Monthly Archives: July 2011

Nylon vs. Polyester Carpet: Which is Better?

carpeting_image1When shopping for carpet, a lot of people naturally focus on carpet fiber and often assume that nylon is always better than polyester.  However, carpet fiber is only one of the factors that you need to consider.   Equally important are carpet construction factors like density, filament type and twist level.  All of these elements together determine how a carpet will perform and what it will cost.  When shopping for carpet, it helps to have a general understanding of these factors in order to make the best decision.  In this week’s post, we’ll look the difference between fibers and next week we’ll talk about carpet construction.

Carpet Fiber: Carpet’s Basic Ingredient 

The four basic fibers used in carpet today are nylon, polypropylene (Olefin), polyester and wool.  Since synthetic fibers make up 99% of the fiber in the US carpet industry, we’ll focus on them.   Each type of fiber has its strengths and weaknesses which determine how it can be used and constructed.  Keep in mind there is no perfect fiber and carpet is a fabric that is subjected to incredible abuse – foot traffic, accidental spills and environmental contaminants.

Nylon

Durable, Resilient & Versatile

Nylon is more expensive than other synthetic carpet fibers and is the most commonly used carpet fiber today. Nylon is the most versatile of all fibers, providing flexibility in creating a variety of carpet styles – from sumptuous plush to fashion-forward patterns to low-maintenance loop (Berber).  Its strengths include good resiliency, good yarn memory to hold twist, good stain resistance with stain treatment applied, good soil hiding ability, and good abrasion resistance. It is the strongest fiber, making it an excellent choice for heavy traffic areas, active households or commercial facilities.

Be aware that there can be considerable cost differences even between two similar-looking nylon products. Nylon, for example, may be branded or unbranded and, as we mentioned, carpet construction greatly influences value, price and performance. You really can’t judge a carpet by appearance or fiber weight alone. As an example, Shaw’s Anso nylon is a branded, premium nylon and comes with some of the strongest warranties in the industry, including Lifetime Stain and Soil Resistance (even pet urine stains!).  Anso nylon carpets cost more, but you’re getting a premium nylon with excellent construction properties and the warranties reflect this.  What you care about is that your carpet will look newer longer.

If you are looking for value goods, unbranded nylons offer a considerable benefit for the money. These products may have fewer features and less robust warranties, but you’ll still get the inherent benefits of nylon (durability and resiliency) at a lower price.

Polypropylene (Olefin)

Color Fast, Naturally Stain Resistant, Economical

Olefin is one of the most colorfast fibers on the market.  Unlike the other fiber types, polypropylene will not absorb water and must be solution dyed to impart color.  Solution dyeing is a pigmentation process in which color is actually built into the fiber when it is formed, thereby becoming an inherent part of the fiber.  The color will not fade, even when exposed to intense sunlight, bleaches, or other harsh chemicals.  However, since it is not as resilient as other fibers, polypropylene is better suited to low-profile loop (Berber) carpets in which there is less need for superior resiliency.   The one exception to this is a type of olefin called “Comfortouch” by Shaw.  This new fiber is softer to the feel because it is scoured three times during production. Then the fiber is treated with Shaw’s R2X, a patented Stain and Soil inhibitor for enhanced protection against spills and tracked-in dirt. The result is a fiber that feels like cotton, resists soil and stains, and wears better than other olefin carpet.

Olefin carpets work well anywhere you need fade and stain resistance – in rooms with strong sunlight, indoor/outdoor rooms, kitchens, children’s bedrooms & playrooms, and basements.

Polyester

Exceptionally Stain & Fade-Resistant, Soft, & Budget-Friendly

If you need stain-resistance, this is your carpet!  Just to give you an example, we know a customer who spilled hair dye on her 6 month old polyester carpet. Although hair dye is on the list of stains that are NOT warranted, this customer got the stain out with laundry detergent and water. Now that’s impressive!

While not as inherently resilient as nylon, polyester carpets will perform well if constructed well.  So choose a polyester carpet with a higher pile and medium-high density to ensure maximum appearance retention and long-term wear.  You can also refer to the durability ratings on the back of carpet samples to help you assess how a carpet will stand up to traffic.

