Cork is an extremely eco-friendly, natural, readily renewable product that makes a great floor surface covering. It is produced mostly in southern Europe where the Cork Oak trees grow, and is manufactured from the bark, which can be extracted in a process that is completely harmless to the plant, allowing it to keep growing and even regenerate its coat every 9-10 years.
The Cork Oak growth and harvesting industry is heavily regulated to ensure the health of these plants so that they can continue to produce materials on a regular basis. At the same time the lucrative cork manufacturing industry provides some of the last really good, high paying agricultural jobs that can be found in Europe anymore.
While more people are using cork as a flooring material, this industry is still in some danger as the majority of this material is manufactured into wine stoppers. The problem is that wine manufacturers are starting to turn away from natural cork, and instead are choosing synthetic materials which they deem cleaner, and easier to open.
There are numerous statistics available showing the ecological benefits of natural cork over synthetic alternatives. The production has a lower carbon footprint, doesn't expend limited natural resources, and it's biodegradable, so it doesn't create any additional waste.
If the wine industry continues to ignore these facts then going forward cork manufacturers may have to switch their focus to concentrating on other products, including floor tiles and sheets. If the businesses are hurting then prices may increase as output diminishes. At the same time this could lead to an explosion of innovation, with new colors and styles of cork flooring becoming available as more focus is put on these functions.
Image © FloorMall
The use of rubber flooring is on the rise across the world. This is due to a number of factors, including greater availability of materials, falling prices, and a movement towards using more natural, and ecologically friendly recycled substances in architectural applications. The increase in sales of rubber floors is great news, because the funds are being used by manufacturers to produce more decorative and textural options.
Rubber flooring is most often used in industrial and medical locations, where a safe, durable, and stain resistant surface covering is needed. It's also a popular option for playgrounds, as the plush characteristics of the material can help to avoid injuries and prevent the pursuant lawsuits that can follow. However the variety of color and pattern options that are emerging from companies like ECORE and Flexco are making this a viable option for homes as well.
In my latest article I discuss the advantages of using rubber floor tiles in a basement environment. Below grade rooms are often prone to water, mold, and humidity issues. With rubber flooring you can avoid many of the problems that often arise from these factors, as it is completely impervious to liquid penetration, and naturally resists the growth of mold and germs. This makes it a great option for both finished and unfinished basements.
Image © RubberFlooringInc.com
Innovative steps taken by manufacturing companies have led to a surge in different types of radiant below surface heating systems that are available for brick installations. These consist of various layers that are installed beneath the actual pavers, which heat up in order to send warmth surging upwards through the material and into the room.
The most common type of brick flooring radiant heating system is electric. This uses a series of flat, coiled wires, which are fed energy so that they heat up. There are also hydronic systems which consist of tubes that are fed heated water, to create the warmth needed for the system.
Different types of radiant heating systems are also designed with different purposes in mind. Some are built to simply heat the brick itself, warming the toes of those above. Others are made to be full fledged warming systems that can keep an entire room toasty and comfortable through the winter, in an energy efficient manner.
It's exciting to see all of the new systems and technologies that are emerging in this area. It opens up a lot of possibilities for using brick pavers in interior spaces where they might otherwise feel too cold, hard, and impersonal.
Image © Portstone
When considering floor surface covering options for a living room, rubber often gets overlooked. It has a reputation for being industrial; more appropriate to playground and gymnasiums than family rooms and dens. However this soft, safe, durable material can actually be a comfortable option, that provides a number of functional and atmospheric benefits when used within this space.
The major drawback to rubber living room flooring has always been the lack of design options. Most retailers offer tiles that are standard solid, or two tone colors. This limits how creative you can get when planning the installation process. The good news is that manufacturers are starting to produce more patterns, and are even starting to make textured tiles in order to meet the demand for more choices on the market.
As the popularity of ecologically friendly flooring continues to rise, the demand for natural and recycled rubber tiles will continue to grow as well. This will incentivize manufacturing companies to invest in new processes that will allow for a greater range of design options, which will in turn make these materials more desirable in a living room setting.
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In preparation for my latest article on comfortable retail flooring options, I've been paying more attention to the flooring in different stores that I frequent. It seems like the two most common options being used are ceramic, and vinyl flooring. Vinyl appears to be popular in larger retail applications such as grocery stores and big box retailers. Ceramic, being more expensive, is ostensibly found more often in high end luxury outlets, and in use as flooring for lobbies leading in to upscale boutiques.
