Latest trends in wood flooring

Hardwood’s durability and timeless design make it a desirable choice in many homes. Bonnie Holmes, executive secretary for the National Wood Flooring Association says the cost of hardwood flooring translates to the perception of quality as well as higher resale values for homes.

The Hardwood Council offers architects and builders a series of brochures called “Tips & Techniques,” which specifies grades, characteristics and options available in designing with hardwood.

BORDERING ON CUSTOM

The trend in wood flooring is moving from the pickled stage toward warmer, golden tones on red oak and gray-toned ash. Other popular hardwoods include white oak, maple and Brazilian cherry. Borders and inlaid patterns offer variety and the ability to customize designs.

LAYING LARGER TILE

Floor tile trends, whether ceramic, marble or faux-finish vinyl, are toward using larger repeats. Larger sizes, especially in public areas such as entryways and family living areas, give a better sense of scale, says New York architect Jonathon Cohen. His award-winning Florida house featured 18-inch-square terra-cotta tile on half the floors of the 4000-square-foot open plan.

In the “Concept House,” a 5200-square-foot spec house in the northern Chicago suburbs, builder Orren Pickell chose marble tile for the floors and in the steam shower. The WarmTouch in-floor radiant heat system was used to control the floor temperature. Jim Nolan, Marketing and Technical Services Representative for WarmTouch, says the product’s 1/8″ thickness and versatility in layout design make it suitable for new or remodeling installations.

OLD WORLD IDEAS

Concrete is an ancient building material whose popularity has resurfaced, notably in its use in residential construction.

Another innovative flooring design started with concrete. The unique idea specified by designer Anthony Michael, Chicago, was used in a Park Forest, Ill., house. Rectangular pours of concrete punctuated by smooth, black stones direct the home’s traffic pattern.

The stones, typically used in Japanese gardens, were positioned on lattice boards before the concrete was poured. Mesh wire was laid and the self-leveling concrete allowed to seep over the lattice, surrounding the bottom half of the fiat stones. The stones were set in diagonal and circular patterns to create an individualized look. “The carpenters had fun with the project. It was totally out of their realm of expertise,” says Michael.

Another trend in custom flooring is seen in the high level of design made possible through the use of resilient materials. Mary Docker, Director of Business Development for Amtico, says homeowners want customized treatments because they make a statement about a homeowner’s personality. Stock motifs and borders can be specified as well as custom designs, logos or patterns.

However, personalization is just one of the factors in the popularity of vinyl flooring. Comfort and ease of maintenance are two other advantages. “Our product is not affected by climatic conditions – it won’t crack or chip,” says Docker.

COLORS THAT SAY WELCOME

Color choices in vinyl flooring are leaning toward light, honey shades. There’s a warmer welcome to colors being specified today. Faux finishes, especially slate, with a textural finish, instead of smooth and glossy, are becoming more popular. Floor Trader Mechanicsville is available for advice. Whether it’s a question about installation or color choice, we’re there to help the end user.

How To Find A Restoration Contractor

When disaster strikes, you have one small window of opportunity to repair the damage quickly and correctly. To do otherwise can cost you twice as much in the form of less than sound repairs.

The restoration contractor you choose must have the knowledge, skills and integrity to do the job right. Using a qualified contractor becomes even more critical when you consider the ever-increasing advances in restoration technology. Since restoration processes and techniques are continuously improved upon, you need a contractor who is familiar with advances in the field. It may pay to do some homework and some detective work to get the right person for the job.

The restoration and reconstruction industry is teeming with contractors — most of whom are responsible and qualified. But a close inspection reveals that not all contractors are created equal. Some may use sub-standard materials and techniques or even remove external evidence of damage while internal structures remain unsound. So, how can you avoid wasting time and money on a less than qualified contractor?

A Code of Ethics

First and foremost, ask potential contractors if they abide by a set of formal standards or a professional code of conduct to ensure their adherence to ethical practices. Usually, a certification or an affiliation with a respected trade association indicates a contractor’s commitment to professional standards.

Training and Education

Ask potential contractors about their education and background in the specific area you need help with. For example, Phoenix Water Damage contractors should have specialized training in and equipment for repairing water damaged structures and controlling the spread of contaminants. Ask first if they have the training, equipment and staff to do the work. Also ask if they have recently attended any research seminars, conferences, or programs to learn about updates in restoration techniques and processes. Professional trade associations offer training and education throughout the year in every region of the country.

Referrals

A reputable contractor should willingly supply you with referrals for the same type of work you are requesting they do. You should be able to call the referral yourself to determine the contractor’s quality of work, professionalism, financial arrangements and the claimant’s satisfaction. Trade associations are also good sources of qualified contractors.

Capabilities

Professional damage repair services involve more than carpet cleaning or home remodeling. Instead, these contractors have a specific knowledge of the damaging properties. For example, the effective treatment of fire and smoke damage requires a knowledge of heat effect, smoke behavior and odor. This allows professional fire restorers to find and treat problems at their source. Several recognized specializations exist within the industry.

They include:

– emergency services to provide security, protect property from weather or mitigate damage. Emergency services are often provided by firms with related specialties. For example, a fire reconstruction firm will usually provide emergency board-up or temporary electrical service. A firm specializing in the restoration of buildings and contents may provide emergency drying and removal and protection of furnishings.

– building restoration describes the techniques required for removal of smoke residues, odor, the remedy of water damage and the treatment of personal property or “contents.” Restoration is often performed as a separate category of work since the skills and equipment employed in building restoration differ from those required for construction.

– reconstruction entails skills, organization and know-how that make it a different business than ordinary remodeling and home repair. Reconstruction contractors work with different types of structures and, therefore, develop a variety of techniques for cost-effective, timely repair.

– contents restoration refers to a specialization in personal property within a home or office that has been affected by smoke, water, construction dust or other peril. This work is performed on site or in facilities with ozone chambers, drying rooms, ultrasonic cleaners, storage vaults and other in-place equipment.

– special services include processes such as the freeze-drying of documents, structural drying, art restoration, oriental rug repair, electronic data retrieval, asbestos remediation, air duct cleaning and hazardous waste disposal.

Professional Affiliations

Lastly, choose a restoration contractor who participates in a trade association or professional network of some sort that supplies regular technical resource materials and services. For example, at ASCR International, full-time staff people maintain a technical hotline, library, and laboratory to handle members’ requests and inquiries regarding specific odor, stain, bacteria or other problems.

Don’t Forget

Once you’ve selected a reputable contractor to work with, follow the steps below to avoid future conflict or discrepancies as the job progresses:

– Ask the contractor if any alternative repairs exist to save money.

– Make all financial arrangements ahead of time.

– Ask for typed professional surveys or inspection letters which specify their professional opinion.

– Ask for an itemized estimate that shows exactly what the contractor will do.

The time and money you will invest in finding qualified contractors will improve the restoration yield, reduce the chances of having to repeat the work, and reduce the risks of latent problems. Professional and reputable contractors are always cost-effective.

Matress facts worth knowing

1. An ideal mattress is one that supports all parts of the body evenly. “Look for a feeling of buoyancy, a cradling sensation,” says the book How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep.

2. You can’t go wrong with any of the brand-name mattresses by makers such as Sealy, Serta and Simmons.

3. People who sleep on their sides should avoid a hard mattress. A mattress without any give causes a side sleeper’s shoulders to scrunch up and cuts off blood supply between the arms and torso. (Infants need mattresses that fit snugly against their cribs’ side rails or walls. Their little heads could get stuck and they could suffocate if there’s a gap.)

4. Older people tend to be lighter sleepers and more easily awakened when rolling over on a too-hard mattress, Health magazine reports. Thus, they might want to opt for a medium or soft mattress.

5. Most sleepers move 40 to 60 times a night, including a dozen full body turns. If one bed partner continually wakes the other up when moving or rolling, the couple may want to consider separate beds. Studies show couples sleep far better if they each have their own bed. Alternatively, couples could buy two twin-size mattresses and put them side by side on a king-size bed frame. This way, when one partner moves around, the other partner’s mattress isn’t jostled.

6. Generally, the higher the number of coils in a mattress, the firmer it is. Shoppers can expect a double-size bed to have at least 300, with upscale models in the 500 to 700 range. But don’t get too caught up in a salesman’s hype about coil numbers. Any brand-name mattress that costs $600 or more will have good, quality springs, says Health magazine.

7. Don’t be sucked in either by claims that a bed is “orthopedic.” All beds are orthopedic.

8. It often takes a week to a month to get used to a new bed, says the book Your Guide to Coping with Back Pain.

For information about mattresses businesses and Luxepedic complaints please visit Better Business Bureau website.

“There is no perfect mattress,” says Dr. Hamilton Hall, a Toronto orthopedic surgeon and founder of the Canadian Back Institute. “The same mattress doesn’t work for everybody.”

Laminate is a good choice for flooring

Laminate flooring consists of three components bonded together. Its decorative surface is a high-pressure melamine laminate, which bonds to a moisture-resistant’ wood-based core (usually high-density or medium-density fiberboard). A balancing backer of laminate (generally of the same composition as the top layer) bonds to the underside of the core for stability. Companies claim the high-finish surfaces are about 20 times stronger than a laminate kitchen countertop.

Laminate flooring installs using a “floating floor” system with tongue-and-groove construction that allows planks to be glued and fitted together (rather than be nailed or glued to a subfloor). A small gap left at the walls allows expansion and contraction to take place without damaging the floor. A strip of underlayment foam provides cushioning and sound absorption.

Laminate flooring sizes vary, but planks generally measure 46 to 50 inches long by 8 inches wide. Most come with matching wallbases and moulding products for finishing touches.

“It installs easily over plywood or oriented-strand board,” says builder Bob Bowers, of TAB Homes Corp.. “Unlike when installing vinyl, I don’t have to worry about making a wrong cut or matching patterns.”

Once installed, it’s as easy to maintain as a laminate countertop. “We tell our customers to simply wipe it down with a damp rag or mop to take care of dirt and grime,” says Lynne Wilde of Wilsonart International, which introduced a laminate flooring line early this year. “We knew laminate was a good choice for flooring because of its durability, easy maintenance, style and comfort of laminate flooring,” says Wilde. “Flooring was the next logical step for Wilsonart,” traditionally a countertop manufacturer.

How to choose the right carpet for your home

Carpeting can be made of natural or synthetic fibers or blends. Be sure to read the back label on the sample thoroughly before buying.

Wool: A staple yarn (strips of fiber spun together) that dyes and cleans well, but is not resistant to static electricity or fading. It also is nonallergenic, which means you won’t sneeze or break out in hives if you roll on it like a Labrador retriever.

Acrylic: Another staple yarn, acrylic is color-fast and resists stains but can pill and fuzz.

Nylon: The defending champ in the carpeting world because of its ability to withstand static electricity and staining. A continuous filament yarn, nylon starts life as a chemical stew and is stretched into fibers, meaning it sheds less.

Olefin/Polypropylene: This stuff is tougher than an overcooked steak. It makes good outdoor carpeting in case you own an NFL team.

Polyester: Polyester is a staple yarn, wears nicely and won’t make your nose runny. It resists fading, but is harder to clean than nylon or wool.

Blends: Combo platters of the above taking unfair advantage of all their good qualities.

Padding: This is what goes between mean old Mr. Floor and your carpeting. It’s primarily meant to keep your carpeting from disintegrating and, as an afterthought, to please your feet.

Urethane Foam: Urethane foam comes in many different densities. Do the “Mr. Whipple” on it and squeeze it before purchasing. If it flattens easily, don’t expect it to perform any differently under your carpeting. Try to upgrade your pad to a denser product; it’s always a good investment.

Rebond: Recycled urethane leftovers scrunched together. Rebond also is available in many densities and should be selected like urethane foam.

Never buy carpeting without bringing a sample home and looking at it under various lighting conditions throughout the day. Also, bring fabric swatches, finish samples, paint chips and wallpaper scraps with you to the store. This will speed the selection process, follow this link.

Once you’ve selected the style of carpeting, type of padding and the color that’s right for you, it’s time to install the product.

Most carpeting comes in 12-foot rolls, so you will need what’s called “fill,” otherwise only half your room will be carpeted. Make sure the retailer fully explains where the seams are going before the carpeting is installed.

Also, check all guarantees offered on the product and installation.

Hardwood flooring finishes include water-based treatment

The “green revolution” has hit the home floor industry — and not a minute too soon. “The newest thing out now is a water-based finish that leaves your floor looking velvety,” says Dave Warrenchuk, owner of DMW Hardwood Floor, who works out of his home. “It’s a lot more environmentally friendly than the oil-based urethane. It’s like a latex paint.” A number of U.S. states have banned the use of toxic, potentially cancer causing solvent-based finishers. However, there are some advantages to using oil-based finishes, like making cracks disappear after your hardwood floor is sanded. “A cold winter and dry air will cause the floor boards to shift and the cracks to reappear,” says Warrenchuk, whose now-retired father was in the floor restoration business for 47 years. “But with an oil-based (finish) they won’t appear. With a water-based finish they will appear, but we can use a darker color.

