Monthly Archives: May 2018

Is it normal for wood floors to change from one season to the next?

wood floor in a kitchen that needs to be protected from water on floorMuggy. Steamy. Hot. You either love or hate our humid summer weather in Wisconsin. It affects our moods, outdoor activities, and wood floors.

The same goes for winter. The cold weather dries out our skin, moves our focus to the indoors, and affects our wood floors.

Normal Seasonal Wood Floor Changes

The humidity (or lack there of) that comes with every Wisconsin season can make a noticeable change in wood floors. During winter, the dry air can dehydrate floors, causing a small gap to show up between the floor boards. The humid air of summer causes the opposite effect: swelling. This small change is completely normal; however repeated drastic changes or a consistently humid environment can cause wood floor boards to cup, which needs to be repaired.

How to Protect Wood Floors from Humidity

The ideal humidity range for hardwood floors is between 35-55%. To ensure that the humidity in your home is in that range, purchase a hygrometer which can give you a read out of the moisture in the room or an appliance with a humidistat. If the humidity level is above 55%, purchase a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air. If high humidity is only a problem during summer, turn on the air conditioner at the first sign of humid weather.

Other Ways to Protect Wood Floors

Wood floors are definitely an investment that should be protected from the elements. In addition to damage from humidity, UV rays from the sunshine can fade floors, water spills can cause water stains and damage, and gravel can cause scratches.

UV rays from sunlight can affect certain types of wood, polyurethane and urethane finishes. The most affordable way to protect wood floors is with window treatments that block UV rays. To coordinate the window treatments with your wood floors and existing décor, visit a local designer to choose the right curtains or blinds for the room. For a long-term solution, replace existing window with new window with low-e glass. Windows with low-e glass have a protective film that filter damaging rays out of your home, protecting the wood and finish of your floors. If new windows aren’t on the horizon, purchase a protective film for your existing windows that can minimize the fading to your floors.

Water spills are another threat to wood floors, but with an affordable solution. Place rugs by all exterior doors and in high traffic areas, such as hallways, so that water is not tracked in on boots and shoes. When purchasing the rugs, make sure that you ask about a protective bottom that can protect the wood floors from scratches. To purchase an area rug that matches home décor, order a custom rug from a local professional. If the wood floor is in a room that is directly accessible to a lake or pool, place towels in a cabinet near the entrance to minimize the chance of puddles on wood floors.

Gravel, debris, and furniture scraping across a wood floor can do serious and long-lasting damage. Regular and preventative maintenance is the key. Put felt pads on all furniture and use cardboard when moving the furniture. Sweep wood floors on a regular basis to remove gravel and debris. Vacuum rugs by all the doors to keep gravel and sand out of your home, and off your wood floors.

Bathroom Flooring: Pros & Cons of the Best Floors

tile floor in bathroom with white vanity and tile showerWet towels. Puddles from a rambunctious toddler bath time. Steam from a good, hot shower or bath. Bathrooms are the only room in the home that have to deal with daily high humidity and consistent water puddles. For that specific reason, homeowners need to use an extra degree of caution when choosing the right floor for their bathroom.

Wood floors should not be installed in a bathroom; the moisture in a bathroom can warp wood flooring and leave permanent water stains. There are other floors more suitable for the bathroom (and look great!); use this list of bathroom flooring options so you can choose the right bathroom floor for your home.

Luxury Vinyl Plank

We’ve listed the best flooring options for bathrooms before, and you’ll notice that luxury vinyl plank isn’t on the list. That’s because it’s one of the newest products on the market—but don’t dismiss this flooring just because it’s the proverbial new kid on the block. Luxury vinyl plank floors are attractive, durable, and easy-to-care-for. This floor is also a great option for anyone who wants the look of wood without worrying about warping or water damage from a bathroom’s moist environment.

