Electric Radiant and Floor Coverings

If the decision of what type radiant heating system to use was left to the floor-coverings, it would choose electric radiant. Eliminating the risk of water/glycol leaks, standard floor-heights, simple retro-fits, almost unlimited choice of carpet padding, uniform heat flux, easier installations and superior floor or space temperature control are only a few of the advantages of electric radiant heat. This isn’t to say that there aren’t disadvantages of electric radiant, I’m here to espouse the benefits and desirable features of electric radiant heat and its loving relationship with any and all floor-coverings. Oh, wait a minute, how could I forget, electric systems cost a fraction what hot-water (hydronic) systems do.

From the simplest of painted concrete to floors that started with linoleum, added carpet, then converted to imported marble, electric radiant is truly and simply superior to hydronic radiant and here are the reasons why.

There is no water or glycol ‘ and spilled electrons don’t damage floor-coverings, in fact, there’s no need to even sweep them up. Seriously, the safety standards and National Electrical Code keep electrical systems safe. Yes, a cable, mesh or mat can be damaged by an errant nail or screw, but the worst case scenario is the system doesn’t work as compared to a penetrated tube of a hydronic system with 100 gallons of water and glycol pumped out on the top level floor of a three floor custom home.

Built-up floor height for most electric systems is less than ?” and some as little 1/ 16″ thick. Most hydronic systems pour 1 ?” of light-weight concrete over the tubes increasing construction costs and limiting the types of floor-coverings that can be installed. If you want traditional hard-wood floors, a complex system of sleepers must be installed to allow for nailing of the wood to the sub-floor.

Retro-fitting carpet over what used to be tile can’t be easily done with hot-water systems. Changing the R-value (insulating characteristic) of the floor-covering changes the amount of heat that makes it into the space in hydronic systems, since they are designed to transfer heat via a temperature difference between the water in the tube and the floor covering surface, whereas electric systems put out a constant wattage regardless of the floor-covering insulating characteristics. Floor covering types can be changed time after time with electric radiant without changing the heating system.

Hot and Cold Spots o what some-people call spot-heating can be easily accomplished by installing higher or lower heat-density and adding a simple floor- sensor to control the temperature. Have you ever noticed how dogs or cats search for the warmest piece of flooring in a home and sleep there? We added a special tile floor heated 10? warmer for our house pet that became new sleeping accommodations for Cairo.

Uniform Heat Flux ‘ The harder the floor covering the more noticeable warm or cold spots become and the layout of the hot-water tubing and the changing temperature of the water through the loop result in changing floor-temperatures. This doesn’t happen with electric heat, each foot of cable, or length of mesh or mat generate exactly the same amount of heat as the next foot making it very easy to maintain a constant temperature across the floor. If the floor-coverings are going to be different in one room or one zone, split it into two zones of electric so the desired temperature can be maintained on each surface. This is easier to do and less costly for electric than hydronic.

Installation of any product is a concern and any time the cross-trade issues of installation can be minimized everyone wins. Electric systems don’t require any mechanical room space so long as they are installed before the floor-covering is installed you don’t have to do a lot of coordination with the other trades. If you want to climatize some exotic hardwood flooring from Brazil within the space it’s unlikely that you’ll have gas to operate your boiler, but it’s very possible that you can run your electric radiant heat off of temporary power to assist in stabilizing your wood before installation.

Independent of HVAC ‘ Electric radiant can be the primary heating system, but can operate very efficiently if you want the bathroom floor 80? in June and your husband has the air-conditioner running throughout the rest of the house. Try doing this with your 1,000,000 Btu boiler and you’ll regret it when the time comes to pay your gas or oil bill.

Precise Temperature Control ‘ Adding multiple zones to an electric system costs only pennies per foot compared to dollars per foot for hot-water. Having as many zones as you ever anticipate different areas with different floor-coverings is possible and practical, with the other benefit of precise control of temperature of every space in the home.

Carpet Care and Maintenance

State of the art technology coupled with perpetual research and development has resulted in carpet fibers that resist matting and crushing and are far more stain resistant. The quality and type of carpet fibers used will have a direct impact on the durability and life of your carpet. Certain carpet fibers are more stain resistant than others, while certain fibers display a higher degree of resistance to matting and crushing.

Olefin fibers are the most stain resistant of all fibers used in the manufacture of carpet; however they tend to matt and crush easily. Olefin fiber is solution dyed, making it unique among carpet fibers, facilitating the use of a bleach water solution that will not damage or discolor the carpet when cleaned. Polyester is inherently more stain resistant than nylon; however it is not as resilient.

Routine maintenance of your carpet will ensure optimum performance in terms of durability and aesthetics. Carpet construction is designed to hide dirt and soil and the fibers are treated with chemicals that have the ability to resist soiling and stains. This coupled with certain inherent stain resistant qualities of the fibers itself, has resulted in carpets that are more stain resistant and are less likely to abrade and discolor.