If you’ve never considered polyester carpeting before, you might want to look at Shaw’s New ClearTouch carpets which are made of a new type of polyester called PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate).  This new polyester “ups the ante” in terms of performance.  ClearTouch carpets feature:

  • exceptional softness
  • natural and permanent stain resistance, including pet urine stains
  • improved strength and better abrasion resistance
  • excellent appearance retention and long-term wear
  • 25% recycled content from recycled soda and water bottles

The new PET polyester carpets pack in a lot of performance for the money! They are a great choice for children’s bedrooms & playrooms as well as for people who don’t want to put a lot money into their carpet.  We highly recommend you choose a PET polyester with a higher pile and medium-high density to ensure maximum appearance retention and long-term wear.

Key Takeaway:  The type of carpet fiber you want really depends on your priorities and needs.  A family room and hallway in an active household may require a better-grade nylon carpet.  Some people simply like the peace of mind that nylon’s strong warranties provide.  Rooms that are not frequently used may not need a high-performance nylon.  For folks on a budget, a tightly twisted, medium dense PET polyester carpet that is multicolored to help hide traffic and soil may be all that you need.  As with any large purchase, do your homework, read your warranties and be sure to communicate your needs and wants to your decorating consultant so that he or she can help you make the best choice for your home and family. 

Reasons to Buy Local

cleveland-resized-600Dear Readers,

Permit us this digression from our usual postings.  We loved this article published by Mitch Allen, President of Mimi Vanderhaven, a Northeast Ohio publication dedicated to supporting local businesses (Mimi Vanderhaven) and we wanted to share it.

If you, like me, are tired of:

  • buying products that never live up to your expectations and break or wear out before they’re even paid for
  • paying for meals at chain restaurants that offer little to no nutrition
  • settling for poor (or nonexistent) customer service from passionless employees
  • the pathetic return on our tax dollars (whoa – now there’s a whole other blog article!)

If, like me, you are more concerned about the value you’re getting for your money, believe in “quality over quantity” and like to deal with service-driven companies who are passionate about what they do, then read on and enjoy!

ASKING FOR MORE

“We get what we ask for in life, and most of us ask for too little.”

by Mitch Allen

Since my brother’s death last year, plus the long, cold Northeast Ohio winter and my own bout with a lingering flu this spring, I have fundamentally changed how I approach the world. If I wake up in the morning, I find myself feeling grateful. If I wake up in the morning and I feel good, I’m downright giddy.

In the poem “Joy” by George Bilgere, he describes getting over the flu this way:

The baker has come back to his store
and everything smells like warm baguettes.
The children are playing in the schoolyard,
the piano bars along the river
have thrown open their doors.

As a result of my new appreciation for life and health, I’m eating a lot more ice cream. Several times each week you’ll find me at Strickland’s, Country Maid, or East Coast Frozen Custard hurriedly licking the bottom edge of a chocolate ice cream cone trying to stay one step ahead of the melting. I justify the indulgence by telling myself that every day is a blessing and you don’t know how many more ice cream cones you’re going to get. It’s unlikely anyone on their death bed ever said, “I wish I would have eaten fewer ice cream cones.”

And just this week my daughter’s father-in-law, Realtor John Lasher, shared this quote with me: “We get what we ask for in life, and most of us ask for too little.”

I like that quote a lot. And at the risk of making too quick a transition, I think many national chains become popular because we all ask for too little.

We accept poor-quality, disposable goods because we like the low price.

We accept the fact that our new DVD player will break before the end of the year because it only cost $29.95.

We accept the bland sauces offered by most chain restaurants because we have come to expect lots of added sugar and salt to dazzle our taste buds without relying on the genuine flavors of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices.

We accept invitations from all kinds of companies to deduct $20 from our checking accounts each month even though we did not use their services.

In general, we accept too many people in line and too few stars in the sky.

At the end of the day, we like what’s familiar more than we like what’s best. What’s familiar makes us feel safe. I once said to a college professor, “I know what I like.” The professor replied, “No. You like what you know.”

For eight years now, we at Mimi Vanderhaven have been encouraging our readers to explore the unknown, to try local businesses with unfamiliar names. Often you write us thank you notes expressing your appreciation for introducing you to a new favorite business. Occasionally you write us far less flattering letters, questioning why we wrote about that place.

Either way, we like to think we’re doing our job.

If every day is a blessing, why do we dine and shop at the same places over and over again? If we only have number of ice cream cones left to enjoy, why would we buy one so regularly from Dairy Queen instead of branching out to some of Northeast Ohio’s many local ice cream shops and creameries?

