Category: Flooring & Stairs


Bob Vila Radio: Vinyl vs. Linoleum

Though often mistaken for one another, vinyl and linoleum are in fact different materials, each with a different set of pros and cons.

Homeowners often refer to vinyl and linoleum interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. These resilient floor coverings are made from different materials and have distinct selling points.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON LINOLEUM VS VINYL or read the text below:

Linoleum vs. Vinyl

Photo: shutterstock.com

Vinyl, the more common of the two, is made from the petrochemical vinyl, along with felt, fiberglass, and dyes. It’s extremely resilient, waterproof, easy to install, and easy to care for. Most vinyl flooring comprises several layers, with the pattern printed on a backing material and then covered with a tough, clear wear layer. Vinyl is available in a huge range of colors, patterns, and textures. Because vinyl is subject to off-gassing, look for low-VOC products.

Linoleum is manufactured from natural components like linseed oil, tree resins, cork and pigments, making linoleum a more “green” choice. It’s relatively easy to install and because the color usually goes all the way through, it’s long-wearing and resistant to scratches. Water-resistant but not waterproof, linoleum should be cleaned with care and only with appropriate cleansers. Although today’s linoleum typically has a factory-applied coating, some products require occasional application of a wax or other finish. Linoleum is pricier than vinyl, but it should also last longer. And while linoleum comes in striking colors and textures, it’s not as ubiquitous as vinyl and doesn’t offer the same wealth of hues and patterns.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Everything You Need to Know About Engineered Wood Floors

An engineered wood floor offers distinct advantages over its hardwood cousin while retaining all of the warmth and appeal of real wood. The reason—it is real wood!

Schon Golden Teak Quick Clic Engineered - Lumber Liquidators

Lumber Liquidators' Schon Golden Teak "Quick Clic" Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered flooring might sound like something that’s made in a lab from plastics and other chemicals but, in fact, it consists of real wood. What sets engineered flooring apart from other types of hardwood flooring is that the boards are composed of a multi-layer “core” substrate with a wood veneer top rather than a solid piece of wood.

The core contains anywhere from three to seven layers of plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF) which are put together in a cross-grain pattern using heat and high pressure. The top layer is a veneer of real hardwood and therefore can achieve the look of virtually any type of solid flooring available.

BENEFITS
The “sandwich-like” construction of engineered flooring is what gives it a distinct advantage over hardwood floors. Because each layer can shrink and swell on its own, engineered flooring is much less likely to buckle or warp under moist or extreme temperature conditions. The end result is a wood flooring product that mimics the beauty and appeal of solid hardwood, but costs less, installs easier and offers the benefits of moisture resistance.

“Engineered flooring is a popular choice for today’s homeowner for many reasons,” says Chelsea Fossum from Lumber Liquidators, a national flooring retailer that sells nearly 80 different styles of engineered hardwood products.  ”Since it is less susceptible to moisture issues, it can be installed below grade—including basements, and areas in the house subject to variations in humidity, like the bath. It can also be installed on top of a wood subfloor or concrete slab making it an easy install for the do-it-yourselfer,” she adds.

INSTALLATION
Installing engineered flooring is similar to other wood floor installations. The product can be nailed, stapled or glued down. “Easy Click” products are also available, allowing floorboards to be snapped together and “floated” above the base floor. Engineered wood is an extremely stable install because there’s very minimal potential for gapping and cupping, which is where the wood actually buckles on the edges. The flexible construction also makes it ideal for installing on top of radiant heat systems as it’s not subject to the shrinkage that pure hardwood can undergo from being dried out by this type of heat.

DOWNLOAD BOB VILA’S FLOORING GUIDE HERE

Virginia Mill Works Heritage Hickory Easy Click

Virginia Mill Works' Heritage Hickory "Easy Click" Handscraped Pre-Finished Engineered Hardwood at Lumber Liquidators

DESIGN
Engineered flooring comes in a wide range of wood species, from domestic maple and hickory to exotic Brazilian cherry and bamboo. Regardless of whether you live in a country cottage, suburban ranch, or contemporary condo, there is an engineered floor to suit your decorating style.

