Best Flooring Options for Your Dining Room

dining room floor with chair, table, and tile flooringIt took only a few months with a new baby in a high chair to realize that the previous owner’s choice of white carpet under our dining room table was not going to work with a growing family.  If you’re in the same boat, or thinking ahead before your next big family holiday meal (you know, with everyone gathered around the Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinner), choosing the right flooring for your dining room is more than just bringing home the right sample that looks good with your wall color.

The right dining room floor can handle everything life can throw at it: water, food, foot traffic, pets begging at the diners’ feet.  After all that, the dining room floor needs to be easy-to-clean from food and drink spills, and resilient enough so you aren’t still seeing the stains from an accidental spill.  The good news is that there are several dining room flooring options that meet the criteria.

Wood

Solid wood flooring and engineered hardwood floors are both ideal for dining rooms. They’re beautiful, easy to clean, and incredibly durable—as long as you clean up any water spills as soon as possible.  If you want a soft feel under your feet while you eat, get a custom-made, spill-proof rug to go under your table.  A custom-made rug gives you the option of choosing the right pattern and size that fits perfectly around your table.  Talk to the professionals at your local flooring shop for options and any precautions you need to take to keep your wood floor in great shape (i.e. protection under the rug, etc.)

Laminate

kitchen and dining room with island, table, and laminate floorsLaminate floors have come a long way over the years; today’s laminate flooring is so realistic many people can’t tell the difference between laminate and real wood flooring.  Laminate floors come with the same disclaimer as wood floors; you do need to clean up water spills as soon as possible to prevent damage, but they are durable enough to handle heavy foot and pet traffic and easy-to-clean in case of accidental spills.  Laminate floors are a floating floor, meaning they can be tackled as a homeowner do-it-yourself project.

Tile

We’ve wrote about the benefits of porcelain tile in the past: it’s durable, water resistant, and easy-to clean.  Today’s tiles also come in long, rectangular slats that are stunning; some porcelain tile products even have the look of wood.  The one disadvantage of tile is t820_vp02_00-1000x731the cool feel under your feet when the temperature drops.  This problem can be resolved with radiant heating, which can be naturally conducted through porcelain tile.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl is one of the newest products on the market, and for good reason.  New luxury vinyl products have the look of wood or tile, are incredibly durable, and some products that come in slats can be an easy DIY home project.  For more information about luxury vinyl, stop in at your local flooring store (or send them a message) to find out more about this dining room flooring option.

Best Entryway Flooring Options for Your Home

tile flooring in entryway with front table and lampEntryway. Foyer. Front hall. Whatever you call the main entryway into your home, we call it the front line of defense against all the dirt, gravel, sand, water, snow (that’s right, our famous Wisconsin snow!) and everything else tracked in through your front door.  It’s also the first room of your home your guests see, making it vital to find the best entryway flooring that can be beautiful and handle everything that comes in with your family and friends (the good news: there are ways to protect your floors, read here).

Porcelain Tile

Pros: Porcelain tile is durable and water, odor and mildew resistant—two BIG reasons to put porcelain tile in your entry way. The tile also comes in many different colors and looks, giving you a ton of beautiful flooring options for your entryway.  Porcelain tile comes in stone and wood designs, and in a million different colors that coordinate with your home.

Cons: Porcelain tile can feel very cold under your feet when the temperatures drop.  If you’re worried about the cold feeling of this tile, you can install radiant heating underneath and enjoy toasty toes even on the coldest Wisconsin days.

Wood

warm wood floors in entryway of homePros: Wood floors are incredibly durable—just look at the wood floors in a historic home.  Wood floors can last for years and handle heavy foot (and paw) traffic.  Hardwood floors can also be sanded down and refinished, making it a long-term flooring option for your home.

Cons:  Wood floors cost more than other flooring options, and are more susceptible to water damage.  If you do install wood floors in your entryway, make sure you use rugs and these tips to keep your wood floors looking new.

