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 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.

Hardwood flooring is ‘in’ again: Glossy floors return to former popularity

That’s the story one Kitchener resident tells, as he describes the floors he installed back in the 1950s with his brother. The story is very different today. Installation is much easier and wood floors are being put in many areas of the home. What remains the same is the classic appeal of hardwood floors.

“One of the biggest reasons for choosing hardwood floors today is for allergies. People are thinking more and more about air quality, and the choice of flooring affects that directly,” said Christian Wingelaar, a local builder and owner of Wingelaar Estate Homes. “I’ve been talking with a lot of people lately who just don’t want carpet in their homes.”

Also, as the trend to renovating existing homes continues, more people are choosing hardwood floors as a way to increase the value and enjoyment of their homes.

“The most popular areas for hardwood floors in the home today are the front foyer and the kitchen, said Diana Brenchley, who co-owns Ayr Hardwood Flooring Inc. in Waterloo with her husband. “We’re still doing dining rooms and dens, but there are some distinct advantages to a hardwood floor in the kitchen.”

Those advantages include appearance, comfort and surprisingly, durability.

“Wood floors are more esthetically pleasing,” said Brenchley. “They have warmer look than ceramic, which can appear and feel cold.”

Wood floors are also kinder to your back when you stand for long periods of time. Ceramic and linoleum can be difficult for people who have back problems.

Durability is also an issue to consider when installing a kitchen floor, as well as any floor in the home. Each option has its drawbacks. Linoleum tears and can be difficult to clean thoroughly. Ceramic is cold and can crack. And wood can scratch, dent and wear down. While all of these products also have their advantages, Brenchley says wood, the only natural product, does tend to be more giving.

There are many things to take into account when considering hardwood floors for the kitchen. Ensure that the bevel (groove between planks) is not very deep because it is likely food and dirt will fall on the floor and find the grooves, making cleaning difficult.

Also consider traffic. Some areas, such as around the sink, will sustain more use and show wear. This problem is easily fixed with a decorative rug or mat, but make sure the backing of the rug is suitable for wood floors.

Another option for hardwood floors today is in the basement. Although the higher level of moisture likely rules out solid wood floors because they might buckle and shift, laminated floors provide a good alternative. With the appearance of wood, a laminate looks just as warm and cosy, but can be glued directly to the concrete subfloor. Being more stable, this flooring will not likely sustain damage due to moisture. It’s slightly more expensive and less linear looking because it is made up of smaller, shorter pieces.

Of course, hardwood floors are popular in most rooms of the house, but what is often not popular or even conceivable to the faint of heart is installation. There is something about hardwood floors that makes them seem like an insurmountable challenge to install. Perhaps that was true in the ’50s, but not today.

“We get a lot of people who do the installation themselves,” said Brenchley. “When it’s one or two rooms, they can do as good a job as we do.” Brenchley is referring to pre-finished wood flooring and installation. Pre-finished wood comes in easy-to-install planks, with as many as seven coats of urethane baked on at the factory. With a nail gun (often supplied by the flooring distributor), installation advice and tips (also from the distributor), and one day’s work per room, installing pre-finished hardwood flooring is not a difficult task.

“We’ve never had anyone give up and ask us to come in and finish the job,” Brenchley said. “Once you get going, it’s quite simple.”

Brenchley does not recommend that homeowners try to do custom flooring themselves. This involves buying the raw wood, laying it down, and then doing the sanding and finishing. This is difficult, and takes days of quite intensive labor. Sanding and finishing also involve a higher level of skill and experience.

If the thought of oil-based urethane is not appealing, there are also water-based finishes that are extremely durable and negate the potential for chemical “off-gassing,” but they’re harder to work with because they dry so fast.

However, says Brenchley, “water-based is about five times more expensive – nut it will last about that much longer, too.”

Oil-based finishes can cause an “ambering” affect, so in the case of maples (where the lightness of the wood is a selling point), almost everybody uses water-based polyurethanes.

Before putting down the first piece of wood, make certain to consider the different styles and colors of flooring. Oak, maple, ash and birch are some of the many kinds of wood, each with its own look. While natural wood is by far the most popular, some people opt for stains such as burgundy or brandy. Other color techniques include bleaching or pickling.

When choosing a color, keep in mind your furniture and the size of the room. For example, with a dining room, it’s a good idea to go with lighter colored flooring to “pick up” the furniture, if it happens to be a darker wood.

And remember, what looks good as a sample in the store, may not be as appealing across your entire floor.

The width of your planks is also important to prevent future problems. Brenchley suggests no more than

3 1/4-inch width or you could sacrifice the stability of the surface. A common width is 2 1/4 inches.