Regular vacuuming is the key to maintaining the luster and health of carpet. Particles of dirt, dust and soil contain sharp edges and will cut into the fibers of a carpet, thus reducing its sheen and giving it a lack luster appearance. Regular vacuuming will remove these particles from the surface of the carpet, preventing them from being trodden into the carpet pile and thus abrading the fiber. For plush carpets, utilize a vacuum with a beater bar or rotating brush head, in order to loosen and remove soil and dust particles that are present on the surface as well as deeper in the pile. When vacuuming a loop pile carpet, it is advisable to use a suction vacuum only,in order to prevent the fibers from fuzzing.

Due to their tight level loop construction, berber carpets are easier to maintain as dirt particles cannot penetrate the pile. As the carpet is vacuumed, the soil and dust particles are easily lifted off the surface of the carpet by the vacuum cleaner, as opposed to a plush constructed carpet which is more difficult to vacuum due to soil and dust particles penetrating the shag and settling deep within the carpet pile. Always ensure that the vacuum cleaner head is free of any protrusions, nicks or gouges, as these will damage the carpet fibers and cause unnecessary wear and tear.

Spills must be cleaned up immediately with the use of a sponge and a dabbing motion. It is important to dab a carpet and not rub it, to ensure that as much liquid as possible is soaked up by the sponge. Dabbing the carpet will facilitate the removal of topical spills without spreading the spill or pushing it deeper into the carpet pile. Often, one will clean up a spill and later find that the stain has re-appeared. This is a common occurrence and is caused by the spill penetrating the carpet pad that is then reabsorbed by the carpet when foot pressure is applied to the affected area. This scenario can also be the cause of carpet odors that tend to linger, as the odor has been absorbed into the pad; in which case normal cleaning methods are insufficient. If your household contains pets, it is a good idea to purchase a pad with a spill barrier, as this will prevent liquids such as pet urine from penetrating the carpet and settling in the carpet pad where the odor can linger.

Always follow the manufacturers recommended guidelines with regards to approved cleaning methods and materials. Following the guidelines will ensure optimum performance of your carpet as well as ensuring the adherence of all warranty guidelines.

Bamboo Flooring: Is It The Right Choice?

Bamboo flooring is amazing to look at. It has a very beautiful texture and adds quite a bit of style, beauty and quality to a home or business. It is quite a versatile element as well. Bamboo fibers can be made into virtually any type of material allowing for a wide range of styles, colors and methods of use for it. It can be used in businesses, homes and in virtually any environment.

Bamboo is a relatively soft wood that you would not think to use in most hardwood flooring situations. But, like most other hardwoods, their hardness rating can be much higher once protective coatings are applied to them. When the flooring is chosen, it will be crafted with the most care in order to further strengthen the density of it. These additional coatings will often protect it from damages such as scratches, denting and markings. This also helps to prolong its life by making it last longer and more beautifully.

Bamboo flooring is a very unique type of flooring. What you would think that it would look like is not necessarily what it will. And, there is little doubt that having the best quality is quite important. This type of flooring will be one that allows for a variety of different styles. For example, it can be colored, or stained, in virtually any color necessary. This allows for it to fit well within many homes and environments well. Often the purchaser will have the ability to choose which ‘color’ is right for their needs.

Although bamboo flooring is quite an expensive purchase, it is one that will likely last many years and will deliver beauty and design as well. If you are considering the purchase of this type of flooring insure that you get the highest level of quality so that it will last you a lifetime.

5 Easy Steps to Protect Your Hardwood Floor From Disaster

Common knowledge states that hardwood floors are a great investment for a homeowner. They add a certain charm and character to a home that can’t be replicated by laminates, carpeting, or any other type of flooring. However, the investment does not stop with the decision to purchase hardwoods. To retain the value, the hardwood must be properly cared for and maintained. Fortunately, with a few simple, easy, inexpensive steps, your hardwood flooring will always remain in perfect shape.

1. Do not use Murphy’s Oil Soap. Murphy’s works great on wooden furniture, but don’t make the mistake of using it on your hardwood floors. You won’t notice anything wrong after applying it once, but if used consistently, residue will build up and leave your floor with a dull appearance.

2. Do not use a Wet Swiffer. A Dry Swiffer is great for collecting dust, dirt, and pet hair from your floors, and it is also less abrasive than a vacuum cleaner. However, a Wet Swiffer can cause major long-term damage. The chemicals in the cleaning solution can break down the urethane finish on your floor and leave it dull, faded, and lifeless.

3. Place area rugs anywhere that might collect water. Prime areas are in front of the refrigerator, by the dishwasher, and nearany sinks. Make sure that the floor is protected in any spot that is susceptible to minor leaks and water collection. A pool of water is the quickest way to destroy your floor.

4. Use floor mats in spots where people step on the hardwood directly after being outside. In addition to protecting against wet or muddy footprints, floor mats will help collect any sharp or abrasive materials stuck in the treads of shoes. This step will help prevent accidental scraping or scratching.