Laminate

Pros: Laminate floors have the beautiful look of wood, but are more affordable than their wood flooring counterpart.  They are also durable, easy-to-clean, and can handle everything that gets tracked in.

luxury vinyl flooring that looks like woodCons: Laminate floors have the same weakness to water as wood flooring.  To keep them looking great, use the same wood flooring tips and be ready to clean up water.

Luxury Vinyl

Pros: Some of the newest vinyl products could fool even the most hard-core hardwood admirer. Whether your preference is stone or hardwood, these tiles can mimic both styles with colors that floor everyone who enters your home. Vinyl is also durable and soil and stain resistant, perfect for the room that takes the brunt of the elements on a regular basis. There’s another bonus: some luxury vinyl floors come in planks, which make it a good DIY project for any handyman.

Cons: Luxury Vinyl flooring can be one of the more expensive options.  To find out more about luxury vinyl floors, stop in or contact the flooring pros to find out more about luxury vinyl flooring products.

Vinyl Sheet

Pros: Vinyl sheet flooring is very durable and budget friendly, perfect for your front entryway. It comes in a variety of patterns and colors, making it easy on the eyes and easy to clean.

Cons: Vinyl sheet floors can be scratched if you’re not careful.

If you want to see samples of floors perfect for your entryway, or want to know what works in other homes in your area, head into a local flooring store or contact them for more information.  They can suggest flooring products that’ll wow your guests and impress you with their durability.

4 Cleaning Tasks to Add to Your Fall To-Do List

Couple raking up lawn autumn leavesNow that Labor Day is done, we can start using the ‘fall’ word. After all, apple orchards are opening, trees are starting to turn beautiful autumn colors, and kids are heading back to school.  Fall also brings a fall maintenance checklist for homeowners, who are trying to get their homes ready for winter with HVAC maintenance, pressure washing the exterior or your home, winterizing your lawn mower—you know the standard fall maintenance list.

If you’re one of those homeowners, consider going the extra mile by adding these to-do’s to your fall maintenance list so you and your home are set for all that winter is going to throw at it—and its residents.

Carpet cleaning

There are three reasons to schedule a carpet cleaning during autumn; if you have allergies or other respiratory issues, make that schedule a carpet cleaning as soon as possible.  A professional deep carpet clean can rid your carpet of allergens and dirt, which can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms (especially during winter when we’re all trapped inside).

Another reason to add carpet cleaning to your list is to keep your carpets looking new—and to ready your home for all the snow and mud that’s going to get tracked in over the winter months.  If you schedule your carpet cleaning during fall, you can still open your windows during the carpet cleaning (while the weather’s still okay!).

Fireplace & stove inspection and clean up

Before you start cuddling up to that warm fire on a cold and windy day, have your fireplace or stove chimney inspected and cleaned—for both a gas and wood-burning fireplace and stove.  A professional can inspect the chimney for build-up, check the firebox to make sure it is safe, examine all lines and structure, and give your fireplace, stove, and chimney a full clean.   A pro can make sure that your chimney is clean and safe for all your winter fires.

Duct cleaning

We’ve seen studies that estimate Americans spend as much as 90% of their time indoors—especially during winter.  If you have allergies, you know that indoor allergy symptoms are often caused and exacerbated by the most common indoor allergens: dust mites, pet dander, mold. All of those allergens re-circulate though our air ducts every time you turn on your furnace. To avoid sneezing, wheezing, and all those other annoying indoor allergy symptoms, add a professional duct cleaning to your fall maintenance list.  One call (or email) to a professional duct cleaning company can clean your ducts of all those allergens, making your time indoors this winter allergen-free (or at least, less allergen).

Smoke & carbon monoxide detector inspection

This addition to your fall maintenance checklist is one that you can perform yourself—and it’s easy to do.  Clean the area around your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and test the detectors to make sure they still work.  As long as you’re testing your detectors, do a full run-through of your emergency escape plan with your family to make sure they know the drill.  Finally, swap out batteries in every detector to make sure they work during the winter if you need them (hopefully not!).

