Archive for September, 2011
We installed Alterna luxury vinyl tile in our kitchen and mudroom, and I just want to say: you really have to see and feel Alterna to know what a great product it is! And I’m happy to say that my husband agrees with me – now, but it didn’t start out that way. In the beginning, he wasn’t too sure. Let me take you back….
Our big day for the Alterna installation was a Saturday in late August. Of course, we didn’t start prepping for the installation until the night before. To make sure we both understood how this was going to work, I read the instructions out loud to my husband. When I got to the line, “Do not install Alterna over OSB or plywood,” my husband said, “What did you just say? We have OSB.” I read it again. Then he took the paper and read it because, well, he’s male and therefore would not believe it until he saw it for himself in black and white.
Texture is quickly becoming the new “color.” By that I mean color has always been the main driver for people looking for a hardwood floor, but over the last few years, texture has been overtaking color as the new driver. The reason behind that trend is that texture stimulates our senses with tactile and visual elements.
Hand-scraped hardwood floors are a good example of how popular texture is with floor shoppers. There is a big demand for hand-scraped hardwood floors in the U.S. Geographic areas around the country have various desires. In California, the hand-scraped hardwoods are sculptural and undulating with minimal character. In the Southwest, the hand-scraped look is much more rustic and features heavy graining, knots and mineral streaks. And the Northeast seems to just be discovering the hand-scraped phenomenon, and their desire is somewhere in the middle.
When you start any DIY project, you go through several stages. The first stage is deciding on your project. Then you move on to research. Next, you make a plan, get the materials and gather the tools. My husband and I recently went through these stages when we installed a laminate floor in our bedroom. We bought the flooring material – Armstrong Farmhouse Hickory laminate – read the instructions, watched several YouTube installation videos and assembled our tools.
Now we were ready – or so we thought.
We got off to a slo-o-o-ow start. We struggled installing every flooring plank. They just wouldn’t fit right. One side would go in, but the other side wouldn’t. When we tried tapping the planks into place with a block that we created, the edge of the laminate would chip. We were spending more time cleaning up chipped pieces than installing laminate boards. What we thought was going to take a couple of hours became several hours, and we didn’t have much to show for it.
When was the last time you bought something without first scouring through reviews online? I will read through a ridiculous number of reviews to be sure I am making the right decision. Four hundred reviews on this pair of shoes? I don’t mind if I do! That’s just for a pair of shoes, by the way. If we’re talking about a bigger purchase that I’ll have to live with for years to come – like flooring, well, it’s time to bring on the heavy duty research. Because we know it’s important to you, too, we here at Armstrong felt it was time to open up our site for flooring reviews.
I used to work in an office with The Scientist. Not A Scientist, The Scientist. That was his nickname, which he earned by virtue of the way he made decisions: every option was fully analyzed, every possible consequence projected into the future. He spent more time choosing a big-screen TV than most people spend choosing a home. I secretly admired his rigor, but never, ever, ever approached purchases with anything like that degree of discipline. I’m pretty sure this is true for most people. A lot more of us get a quick sense of the options, and we move on to: “Yeah, I get the general picture. That’s all I really need to know.”
When we’re buying flooring, we have some values – things we care about – that help guide us. For a lot of people, sustainability (centered around ecological and environmental health) values are somewhere on that list. But unless you are The Scientist, you may not be sure about the facts and your choices. There have been attempts to give consumers confidence that they are purchasing sustainable flooring – green certifications of various types. FSC certification, from the Forestry Stewardship Council, is supposed to help. But then you might hear some news report that only muddles things further. Take, for example, the recent story about the Gibson Guitar factory in Nashville being raided by the feds, and shut down, for importing non-sustainably sourced tropical wood, except the Gibson people say it is FSC certified…all of which makes my point – either you are The Scientist, or you are confused. more ►