5. Use felt pads when moving furniture. Or better yet, lift the furniture off the ground instead of sliding it across your hardwood floor. If felt pads must be used, please make sure that they are free of any debris. Even if a tiny little object like a staple is under that pad when heavy furniture is set upon it, your floor could receive some serious gouges.

These steps will help ensure that your home retains its value by protecting your hardwood floors against major damage.

Accidents do happen, however, no matter how careful you are. If your floor becomes damaged, contact the manufacturer or the installer for advice.

Laminate Flooring Installation Guidelines

The Beauty of Laminate Flooring

One way to add value to your home is to consider laminate flooring installation. Laminate floors combine the beauty and elegance of hard wood, or tile floors with the easy maintenance of linoleum or vinyl flooring. Constructed from a high density fiber (HDF) wood board topped with a wood or stone pattern, laminate flooring is incredibly durable. Resistant to scratching, scuffing and burning, the beauty of laminate floors will last a lifetime. With today’s constantly changing interior design trends, the easy installation and variety of laminate flooring is a popular choice for home designers.

The Quality of Laminate Flooring

If you’re planning to redecorate your home including laminate flooring installation, there are some decisions you need to make about the type of laminate flooring that will work best for you. It is commonly thought that the harder the HDF core, the higher the quality of the laminate flooring. The second mark of laminate floor quality is the means by which the core is bound to the pattern and protective layers. There are two basic types of laminate flooring to consider

  • Direct Pressure ‘ Direct Pressure lamination consists of a one-step process to bind the flooring layers into a single cohesive unit. DPL flooring that has been bound is then treated with melamine resins to increase the strength of the core. This final step also allows notches and grooves to be evenly cut into the pieces to facilitate the process of laminate flooring installation.
  • High Pressure ‘ High pressure lamination produces a more durable end product by binding the flooring layers over several steps. First the top layers are joined to each other and ten glued to the HDF core. After this, the melamine resins and glued flooring are submitted to a high pressure press that completes the process and makes the product ready for laminate flooring installation.

Laminate Flooring Installation Types

Once you’ve decided on the design and product you want to use, you’re ready to begin the process of laminate flooring installation. The various laminate products currently on the market offer several different options for laminate flooring installation. The type of installation you choose will depend on your budget, your commitment and ability to execute the project and your preference in design. When shopping for laminate flooring, you can expect to find products the require the following laminate flooring installation techniques:

  • Standard Flooring ‘ Standard laminate flooring is installed by using glue to affix the flooring to the sub floor. Standard laminate flooring installation is both cost-effective and secure.
  • Pre-Glued Flooring ‘ You may also come across laminate flooring products that have been treated with glue prior to sale. To complete the laminate flooring installation, water is applied to the underside of the board to activate the glue.
  • Snap and Lock ‘ There is no glue required for a Snap and Lock laminate flooring installation. The floor boards are instead linked by a locking mechanism on the underside of the wood. Snap and Lock flooring is very easy to install, but may be more expensive that laminate flooring installed with glue.

Laminate Flooring Basics

Laminate flooring resembles the look of hardwoods but offers easier installation and stronger durability. You can use laminate flooring in any room in the house, including hallways, foyers and family spaces, bathrooms, and kitchens. While hardwood floors are always vulnerable to evils like sand, spills, messy kids, and pets, laminates are better designed to withstand the trauma of daily life.

On the surface, you might mistake laminate flooring for hardwood. They look almost identical. What looks like natural hardwood is actually a layer of paper sealed below a super tough protective film that is then pressed and glued to a backing board.

When choosing a flooring material, a critical factor to consider is the amount of expected traffic. Durability the major advantage held by laminate flooring over hardwoods. Because of the high-density backing board, laminates are resistant to scrapes, cuts, and punctures. The high-pressure laminate coating will prevent stains from seeping through and damaging the floor. Sliding chairs and heavy falling objects that would normally dent or gouge a hole in hardwood will have no affect on laminate flooring.

Another big plus for laminate flooring is the ease of installation. Rather than having to rip out the existing floor, laminate can be installed over many existing floors, including wood, tile, vinyl, and linoleum. Theydo not fasten directly to the existing flooring material with nails or glue. Rather, it is fastened with an adhesive. The adhesive holds the flooring material together, while allowing the sub floor below to move independently of the laminate. The adhesive also helps protect the core material from moisture.

Maintenance is easy with laminate flooring. The coating will protect against liquid spills and moisture. As long as you wipe it up, the core material will not get damaged. If it does get through the coating, the material might expand and damage the floor. These instances are rare though, and overall, liquid that would cause major damage to hardwood will be harmless to laminates. Also, unlike hardwood, laminate does not need to be finished or sanded every few years. Just keep it vacuumed, mop it every once in a while, and you’re all set.

One last big advantage for laminate flooring is the cost savings over hardwoods. Your basic hardwood material, usually Oak, costs between $10-13 per square foot. More exotic or rare wood species send that price through the roof. Laminates, on the other hand, cost an average of $7-11 per square foot. And since the wood grain finish is actually just a photographic image, the look of the flooring will not increase the price.