For me, life is no longer about comfortably enjoying the same things. Inherent in that is the danger that I am asking for too little. Instead, I’m now going to ask for more—and occasionally be disappointed in what I get. But that’s okay.

The phrase, “Honey, let’s go out to eat” is not simply an invitation to secure convenient nutrition. It also represents the opening line of a grand adventure.

I thank my brother for teaching me that.

Window Treatments that Work with Sliding Glass Doors

Which window treatments can I use on my sliding glass doors besides vertical blinds?

We hear this question from many customers.  The short answer is … almost any window treatment will work on sliders, but some are better suited to large areas of glass.  There are also some cool, innovative products that are not only stylish, they work particularly well in vertical applications.

Before You Go Shopping

  • How much privacy and light control will you need in that room?   For example, if the slider is in a room where you watch TV, you’ll need a treatment that completely blocks light when closed.
  • What types of window treatments are on the other windows in that room and the rest of the house?  You’ll probably want your new window treatment to coordinate with them.
  • Which direction does your slider open (to the left or right)?  For ease of use, it’s better if your treatment opens in the same direction.
  • Measure your window opening (length, width and depth). This information will help your design consultant identify which treatments will work for your windows and calculate a cost estimate.

panel1Panel Track Blinds

  • Wide, vertical panels on a track that smoothly glide open and closed.
  • Available in a wide variety of fabrics, woven wood looks and solar screens
  • Great for Contemporary to Transitional interiors (e.g. Hunter Douglas’ Skyline Gliding Panels, left)

 

shuttersShutters

  • Shutter panels on a bypass track (or bifold track)
  • Adds a clean, classic look plus an unexpected wow factor to your slider (e.g. HD Heritance Shutters, right)
  • Available in stained or painted hardwood panels, as well as economical composite shutters (white, off-white or select stain colors)

verticalVertical Sheers

  • Combine the softness of draperies with the versatility of vertical blinds.
  • Best of both worlds – total privacy when closed; soft, filtered light when open
  • One of our favorites is AdoWrap (left), which features a sheer fabric that can cover existing verticals blinds.  Best of all, the fabric unsnaps and is completely washable!

 

 

vertical2Vertical Cellular Shades

  • Made of single or double honeycomb cells that when closed, trap outside air at the window, providing 20% more energy efficiency than standard verticals (HD Duette Vertiglide, right).
  • Operate on a track, pulling open and closed with a handle (no wand or cords).
  • Available in opaque, light-filtering or sheer fabrics.

curtainsCurtains and  Draperies

  • Fabrics add softness, color and personality to sliders
  • Use a traverse rod that pulls open in the same direction as the door (try a cornice or decorative traverse rod to add extra style)

Vertical Blinds

  • vertical3Don’t rule these out – check out the updated wood, fabric and vinyl looks, like grasscloth, raw silk, faux suede, woven wood and other textures (e.g HD Somner Vertical Blinds, right).
  • Economical, excellent light control and tailor-made for sliding glass doors.

 

Key Takeaway:  Today there are so many gorgeous options to dress your sliders.  The design consultants at Pucher’s can help you find the right one for your home.  Right now, enjoy FREE INSTALL when you buy window treatments over $499 (Excludes shutters & draperies.  Offer ends 9/3/11).

Luxury Vinyl Tile – A Floor You Can Live On

aduratile1-resized-600Luxury vinyl tile and plank floors offer homeowners a winning combination of style, comfort and durability. 

If you’re in the market for flooring, take a look at Luxury Vinyl Tile.  LVT is one of the hottest-selling floors right now and with good reason.  It’s a real multi-tasker – attractive, functional and low-maintenance.  You get the wood or tile looks you love, plus an unbelievably durable floor.

LVT is perfect for:

  • Rooms where moisture is an issue (kitchen, bath, laundry, basement)
  • Families with kids and pets
  • High-traffic areas

I can even give it a personal endorsement.   I installed Mannington Adura vinyl tile in both of our bathrooms and couldn’t be happier with it.  First, the tile looks just like ceramic – you can see and feel the embossed stone texture.  But, unlike ceramic, the floor is soft, quiet and warm to walk on.  It’s water-resistant, so I don’t have to worry about getting it wet when I step out of the shower.  Plus, Adura has a scratch-resistant wear layer that comes with a limited 20-Year Residential Warranty.  I have dropped all sorts of stuff on it and it doesn’t chip, crack or break.  It is easy to keep clean, requiring only light sweeping and mopping.