5 Tips that Keep Your Carpet Clean (& Looking Great)

Young happy smiling woman lying with laptop on clean carpetSome days it seems like your family, pets, and dirty work boots are conspiring against you and your carpets.  Between the dirty foot prints and carpet stains, your carpets take a real beating from the daily traffic—and it can seem almost impossible to keep your carpets clean.  We’ve seen a lot of carpets installed in high traffic areas, and we’re here to tell you it is possible. Don’t lose hope—especially if you use these tips to keep your carpets clean and looking great.

Choose the right carpet for your space.

The most beautiful carpet you see at the flooring store may not be made to handle the kind of traffic you need. Use these tips to select the right carpet for high traffic areas (main home rooms, frequented areas, rooms where you keep your pets, kid spaces, etc.).  When you buy carpet, consider how much traffic the carpet gets, what kind of traffic (pets, kids, etc.), the chance for spills, and maintenance needed. Don’t hesitate to ask the experts—the staff members at the flooring store who help homeowners, families, and even business owners choose the right flooring. They’ve seen what carpet works at other homes in the same kind of spaces.

Choose your vacuum carefully—and use it regularly.

You’ve seen all the commercials about the super powerful vacuums.  Believe it or not, some vacuums are so powerful they can damage the fibers in your carpet. Determine what vacuum cleaner is right for you (here are tips for choosing the right vacuum), and for your carpet. Use your new vacuum at least once a week to keep your carpet clean.

Place rugs in all the right places, especially the door.

Stop carpet stains and residue at the door.  Use mats in your mudroom and at your exterior doors to keep dirt, water, and grime off your carpet.  In high traffic areas, such as a hallway, put down area rugs to protect your new flooring.

Clean carpet stains ASAP.

When you find a carpet stain, don’t wait.  Clean the stain promptly, and be careful not to scrub the stain too hard.  Too much elbow grease can damage carpet fibers, so it’s best to blot at your carpet with a moist cloth to remove the spill AND keep your carpet looking new.

Schedule an annual carpet cleaning.

Give your carpets a deep clean.  Not only does it help members of your family with allergies, a good professional carpet cleaning keeps your carpet looking new—a professional carpet cleaning.  Rented carpet cleaners may look like they do the job, but in reality those carpet cleaners can’t deliver the same kind of deep, thorough clean. Want to keep your carpet clean and looking great? Trust the carpet cleaning pros (and enjoy the results!).

5 Tips to Get Your Mudroom Organized for Back to School

Teenage girl with backpack and back to school gear that needs to be organized in mudroomBrace yourselves, it’s coming: back-to-school and the inevitable load of back-to-school gear that blocks your door and overwhelms your entryway.  Ironically, the room that takes the biggest beating is your mudroom or entryway—the room where all the books, backpacks, shoes…and boots end up.  Here’s how to get all that “stuff” organized for a great school year, even if your mudroom or entryway isn’t the biggest space.

Have a place for everything, and everything in its place.

Hooks for back packs.  Cubbies for athletic gear.  A place for all your shoes and—eventually—winter boots.  Design your mudroom for all the gear you need and might need from the ground up.  Start designing with a durable floor that looks great and can take all the grime that gets tracked in, such as a tile or vinyl (other beautiful and functional ideas for your mudroom flooring here).  Sketch out your organization to make sure you are using every inch efficiently, such as corners and vertical spaces (after all, you need to maximize every inch of storage).  From there, plan shelves, baskets, hooks, and cubbies that are functional and beautiful (ideas for creative and attractive mudroom storage here).

Be prepared for bad weather—with rugs.

While the weather on the first day of school may be beautiful, the cold and wet fall and winter weather is inevitable in the Midwest so you might as well be ready for it.  Use practical flooring (this doesn’t mean dull) and rugs in your mudroom to keep all the mud, ice, and snow out of your home and off your floors.  This small step saves you valuable cleaning time and keeps ALL your floors looking great.

Create a command center.