In addition to the variety of woods, you can also choose engineered flooring planks in a variety of widths, ranging from 2 ¼” to 7″, as well as a variety of lengths from 12″ to 60″. Many boxes have planks of differing sizes to keep the installation visually interesting. One of the more popular engineered wood floor finishes today is handscraped, which gives the product a worn, distressed feel reminiscent of authentic hand-planed wood floors.

MAINTENANCE
Maintaining engineered floors is pretty much the same as maintaining hardwood floors. You’ll want to be sure that the surfaces remain free from dirt, grit and any other grime that might scratch. Do this simply by sweeping with a soft-bristled brush or vacuuming on a regular basis. When the floors start to get a build up of dirt, clean them with a damp mop and a mild solution of vinegar and water. Never use a soaking-wet mop because even though engineered floors are moisture resistant, it’s never a good idea to drench them completely. Since floorboards are generally pre-finished, waxes or harsh chemical cleaners are generally not recommended.

Just like hardwood floors, if someday your engineered floors lose their luster, you can sand them down and refinish them. This is especially true of engineered flooring boards that are 3/4″ thick as opposed to the thinner 3/8″ variety. In the thicker boards, the veneer is also beefier, so you should be able to refinish them two-to-three times over their lifespan, which is generally considered to be 40 – 80 years—a long life indeed for a product that can be had for as little as $1.69 per square foot.

 

This post has been brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: Cork Flooring

Sustainably manufactured, comfortable underfoot, and quite visually striking, cork flooring is no newcomer, but its rise to popularity has been a recent phenomenon.

Cork flooring has been in the news recently, but cork is anything but new. It’s been marketed as a flooring material for about a hundred years; Frank Lloyd Wright even used it in his 1939 masterpiece Fallingwater.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CORK FLOORING or read the text below:

Cork Flooring

Photo: buildinghomegarden.com

Cork flooring is made from the bark of the cork oak. The bark can be harvested every nine years or so without causing any harm to the tree, which makes cork about as sustainable as a building material can get. Cork flooring is made from material left over from the manufacture of bottle-stoppers. The waste is ground into granules, mixed with resins, molded, and baked. The resulting product is usually sold either as solid cork tiles or as laminate planks—tongue-and-groove fiberboard topped with a cork layer.

Cork is springy and warm underfoot, it’s resilient, and it’s a great insulator. Cork can, however, be scratched and gouged. Dirt and grit need to be vacuumed regularly, and cork floors probably shouldn’t be subjected to guests with stiletto heels. Cork can fade with too much exposure to the sun, and it’s sensitive to heat and moisture.

Long available in a range of brown tones, cork is now offered in a greater variety of colors and patterns, making this floor covering more versatile than ever. With so much going on underfoot, maybe it’s time to give cork a look.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


The Appeal of Bamboo Flooring

Appreciated for its graphic patterns and environmental sustainability, bamboo flooring has become a popular option for homeowners in recent years. Is a bamboo floor the best choice for you? Let's look at the facts behind the trend.

Morning Star Anji Bamboo Flooring

Lumber Liquidators' Morning Star Handscraped Strand Anji Bamboo Flooring.

Floors are an essential and important element in an interior design scheme. Small wonder, then, that the eye-catching patterns of bamboo flooring have been attracting attention. Made from the bamboo plant—a grass—this style of flooring allows homeowners to make a bold design statement underfoot. Another reason for the buzz? Bamboo is considered an eco-friendly flooring option. “While bamboo flooring is unique and beautiful, it’s also a fast-growing grass that reaches maturity in four to six years,” reports Chelsea Fossum, a buyer for Lumber Liquidators. “This makes it a highly renewable resource that is gaining popularity in home design.”

How It’s Made
To make bamboo flooring, the stalks of the bamboo plant are cut into thin strips and bonded together in layers with the use of an adhesive resin. They can be layered horizontally, with the strips facing up to reveal the natural shape of the plant, or vertically, with the strips turned on their ends and pressed one against the other, resulting in a striated pattern. A third process, which creates a product known as “strand-woven bamboo,” involves shredding the bamboo stalks, mixing the fibers with adhesive, and pressing them together into highly durable flooring sheets.

Horizontal-grain, vertical-grain, and strand-woven bamboo flooring are commonly referred to as “solid bamboo,” because they are made up entirely of bamboo strips or fibers. Another option on the market is called “engineered bamboo,” which takes a thin strip of solid bamboo and adheres it to the top of another type of wood such as plywood or fiberboard. The main advantage of engineered bamboo is ease of installation; engineered planks can be floated above a subfloor without need of nails or adhesives, while solid planks are installed much like traditional hardwood.

Bellawood Spice Bamboo Flooring

Bellawood Spice Ultra-Strand Bamboo Flooring at Lumber Liquidators.

Colors and Patterns
Bamboo flooring is available in a wide range of colors from pale straw to deep mahogany tones and everything in between. Natural bamboo resembles light woods like ash and beech. To create other colors, bamboo can be stained or carbonized, a process that produces pleasing deeper hues. Carbonization, however, is thought to degrade the durability of bamboo floors, so darker colors may not be best for high-traffic areas.

The variety of patterns in bamboo flooring is truly one of its biggest draws for homeowners—from the natural silhouettes visible in horizontal-grain planks to the linear quality of vertical-grain planks to the graphic quality of strand-woven designs. Which variety to use in a room of your house will depend on your personal taste and the overall style of the space.

Care and Maintenance
Regular sweeping and occasional mopping with a damp cloth are all that’s needed to keep bamboo flooring looking its best. If your home has high foot traffic, pets, or young children, thoughtfully positioned area rugs may be a worthwhile investment. As with hardwood floors, placing felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs can help extend the life of bamboo.

Supreme Bamboo Horizontal Carbonized Flooring

Horizontal Carbonized Supreme Bamboo Flooring from Lumber Liquidators.

Cost
At about $3 to $8 per square foot, the price of bamboo is comparable to other flooring options such as hardwood, carpeting, or tile. It’s worth paying a little more for a higher-quality product for increased durability. Warranties are often a good indicator of quality; planks with a longer warranty are generally more durable. Households with young children or anyone with respiratory sensitivity will want to inquire about VOC levels before making a purchase, because the chemicals sometimes used in manufacturing can off-gas in the home. For some of the top-rated bamboo floors, click here.

To help you find the best pattern for a particular room, think about the other colors, fabrics, or finishes that will share the space with the bamboo floor, much as you would when considering paint swatches. More graphic patterns lend themselves to use in modern interiors, while simpler designs are typically suited to more traditional decor.

 

This post has been brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Clean Laminate Floors

With regular maintenance and careful cleaning, you can keep your laminate floor looking shiny and new.

How to Clean Laminate Floors

Photo: pergo.com

Laminate floors are so beautiful when first installed, but over time they can start to look a little worse for wear. Of course, unsightly streaks and blemishes need not be permanent. By following these simple guidelines, you can clean laminate floors effectively and restore their original sparkle and luster.

How to Clean Laminate Floors - Flat Mop

Photo: shutterstock.com

Basic Cleaning
If you’re going to coexist happily with this particular flooring material, then you’ve got to know one thing: Laminate hates water. If you allow the flooring to get overly wet, then the installation may warp as moisture seeps between and under the boards. That said, mopping is often the best way to clean laminate floors. So how the heck do you mop the laminate surface without putting it in jeopardy?

There are two methods:

• Use a flat mop and wring it out often; it should remain damp but never make contact with the floor when dripping wet.

• Working in sections, use a spray bottle to mist the floor, then promptly go over with a dry mop. If the floor still looks wet a minute after you’ve mopped it, that means you’re probably using too much water.

