Ways to Save Money on Basement Flooring

family in basement media roomFinishing your basement involves a lot of steps: waterproofing, framing, drywalling, lighting, plumbing (if needed), flooring, furnishings. All those steps add up, both in terms of energy and funds (especially if you get expensive surprises along the way!). If you find those costs are adding up OR if you’re looking for ways to stretch those budget dollars, use these tips to save money on one key part of your basement project: flooring.

Invest in carpet remnants.

Carpet is one of the most common choices for basement flooring; it’s soft, affordable, and comes in a variety of piles and colors. Carpet also comes with a low-cost option: carpet remnants. Carpet remnants are what’s left of a roll of carpet and are usually sold at a discount at your local flooring store. The only draw back is that remnants usually are smaller and fit only in smaller rooms. However, carpet remnants are still perfect for smaller bedrooms, craft rooms, offices, or any other basement space. Ask your local flooring pros what size remnants they have available that fit in your basement.

Buy a DIY floor.

If you want to save on labor costs (and feel fairly handy), choose a flooring that you can install yourself. Wood floors should not be installed in basements (here’s why wood floors and basements should not mix), but engineered wood and luxury vinyl tile can be installed as a floating floor. Head into your local flooring store to ask them to show you DIY floor samples you can install yourself and fit your budget.

Look into carpet tiles.

Carpet tiles offer some of the same benefits of carpet, but with a do-it-yourself option. Carpet tiles are not installed with a padding which makes it less complicated than carpet installation. Another benefit of carpet tiles is that if one is damaged or stained, it can be replaced with another carpet tile. Carpet tiles come in a variety of colors and patterns, giving you plenty of options for a custom, unique flooring design. If you want to save money on more than installation, head into a local flooring store and ask about a discount for a volume purchase.

Waterproof, waterproof, waterproof.

When you finally complete a basement installation, it’s an accomplishment—especially if you finish under budget. Don’t expose yourself—or your budget—to the added expense of replacing the floor. Make sure your waterproofing job is complete. If you have any doubts, install a floor that is not easily damaged by flooding: vinyl (we’ve even seen vinyl flooring survive being submerged under flood waters in a basement). Ask your flooring salesperson to recommend vinyl floors that can hold up to water and look great, then sit back and enjoy your finished basement (done under budget!).

What flooring can I install in my basement?

carpet in basement that can handle basement moistureFinishing your basement is an exciting project. There’s so much empty space and so many possibilities. From top to bottom, there’s a million decisions to make: paint color, furniture, trim color, flooring. The last item on the list, flooring, comes with a small twist.

That small twist is water. Because basements are below ground, moisture seeps through the walls and floors. Not all types of flooring can take the moisture, leaving you with damaged and stained floors that you need to replace within a few years.

We’ve divided your basement flooring options into two categories: DIY & installer (schedule an installer by contacting local professionals). The DIY basement flooring options allow you to save money by installing the floors yourself. You can find these floors at your local flooring stores (ask about a discount for buying in bulk). Use these tips to guarantee a successful basement floor installation.

DIY Options

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl can check off a lot of boxes for basement flooring: the product comes in planks that can be installed as a DIY project, isn’t affected by moisture, and comes in a variety of looks and colors. These floors come in long tiles that give the floor a modern look, wood that looks like genuine hardwoods, or in a stone pattern that looks like slate or porcelain.

Engineered Hardwood

To be clear, hardwood floors should not be installed in a basement because of moisture. Water seeps up through the basement slab, warping and damaging wood flooring. If you still want wood flooring in your basement, choose the next best thing: engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood is made up of many layers, including the top layer which is 100% wood. Because of the construction, engineered wood is safe to install over a concrete slab. (Many engineered hardwood floors can also be installed as a floating floor.)

Tile

Porcelain and ceramic tile looks great in any basement, and are available in long slats, square tiles, colors, and patterns. Tiles are a natural conductor of heat, which make them a great flooring to install over radiant heating. Today’s tile products look like stone or wood and can be installed with or without grout lines.

Carpet tile

Carpet tile is an ideal option for basements. They offer the softness of carpeting, a custom design, and a unique way to clean-up. Depending on the carpet tile you choose, carpet tiles can be laid out in any pattern you want. If a carpet tile gets dirty, it can be cleaned or swapped out with another carpet tile. Carpet tiles are ideal for office spaces, rec rooms, day care spaces, and game rooms.