Here in the American Southeast you also see the use of a lot of natural materials, hardwood flooring, and various types of natural stone. This is part of the rustic beauty of the area, and these features are often old, worn elements that have developed a kind of personality with their age. This can give a sense of charm to a retail outlet, setting customers at ease as they enter the space.
I've also seen carpeting used in some spaces, including hotels, movie theatres, and some high end electronics stores. Carpet always seems like a liability to me because of the inevitable wear and tear in a high traffic commercial location, but the benefits of making someone feel like they are "at home" in your retail space can be important, especially in the hospitality industry.
My overall impression is that the market tends to lead the way with retail flooring. If the store can afford luxury materials they often invest in those. But those with tighter budgets will stick to less expensive, lower maintenance options such as resilient sheet and tiles.
Image © RubberFlooringInc.com
A new campaign by Mohawk to promote their SmartStrand line of carpeting is targeting pet owners using a variety of methods. This involves the use of creative viral campaigns designed to actually demonstrate the stain resistant qualities of their product using real pet examples. Of course, most of these efforts are highly sensationalized.
The main event to promote their pet friendly flooring lines is Puppy Bowl X, where they are the official carpet of the event. This entails them carpeting the entire Puppy Bowl field, as well as the 15,000 square foot stadium in Times Square, which will be open to the public.
This is being done in conjunction with a cast of feline and canine celebrities who will be acting as spokes-animals for the company, by doing their best to soil various carpeting applications. The top celebrity is Mo the dog, who will be attending all of the major events. The campaign should extend through 2014 with follow up advertisements appearing throughout the year.
Image © TrendTreasures
ASTM International is the organization that tests, rates, and sets standards for most of the architectural materials, components, and systems used in the construction and design industry. They've now developed an online social presence which will allow them to more easily connect with users and stakeholders, while keeping everyone informed about their latest activities.
The Facebook page for ASTM International can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ASTMInternational - They are also on Twitter tweeting from @ASTMIntl and they have set up a YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/ASTMIntl. So far they've been pretty active, with updates on each of the social networks coming in on a weekly basis. Users are also responding with hundreds of people flocking to follow, like, and watch everything that ASTM International has been putting out.
This move seems to be part of a growing trend in the flooring industry to do more than just setup a static online presence. Rather, more retailers, and even manufacturers and contractors are developing social media outlets where they can connect with potential customers and clients on a more direct basis. By joining the social media revolution ASTM International has created a living thriving stream of activity that is constantly flowing with new important information.
This is a common question and one that can be answered simply, but with a caveat. Basically no, you should not generally install carpeting in a bathroom. The nature of the staining agents used there on a regular basis, as well as presence of high levels of water and humidity combine to create an environment that is particularly hostile to carpet. If you do choose to install this material in the bathroom it will wear worse, last less, and can cause mold problems in the air.
The caveat to this is that many people have installed carpeting in their bathrooms over the years and have been very happy with it. This was a popular trend in the 1960's and 1970's, when carpet was prized as a warm, soft, comfortable floor for this space. Some carpet fibers will hold up better against water and staining than others, and there are precautions that can be taken to protect the floor.
Do you have carpeting in your bathroom? Have you had any good or bad experiences with it? We'd love to hear your stories in the comments section below.
The ability to install flooring in your attic depends on how your home was built and how you plan to use the space. Many attics are designed to specifically handle the weight of rain and snow bearing down on them from above, evenly distributing the burden down all of the walls. This may mean that it was not designed to handle internal weight, which can weaken the structure of your roof.
If you have an attic that is sound enough for flooring installation, then you should choose your materials carefully. You want something that will not raise the ground level too much in this limited space, and which isn't too heavy, causing unnecessary strain on the structure of the building.
In my latest article I discuss attic flooring options in detail, going into all of the considerations you have to account for before proceeding. Improper installation can be dangerous to the entire structure of your home if you don't know what you're doing, so it may be best to consult with a professional before proceeding.
The purpose of any floor is to be walked upon. At the same time, the environment that it is installed in will have an effect on the material. The ability to retain the original appearance of the surface, without having to resort to heavy cleaning or maintenance regimens, is of course a concern in high traffic living rooms. However an even more important issue is the floors ability to make your living room feel inviting, so that people will want to walk in and on.
Many people opt for soft materials such as carpet, cork, and padded resilient sheets in family gathering rooms. These have the ability to make the entire room feel cushioned and safe, and will often lead to kids using the floor as a play area. You can even join them, allowing the entire room to open up for games and activities.
If you choose a harder living room flooring material then you will get a more dignified, formal space. Hardwood planks, natural stone, and ceramic are all low maintenance options. These straight, solid surfaces can also be softened through the use of rugs and area mats.© 2011 HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved