between all the snow, ice, gravel, and all the other “stuff” that comes with winter, wet feet (and paws) can do quite the number on your home.  You know what we’re talking about: floor stains, damage, warping, and all the other damage from the elements.  The good news is that all that damage is preventable—if you use these tips to protect your floors this winter.

Put rugs by all your doors.

Adding mats by all your doors is a simple and effective way to keep the snow and water puddles off your floors.  If you have wood or laminate floors, stop at your local flooring store to find out if you need to put a protective pad under your mat to minimize scratches.  Mats also prove to be a relief for homeowners with carpet so water and winter mud doesn’t cause stains and cleaning headaches.

Wipe up puddles and spills right away.

If any snow does make it past your mats, have paper towel or rags handy to clean up your puddles right away off your wood or laminate floors.  Puddles can stain any kind of flooring or cause your wood and laminate floors to warp.

Don’t skip a daily sweeping.

With all the snow and ice that comes in on boots and paws also comes gravel and debris that can scratch your hard floors and leave your carpet looking dirty.  Set some time aside each day to sweep up the small pieces that leave a mark—literally.

Add felt pads to all chairs and furniture.

This is a year-round protection tip that you need to take to heart all year round.  Put felt tips on all your furniture and tables.  If you are using folding chairs to accommodate all your additional holiday and party guests, make sure there are protectors on all your folding chairs as well.

Be careful when moving furniture.

Moving furniture for your holiday get-togethers or to accomodate your Christmas tree is pretty much a holiday norm.  It can also be a scratch hazard to your floors.  Use cardboard or large felt pads to keep your floors in as good shape as it was before your furniture move.

Have guests take off their shoes.

It’s not rude to ask guests to remove their shoes at the door.  Make this simple request to keep your floors clean and shoe print free.

Don’t steam clean your wood floors.

As tempting as it may be to buy one of those steam cleaners off of TV for your wood floors, please don’t.  Steam floors can damage your floors, and void the warranty if your floor is a new install.  Instead, to deep clean your floors, use our tips for deep cleaning wood floors.

Schedule a carpet cleaning.

If you’re worried about your carpets and the snow, schedule a professional carpet cleaning that can deep clean your carpets after all your holiday get-togethers.  Not only will a professional carpet cleaning get your carpets clean, it can also rid your carpets of all those indoor allergens that cause problems over the winter.

Follow cleaning instructions to a “T.”

When using cleaners on your carpet, don’t take any liberties with the cleaner or how you apply it—unless you want to end up with a spot or damage you don’t want.  Visit your local flooring store to make sure you find a floor cleaner that works and won’t damage your floor.  Test cleaners before you use them, and follow the directions on your floor cleaner closely so you don’t void your floor warranty.

Put protectors (mats, rugs, etc.) under your holiday tree.

This tip rings true for any home with hard or carpeted floors.  Make sure you buy a floor protector to put under your tree so you don’t have any problems with water leaking onto your floor.  You don’t want your merry holiday to end badly with a damaged floor and a badly needed repair.

10 Home Gift Ideas for the Person Who Has Everything

man giving gifts to woman who has everythingWe all have that one person on our holiday gift list: the one who has everything they need and could ever want.  You know who we’re talking about: your grandma that has a full house.  Your mother who has every collectible that she needs for her collection.  Your wife who loves design shows and decorating your house.  What in the world are you supposed to give someone like that?

It’s time to think out of the box.  If your gift recipient loves her home, think about getting her a home decor gift.  Want to give a gift with a BIG impact?  Combine your funds (and/or efforts, if you want to install the gift) with other family or friends so you can make a big splash in their home.

Backsplash tiles (and installation)

summer project kitchen with backsplashA kitchen backsplash can make a big difference in a kitchen, no matter the size.  If you really want to make your gift recipient’s day, offer to install the tiles (well) or pay for the installation so the tiles don’t just sit.  To make sure you get the tiles they want, buy them a gift certificate or promise to take them into a local flooring store right after the holidays.    

Cleaning break

For a gift recipient for everything but time, consider buying them the gift of a clean home.  Give them a gift certificate for a cleaning service or pre-pay for a home cleaning with a local home cleaner.

Area rugs

Young happy smiling woman lying with laptop on carpet over radiant in floor heatingIf you have a new home owner who can’t afford a lot of home décor, or a seasoned home owner who needs protection for their new wood floors, it’s time to be sneaky.  Measure their floor for dimensions for their new rug on the sly and visit your local flooring store to select a custom made area rug.  Talk to the flooring experts at the store for the rug and any covering needed to keep their new wood floor beautiful.

Personalized sign

If you want to put your personal stamp on their gift, make them a sign personalized just for them.  To make it memorable, sign up for a class before your holiday get together or schedule the class with your gift recipient so you have a fun night out making your signs.

Upholstery cleaning

Does your gift recipients have a chair that they want cleaned in the worst way (like their husband’s)?  Give them the gift that just keeps giving: a good upholstery cleaning of their favorite chair, sofa, or other piece of furniture.

Project IOU

If your gift recipient has a project they’ve been meaning to get to or just doesn’t have the time, give them the gift of your help.  Promise to come help them with their kitchen remodel, laundry room redo, or anything else on their to-do list.

Wood floor refinishing

protecting wood floorsDo you have a gift recipient with everything…except wood floors in good condition?  Surprise your gift recipient with a gift certificate to get their floors refinished (or arrange to pre-pay it with a local flooring contractor). 

Carpet cleaning

If your gift recipient has pets or frequently fosters dogs or cats, give them the gift that keeps on giving: carpet cleaning.  Surprise them with a certificate for a carpet clean that gives them a break from cleaning their carpet—for awhile at least.

Blinds

Have you been hearing, “I’ve been meaning to get new blinds” for awhile now?  Give your gift recipient what they’ve been wanting: new window treatments.  To make sure you get the right product (and a quality product), visit your local flooring store to talk with a designer about your options.

New bathroom

If you have a lot of people chipping in, give your gift recipient a whole bathroom remodel (and the labor to make it happen).  If their bathroom is in good shape, consider just giving them a bathroom face lift with new flooring and a new countertop.  If you want to put in the floor yourself, use this guide for DIY floor options and buy in bulk at your local flooring store. 

What kind of flooring can be installed over in floor radiant heating?

Young happy smiling woman lying with laptop on carpet over radiant in floor heatingIt’s the gift that just keeps giving: warm in floor radiant floor heating.  Just ask anyone who has in floor heating in their home and they’ll tell you how wonderful it is to have a warm floor underfoot (especially during winter!)  If you decide that radiant floor heating is an affordable luxury you want in your home, you have two options.  If you use a boiler to heat your home, radiant heating can be installed with your hydronic heating. For a home without a boiler, an electric mat can be purchased and installed under these kinds of flooring:

Carpet

If you really want to combine warmth and softness, let the sales associates at the flooring station know when you order the carpet.  They can recommend the ideal carpet pad that ensures you can feel the warmth from the in floor heating through the pad.

Laminate

Wood flooring is not an ideal product to install over in floor heating, but laminate is the next best thing.  Because laminate is a floating floor, it’s easy to install over radiant floor heating.  And with the look of wood or stone, laminate flooring gives you the look you want and the warmth from your in floor heating.

Tile

Tile is one of the most popular floors to install over in floor radiant heating.  It’s easy to see why: without radiant floor heating, tile can be cold to the feet.  With in floor heating underneath, tiles conduct the heat from a radiant floor heating system and look great.

Engineered hardwood

Engineered hardwood floors differ from wood floors in construction; engineered wood floors are manufactured in layers, making some products suitable for installing over in floor heating. To find out what engineered hardwood products would work, ask an expert at your flooring store to point out what products give you warmth and beauty.

6 Last Minute Preps that Get Your Home Ready for Thanksgiving

family making last minute preparations for ThanksgivingThere are a lot of tips floating around about getting your home ready for the holidays, but when the clock’s ticking down, tips like “start early” don’t really count.  If you’re up against the clock, use these (fast) tips to get ready for your family Thanksgiving.

Finish your home projects.

If you’ve started home projects (like a beautiful laminate accent wall), now is the time to get it done so your guests aren’t wading through the dust during the holidays.  Stop in for any last minute supplies you need so you can get your project completed and wow your guests over the holidays.

Make a plan.

Don’t get so frantic about getting ready for Thanksgiving that you don’t take the time to make a plan.  Make a list of tasks that need to be done, and designate tasks to family members or cleaners that you bring in for the occasion.  For your plan for the day of, make sure your list includes time for prepping and cooking your dishes.  You don’t want ornery guests waiting for dinner because you were too busy cleaning.

Abandon areas of your home that don’t count.

Devote your cleaning efforts to areas of your home where your guests are going to be.  We know it’s tempting but if your guests won’t be in your basement or closets, let them be. Move on to areas where your guests are going to be hanging out and eating.  Save any other projects for after the holidays when you don’t have the clocking ticking down.

Have fans ready.

When you clean your laminate or wood floors, don’t leave puddles for the safety of your guests and for the good of your floors (more tips for wood floor cleaning here).  Use fans to make sure your floors dry completely so you don’t end up with water damage.  After you get your floors dry and ready, keep a rag on hand over the holidays so you can clean up any spills.

Don’t clean your floors  (or anything) without testing.

Holiday cleaning—even rushed holiday cleaning—is not the time for experimenting.  If you’ve never used a certain cleaner before, go back to what you know or visit your local store for cleaning advice.  Using unproven cleaners can damage your floors, counters, and surfaces and even void the warranty of your floors.  No matter how much you want a perfect clean, it’s not worth it if you end up with damage that costs more to fix.

Carry your cleaning supplies with you.

Once you have your list, gather up all your cleaners and cleaning supplies and put them in a container that you can carry with you.  This simple step keeps you from wasting time running all over the house looking for your next cleaner or paper towel.  Best yet, carrying your cleaners allows you to make fast and short work of your holiday prep—and move you forward to enjoying the holidays with your guests.