Chemical Cleaners
When plain warm water doesn’t cut it, consider using a store-bought commercial cleanser. Take care in making your product selection, however. Some chemicals in common floor cleaners can damage laminate, so it’s prudent to double-check the packaging to be certain you are purchasing something that’s laminate-safe. Also, remember that using twice the recommended amount won’t render the floor twice as clean. Rather, the excess leaves a streaky, cloudy residue that actually makes the floor look dirty.

Stain Removal
For a tough stain that neither water nor floor cleaner can budge, try an acetone-based solution, such as nail polish remover. Apply it directly to the stain, in as small a quantity as possible. Once the solution has done its work, wipe it away with a soft, clean cloth (not with a scouring pad or anything else that could leave scratches). Another good thing to know: If you’re trying to remove a hard, stuck-on substance like wax or gum, harden it first with an ice pack, then scrape it away with a plastic putty knife.

Regular Maintenance
The least demanding, most reliable way to clean laminate floors is through light but consistent maintenance. Once a week—or as often as traffic in the room demands—sweep or vacuum the floor to control dust and debris. Given the sensitivity of laminate floors to moisture, wipe up spills swiftly after they occur.

Laminate floors shown in magazines and catalogs always shine brilliantly, don’t they? Well, yours can too! Once you’ve managed to get the floor clean, follow up with a soft cloth (or an old T-shirt) and buff the surface using circular motions to achieve a gleaming polish.


What Would Bob Do? Polishing a Concrete Floor

Sleek, shiny, and easy to maintain, polished concrete is a great flooring choice, particularly for modern interiors. If you'd like to create this look in your own home, here are the basics on the polishing process.

How to Polish Concrete - Living

Photo: kaplanthompson.com

I am living in Spain and redoing an old house in the country. I’d like some of the floors to be polished concrete. Can anyone tell me how to do this?

It’s no wonder that homeowners have adopted polished concrete floors. They’re quick to install and don’t cost a lot. They also wear well and require minimal maintenance. Years ago, you’d see polished concrete only in public spaces—at the mall, say, or in office building lobbies—but nowadays it’s a common sight in private residences.

How to Polish Concrete - Foyer

Photo: cromadesign.com

To polish concrete the do-it-yourself way, you’re going to need a concrete grinder. If you can’t borrow one from a friend in the trade, you can rent one from your local home improvement center. In addition, you’ll have to get your hands on an assortment of grinding discs (in a wide variety of grits, from 30 to 3,000) as well as polishing pads.

Polishing concrete bears some similarities to sanding a hardwood floor. One of the big differences, however, is that with concrete you are going to make many more passes with the grinder than you would with a sander on a wood floor of a similar size. Also, you should expect to spray on a densifier or hardener between passes with the grinder.

Near the end of the polishing process, swap out the grinding disc in favor of a burnishing pad. At this point, you’ll notice the floor starting to get really smooth. Before burnishing one last time, put a thin coat of concrete sealer over the floor. The result will be a stone-like surface that gleams without the aid of floor waxes or oils.

The best concrete grinders typically include a skirt and a vacuum, both of which are designed to contain dust. Look for a unit that is also equipped with a built-in liquid dispenser. To polish concrete near existing walls without causing damage, it’s best to use a specialized edging machine (another tool you can rent from the home center).

Renting a concrete grinder can be a little pricey—as much as $1,000 per week for the grinder itself, plus $250 per week for the edging polisher. That being the case, if you have a small job on your hands the most cost-effective option might be to hire a professional, as counterintuitive as that may seem. I recommend gathering estimates from a few local crews, then comparing those quotes to the amount charged by the tool rental depot.


Is Cork Flooring Right for You?

Offering easy maintenance, sound absorption, warmth, and comfort underfoot, cork is a smart, eco-friendly flooring choice for many of today's homeowners. Is it the right choice for you? Find out here.

Lisbon's Tobacco Road Cork Flooring at Lumber Liquidators.