Installer Options

Carpet

For homeowners who don’t want to take on a do-it-yourself project, carpet is a great choice for basements. Carpet is soft, easy-to-care-for, and a warm barrier over a basement concrete slab. Today’s carpet comes in almost every color and style, and can fit any budget. If you’re worried about the latter, consider purchasing a carpet remnant. Carpet remnants are the “leftovers” from a roll; these pieces can be fairly large and are sold at a discounted rate. If you’re considering a remnant, visit your local flooring store to see what options are available for your basement.

Vinyl

Vinyl flooring can handle all the water in your basement; we’ve even seen some vinyl floors survive after being submerged under water (perfect for a basement that is prone to flooding-make sure you tell your flooring salesperson that your basement floods). Vinyl floors are typically glued down and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

How do I keep my hardwood floors looking new?

wood floors in home with grand piano and furnitureHardwood floors have been installed in homes, it seems, since the beginning of time. You can see why: they’re beautiful, stunning, a selling feature, and the source of many compliments. Hardwoods are also a considerable investment, which is why it should be the goal of every homeowner to keep their floors looking like the day they were installed.

Keep the grit and water away.

There are two enemies of hardwood floors: debris and water. Debris (think stones, gravel, and other debris that gets tracked in) can scratch your floor. Water can warp and leave permanent water stains (as well as doing long-term damage). If you want to keep your hardwoods from getting damaged from either of these culprits, prevent the damage before it occurs. Place rugs by all your exterior doors to catch all the debris and water that your pets, family, and guests track in.

If you would rather that your family and guests leave their shoes by the door, provide adequate space for their shoes in an organized mud room. Train your pets to stop inside the door so you can wipe off their paws before they run onto your hardwoods.

Regularly sweep and dry mop your floors.

For any grit and water that slips past your rugs, follow a regular schedule of sweeping and dry mopping your floors. If you see a water spill, dry it up immediately; never leave water sitting on your hardwoods, which can warp or stain the wood.

If you want to use a vacuum cleaner, stop in at your local flooring store and ask for recommendations for a vacuum cleaner that won’t damage the floor or void the warranty. Some flooring manufacturers won’t honor the warranty if you don’t use a vacuum they recommend.

Be careful with a steam cleaner.

Steam cleaners may seem like the answer to your hardwood deep cleaning, but proceed with caution. Because steam cleaners use steam (water!) to clean the floors, they can cause unforeseen damage to the wood. Any damage from a steam cleaner is usually not covered under the warranty by the flooring manufacturer.

Schedule a regular deep cleaning for your hardwoods.

Even with the most consistent hardwood floor cleaning and maintenance, hardwood floors can still develop a coating of dirt and grime. You may not even notice it, but it still needs to be removed for the long-term health of your floors. Schedule a regular hardwood floor deep cleaning to remove any dirt, allergens, or residue. Deep cleaning your hardwood floors can also restore the shine of your floors and make them look brand new again—just like the day your floors were installed.

Floor Cleaning Tips that Get You Through the Holidays

holiday tree, fireplace with stockings in homeThe holidays are time of holiday gatherings, decorating for get-togethers, and cleaning for holiday parties. Add in our winter weather, and you can see that the holidays are really hard on our floors. That’s why we’ve put together these floor cleaning tips that get your flooring through the holidays without looking like it was trampled on by Santa and all his reindeer.

Protect your floors from your Christmas tree.

A real Christmas tree can be a beautiful holiday decoration, but the water in the stand can be hazardous for your floors. Before you put up your Christmas tree, put a tray under the stand to ensure that water does not spill and damage or stain your floor.

Don’t skimp on the rugs.

Everyone tracking snow and water in and out of your home may be part of fun holiday gathering, but it can do real damage to your floors. Put down rugs by every door to catch anything your guests track in. If you want everyone to leave their shoes by the door, organize an area for your guests so they can easily leave and find their shoes when all the fun is over.

Make sure you are protected from scratches with felt pads.

One of the best ways to protect your wood and laminate floors is by putting felt pads on the bottom of your furniture (couches, table, chairs, etc.) Felt pads do wear down, so make sure you replace the felt pads with new ones from time to time.

Be careful using a steam cleaner on wood floors.

Steam cleaners can be tempting when you’re trying to give your floor a deep clean for your holiday gatherings, but be careful. Steam cleaners can damage wood floors, and many of the top wood floor manufacturers do not recommend using a steam cleaner on wood flooring. The manufacturer’s warranty can also be voided if you clean a wood floor with a steam cleaner.

Keep a cleaner and rag close at hand.