One aspect that often deters people from hardwood flooring is the cost.

“We have people come in and say, ‘You know? This really isn’t much more than good-quality carpet.’ ” Brenchley said. “But the difference is, the carpet will last for maybe 10 years. Hardwood flooring can last forever, with the occasional refinishing.”

Prices vary among retailers and installers. Ayr Hardwood Flooring charges $7 per square foot for Select and Better Grid (a more uniform pattern of wood) installed and about $1 less for Traditional (more variation in the wood grain). For pre-finished projects, add $1 per square foot, and do-it-yourself takes off $2, Stains cost 50 cents extra.

For inspiration, consider a home recently built by Wingelaar Estate Homes in Hidden Valley. It’s a $2.6-million home, with 50-per-cent hardwood flooring.

“This particular home is really well-designed,” said Wingelaar. “The owners are interested in Oriental design and don’t want floors that compete for attention. They have chosen a neutral, low-grain maple. It is bright and very strong, resistant to denting.”

“We also tried to dress the floor up a bit with a border of Brazilian cherry, that runs about 12 inches from the wall. Everything has a real look of cleanliness and openness, with a lot of warmth.”

Of course, you don’t have to have a $2.6-million home to install hardwood floors. Brenchley says that while most of the new homes that have hardwood floors installed are in the upper price range, installing hardwood as a renovation project is being done in everything from a small bungalow to a sprawling estate home.

Maintenance tips for hardwood floors

Shoes should be removed before walking on wood floors. Shoes carry sand and grit that scrapes away at the floor surface.

Stiletto heels are extremely damaging and should never be worn on wood floors. (Vinyl and linoleum aren’t fond of them, either.)

Chairs and moveable furniture should have floor protectors or pads to prevent rubbing down the finish.

Vacuum with a soft brush head.

Do not overuse water when cleaning wood floors as this can cause extensive damage. Use a damp wipe method, using minimal liquid.

Only clean wood floors with products recommended by companies selling hardwood floors. Never use oils or detergents. Use a gentle cleaner that leaves no film. (Brenchley does not recommend Murphy’s Oil Soap for hardwood floors, although the product is commonly used.)

Investing in carpets

A.S. Tahir Chaudry, 40, owner of Farah’s Oriental Rugs & Carpets, a pioneer of the carpet business in the UK, compares carpets to paintings.

“Carpets are an art in itself. They draw admiration, not so much because of their beauty, but because each one of them actually contains a magic formula of its own, telling a tale of tradition, perseverance, hard work, expertise and also of romance and riches.”

Part of an essential design of elegant living as found in most interiors of middle-income housing, carpets also denote a status symbol for their owners.

“Without a carpet, a room appears empty and lifeless. It would be a room without character,” stressed Tahir.

According to Chaudry, carpet weaving is an Islamic art whose origin dates back as far as 4000 years ago. The earliest pieces were traded by the nomadic hill tribes of Persia, the Middle East and West Asia.

Shaving lamb’s wool and hand-spinning it into yarn was the spare time activity of the tribes’ male members. The wool yarn was soaked by the women while they took care of the young and kept up life in the tents. The women then soaked the yarn in a mixture of leaves, roots, tree bark, kernels and fruits before weaving them into colorful carpets of unspeakable beauty. It was an activity that filled up their days on end.

“Genuine carpets are true pieces of art, in them are interwoven emotions aroused from incidents, experiences and profound feelings of the carpet maker,” said Tahir. “It is no surprise if a carpet takes as long as 15 years to make. It doesn’t mean laziness on the part of the maker, it just means that the maker was under emotional stress,” added Tahir, a father of three.

To nomads, tracking from one dessert plane to another, carpets were multi-functional items. They were used as bags to carry household items, sleeping or sitting mats, treasury sacks, chest covers, and so on, and so on.

The oldest carpet dates back to 500 B.C. It was made by an ethnic tribe in South Siberia, East Asia, said Tahir. The carpet was one of several burial items like gold, diamonds, various gems and weapons which once belonged to a tribal chief. Grave robbers, having no use for the carpet, left it for archeologists to discover after thousands of years.

“That carpet is now in a British museum,” explained Tahir.

The traditional carpet industry of Iran, the most renowned in the world, grew with leaps and bounds when it enjoyed support and protection from the Persian kings. Throughout the 17th century Persian carpets were imported by the Moghul emperors in India, including Akhbar the Great who brought carpet makers from Iran into the country to develop the carpet industry.