Pros: Attractive, durable, easy-to-care-for, water resistant (some products are guaranteed waterproof), comes in a variety of styles, mimics the look of wood and stone, can be installed as a do-it-yourself project

Cons: Can scratch

Porcelain Tile

bathroom with tile floor that can handle waterPorcelain tiles are one of the most popular bathroom flooring choices. These tiles come in a variety of colors and shapes, and are durable and easy-to-care-for. Some of the trendiest new styles are porcelain tiles in a plank or rectangle style that makes a bathroom look bigger, or a hectagon shape that gives a bathroom a unique, one-of-a-kind design. (For inspiration, check out these tile ideas.) Porcelain tiles can also come with a wood grain look, giving you the warmth of wood without the warping and water damage that occurs when you install wood floors in a humid room.

Pros: Attractive, durable, easy-to-care-for, mildew resistant, comes in a variety of styles, resembles wood and stone, can be installed as a do-it-yourself project

Cons: Can be cold underfoot, grout can be stained

Brick Tile

Tiles that resembles bricks gives any home a unique look. Most brick tiles are a porcelain tile cut in unique styles and color variations, making it very attractive and mildew resistant. This flooring can hold up in rooms that have a lot of moisture (like bathrooms, mud rooms, and laundry rooms).

brick ceramic tilePros: Unique style, durable, easy-to-care-for, mimics the look of brick

Cons: This one-of-a-kind look is not for every homeowner, can be cold underfoot

Stone

Marble, granite, and limestone can give any bathroom an updated and upscale look. Natural stone comes in a variety of colors, all with their own unique veins and styles. Some natural stone requires maintenance to avoid any moisture issues; make sure you ask the salesperson how often the stone needs maintenance and cleaning when you view samples.

Pros: Upscale and unique look, easy-to-care-for

Cons: Usually most expensive option, can be slippery and feel cold

Vinyl Sheet

The biggest advantage of vinyl sheet is the absence of grout lines, meaning that the risk for water damage is minimal. Vinyl sheet flooring comes in a variety of styles and colors.

Pros: Mimics the look of tile, durable, easy-to-care-for, waterproof, can be installed as a do-it-yourself project

Cons: Can look cheap, can be scratched

Radiant Heating

Radiant heating is not a type of floor, and another flooring needs to be installed over a radiant heating mat. Also called underfloor heating, radiant heating gives off an even heat that conducts through the floor. If attached to a thermostat, the heat can be set different temperatures during the day and night. Radiant heating can be installed with a hydronic heating system (heating with a boiler) in new construction or with an electric mat.

Pros: Even and warm heat, can make stone or tile floors feel warm underfoot, can be installed as a do-it-yourself project

Cons: Adds to the cost of the flooring

8 GOOD Reasons to Buy Luxury Vinyl Plank Floors

luxury vinyl plank floorIt’s not often that a flooring checks off all the boxes, but luxury vinyl plank floors are beautiful and versatile enough to fit in any almost room. For busy households or high traffic commercial buildings, luxury vinyl plank flooring is tough enough to handle a lot of foot traffic—just one of many reasons to consider luxury vinyl plank floors for your home or business.

Durable with a capital D.

Luxury vinyl plank floors are fairly worry-free. Unlike other floors, they don’t scratch easily and are hard to stain. For that reason, they are ideal for homes and businesses with pets and kids. These floors can take all the foot and paw traffic without showing any signs of wear.

Easy to care for

Vinyl floors are fairly easy to care for, only requiring a regular sweep and an occasional mop. Be cautious about using a vacuum cleaner on the floor; look specifically for vacuum cleaners that are gentle on hard floors. Abrasive cleaners can also damage vinyl floors, so make sure you consult with the experts for cleaners that are manufacture-approved and won’t void the warranty.

Practically waterproof

Most luxury vinyl plank floors are water resistant; some products are also guaranteed waterproof. This resilience makes cleaning up spills, pet accidents, and water puddles incredibly less stressful (no damage!).

BEAUTIFUL

Wood. Stone. Wide plank. Tile. Luxury vinyl floors come in many different styles, easily mimicking the look of wood and tile floors. These floors can look stunning in a mud room, laundry room, or bathroom without any fear of water damage—and your guests’ll never guess that the floors are not wood or stone.