In our ongoing quest to make our homes beautiful reflections of who we are, the question of what to install underfoot is an important one. For some people, gleaming oak is the answer; for others, salvaged pine planks or Mediterranean-style tiles. In recent years, cork flooring has become yet another popular option.

“There are natural benefits of cork flooring, including easy maintenance, sound absorption, warmth, and comfort,” says Ebony Costain, a buyer at Lumber Liquidators. “What consumers may find most surprising, however, are the attractive varieties that have been brought to market.” Cutting-edge technology has allowed manufacturers to offer flooring with the amazing look of hardwood or marble, while keeping all the benefits of cork. To determine if cork is a good choice for your floor, consider how well the following statements apply to you.

You have cold feet—literally. If you usually wear socks or slippers around the house to avoid cold floors under your feet, you’ll appreciate cork’s ability to stay at room temperature and therefore feel warm to the touch. Like a cushion underfoot, cork flooring also eases stress on your back and legs, making it a good fit for any place in your home where you’ll be standing for long stretches of time, like kitchens, laundry rooms, and workshops.

Lisbon's Silves Cork Flooring at Lumber Liquidators.

You have an artistic eye. Cork flooring comes in a wide array of colors and grain patterns, so the design possibilities are limitless. Just about any floor motif that can be made with paint or ceramic tile—think checkerboards, stripes, or chevrons—can be made with cork. Let your imagination soar! Some owners even play with the pattern of the cork itself to create a design that mimics exotic wood grains like tiger maple, or the stone striations of marble or granite. Whatever style you choose, you’ll enjoy the surprised expressions when guests first step into a room.

You have a sensitive ear. Cork’s acoustic properties make it a sensible choice for any home in which echoing presents a problem—in pared-down interiors with few carpets and curtains, for example, or in apartment buildings where downstairs neighbors tend to call at the slightest footfall. The pitter-patter of tiny feet becomes a bit less thundering with a layer of cork, while the material’s pliancy would be an added benefit should any tot happen to stumble. Music rooms, too, are logical places for cork floors to mute the reverberations of instruments.

You strive to be green. Most trees would quickly perish if their bark were removed. By contrast, cork trees—native to Spain and Portugal—have a type of bark that regenerates after harvesting and can be trimmed again in nine years’ time. Cork floor tiles are made from the remnants of cork wine-stopper manufacturing and are a truly sustainable option for homeowners in search of eco-friendly materials.

Lisbon's Rossio Cork Flooring at Lumber Liquidators

You have a high-traffic household. Forget “high-traffic area” —your whole house is in constant motion with kids, pets, and projects in flux. Cork’s durability makes it a natural choice in such settings and explains its frequent use in public buildings that have a steady stream of visitors, like libraries and museums. Small dents in cork flooring fill themselves in again and shallow scratches visually blend into the overall pattern, unlike marring on wood floors, which is typically easy to see and a hassle to refinish.

You crave easy maintenance. As it does with small scratches, the highly textural pattern of cork helps mask light stains and marks. Sweeping and occasional mopping with a damp cloth are all that’s needed to keep cork floors looking their best. That said, putting felt pads on furniture feet—just as you would with hardwood flooring—can help extend the life of cork tiles.

You’re budget-conscious. At about $3 to $8 per square foot, cork is comparable in price to other flooring options such as hardwood, carpeting, or tile. Whether you choose cork tiles that are positioned with an adhesive or those that feature a tongue-and-groove system, installation is easy for most do-it-yourselfers, which helps to keep costs low. And once the floor is in place, cork’s thermal properties maintain room temperature even in cold weather, which can alleviate your heating costs in winter.

All in all, if you’re thinking about putting in a new floor, cork is an option worth considering.

 

This post has been brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


When in Doubt, Revive Your Grout!

If your floor, backsplash, or tub surround is looking a little tired and outdated, the solution may be as simple as cleaning, reviving, or replacing the grout.

cleaning - replacing grout

Photo: lovingmyfloors.com

Tile has always been a popular choice for floors, walls, and other surfaces due to its durability and long life. In fact, it’s typically the grout that starts to fail or show its age before the tile itself, and when grout gets dirty or worn, the entire tile surface can appear old or tired-looking. The best way to breathe new life back into your tile is to restore your grout, and there are some very affordable ways to do so. Replacing tile can cost thousands of dollars, whereas the options we are going to discuss could run you less than a hundred!

Cleaning – In some cases, the grout might just be stained or dirty, particularly if you are dealing with a floor that gets a lot of traffic. There are plenty of grout and tile cleaners on the market, but hydrogen peroxide and baking soda may work just as well. Pour a little hydrogen peroxide onto the grout lines and use a grout brush to work it in for a few seconds. Then pour baking soda on top and brush your little heart out. Clean up with water after you have covered the entire area, and your tile and grout will look fresh and new.

Coloring – If the color of your grout is simply outdated or faded, you may want to use a grout colorant to make it look new again. Grout colorants are applied directly to your existing grout; the process is not difficult, but it is a little tedious and time-consuming. Keep in mind that this will work only if your grout is porous (like most grout) and your tile is nonporous. Sometimes colored silicone caulk is used where tile meets other materials such as hardwood or tubs; grout colorant will not work on these areas. Also, when choosing a grout color, stay away from white or light colors because they will inevitably get dirty and stained. If you choose a darker color, then you won’t have to worry so much about the grout getting stained from foot traffic.

Replacing – If your grout is chipping, cracking, or coming loose, you can actually get rid of it and replace it with fresh, new grout. This may seem like a daunting task at first, but the old adage “the right tool for the right job” certainly applies here. The HYDE Regrout Tool makes removing grout unbelievably easy. It removes both sanded and unsanded grout at a rate of about 1 inch per second, and works with grout lines up to 1/8 inch wide. If you have ever tried to use other grout removal tools, you know that they are frustrating and dangerous, and they can actually damage your tile. The HYDE Regrout Tool eliminates these problems—it’s very easy to use and surprisingly affordable as well. The carbide tips are able to get into tight, awkward places, and they are even safe to the touch when the tool is running. Again, once the grout is removed, consider replacing it with darker colors that will not show dirt.

Sealing – After you have cleaned, colored, or replaced your grout, be sure to use a grout sealant to protect it and make it easier to clean in the future. Grout sealants help keep your grout from getting stained, and they protect it from moisture and mildew. It is well worth the small investment of time and money to protect your hard work and your refreshed tile surface! So before you start tearing out your tile, look into giving your grout a facelift. There’s a good chance that fixing up the grout using these helpful tips will give you the same results as replacing your tile, for a fraction of the cost!

This post has been brought to you by HYDE®. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

 


How To: Inlay Sheet Vinyl Flooring

For a unique custom look, why not inlay vinyl flooring with a contrasting yet complementary color or pattern?

Here’s how to inlay sheet vinyl flooring for a designer look. Measure your design on the floor with chalk lines. Secure your inlay sheet on top of the base sheet with masking tape. Carefully cut through both layers, using a very sharp utility knife. Remove your base layer, trim the edges, and lay floor adhesive. Set your inlay in place and roll the floor to evenly spread the adhesive. Finish the edges with seam sealer and you’ll have a perfect fit.

For more on flooring, consider:

How To: Clean a Vinyl Floor
Quick and Easy Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl Flooring Installation (VIDEO)


How To: Cut Vinyl Flooring

Creating a paper template makes it much easier to cut vinyl flooring so that it fits into a room with irregular dimensions.

It’s easier to cut vinyl flooring to the exact shape and size of your room when you make a template first. Staple sheets of paper felt to your subflooring and trim close to the wall. This line doesn’t have to be exact. Transfer the contours of the wall onto the template using the inside of a square. Tape the template onto your new vinyl sheet goods and cut the true outline of the wall using the outside of the square. You should have a perfect fit.

For more on flooring, consider:

Quick and Easy Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl Flooring Installation (VIDEO)
8 Easy and Affordable Garage Floor Options