Carpets enjoyed a respectable place when Islam rose to its greatness. Carpets became a major interior object in the salons and living rooms of leading politicians, generals, rich merchants and members of the aristocracy.

Today, original and traditional carpets, evaluated on the basis of basic materials used, size and motifs come from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and India (Kashmir).

“I have to hunt for quality carpets every month, deep in the interiors of Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, or Pakistan,” said Chaudry. He visits carpet making centers and buys genuine antique or unique pieces straight from the makers.

First

Chaudry’s interest in carpets is rooted in the family’s history. His father and grandfather, Mitran and A. Hameed Chaudry, were Indonesia’s first prominent carpet merchants.

“Both my grandfather and my father were the first representatives in the country to cater to carpet collectors since there was such a big demand for Farah’s carpets from Indonesians in England. They considered Indonesia a potential market then,” said the man, who confessed that he’s never had to formally study carpets because he was born into a carpet environment.

“As soon as I opened my eyes my vision was crowded with bundles and stacks of carpets,” said the young Chaudry, a member of the third Chaudry generation hailing from Lahore, Pakistan.

“They never miss an international carpet exhibition, let alone in Jakarta, just to see if there are any new pieces entering the market,” commented Hussein, 50, one of the directors in Farah’s.

It does not take much to maintain a carpet.

“Cleaning once a month at most with a special broom will make it last for ages,” said Ahmed, 32, service manager of Farah’s Carpets.

Use of a vacuum cleaner should be done with reservations and the equipment should be of medium sucking power only. Anything stronger could destroy the fine threads of Persian carpets which are made of six-month-old lamb’s wool and cotton.

“Carpets used in air-conditioned rooms don’t need airing at all. Broom cleaning suffices now and then,” said Ahmed.

Persian carpets are very sturdy home accessories.

“In Iran, carpets are often laid down on the road for days, with cars riding over them as a proof of their sturdiness. Such stunts make them more attractive in the eyes of prospective buyers. We cannot give such demonstrations in the UK because of rough and gravely roads. Iran’s roads are made of very fine sand,” explained Chaudry.

Carpets are not just a pleasure for the eye like paintings, they are also considered investments.

“The older they are, the more value they will catch. carpet prices are always rising,” according to Chaudry. This is because there is only one copy of every carpet. “Carpets are so exclusive,” he remarked. “Even after becoming machine made products, they can never be the same.”

Designs may be similar, but generally the motifs, materials, color elements and weaving techniques are different.

“A carpet making machine will never turn out the same carpet because of material complexities,” he said.

“Carpet prices are unlimited, it could be US$4,000, $40,000, or even $40 million,” said Tahir.

Who wants to be a collector or an investor?

Installing own carpet can be satisfying job

Carpets offer an attractive and a practical floor covering. You can install them yourself with only a few tools, but you need to be aware of two problems.

First, carpets are heavy, so it helps to do this project with a friend. Second, without expensive tools it is difficult to stretch the carpet tightly to the wall. You can, however, achieve a good, though maybe not perfect, result on your own.

Before laying carpet, you must prepare the subfloor. This means getting rid of all dust, repairing any cracks, and securing loose tiles and/or floorboards.

The next step is to obtain an accurate measurement of the room to be carpeted. This will require measurements from several places because the room may not be square. Once you have obtained the dimensions of your room, you will need to purchase enough carpet so that there is an overlap of four inches for each wall. While at the carpet store postroadcarpetoneacton.com/, you should also purchase tack strips to fit the dimensions of your room, seam tape if the room is wider than the carpet, and a utility knife with plenty of razor blades.

Carpets are bonded to a subfloor with glue, double-sided tape or tack strips. Glue is used most frequently for laying down commercial carpet and is not necessary for most residential situations. Double-sided tape often does not provide an adequate bond and is therefore not recommended. This leaves tack strips.

Tack strips are narrow wood slats with tacks sticking up from them. They need to be placed alongside each wall about 1/2 an inch from the wall. If you have a wooden subfloor, it is easy to nail these strips in place. If you are working with a concrete subfloor, the job is more difficult. You can nail the strips into the concrete with masonry nails, or if that is too difficult the strips can be glued in place.

You can now lay out the carpet, starting from the middle of the room and working toward each wall. Press the carpet against each wall and allow the carpet to settle for a few hours. This allows gravity to take care of some of the wrinkles and folds. To further straighten the carpet, raise one of the corners, stand on the subfloor, and gently kick it.

Once in place, the carpet can now be cut. Be sure to leave four inches of overlap on each side for trimming. The best tool for cutting carpet is a utility knife. Make sure that the blade is sharp. Sharp blades make your cuts easier, cleaner and safer.