Get a firm grasp on your athletic practices, school play rehearsals, games, and all the schedules that comes with school by making your mudroom your command center.  Use chalkboard paint, a whiteboard, magnets, and containers so you can post and manage your calendar, newsletters, and notes—and so your family members always know where everyone is and where they need to be.

Clear the clutter.

If you can’t even get through your mudroom or entry way, clear it now—BEFORE all the backpacks, shoes, and back-to-school gear clog it up.  Purge the excess gear (possibly from last school year?), clean the floors, and wipe down all surfaces to prepare for all the “stuff” (and grime) that comes with back-to-school.  If you’re not sure how to clean your floors (such as wood floors), don’t guess; you can damage your floors more or void your warranty if you don’t ask the experts.

Ready your kids (and yourself).

Start transitioning your family to your school routine now so your kids are ready by the start of school.  Do the same for your mudroom; do as much of the work designing and prepping for the school year now before the backpacks move in.  When the first day of school comes, you, your kids, and your entryway is going to be glad you did—especially when the real fall and winter gear starts to come out.

5 Tips So You and Your Home Survives the Heat (Without AC)

sweating woman from summer heatWe’re going to state the obvious: it’s hot.  And humid.  Our Midwestern summer is in full swing, and the heat and humidity can feel suffocating and even damage you and your home.  That’s right, the heat can even take a toll on your home, especially your floors—unless you use these tips to get you and your home through another heat wave.

Use fans.

Get your fans out and keep them going.  Set your ceiling fans to operate in a counter clockwise direction, which directs cool air down on to you.

Keep the moisture in your air low.

Drier air is cooler air—for you and your home.  The proof is in your air conditioner which cools the air by dehumidifying.  Another motivation for dehumidifying: it’s better for your wood floors so they don’t get damage from the humid air (more information on wood floors and humidity here).

Take a dip in the pool (but don’t bring it inside).

There is no doubt that a quick dip in the pool—even a kiddie pool—does wonders to cool a hot body.  However, just like you want to keep the moisture out of your air (or low anyways), you also need to keep the water off your floors—especially off laminate and wood floors.  Try to dry off outside as much as possible, keep rugs by all your doors, and put floors that can handle water inside your entry doors (including sliding doors).

Take advantage of natural ventilation.

If you don’t have air conditioning—or simply don’t want to turn it on—use natural breezes to your advantage.  Open windows on sides of your house where the breeze comes in, cooling you and your home.  (Make sure you watch the weather and have them closed when there is rain so you don’t have frantically clean up your windows and floors full of water!)

Use curtains and blinds.

Try to avoid the greenhouse effect in your home. Keep your curtains and blinds closed during the day when the sun shines in and bakes your home.  Don’t worry, you can have functional curtains and blinds that cool and look beautiful at the same time; use these tips to select the best curtains and blinds for your space or visit the professionals and let them assist you.  They’ll help you and your home look beautiful and stay cool during our summer heat.

Wood Floors & Humidity: How to Protect Your Floors

wood floors in front of a fire place that needs to be protected from high humiditySteam bath. Sauna.  There are certain times of the year (like now) when our Wisconsin weather certainly fits these terms to a T.  You know what we mean: when you just step out the door and start to sweat, and your clothes end up a sopping mess after a short walk.  Your wood floors go through the same struggle, except a sopping floor can’t just be thrown in the dryer; actually the “soppiness” (moisture) from high humidity or spills can damage your wood floors.

While we can’t do anything about your sweating (except recommend air conditioning or a good fan), we can give you tips to keep your wood floors from damage from the high humidity:

Track your home’s humidity.

Just as the weather forecasters track the humidity outside, you can also track the amount of moisture in your home’s air with a humidistat.  The ideal humidity for wood floors is between 35-55%.  Higher levels of moisture in your air can cause your floors swell and warp.  Low humidity can make your floors crack and splinter.