Affordable

Luxury vinyl plank floors are becoming increasingly more affordable—especially if you buy in bulk. If you need a large quantity, talk to salesperson about purchasing the floor in bulk which is often offered at a lower price per square foot.

Built for MORE extreme temperatures

In the past, vinyl floors could become extremely brittle and fragile in extremely cold temperatures. Today’s luxury vinyl plank floors are being manufactured to handle severely cold and hot temperatures; one of the newest luxury vinyl plank floors can be installed in a room where temperatures reach as low as 25 and as high as 155 (and that’s not a typo!).

Ideal for a basement

Because these floors are water resistant (or waterproof) and can handle extreme temperatures, luxury vinyl plank floors are ideal for basements. Basement flooring is installed over a porous concrete slab that moisture seeps through, warping floors affected by water. Luxury vinyl plank floors can handle moisture and extreme temperatures and still look stunning.

A convenient DIY project

Luxury vinyl plank floors can be installed with or without grout, making them an easy do-it-yourself project for a handy homeowner. Ask your local flooring pro to connect you with products that can serve as a great DIY project and a handsome new flooring in your home.

Pet Stains: Tips for Cleaning those (Gross!) Carpet Spots

little girl and house training puppy playing on carpetDogs may be easy to love, but they can be a little hard to clean up after (and even a little nerve wracking to own when you have new carpet!). The good news: cleaning up after your dog has an accident on the carpet is not a lost cause. Even the worst pet stains can be cleaned up—and no one has to know about the accident if you use these tips for cleaning up pet stains (trust us, we’ve cleaned a lot of carpets!).

Sop up as much of the liquid as possible.

As soon as you can, remove any solids with a utensil that you can clean or dispose of (i.e. dust pan, plastic spoon, etc.) and sop up as much of the liquid as possible (paper towels and gloves are ideal). Don’t be afraid to apply pressure; your goal is to get out as much of the liquid as possible. If there is a lot of urine, feces, or vomit, use a wet and dry vac to remove the urine or vomit.

Test your carpet cleaner before you use it.

As gross as pet stains can be (insert shudder here), don’t be in such a rush to get rid of the stain that you damage your carpet fibers. Test your carpet cleaner on a small area of carpet that is not usually visible (such as a closet or a corner) before you apply it to the pet stain. An untested cleaner can fade or permanently discolor carpet—even natural or household cleaners can do damage! If you have new carpet, using an unapproved can void the warranty (to get cleaners that are approved, visit the local carpet experts).

Don’t use a steam cleaner.

It’s tempting to grab a steam cleaner and give your carpet a deep clean—it works in other situations, right? When it comes to pet stains and carpet, no. A steam cleaner can actually lock in the stain and smell. Instead, remove the liquid, apply the cleaner (after testing!), and blot at the carpet fibers. Don’t scrub too hard; too much elbow grease can damage carpet fibers.

Get out the smell.

No matter what kind of pet emergency you’re cleaning up after, chances are it’s going to smell. Removing that odor is important for you and your dog. For you, it’s a nuisance and can affect the resale value of your home (or the security deposit on your apartment). For your pet, an odor (even the slightest smell) can turn an accident into a habit; your pet can smell the spot and may continually urinate or defecate on that spot.

To remove the odor, neutralize the odor. A household mixture of vinegar and water sprayed on the stain may do the trick; for a more intense smell, ask the local carpet pros for a professional carpet odor neutralizer crafted specifically for the job.

Be honest with your carpet cleaner.

Cleaning up the (hopefully) occasional pet accident is only part of keeping your carpet looking (and smelling) new—even with pets. An annual professional deep cleaning can get out some of the worst pet stains and odors. When you call (or message) for a carpet cleaning appointment (or when getting a free estimate), tell them that you have pets and accidents. A good carpet cleaner can pre-treat the carpet to remove the stains and odors, give you honest answers about whether they can get the stains and odors completely out, and tell you when you and your beloved pet can enjoy your clean (pet stain free) carpet.