Water spills (like melted snow) can damage laminate and wood floors. Soda and wine spills can leave a permanent mark on your carpeting. Be ready to clean up those flooring stains with a soft rag and cleaner that you can grab quickly every time you see a spill (and make sure you blot, don’t scrub, at the spill).

Don’t test out your floor cleaner for the first time over the holidays.

To avoid carpet discoloration and damage, make sure you test out your cleaner on an area that’s not visible to your guests. Test your cleaner in a closet or corner so you can be confident in your cleaner every time you clean your carpet. If you want a floor cleaner that the pros would recommend, stop in at your local flooring store.

Make sure you include vacuuming and dry moping in your holiday clean-up.

Regular maintenance is the key to keeping your floors look like new (and can be invaluable if you have to file a warranty claim). When all the holiday fun is over, make sure you vacuum and dry mop so your floors look like the day they were installed.

Schedule a post-holiday carpet clean.

After all the holiday gatherings are over, have your floors professionally carpet cleaned to rid your floors of any dirt that came from an entertaining holiday season. A professional carpet clean can also remove allergens, giving you and your family a fun winter even after the holidays are done.

Questions to Ask Before Buying New Carpet

bedroom with new carpet and fresh home decor ideasThere are many different kinds of carpet on the market (and we don’t just mean different colors!). It can be challenging to choose the right carpet for your home—and, if you’re like most people, it’s not a decision you take lightly. No one wants to invest their time and effort into buying new carpeting only to replace it within a short time.

The first step to buying the right carpet is to find floor experts to help you with the decision. Talk to local pros to find out what carpet is right for your home. Give them information like what room you want the carpet for, if it’s a high traffic area (that gets a lot of foot and paw traffic), estimated size of your room, and any other information that would play into your decision. Once you start looking at carpet samples, ask your carpet salesman:

Is the carpet water-resistant?

This is a question you should ask if your carpet is near an exterior doorway or bathroom. Water-resistant carpet can also come in handy if you have to deal with frequent spills and accidents.

Is this product meant for high traffic areas? Does this carpet have any built-in protection for stains?

If you have a busy household, this question is a must. Some carpets are produced specifically for high-traffic households. Look for carpets that have durability features, such as water-resistant or air-freshening. Unfortunately, you may have to steer away from shag carpets which do not always hold up the best in high-traffic households.

What kind of upkeep does this carpet require? What is the warranty?

No one wants to think about their new carpet under-performing, but this question can save you from a lot of stress later. Evaluate how much upkeep you can provide (vacuuming and carpet cleaning), and choose a carpet that matches your time and effort. For example, if you want carpet for a playroom but don’t have a lot of time for maintenance, ask about carpet tiles that you can pull up and replace when they get damaged or stained.

To prevent any damage, also ask your salesman about your vacuum cleaner to ensure that your appliance won’t damage your new carpet. The type of vacuum cleaner you use may also come into question if you need to use the warranty.

Don’t hesitate to ask your carpet salesman for a carpet they’ve seen work in other local homes. A good carpet retailer can tell you has worked and hasn’t worked at other customer’s homes.

What is the total cost (with installation, carpet pad, etc.)?

If you’re on a tight budget, ask your salesman to give you an idea of the total cost. Remember, this is only an estimate; you’ll get a better idea when an estimator comes to your home and measures the room. Your estimator can also give you an idea of any additional costs, such as doors that need to be modified or thresholds that need to be replaced.

There are other questions that you can ask your salesman, such as asking about a softer carpet recommendation or a carpet that can be made into an area rug. Once your new carpet is installed, you can relax and be grateful you asked all those questions.

Touches that Make Every Room Look Finished

The touches that make a room look finished are, well, small—but this is a case where size doesn’t mean everything. From the smallest room to the most expansive, these finishing touches can make every room in your home go from just “okay” to “wow” and your home go from “it just needs something” to “it’s perfect.”

Living Room

living room with blinds

Courtesy: Kathy Ireland Home by Alta

  • Window treatments. Unfinished windows can look naked and the room like a set of individual pieces (flooring, furniture, lighting) that don’t have that one element that pulls it all together. Use these tips to choose the perfect window treatment that checks off all the boxes: function, form, and finish. Or, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, lean on a designer to help you take that final design step.
  • Crown molding. In a traditional home, crown molding can make all the difference—and there are a lot of options to choose from. Select the right crown molding that works for you, and
  • Area Rug. An area rug can tie all the details of your room together and make your room look coordinated. To find the right area rug that fits your home, order a custom rug that is right for your space (if you need help, contact a designer that can assist you).

Bathroom

Kitchen

  • Backsplash. A backsplash makes a kitchen look finished and synchronized. The right backsplash can bring all the elements together, from the appliances to the cabinets to the floor. For a full kitchen remodel, coordinate the backsplash with the flooring, countertops, appliances, and cabinets. If you are adding a backsplash, try to take samples of other elements with you to the flooring store so you can find the right tile that pulls it all together.

Bedroom

  • bedroom with area rug

    Courtesy: Armstrong Flooring

    Blinds. Adding blinds to a bedroom not only adds an aesthetic element, but it also serves a functional role. Blinds can serve as a light blocker, can block unpleasant views, and increase privacy. The right blinds also make your bedroom look complete, with the flooring, bedspread, and window treatments look well-thought through and complete.

  • Area rug. If you have hard floors in the bedroom, this finishing touch warms your toes and make your room look synchronized. Make sure you put protection under the rug to protect the floor and give your room a polished look.

Tips for a Faster Clean-Up After the Holidays

festive table that needs to be cleaned up after holiday celebrationAfter a wonderful holiday get together, your guests are gone…and so is the wonderful feeling of the holidays. Instead, you’re surrounded by all the dirty dishes, tables, and floors that come with hosting a holiday with your family and friends. To help you out (and make you want to host another family holiday), we’ve compiled these tips to make your holiday clean-up faster and better.

Don’t let food debris dry on your dishes.

Be proactive about your cleaning now so you don’t add to the checklist later. Let your dishes soak so you don’t have to scrub off dried food. For the dishes that can go through the dishwasher, start the loads now so you can get your dishes started and finished (with newer dishes, skip the unnecessary pre-rinse). Clean off the dining room table and do a quick wipe-down to rid your table of the hardened leftovers from your delicious dinner.

Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.

Once you’ve got your hard surfaces wiped down (and any debris on your floors), do a thorough vacuuming of your entire home. Make sure you use a vacuum that won’t void your warranty (use these tips to choose the right vacuum or contact your local flooring store to get more info on vacuum cleaners).

Call in the pros to get out the stains.

It happens: spilled wine, a dropped plate full of food, an “oops!” with a can of soda. If you have a stain on your carpet, use these tips to clean it up now. The next step is a deeper cleaner: schedule a professional carpet clean to get out the stain permanently—from your carpet and padding.

Carry all the cleaning tools with you.

When you tackle the post-holiday clean-up, gather all your supplies before the cleaning begins. If you do so, you won’t have to stop your cleaning to go after another bottle of cleaner. You can just keep moving from room to room, cleaning as you go—and getting done sooner.

Don’t get distracted.

Stay focused. Divide and conquer if possible: make a list and split up the cleaning tasks so you can get your house back to normal. Be efficient with your time so you can get back that wonderful feel of the holidays and enjoy a nice, clean home.

Ways to Stay Ahead of Your Home’s Indoor Allergens

woman with kleenex dealing with indoor allergiesIndoor allergies. You don’t want people avoiding your home because a simple visit makes them sneeze (and wheeze and deal with a runny nose and…). You certainly don’t want to live in a home that brings out your worst allergy symptoms. The good news is you don’t have to (and you can make sure that your guests don’t experience indoor allergy symptoms in your house either) if you follow these tips that keep you ahead of the allergens that invade your home.

Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.

Whether you have carpet or hard floor, a regular vacuuming can remove the allergens from your home especially if you have the right vacuum cleaner. Choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a double bag to ensure that you can contain the allergens (other tips for choosing the right vacuum here). If you experience any symptoms while vacuuming, try wearing a mask so you can rid your home of allergens without having an allergy attack.

Deep clean your carpets.

To completely remove allergens, take the next step. Schedule a professional carpet cleaning to remove all the allergens that could get trapped deep in the carpet fibers. A professional carpet cleaning not only removes visible stains but also gets the allergens that trigger your allergies.

Have your ducts cleaned.

When the temperatures drop, we spend more and more time indoors. As we sit in our home, indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and mold circulate in the air around us every time the furnace or air conditioner runs. To get the indoor allergies out of your air and your home, schedule a professional duct cleaning that can remove the allergens from your vents.

Get a better furnace filter.

