Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Flooring Underlayment Options

simplefloorsUnderlayment Options
When you are using a floating flooring product (whether it be wood, laminate, cork, or bamboo)  you will need an underlayment.  If you are going over a concrete subfloor you will also need a vapor barrier (a 6mil plastic).  You will lay down the vapor barrier if necessary, tape the seams, then lay down your underlayment.  There are multiple underlayments available, and the higher end ones will absorb more sound and vibration and make your floor sound more solid.  This is true on both wooden or concrete subfloors.  Low end underlayments will still cover your warranty but tend toward a more hollow or "clicky/tap-dance" sound when you walk on your floor. 

6mm Cork (A close second for Favorite Category)  $.97/sf
Natural cork underlay provide exceptional sound reduction capabilities in addition to insulation and comfort underfoot. The cork is harvested from the bark of the Cork Oak tree without harm to the tree. An environmentally friendly option for naturally healthy living. Cork quiets both hardwood and laminate floors.
·          Environmentally friendly option
·          Meets condo requirements
·          Sound Performance: STC 52 - 66

3mm Cork  $.68/sf
Natural cork underlay provide exceptional sound reduction capabilities in addition to insulation and comfort underfoot. The cork is harvested from the bark of the Cork Oak tree without harm to the tree. An environmentally friendly option for naturally healthy living. Cork quiets both hardwood and laminate floors.
·          Environmentally friendly option

EVA with Vapor Barrier Film and seam tape  $.69/sf  (our favorite)
EVA has a 3mm thick rubber with an already attached vapor barrier.  Amazing sound protection for same and lower levels. Can use under both engineered wood floors, laminate and cork floating floors. Specifically for use with the floating floor installation method, Can be used on concrete, wood, or plywood subfloors.
·          STC 73, IIC 72
·          Really high sound ratings will be approved for all home/condo associations

Redux Underlayment  $.50/sf  (our 2nd favorite)
Our Redux underlayment reduces same room foot traffic noise as well as reduces sound transmission to adjacent rooms and lower levels. Can use under both engineered wood floors, laminate and cork floating floors. Specifically for use with the floating floor installation method, Redux provides a quieter surface by absorbing under floor vibration.2.5mm thickness
·          Mold and mildew resistant as well as non allergenic
·          Sound Performance: STC 55

Royal Walker®  $.59/sf
A premium underlayment developed to reduce noise transmission for use under both hardwood and laminate floors. The unique engineering of this underlay allow it to interact with the floor system itself in a manner that produces a sound similar to that of traditional wood flooring.
·          Exceeds recommended moisture permeability ratings for installation over concrete slabs
·          Sound Performance: STC 53

Silver series 3 in 1 (Moderate)  $.32/sf
The silver series 3 in 1 is a mid level laminate and hardwood flooring underlay. The silver series offers moderate sound absorption for laminate and hardwood flooring. The higher density 2mm thick foam comes with an foil moisture barrier backing. No additional moisture barrier is needed when using The Silver Series. This underlay is for use over both wooden or concrete subfloors.  The foil on this underlayment also adds insulating properties.

2 in 1 Combo Foam Film (Low end)  $.24/sf
The 2 in 1 Combo Foam Film is the standard laminate floating floor underlay. The 2 in 1 Combo foam film can also be used under solid or engineered real hardwood floors as well. The 2 in 1 is a 2mm thick foam with a pre-attached moisture barrier. This underlay can be used over both wooden or concrete subfloors.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

simpleFLOORS is proud to receive a 2013 Best of Houzz badge.  What a great idea source for contractors and homeowners.

You can check us out HERE

The 2013 Best of Houzz Badges Are Here!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Steamers, Sharks, and Swiffers - How to clean your hard surface floor

Steamers, Sharks, and Swiffers

We receive a lot of questions from homeowners and one of the most popular is how to care for their new or existing flooring. Specifically customers ask if it is okay to use a steamer, Shark, or Swiffer to clean their new hardwoods, bamboo, cork, or laminate flooring. Unfortunately when you look around you will see most of the information you will find says that it is perfectly okay to use a steamer. Our answer when our customers ask this is a big no! We do not recommend the use of steamers, Swiffers, Sharks, etc. The problem is when you steam hardwood type flooring you are pumping moisture into the floor and moisture is the enemy. Some will argue that since it a pre-finished material the moisture cannot penetrate into the wood. The issue is that the material is pre-finished on just the surface. Most products are not finished all the way around and the steam that is under pressure will find a way into the floor. After the flooring absorbs the moisture from the steam it will start to warp and swell. When flooring warps it is impossible to get it completely flat without the ordeal of doing a full sand and finish. If the material is a laminate or a engineered hardwood that has a thin wear layer you are looking at ripping out and replacing the whole area.   In conclusion use the steamer on your tile and vinyl areas all day but please keep it far away from your hardwood flooring.