At this point, you will know if you will need to attach two pieces of carpet with a seam. If that is the case (the width of the carpet is smaller than the width of the room), plan to keep the seam away from high traffic areas such as a doorway. To join two pieces of carpet together with a seam, you will need to purchase seam tape and rent a seaming iron.

With your two large pieces of carpet in their approximate places, it is important to align the carpet naps so that they are facing in the same direction. The nap consists of the fibers that make up the surface area of the carpet. The best way to solve this problem is to rub your hand along the carpet fibers. Rubbing in one direction will smooth out the fibers while rubbing in the other direction will raise them.

Once satisfied that the naps are facing the same way, fold back one carpet section and draw a line on the subfloor along the edge of the carpet that remains in place. Fold back the other piece of carpet and place the tape on the subfloor with the line serving as the midpoint. Now run the seaming iron across the tape to melt the glue. Place one section of the carpet firmly on the tape and lay the second carpet section as close to it as possible. Use your hands on both sides of the seam to press the two sections of carpet together as tightly as you can.

You now have the carpet in place with a four-inch overlap along each wall. The next step is to trim the carpet. If you have baseboards, cut the carpet again so that the overlap is reduced to one inch. If you don’t have baseboards, push the carpet firmly against the wall and trim as close to the edge as you can. To trim a door frame, cut the carpet at right angles to the floor for both sides of the frame. Fold the carpet over and cut away the strip. Then create a crease at the door opening and cut along the crease. If the carpet ends there, it is a good idea to purchase a metal doorstrip to help hold the carpet firmly in place.

You secure the carpet by pushing the carpet edge into the tacks on the tack strips. If you have a baseboard, push the carpet into the tacks and then slip the excess carpet under the baseboard. If you don’t have baseboards, push the carpet edge as close to the wall as possible and then press down hard on the tacks.

The latest trends in vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring used to be boring. Remember the old school corridor? Flooring materials have taken huge strides over the past few years, and none more so than vinyl.

Yards of dull, faded colour stretching to infinity – or at least to the Head’s office. But nowadays flooring companies are responding more and more to the demands of the specifier, as he or she becomes more design-and value-conscious. Project requirements have also changed over the years – legislation now dictates certain criteria for public areas and the workplace. Fortunately, technology has moved forward in tandem with these changes, allowing manufacturers to offer a greater range of products for use by the creative designer.

In specifying a smooth floor finish, safety is obviously a prime concern. One of the biggest causes of accidents in both public and private areas is “slips and trips”, resulting in not only loss of man hours but also possible litigation. As a result, safety flooring is now being installed in all environments – from leisure areas to supermarkets. Smooth floor coverings are playing an increasing role in the office too, where anti-static flooring is often a requirement. Here the long-term performance of the floor finish is also an issue as it has to cope with the regular movement of office chairs and other furniture.

More often than not the designer will start with a list of technical and legislative criteria, and this may include requirements on slip, bacteria, acoustics, fire retardancy, static electricity and resistance to wear. Manufacturers’ brochures are often the first port of call, and it is obviously important that product literature has sufficient technical information for a first selection to be made. In addition to thorough literature, many flooring companies now have an in-house technical rep or department. These are able to give sound advice while cutting through the sales patter that was once inevitable.

Having satisfied the technical criteria, the actual design or decorative element comes into play. Traditionally the chequer-board effect was the easiest way to create a patterned floor, but with the increasing sophistication of new technology, bespoke decorative flooring and afforadable flooring selections are becoming more common.

The latest trend with vinyl and rubber flooring is to make it more interesting by adding graphics and patterns such as the school emblem, company logo or directional signage. Most major flooring companies have now invested in computerised cutting services . Often there is also a standard range of designs and borders available for those seeking a cost-effective option.

Quick, easy ways to clean carpets

Some handy tips on how to deal with common household problems with your carpets: Red Wine Spills

Treat a red wine spill with ordinary shaving cream from an aerosol can. Then, sponge off the area with cold water.

Or cover the area of the stain with a liberal amount of salt or baking soda. Leave until the stain is completely absorbed, then vacuum.

Or remove the stain with club soda.

Or remove the stain with white wine.

Slipping. Skidding carpets can be stopped in their tracks by applying nonskid bathroom appliques to the bottoms. Alternatively, place a few strips of double-faced carpet tape under the corners, or sew or glue rubber jar rings on to the bottom, click for carpet.

Fraying. To repair a rug with frayed edges, snip off the loose threads and dab some transparent glue along the entire edge. When the glue dries, it won’t be noticeable.