Allergens enter your home on your clothes every day (including pet dander, which has been found even in pet-free homes). Furnace filters are your next line of defense; furnace filters catch allergens that circulate through your HVAC system every day—if you use a furnace filter with a strong Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). Filters with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) do not allow finer particles to pass, effectively removing allergens from the air. Be careful about buying a filter with a high MERV though; filters with high MERVs (the max is 16) can put too much pressure on your furnace fan and possibly damage your furnace. If you are considering a filter with a high MERV, make sure to consult a HVAC technician to make adjustments that can accommodate a high MERV filter.

Monitor your home’s humidity.

An excessive air moisture level in your home can breed mold, mildew, and dust mites. Keep an eye on your home’s humidity level with a monitor. If the moisture level is high, use dehumidifiers to keep the humidity level below 50 percent—and keep indoor allergens at bay.

Thanksgiving Home Cleaning: Where to Start So You’re Ready for Guests

Thanksgiving table place setting after a full Thanksgiving cleanYour guests are coming! Before you know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving and all your friends and family are going to converge on your home. The clock is ticking! Use these tips to get your cleaning started so your home is ready BEFORE your guests walk in the door.

Start at the top.

If you don’t want to keep cleaning and re-cleaning, start your Thanksgiving cleaning by looking up. Dust off fans and the tops of cabinets. Wipe off the top of your appliances and vacuum out any spider webs that are hanging out on your ceiling or in corners. Clear out any bugs from the light fixtures or globes and wash them down so your holiday is bright.

Clean off the counters.

A lit bit of work now can save you a lot of work later. Start by cleaning off your counters—every counter—in your kitchens and bathrooms. Clear away any items you don’t need and wipe down every counter in your kitchen and bathroom now, so you don’t have to later.

Clear out the clutter.

If you have anything you’ve been meaning to get out of your house, now is the time to do it. Donate items you don’t need or haven’t used to local charities. Clean out those items now so you can clean under them, vacuum, and mop as you get ready for Thanksgiving.

Schedule a carpet cleaning.

Don’t try to clean up all your carpet stains at the last minute—as in, when your guests are walking through the door. Instead, schedule a deep carpet clean that removes all the stains well in advance and leaves your carpet looking great.

Make a list and stick to it.

So you don’t have to do a last minute frantic cleaning, take our Thanksgiving checklist and break it into daily checklists. Try to tackle a few tasks every day, such as cleaning out your microwave and oven one day and dusting your cabinets another day. And to make your guests as happy with your Thanksgiving meal as your clean home, prepare as many dishes in advance as you can. As with cleaning, advance work makes for a happy (or at least stress-free) Thanksgiving celebration.

Ways to Keep Your Carpet Looking Great

bedroom with new carpet and fresh home decor ideasKeeping your carpets looking great isn’t a great mystery of the universe, but it is an effort worth taking on. After all, your carpets take all the foot (and paw) traffic you throw at it—and it’s entirely possible to keep them in tip-top shape with some easy care steps.

Don’t wait to tackle those stains.

Unfortunately, soda spills, pet accidents, and the occasional muddy footprint are a part of carpet ownership. When these accidental spills happen, don’t wait to start mopping up the spill. Note the catch: mopping, not scrubbing. Too much elbow grease can damage your carpet fibers, so make sure to mop up the spill fluid first. Use a quality carpet cleaner that won’t void the warranty (you can find a manufacturer-approved cleaner at your local flooring store).

Deep clean your carpets.

Carpet fibers can trap dirt and allergens over time. For the good of your carpet and allergies, schedule a professional carpet cleaning biannually. As tempting as it might be to rent a cleaner from a local hardware store, be wary of those dime store cleaners. Those carpet cleaners get used repeatedly, recycling the dirt and allergens that are picked up at every home. A professional carpet cleaner can remove stains and keep your carpet looking great.

Be strategic about your rugs.

If you want to keep your carpets clean and spot-free, stop the dirt before it gets in the door. Place mats and rugs by all the doors, in hallways, and areas where people enter your home. Train your pets to stop at the doors, and stay so you can clean their paws before they track in mud and dirt.

Vacuum with a GOOD vacuum cleaner.

A good vacuuming is a key part of keeping your carpet in top shape, but vacuuming can damage your carpet if you use the wrong machine. Vacuum cleaners that are too powerful can damage your carpet fibers and void the carpet warranty. Use these tips so you choose the right vacuum cleaners for your carpet (and your allergies).

Be selective.

One of the easiest ways to keep your carpet in top notch condition is to select the right carpeting for the room. Certain carpets are made for different conditions, such as for homes with pets or high-traffic areas. Use these tips to choose the right carpet for high-traffic areas and ask the experts at your local flooring store for carpets that have held up well in other local homes.