It’s a problem – wood expands and contracts with dryness.” After applying the finish, Warrenchuk informs the homeowner about any existing and potential floor cracks. “Some people like the cracks because it adds character to the home,” he says. “The nice thing about a water-based finish is that it won’t hide the scratches, but it’s durable and easily maintained. Water based is used in newer homes, because the floors are tighter and there is less settling in the home.” Besides rejuvenating existing floors, Warrenchuk will also install brand new ones. It’s a process that can take him several days to complete. “Usually the material has to sit for seven to ten days (in the client’s house) to acclimatize itself to the environment,” says Warrenchuk, who also does fancy floor inlays of walnut or purple heart. “Wood has a moisture content of seven to ten per cent. And it has to match the moisture level of the home. We pile it in a room until it adjusts to the humidity level, otherwise it will expand or shrink.” After the wood has adapted to its new environment, Warrenchuk, who charges 90 cents per square foot, lays and then staples the individual planks across the sub-floor’s joists.

Then, he lets the other trades people complete their work (if it’s a complete home renovation) before finally sanding the new floor. As well, Warrenchuk can mechanically buff walnut, black, red or other staining colors on to the floor.

Like Warrenchuk, Emmanuels Flooring Ltd deals solely with hardwood floors. “I give customers an estimate and help them move all their furniture out, so all the rooms are empty,” says Gideon Kotulas, owner and manager of the company. “We charge by the square foot and by what kind of material we’re using (when resurfacing floors). The minimum charge is $250.” Depending on the type of wood used, installing a new floor runs from seven dollars to $14 per square foot.

Maybe your taste runs to vinyl orĀ  Wood Flooring in Santa Cruz CA, rather than tile. Then Judy McGregor, manager of retail flooring may be of assistance.

Among other products, her store carries the new Mannington gold series vinyl flooring and fresh introductions from Armstrong products. “Flooring is now much more colorful than before when it was mostly white,” says McGregor, adding vinyl covering ranges from $9 to $53 per square yard. “From a design aspect, they’re a nice contrast to the white European cabinets. There has been a shift from a high gloss to a Mexican look in ceramic tiles, so you get a little bit of texture.” Bill Knight also installs new floor coverings, including hardwood. “Lots of people are yanking out their old carpets and refinishing the existing hardwood floors or installing brand new ones,” says McGregor, adding low maintenance, affordable, track-less carpets are currently fashionable.

Luxury vinyl tiles rival the real thing

Vinyl flooring isn’t exactly what you’d expect to find underfoot at the upscale Harrods Department Store in London, the high-visibility set of NBC’s “Today Show” in Manhattan or the high-traffic main entrance at Hillcrest Medical Center.

But Amtico luxury resilient flooring is at home everywhere from a residential contemporary kitchen to an historical home’s entryway and from posh boutiques to busy airports.

The product has been available in Europe for 30 years, and wasn’t introduced in the United States until almost two years ago, but in that time both commercial and residential orders have been pouring in from around the country, said Mary Docker, business development director at Amtico, in a phone interview from Amtico Co. Ltd. headquarters, Coventry, England.

Amtico has more than 100 U.S. retail dealers, a showroom at the New York Design Center and a studio in Atlanta, which is also its U.S. headquarters.

Most of the eco-friendly flooring’s designs and colors are borrowed from nature such as wood, marble and stone. Parquet and brick designs are also available. For a more glitzy look, the metallic collection features variegated metallic-ore colors.

Although made of vinyl, the flooring looks amazingly like the real thing, said Mac Harbour, owner of Harbour Paint &Wallcovering.

“It’s not until you get down and touch it that you can tell it’s not real marble,” said Harbour, of the floor he recently installed at Hillcrest.

Docker said even craftsmen at home shows have mistaken Amtico’s wood flooring for laminated real wood, and she’s seen couples have arguments over what it is.

Flexibility, versatility and durability are Amtico’s biggest draws. Because of the vast designs, variations and colors available, virtually every floor has a custom-designed look. Plus it’s easy to care for and continues looking good after years of heavy traffic, said Docker.

The product is also attractive to the environmentally conscious because they can get a natural look, knowing that forests weren’t chopped down or that quarries weren’t raped of their marble. Plus all waste produced during manufacturing of the product is recycled and used on the bottom two layers of the flooring, said Docker.

The flooring is composed of five layers, said Harbour. The bottom two layers are made of recycled polyvinyl chloride, the third layer is color or the design, and the top two layers are clear. The clear layers give depth to the flooring’s design, creating a more realistic look.

Designers find it an exciting product because they’re able to create virtually any design. You can have a Mona Lisa on your kitchen floor, if that’s what you want, said an Amtico representative.

In homes, the most popular room to use Amtico is the kitchen, followed by the bathrooms, then entryhalls and family rooms, said Harbour.

Businesses choose the flooring for its durability, but also to add a distinctive touch to a standard design or to incorporate the company’s logo or name, said Docker.

“Depending on the design used, the color, the product, you can create any feel. For an Old World look, you can use the marbles or woods. If you want to go really way out, you can use the metallics and a wacky border,” said Docker. “It’s such a fun product to work with because you can cut it into almost any shape that the designer wants.”

At a natural history museum, for instance, dinosaur footprints in the Amtico flooring lead to the dinosaur exhibit, and one designer created a 33-by-33 Monopoly board out of the flooring for a toy shop, said Docker.

Amtico uses a computer-aided design process and advanced cutting techniques that enable designers and their clients to custom design their own floor, to reproduce a design to scale or to modify existing designs, she said.

Once a customer selects a floor, the order is custom cut and sent to the retail dealer – Tri-County Flooring America. The dealer receives custom and standard designs in numbered pieces and installs the floor much like putting together a puzzle. Depending on prep work, a job usually takes around three days to complete, said Harbour.

Because the flooring designs are all made from the same product, woods can be combined with marbles, granites, metallics and so on, in virtually seamless borders, patterns and motifs, said Docker.

The flooring is warmer underfoot than marble or tile, and because it’s resilient it’s more comfortable to walk on and offers more traction. Compared to real wood flooring, Amtico wood won’t warp, doesn’t need sanding or refinishing and resists heel marks and indentations, said Harbour.

Each design collection can be cut to any size or shape or can be ordered in standard sizes. For example, the wood collection is available in standard plank sizes from 3-by-36 inches to 9-by-39 inches. The granite collection is available in standard 12-by-12-inch, 12-by-18-inch and 18-by-18-inch tiles. Accent squares and stripping, which can be used between tiles and planks, can be custom cut and are available in standard sizes from 36-by-1/8 inches to 36-by-3/4 inches.

Some collections are available in both smooth and textured surfaces. Standard borders and motifs are available in any combination of colors.

Prices begin at $9 a square foot, including installation, for standard designs, and range from $9 to $11 and higher for custom designs. Condition of the original floor’s surface can raise the price.

Home upkeep an investment in the future

It starts with a small drip in a bathroom faucet, or a couple of curling roof tiles.

But left untouched, the dripping faucet and peeling tiles can become a homeowner’s nightmare of extensive property damage and big repair bills.

Maintenance problems can reduce the value of a home and even stall a sale, real estate executives said.

Poor overall maintenance was rated one of the five problems most frequently found during home buyers’ pre-purchase inspections, according to a recent survey by the American Society of Home Inspectors.

The Arlington Heights, Ill.-based trade association said many homeowners end up hiring contractors to perform major and costly repairs for problems that could have been avoided through preventive maintenance.

Maintenance can be as simple as mopping the bathroom after a shower to prevent water damage, said Mark Shuey Sr., president of Real Estate Structural Inspection Service, established in Nevada in 1981.

“When people take a shower, the water often leaks around the front of the tub past the curtain and it causes dry rot. If they’d mop up after showering, they’d prevent a lot of water damage,” Shuey said.

Water damage and dry rot are major problems that can be prevented with simple maintenance and quick repairs when a problem develops, he said.

Dry rot is a fungous decay that causes wood to become brittle and crumble to powder. It is caused by the constant presence of water on wood surfaces.

“Dry rot can cause major structural problems to a house. It’s best to try to prevent it instead of having to do major repairs later. I’ve known of situations where the walls had to be torn out and replaced,” Shuey said.

Repairs can cost hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, he said.

Over time, plumbing can fail, leading to water leaks and damaged walls, ceilings and flooring, home inspectors said. If you want to replace flooring in your home, please visit Hudson flooring store.

Homeowners who smell a foul odor, particularly a moldy odor, in or near bathrooms or the kitchen, probably have the beginnings of a dry-rot problem and should attend to it immediately, they said.

Landscaping sprinkler systems are a major cause of problems that could be easily prevented, said Scott Mitchell, owner and president of National Property Inspections, which he established in Las Vegas three years ago after working as a home inspector in New York.

“The sprinkler systems are too close to the house and there’s too many heads close together. People overwater, and the sprinklers damage the stucco and in some cases the foundation and sill plate,” Mitchell said.

Before the damage sets in, homeowners can solve the problem by eliminating about 30 percent or more of their sprinklers and using low-volume sprinkler heads, Mitchell said.

Also, wood trim and roof eaves take a beating from sun and moisture from nearby sprinklers. They should be repainted often to preserve the wood, inspectors said.

Many people are not aware of problems in their home, he said.

“I inspected a home … it was three years old and in good condition … but when I checked the attic, there was no insulation. The homeowners were new to the area and didn’t know that their air conditioning bills were too high,” Mitchell said.

Electrical problems, including improperly installed and unsafe wiring, are also common and can lead to serious damage, including fire.

“I advise people to hire a licensed electrician for any work on the electrical systems in their homes. I’ve seen a lot of do-it-yourself wiring that’s not completed,” Mitchell said.

Home inspectors advise property owners to check their homes for maintenance problems at least once a year and quickly tend to any problems that are developing.

“Walk around the roof and inspect it. Tiles come loose. Not every tile is nailed down. They need to be checked,” said Mark Lorusso, owner of Home Smart Inspections.

Lorusso said that about 75 percent of the homes he inspects are well maintained, but he sees problems with property that is rented.

Maintenance problems can reduce the value of a home, said longtime local real estate appraiser Kelly Wade, a principal of Wade & Associates.

“Generally speaking, you always have a loss of value because of inferior maintenance. The loss is typically equal to or greater than the cost of repair,” Wade said.

A poorly maintained home is unattractive to prospective buyers and is difficult to sell, said longtime local Realtor Jack Matthews.

“Many of the resale properties remain on the market for extended periods of time because of the lack of maintenance,” Matthews said. “Buyers take an offensive attitude because they believe everything in the house hasn’t been maintained.”

Matthews said property owners who plan to sell should attend to all maintenance and repairs, including property cleanup, to ensure a quick sale.

Many people get used to living with the problems in their home and no longer realize they’re a problem, he said.

“They live with it every day; they get used to it. They don’t realize that it’s going to be offensive to a buyer.”

Ceramic Tile is a natural for outdoors

While ceramic tile is much appreciated for kitchens, baths and other hard-working rooms around the house, it deserves to be better known for its usefulness outdoors.

Tile is made of clays, so it’s a natural material and perfect for the garden and yard, explains Peter Johnson, Jr., head of Summitville Tiles. In addition, ceramic tile requires little maintenance and its durability is well documented All over Europe, Asia and Africa one sees tile work that’s hundreds of years old.

Decks, patio, barbecues, fountains and walks are just a few of the garden features where tile can be used to great advantage.

We need to rethink the deck, says Johnson. Yes, it is nice to have an “outdoor living room”, but wood is getting scarcer, and it needs constant upkeep.

“A tiled patio makes much more sense. It will always look great, and it’ll only need occasional sweeping and hosing down.

Suitable products for patios, pool decks and walks included quarry tile and ceramic paving bricks.

COLOR SCHEMING

Today, quarry tiles come in many colors besides the well-known terra-cotta reds and browns, and that’s something to keep in mind when you plan your landscaping. For example, Summitville offers such variations as Palomino, Oxford Gray, Harbor Blue and Wintergreen.

They are all subtle and earthy, so they are easy to work into a garden scheme, and yet they challenge the imagination in the new ways.

According to Summitville, few people consider color coordination outdoors, but that’s precisely why professionally designed gardens look so glorious.

For instance, a patio and walk featuring sand-colored quarry tiles would be an interesting choice for a contemporary beach have surrounded by dunes and ornamental grasses. And Wintergreen, a soft sage green, would be the perfect background for color for a New England herb garden or, for that matter, for desert cacti and silvery succulent plants.

TILE CREATIVITY

For special design interest, two or more tile colors may be combined to form borders or patterns. This is a technique much used in the mosaics work of old-world artisans, but it is just as effective when larger sizes are used.

Actually, the effect is bolder and much more suitable for today’s home styles, explains Johnson. We find that increasing numbers of landscape designers employ this technique, and there’s no reason why handy do-it-yourselfers shouldn’t give it a try as well.

A border outlining a patio is enough to set it apart from any other on the block. Over-all designs are easy to come by, too. For example, folkloric designs abound these days. You can find them in rugs, wallpaper and fabrics, and since they are usually based on geometric motifs, they are quite easy to adapt to tile patterns.

However, Summitville’s designers warn against using a lot of vivid colors and overly busy patterns.

Remember, your tile patio is almost certain to last as long as your house, they say. You’re safe with soft colors like those featured in Summitvile’s quarry tiles, but an over-abundance of strong color and pattern will tire the eye after a while.

TILED POOLS AND TUBS

But don’t limit-backyard tile use to walks and patios. How about a tiled hot tub? The advantage of creating it in tie is that the tub can be any shape, size and color. Or how about a small garden pool for water lilies or fish? Remember, water features are endlessly fascinating and landscape designers agree that they tend to cool sultry summer months.

Tiling the barbecue pit makes a lot of sense. Here, glazed tile is in order, for you want a surface that will shun grease and wipe clean with the swipe of a sponge.

How to Lay a Vinyl Floor

When I was a little girl it was called linoleum. Sheet vinyl flooring is a much improved version of linoleum.

It is a highly durable, moisture-resistant, low-maintenance flooring which makes it an excellent choice for covering kitchen and bathroom floors. It comes in sheets of 6- and 12-foot widths in a wide variety of attractive finishes.

The first step in laying a vinyl floor is to prepare the subfloor. It must be free of dirt because dirt weakens the adhesive bond. You also will need to remove loose nails and fill in any holes or cracks.

Next, gently pry up the baseboard in such a way that you do not damage it. Finally, try sliding a piece of the new flooring under the door jamb. If it doesn’t fit, rest a crosscut saw on the piece of flooring and cut the door jamb so the flooring will fit under it.

The next step is to cut and trim the vinyl sheets to fit your floor. The initial cut should leave each sheet with an additional 3 inches on all sides. The overlap will curl up along each wall when the sheet is laid out on the floor. It is a good idea to put a piece of plywood under the vinyl when cutting so that you do not damage the floor underneath.

To trim the overlap, create a crease along the wall. Using a sharp utility knife and a straightedge for a guide, cut the vinyl sheet along the crease. The best way to trim corners where the vinyl has bunched up is to make V-shaped cuts beginning at the edge of the vinyl sheet and cutting at an angle to the corner on the floor. When trimming, leave a very small gap (about 1/8 of an inch) between the flooring and the wall to allow for expansion.

You are now ready to glue the vinyl sheets to the subfloor. For this task you will need to purchase a notched trowel to apply the adhesive. Roll up one-half of your fitted sheet and apply the glue according to the manufacturer’s directions. Press the sheet into place and make sure that the flooring fits evenly up to the edge of the wall.

Repeat this process for the other half of the sheet. Once all the flooring is glued in place, take a 2×4 about a yard in length and move it up and down the entire floor while applying downward pressure. This will ensure that the vinyl is properly bonded to the subfloor. You might want to place a towel underneath the 2×4 to protect your new flooring.

If your floor is wider than the vinyl sheet, it is necessary to align the two sheets together by creating a seam. As you glue the first sheet to the subfloor, leave several inches of space where the seam is located without glue.

Slide the new sheet under the one you have just glued and match the patterns exactly. Place a metal straightedge along the edge of the top sheet. Using the straightedge as a guide, cut the bottom sheet with a sharp utility knife.

Fold back the top sheet, remove the bottom strip, apply glue to the subfloor, and press the two sheets into place.

The last step is to wash any excess glue from your new flooring with warm water. When reattaching the baseboard, it is a good idea to leave a small space between it and the floor to allow the vinyl to expand and contract according to changes in the humidity in your room, learn more.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying time for the glue, and save the excess vinyl for later repairs.