We do not like:
Murphy's Oil
Orange Glo
We do like:
Bona Kemi
Vinegar & water
Micro fiber mops

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Do-it-yourself Strand Woven Flooring

Do-it-yourself Strand Woven Flooring

We have a new collection of beautiful, durable, and extremely easy to install Strand Woven Bamboo flooring.  The bamboo comes in an engineered, glueless locking system which is specifically made for both contractors and do-it-yourself style installation.  As a bonus the locking system is waxed to resist moisture.  It can be floated over concrete, wood, vinyl, or tile flooring.
There are four colors in the collection to accommodate any decor.  In keeping with the existing trend of subtle hand-scraping techniques this collection uses the wire-brushed style that helps hide any damage that might occur on your floor after it is installed.  Our customers have been telling us this style really sure your floor always looks "new", even if you do have a busy household with pets and/or children.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What Color Flooring Should I Choose?

What Color Flooring Should I Choose?

Watching flooring trends is a bit like watching clothing trends.  There are some innovative ideas that come around every once in a great while such as strand woven bamboo or the wrap dress... but mostly there are the tried and true flooring options that stylistically cycle on and off again.

We have a lot of customers that come into the Seattle simpleFLOORS showroom and ask for help deciding on the "color" of their flooring.  Homeowners want to feel that not only will the color coordinate with their personal style and the type of home they have, but also that the color will stand the test of time.

This is a great question and definitely should be considered before any purchase is made.  Here are some things to think about in terms of the color of your flooring:
1. How much light do you have in the home (natural and artificial)?
The more light you have in the home the darker you can get your flooring without feeling the walls are closing in on you.  That being said, you can still choose dark floors in a small room as long as you want the more intimate feeling.  A dark floor can also make a room with a lot of light feel warmer, cozier.  Make sure to test samples of the flooring in your actual lighting and at different times of day as it can change how the flooring looks.
2. Are you looking at a natural (hardwood, bamboo, cork) or man-made (laminate) product?
Laminate can come in any shade or tone imaginable as the colors are put together by graphic designers and marketing teams.  You can get tones not made in nature or laminate that looks very close to the real thing.  Natural products such as hardwood are going to either have clear coats of finish to showcase the natural beauty of the wood, or a stain to showcase the grain but have a more consistent look.
3. Is this for a home you plan on staying in or do you plan on selling the home/condo soon?
If you plan on selling the home within a few years the safest bet is to get something with a medium tone that everyone can walk in the home and imagine putting their furniture on.  Colors that are very light, very dark, or floors with a lot of variation will definitely be noticed - but will put many people off although the right buyer will "have to" have the house because of the unusual floor.
4. Do you like variation or a more consistent coloring?
The floors that have more variation tend towards the exotic species (Tigerwood, Brazilian Walnut) and will make more of a statement.  The varying colors in a natural floor (with clear coat but no stain) typically can work well with many tones of furniture and in homes that don't have consistent colored furnishings.  Negatively if the floor has  a lot of variation it can be very busy and can compete with artwork or furnishings so is best left with simpler, cleaner decorating styles.
5. If for a kitchen or great room, what color are the cabinets?
Design-wise it is best to have a bit of a contrast from the floor to the cabinets since if they match too much the whole room blends into one big blob.  If you have new construction it is best to pick your floors out first as there are so many natural options where most cabinets are stained.  If you have existing cabinets taking a door off and bringing it with you while floor shopping is your best chance of finding a good color pairing.
6. What type/color of furniture do you have?
Flooring can vary from the rustic heavily handscraped to a very smooth and modern with many options in between.  Using your existing furniture and home style (even if it is just a picture in your head) as a guide will allow you to maintain or achieve a harmonious setting.  Clipping photos from magazines and/or using design services are another option to discover what style appeals to you.
7. Do you want the floor to be a "statement" or are you looking for them to blend in to the environment?
The flooring with heavier grain patterns, very dark/very light shades, or extreme variations are going to become more of a showpiece in your home than the traditionally toned browns.
8. What color are the walls in the room(s) the flooring will go into?
Standard off-white walls can go with just about any type of flooring but many people are highlighting rooms with accent colors (and also remodeling their existing homes vs. moving!) and carrying paint swatches and getting flooring samples is really the only way to ensure you don't end up with a patchwork look.
9. Do you have pets?
Keep in mind what type of environment you live in.  If your five white Persian cats shed like crazy a very dark floor will not be a good fit unless you don't mind dust mopping daily.

Trend-wise in the past 10 years I have seen colors go from very light (Natural Maple, Natural Horizontal Bamboo) to very dark (Sambuca Maple, Iron Wood) and then settle back during the past two years into a medium tone (Strand Carbonized, Arpeggio).  I think there will always be people that choose the bold and beautiful for their flooring but the "middle of the road" coloring is here to stay for quite some time.  Traditional warm toned flooring in varying shades of brown lend itself to all types of furnishings, home styles, and also work with today's economy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Type of Flooring Should I Choose?

When people come into the Seattle simpleFLOORS showroom and see all the laminate, hardwood, bamboo, and cork they are typically very happy about having so many flooring choices and that our display boards are really large to show what the floor will really look like once installed in their home.

Homeowners that are looking to update their existing flooring or are building a new home come in all shapes and sizes, just like flooring.  Although our large selection is a huge plus, it can be overwhelming for some shoppers.

Luckily most people know what type of flooring they should choose, even if they don't know they know!

Here is a breakdown and how we believe we can help them the best...

People that know EXACTLY what they are looking for
These customers typically have either a picture in their head of what the room or house will look like when it is completed.  They often come with a file of research from the internet, clippings from magazines, and can carry countertop, other flooring, and cabinet samples with them.
How do we help them?
1. Give them the "lay of the land" of the showroom and then get out of their way and wait for them to ask you questions.
2. Check in and be prepared to answer very specific questions.
3. Let customer know of any existing sales, carry displays to natural light and lay horizontally for customer, offer samples.
4. Be prepared to answer specific spec questions, check stock, schedule measurement,  and write up estimate/orders.

People that know what they like but aren't certain it is what they should be purchasing
These customers typically have an idea of what they would like the finished floor or look of the home to be.  They often have strong feelings about certain colors or textures.  The hesitation usually comes from being uncertain if the look they are hoping for will be too trendy and not stand the test of time, be a turn-off to potential buyers when they sell their home, or not be as durable as they need the flooring to be.
How do we help them?
1. Listen to what they say they are looking for, and the look they are trying to achieve.
2. Give them the "lay of the land" of the showroom, pointing out particular styles, collections, and colors that fit the parameter they have described.
3. Answer questions, show other options based on any new information you receive.
4. Ask questions about their home, lifestyle, traffic, and the look they are hoping for.  Be prepared to gently give them pros and cons of their favorite style floor and possibly something that will be more practical for the lifestyle of the actual home.
5. Let customer know of any existing sales, carry displays to natural light and lay horizontally for customer, offer samples.
6. Show photos of the flooring they are most interested in that has been installed in real customer homes, check stock, schedule measurement,  and possibly write up estimate/orders.

People that believe they have no idea what they want
This can be the most fun as I believe people really do know what they like and want, they just need someone to guide them through the process by asking the right questions.  After asking a few questions we can narrow down our great selection of a few hundred floors to a handful for the customer "who is overwhelmed" and leave them feeling confident in the selection process in a short amount of time.
Questions to narrow down the search quickly
1. Are you interested in Hardwood, bamboo, cork or laminate?
2. What type of subfloor do you have?
3. Handscraped or smooth?
4. Variation or more consistent color?
5. Dark, light, or medium?
6. Do you have kids, pets, or is this in a high traffic area?
After answering these questions you have quickly narrowed down the flooring choices to a manageable number and can lead them right to a few perfect selections.  Voila!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wanna Chat?

Flooring Questions?  Live Chat with us!

simpleFLOORS is always interested in engaging with our customers, whether it is in person, on the phone, via email, or over live chat.

simpleFLOORS is proud to use Comm100 Live Chat as our live chat feature. You will find a link to the live chat feature on the upper right side on every page of the simplefloors.com website. The chat is operated Monday through Friday 8am to 11pm EST, and Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5pm EST. Just click on the Chat live link and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding hardwood, bamboo, cork, or laminate flooring.  We feature many domestic hardwoods, exotic hardwoods, and strand woven bamboo as well.

We look forward to chatting with you!