Luxury vinyl tiles usually come in 16″ x 16″ tiles  in a variety of realistic tile, stone and slate looks.  Mannington Adura comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and includes accent tiles to help you create a custom designed floor.  LVT can be installed with or without grout.  Most LVTs can be installed over any substrate as long as it is clean, dry and smooth.  Adhesive is required.

Luxury vinyl planks are usually 4″ – 5″ wide, just like hardwood planks.  Most vinyl planks are glued down, although some companies feature quick locking products that can be easily clicked in place without glue by the do-it-yourselfer.

mannington-adura-provence-resized-600At Pucher’s Decorating we feature and can recommend the following brands of LVT as well as other vinyl flooring:

  • Adura by Mannington ($2.19 – $5.95 per sq ft)
  • Array Luxury Vinyl Tile & Plank by Shaw ($1.74 – $5.07 per sqft)
  • PermaStone by Tarkett ($3.99 per sqft)

The sale prices listed are current through 9/3/11.  Whichever look you choose, we think you’ll be pleased with the style and performance of your luxury vinyl tile floor.   Tell us about your experience with LVT.

Key Takeaway:  Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) gives you the best of all worlds – realistic stone and wood looks in a floor that is comfortable underfoot with unsurpassed durability.  It is truly a floor you can live on. 

Window Treatments That Save You Money

Choosing energy-efficient window treatments can save you money on monthly utility bills and at tax time.

Windows are “energy holes.”  Although today’s sealed, double-paned windows do a good job of preventing air flow, they still offer little resistance to the flow of heat. In fact, up to 50% of your home’s heating and cooling energy pours through them.  That means that one half of your home’s heating and cooling expenses goes through them as well.   Installing the right window treatments in your home can reduce heating, cooling, and lighting energy needs in 3 ways.

Three Ways to Save Energy

1.  Reduce heat flow (heat loss and heat gain) through the windows
R-Value:  R-values measure resistance to heat flow.  The walls of a newer home typically have an R-value of 19, while standard double-pane windows have an R-value of about 2.   Energy-saving window treatments can add up to 4 points to a window’s R-value, cutting heat loss by up to 2/3.  Imagine the impact of this insulation on your utility bills!

Insulating Window Treatments that boost R-values:
money1Developed in the 1970’s in response to the energy crisis, honeycomb or cellular shades are one of the most energy-efficient window treatments you can buy.  We like the Hunter Douglas Duette Architella Honeycomb Shades (pictured right), which increase R-values by up to 4 points!  Other good options include shutters, roman shades and horizontal sheer blinds.  Whichever window treatments you choose, make sure they can be inside-mounted, flush against your window casement or you won’t see much benefit.

2.   Control solar heat by allowing it in winter and reducing it in summer

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) – Measured on a scale of 0 to 1, this tells us what fraction of solar energy hitting the window actually enters the home.  Lower numbers are better.  Standard double-pane windows have a SHGC of 0.76 – meaning 76% gets in the home!  If you live in a sunny climate or have a south or west-facing room that gets a lot of sun in the summer, choose window treatments that are light in color to reflect as much solar energy as possible.

In the winter, you can take advantage of this free solar energy to reduce your heating bills.  Simply raise or open window coverings whenever direct sunlight is shining on the window – in the morning for east windows, in the afternoon for west windows and most of the day for south windows.


money2Window Treatments that Reduce Your SHGC:

Almost all window treatments reduce the SHGC when closed, but those with the best SHGC ratings include HD Duette Architella honeycomb shades, vertical blinds, shutters, roman shades and opaque draperies.   We like Hunter Douglas Luminette Privacy Sheers (pictured right), which reduce SHGC to 0.20, blocking 80% of solar energy.

3.   Enhance daylighting (the use of natural light) by diffusing and dispersing sunlight deep into a room.   

money3The biggest problem homeowners face is direct sunlight.  It creates too much contrast in a room.  Dark areas seem darker and sunlit areas are harsh and glaring.  The goals of “daylighting” are to even the intensity of incoming light and bring it deeper into the room.  Certain window treatments can diffuse harsh sunlight, evening it out and making it softer.  HD Silhouette Window Shadings (pictured right) do a beautiful job of diffusing light and also block 99% of UV rays, protecting your furnishings.  Honeycomb shades and vertical sheers are other good daylighting options.