Burn marks. Shave off some carpet fuzz and roll into the shape of the burn. Apply clear glue to the area of the burn and then press on the fuzz ”patch.” Cover the area with a piece of clean tissue and place a heavy book on top. This will cause the glue to dry slowly and you’ll get the best results.

Ideas for Great Kitchens

How the kitchen looks, how it greets you each morning and its functionality are important. That’s why paying attention to details such as kitchen cabinets reaps such great rewards. Just as a friendly smile is welcoming, so to are handsome kitchen cabinets.

This week, we’ll show you how to choose the best quality cabinets that you can reasonably afford. We’ll do this as we review the book, Ideas for Great Kitchens.

Cabinets are generally manufactured and sold in three different ways. The type you choose will affect both the cost and appearance of your finished kitchen.

Stock cabinets are mass produced, standard-sized cabinets. While purchased “off the shelf,” you can always specify door styles, the direction they swing as well as finishing details.

Custom cabinets are, in turn, more expensive. Made by professional cabinet makers, these cabinets can accommodate non-standard configurations and complexities that can’t be handled with stock modular cabinets.

Custom “modular” cabinets combine the best of both worlds. While still manufactured, they are of a higher grade and offer more design flexibility than stock cabinets.

Whichever model you choose, you must still judge for quality. While not always easy, you can usually look to a cabinet’s drawers to find elements of fine workmanship. Literally a cabinet within a cabinet, drawers take a greater beating than any other cabinet component. As such, they offer the first signs of sub-standard quality.

Look for drawer guides that run smoothly. Check that the drawers are properly aligned and make note of whether or not they fully or only partially open.

Because cabinet costs can vary so greatly, determine a budget before shopping. You’ll quickly find a range of cabinets whose prices you can afford. You can then begin judging for quality and looking for a style that suits you and your kitchen.

For other great kitchen renovation ideas, read our book, Ideas for Great Kitchens. Its 96 pages include design basics, measuring guidelines, actual case studies from 18 remodeled kitchens as well as a shopper’s guide for everything from cabinets to counter tops.

If you plan to do much of the renovation work yourself, ask for our book, the Kitchen Remodeling Handbook. It will guide you through even the most complete kitchen makeover.

Quick kitchen cures

Looking for ways to dress up your kitchen quickly for far less than the cost of a complete makeover?

Here are three tips to do just that. All are taken from one book, Ideas for Great Kitchens. n Replace a counter top. Counter tops are not only the most used and abused aspect of any kitchen, they also go a long way in giving your kitchen character. For example, while wooden counter tops provide a warm country feel, white counter tops are known to liven up a dull kitchen. n Change your lights, both for practical and esthetic reasons. Use large bright lights for cooking but switch to soft track lighting or under the cabinet lighting to accent the style of your kitchen when all the cooking and cleaning is done. n Change floors. Linoleum flooring is now available in all sorts of designer styles. Wood flooring provides added comfort for long days spent standing in the kitchen, for more information, please visit this website.

Beautiful kitchen cabinets can completely update a tired, old kitchen.

Kitchen remodeling ideas

What’s on the wish list for homeowners remodeling their kitchens? A survey conducted for Jenn-Air showed that 52 percent of respondents wanted new appliances; 51 percent, a new refrigerator; 46 percent, an island with cooktop grill; 44 percent, a pantry. Way down on the list: fireplace (12 percent), wine cellar (11 percent), and office area (10 percent). That same survey showed that for kitchen colors or materials, light or bleached wood is what 71 percent of the respondents want, followed by marble or granite (59 percent), please, check out our website, cool blues and grays (56 percent), and mostly white or stainless steel (tied at 53 percent). Being hissed off the stage: mostly black, which got a thumbs-up from only 7 percent of the 750 respondents. Helpful hints

Johnny Grey, a British architect who specializes in kitchens (Metropolitan Home magazine calls him “the world’s best kitchen designer”), offers these suggestions for remodeling: (1) Consider the room’s social as well as functional purposes. If this is where everyone gathers, position the cooking areas so the cook’s back isn’t turned to guests or family members. (2) Make it inviting for all members of the family, with varying counter heights or a separate activity area for children. (3) If you can’t do a complete remodel, replace appliances and countertops, add decorative tiles and alter the lighting.

Most people don’t take the time to research kitchens before they remodel. There are so many new products, it’s confusing. And it’s the busiest room in the house. Colors are muted, in soft greens and yellows, something like in the ’50s but more sophisticated. Kitchens should look worn, used. The latest cabinets have a distressed finish making them look like they are 40 years old.