Keep your humidity at an ideal level.

wood floor in a kitchen that needs to be protected from water on floorOnce you’ve started tracking your home’s moisture level, now is the time to control it for the good of your floors.  Make sure you don’t go too far by drastically increasing or decreasing your home’s humidity. If your humidity level is too high, a dehumidifier or air conditioner can resolve your moisture problem.  For a low air moisture reading, a humidifier can add the appropriate amount of water to the air; monitor your humidifier to make sure your moisture level is between 35-55%.

Minimize the amount of water on your floor.

In addition to monitoring your home’s humidity level, you can protect your floors from water damage by keeping your floors as dry as possible:

  • Wipe up any spills as soon as possible.
  • Never use a steam cleaner on your wood floors (it can also void your warranty).
  • Use only a damp mop to clean wood floors (and approved cleaners, again for the sake of the warranty).
  • Use rugs and mats (with protectors under) to keep water from getting tracked on to your wood floors.
  • Request that your guests take off their shoes at the door.
  • Ask local flooring experts for advice on how to keep your wood floors in peak condition.

4 Home Design Trends You’re Going to Want in Your Home

home design trend laminate flooring on wall

Courtesy Armstrong Flooring

There have been some really neat home trends that have come out lately—all related to flooring, and all really beautiful trends that even the most “non-trendy” homeowner is going to want in their home.  From carpet upgrades to design ideas, here are four of the most beautiful and practical ideas to add to your home ‘to do’ list this year.

Laminate flooring on the wall

Courtesy Armstrong Flooring

Courtesy Armstrong Flooring

We know this sounds crazy. Who puts laminate flooring on their wall?  The pictures show otherwise: laminate can be a beautiful accent wall, mudroom accent, and chair rail.  For the right look, visit a store to choose a laminate with different tones that accent your room color.

One of the best part of this idea: laminate is just as easy to install on wall as it is on your floor.  We found these easy instructions for installing laminate on the wall, and you can find your laminate at discount prices if you buy in bulk.

Indoor tile outdoors

front steps with porcelain tilePorcelain tile can be more than a beautiful kitchen or bathroom floor.  Want your home to make a statement? Start with your front walk, any pathway around your property, or make your patio a conversation starter with a beautiful porcelain tile.  When shopping for flooring for your patio, balcony or steps, make sure you tell your salesperson that you are looking for tiles to use outside to make sure that you get the best outdoor product. Then, set up an installation date and sit back and admire your fantastic outdoor space.

Carpets that are able to handle…well LIFE

living room carpet Carpet that freshens the air.  Improved resiliency to stains.  Carpet that keeps liquids from leaking through to your pad and subfloor.  Carpet manufacturers like Beaulieu, Shaw, Armstrong, and Mohawk are always improving their carpets to deal with high levels of traffic from paws and feet.  Use these tips to determine what carpet’s best for your high traffic area, and then visit the experts for products they’ve seen work (and look beautiful) in local homes.

Luxury vinyl

luxury vinyl flooring that looks like woodLuxury vinyl is one of the most versatile and resilient floors on the market today—and they look great!  Get rid of those pictures of the ‘old’ vinyl floors your grandma used to have.  Today’s luxury vinyl products mimic the look of tile and wood, without the maintenance and, in the case of wood, water worries.

Best yet, luxury vinyl flooring products now come in planks that can be done by any homeowner who wants to tackle a do-it-yourself project. For more information on how to install your new luxury vinyl flooring, talk to the experts so you can add this new home design trend in your home.

5 Cleaning Tasks to Get Done this Summer

couple enjoying summer kayaking on lake before heading home for summer cleaningWe can hear your reaction to this title, “Cleaning?! Who wants to worry about cleaning during the summer?” We understand. Summer is the perfect time for swimming, vacations, camping, grill outs…and some very strategic summer cleaning tasks.  That’s right, there are a few cleaning tasks to tackle during the warm summer months—cleaning tasks that are easier to get done during the warm summer months.