2011 Federal Energy Tax Credit

In addition to saving money on energy bills, you may be eligible to receive a federal tax credit of up to $500 when you purchase the following energy-efficient window treatments (through December 31, 2011):

  • Honeycomb shades
  • Plantation shutters
  • Draperies, especially those identified as “insulated drapes”
  • Window films with insulating properties

Please note that manufacturers must certify that their window treatments meet the federal government’s criteria for energy efficiency, such as Hunter Douglas’ Duette Architella honeycomb shades and Comfortex’s Comfortrack system.  So make sure you receive documented proof of this certification.  You won’t have to submit the certification statement with your tax return, but you’ll need it and a copy of the sales receipt for your records.

Key Takeaway:  Energy-efficient window treatments are a smart investment.  They not only add style and comfort to your home, they can save you money on your monthly utility bills and also at tax time.

Decorating Ideas for Ceilings

Learn 3 ways to decorate your ceilings and transform the look of your rooms.

Most people don’t give a lot of thought to their ceilings when they’re redecorating.   After choosing their wall colors, they opt for white or off-white paint as an afterthought.  But, by doing that, you draw attention upward without giving the eye much to look at.   A wasted design opportunity.   Applying color, sheen, pattern, and texture on the ceiling can transform the entire look and feel of a room.   Here are some ideas we hope will inspire you to have a little fun with the “5th wall”.

Think About Your Goals

  • Do you want to highlight the ceiling?  If your ceiling features interesting architectural details, like stained wood beams or beautiful moulding, you definitely want to focus on those.    Tray and dome ceilings also beg for attention.
  • Do you want to make the room look bigger or feel cozier?  Using color strategically can help achieve that.
  • If your ceiling is unusually shaped or just unremarkable, then maybe you just want to direct attention away from it.

ceiling1Create a Focal Point/Add Drama

Faux finishes and decorative painting techniques add a WOW factor and drama to any decor, but especially when applied to such “unexpected” places as ceilings.  You can use glazing, Venetian plaster, stencils and wallcovering to achieve this look.  The kitchen ceiling pictured was painted with a Benjamin Moore Metallic Specialty Finish .

ceiling2Make Your Room Feel Cozier

A large room with high ceilings can feel impersonal or unbalanced sometimes when furnishings, floor coverings and accessories visually occupy the bottom half of a room, leaving the top bare.   Experiment with a deeper color on the ceiling in this case. A rich cocoa in a soft sheen such as eggshell or pearl immediately cozies up and balances a large open space with style.

ceiling3Make Your Room Feel More Open

Make a small room or room with a low ceiling feel larger by keeping the color contrast between the walls and ceilings to a minimum. The pale yellow ceiling over wheat-colored walls in this room allows your eyes to gently travel upward without the stark demarcation created by a bright white ceiling (think of how the sky naturally lightens in an ombre effect as it approaches the sun).  Use a flat sheen paint for the best effect – it absorbs light and hides imperfections, leaving you nothing but pure, beautiful color overhead.

ceiling4Draw Attention Away from Your Ceiling

If you are dealing with a room with angled ceilings (like the one shown here) I always suggest painting the entire room the same color.  You don’t want to draw attention to this type of ceiling.  If the room is small and square with lower ceilings and you opt for a darker color on the walls, then I suggest painting the ceiling a lighter color which will suggest a higher ceiling.

So Don’t Forget Your “Fifth Wall”

Ceilings truly are a blank canvas for your creative expression, and as a bonus, you don’t have to worry about smudgy fingerprints or furniture nicks. And decorating your ceiling is a budget-friendly way to give any room in your home a new, inviting look. With a stunning ceiling to look at, it’ll be easy to keep your chin up even in a tight economy!

Key Takeaway:  Sometimes referred to as the “fifth wall,” ceilings need to be included in your overall decorating plans.  Applying color, sheen, pattern, and texture on the ceiling can transform the entire look and feel of your room.

We would love to see pics of what you’ve done with your ceilings.  Send them to randy@puchers.com and we’ll post them in a future blog.