Carpet cleaning

There are so many reasons to schedule a carpet cleaning this summer: open windows can dry out the carpet faster, you don’t have to worry about school schedules, and a good summer carpet cleaning rids your home of the mud and salt from spring and winter.  A “good” summer carpet cleaning is a professional cleaning, which can remove stains and allergens that rental carpet cleaners can’t.  Because this summer cleaning task is better tackled by the professionals, schedule your carpet cleaning well in advance on a day that works into your busy schedule.

Light fixtures

Those pesky bugs that are buzzing around your head all summer tend to end up in your light fixtures.  Take a few minutes and clean any uplighting fixtures especially, where they tend to build up and cause problems.  If you can, take your light fixture apart, dump out the bugs, and wash the globe or lighting cover.

Window cleaning

That beautiful summer sunlight that we crave also shows off pet nose prints, little finger smears, and, well, dirt.  Take a few minutes this summer to clean down your windows and patio doors with a soft cloth and window cleaner. Remember: as tempting as it is to wash those windows when the shining sun reveals the fingerprints and streaks, the sun is also the enemy as you wash windows, drying out your cleaner before you get the job done.

Washing bedding

If you haven’t already, summer is a great time to wash quilts and mattress pads and hang them out to dry.  This is especially true if you have only one quilt for your bed; if you wash them in the morning, the warm sun and wind can have them dry by bedtime that night!

Cleaning off fans

Your summer fans should be going all summer long to improve the circulation in your home and aid with cooling.  You don’t want dust to rain down in your home during the process.  Turn them off on a cooler day and tackle your fan cleaning with a soft cloth or duster.

3 Things to Consider when Buying the Right Vacuum

Portrait of a young happy smiling woman lying with laptop on freshly vacuumed carpetThe days of heading to the local store and picking out the lone vacuum cleaner in stock is over.  Today, there are a lot of vacuum cleaners on the market; choosing the best vacuum cleaner for your home may not seem earth-shattering, but can have serious repercussions—for your flooring.  The right vacuum is also not the same for everyone; certain factors can point to the right vacuum for your home.  So how do you decide what is the best vacuum for your home? Use this list of factors to consider during your purchase—and narrow down your options to the vacuum model that gets your floors clean, and clean well.

Where you need it & what you need it for

Before you buy, think about where you use your vacuum.  Do you have stairs to haul your vacuum cleaner up and down?  If so, a lighter vacuum may be your answer.  Do you own a home with very few outlets?  Consider a vacuum cleaner with a battery pack so you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to plug it in.  Do you have cloth furniture that needs to be vacuumed?  Look for a vacuum with attachments that can get the job done.

Allergies & Respiratory issues

If you have allergy or respiratory issues, or you have a family member who does, you know the importance of a good vacuum—because a vacuum not built for homes with respiratory issues can worsen symptoms.  Look for a vacuum with a HEPA filter and a convenient way to dispose of the dust WITHOUT releasing the dust back into the air.  Bagless vacuum cleaners offer cleaning without the hassle of a bag, while vacuum cleaners with bags allow for easy disposal (depending on the vacuum model).  In addition, check to see whether the filters are replaceable or reusable; if the filters are replaceable, you need to buy additional filters which add to the overall cost of the machine.

Warranty

If you recently installed new carpets, it’s best to look to the carpet manufacturer of your flooring for advice so you don’t void the warranty. With the increased push by vacuum manufacturers to increase suction, carpet manufacturers like Mohawk, Shaw and Bieulieu have guidelines for carpet care and even make recommendations for the best model of vacuum:

http://caressbyshaw.com/care-warranty

http://www.mohawkflooring.com/flooring-care-maintenance/vacuumingsoftcarpet/

http://www.blissflooring.com/bliss/home-carpet/cleaning/vacuuming.aspx

Your carpet needs regular vacuuming and carpet cleaning by professional cleaners to keep it looking its best and remove allergens. When it’s time to buy a new vacuum cleaner, check out these websites or visit the pros at Y’s Way Flooring. We’ll help guide your purchase so you can find the right vacuum cleaner for your floors and your wallet.