Monthly Archives: June 2012

Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring – Part 2

mannington-adura-provence-resized-600This week, we look at Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) as another smart alternative to hardwood flooring.  LVT is the fastest growing category in the flooring business.  Why?  Like laminate flooring, it provides the natural, elegant look of wood, tile and stone at a more reasonable cost.  But the real story of LVT is its exceptional durability.  LVT is so durable that many of them are even recommended for light commercial use.

  • Exceptional Durability

Because LVT is constructed to withstand commercial wear and tear, it’s probably “over-qualified” for residential use and can handle high-traffic areas with ease. Warranties vary by manufacturer, but it’s not unusual to see 20-25 year warranties on brand name LVT.   Specialized wear layers (most commonly 20 mil) are engineered to be scratch-, stain-, dent- and scuff-resistant.   Then the floors are coated with urethane to enhance durability.

  • Realistic-Looking

LVT planks feature incredibly realistic photo replications of hardwood, with handsome graining, realistic knotholes, worn saw marks and beveled edges embedded in the wear layer.  This gives the floors the look and feel of real wood finishes at a fraction of the cost.

  • Naturally Water-Resistant

If  you’ve been longing for a hardwood look in your basement or bathroom – moisture prone areas that would normally be “off limits” for traditional wood flooring – this is your floor!  LVT can take water spillage and it’s possible that it may even survive flooding, provided that the floor was installed correctly and that you remove the water ASAP.  Now that’s impressive!

  • Safe & Comfortable Underfoot

Vinyl is inherently slip-resistant, making LVT a good flooring choice for folks with mobility problems, as well as kids and pets.  Plus, LVT is comfortable to walk on.  Because they contain multi-layers of vinyl as well as a resilient backing as the foundation, LVT tiles and planks have more resilience underfoot than hardwood.  It’s easier to stand on for long periods of time and it tends to be warmer underfoot than ceramic.

  • Fast & Easy to Install

LVT floors are either glued to or “floated” over a subfloor.  Although no underlayment is necessary, the subfloor needs to be secure, free of moisture, smooth and level.  This is important because roughness or unevenness of the subfloor may “telegraph” through the vinyl planks, resulting in an unsightly surface and excessive wear on high spots.  The cost and time involved in installation will depend on the condition of the subfloor.  That said, most LVT floors will be less expensive to install than hardwood.  As always, we recommend using trained, professional installers for the best long-term performance of any flooring product.  But the skilled “Do-It-Yourselfer” can save even more money by using special Luxury Vinyl Planks made for glueless installation.

  • Easy to Maintain

Simple damp mopping with a manufacturer-approved cleaner is the recommended cleaning procedure for LVT floors.  Although LVT is tough and durable, if a plank does become damaged, it can be removed and replaced.

mannington-adura-plank4-resized-600Our Favorite Luxury Vinyl Plank

Since its introduction in 2007, MANNINGTON ADURA® has been a perennial favorite of our customers.  In my opinion, it’s the most realistic-looking of the LVT products.  Mannington’s Adura collection features a nice variety of hardwood species, textures and plank sizes.  Adura Planks are available in today’s most popular 4″, 5″, 6″, and also variable width planks.  Take a look at Mannington Adura flooring in “Dockside” (pictured, above left) – a reclaimed and restored wood visual that makes a bold statement in design, color, and character.

freefit-amendoim-resized-600In a field of products known for their durability, Adura is “the best of the best” and is backed by a 20-Year Residential Warranty against wear, fading, staining, de-laminating and defects.  In fact, I can’t think of one instance where a customer has had a problem with an Adura floor.  The floor is that good (and our installers are that good)!

FREE FIT LVT Floors are new to Pucher’s.  When we learned about them, we were impressed by their innovation.   First of all, they’re totally glueless, making them really easy to install.  FreeFit planks feature a suction backing that forms an anti-skid surface between the subfloor & the plank.  FreeFit Planks are dense – the weight of the product allows it to lay flat to the subfloor. So, assuming you’ve got a good subfloor, the Free Fit floor is extremely stable and no glue required!  FreeFit claims to have the best warranty in the business – a Limited Lifetime Residential Warranty & 15 Year Commercial Warranty.  Pictured above, right is FreeFit LVT in Amendoim (Brazilian Oak).

Key Takeaway:  Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) and Planks will give your rooms a realistic hardwood look with more durability and for less money!  Now that’s a great value!

Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring – Part I

Who doesn’t love the look of hardwood flooring? 

The look of natural wood grain adds warmth and beauty to any home.  But hardwood flooring is not for everyone.  For one thing, wood flooring can be expensive, especially if you like exotic species, designer finishes or reclaimed wood floors.  Plus, families with active households, children and/or pets may need a floor with more durability.  While hardwood finishes are continuously improving, if you’ve got kids or pets, scratches and dents are unavoidable.  To spare your household the frustration, it’s worth considering some alternatives to hardwood.  With today’s advanced manufacturing techniques, “faux” wood flooring is becoming so realistic-looking, it is often hard to tell the difference between faux and the real thing!   Here are several attractive flooring options that will give you the look of hardwood with more durability and for less money.

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About Laminate

Laminate flooring is popular today in North America and all over the world, although it started as a European innovation. For households and offices which require a low maintenance flooring solution, laminate is attractive, durable, easy to install, and reasonably priced.  It’s a great choices for households with heavy foot traffic, kids, or pets.

Benefits of Laminate

Laminate is a floor you can live on.  In fact, laminates are best known for their durability.  Laminate planks are constructed of three to seven layers of material.  The decorative layer features a photographic image that looks just like natural hardwood including grain, stain color and knots.  This decorative layer is glued and pressed to a high-density core and backing board, which provide structural stability.  The photo layer is then sealed with a transparent, wear-resistant coating that gives laminates their longevity.   This layer makes laminate flooring highly resistant to scratches, scuffs, stains, fading, and moisture.  Laminate floors are so durable, many manufacturers offer 10-25 year, even lifetime residential warranties.

Another thing you’ll love about laminate is that it is fast and easy to install. Laminate flooring can be installed over floors like wood, tile, vinyl or linoleum because laminates are usually “floated” which means they are not fastened directly to the subfloor. All that is required is that the underlying surface be clean, dry and level. The easiest to install are the “Click & Go” laminates (no glue or nails required) that feature a “tongue and groove” design in which planks easily “snap” together and lock in place, making a tight seal that resists even water.  Plus, laminate planks are wider than hardwood planks, so there are fewer boards to cut and the floor can be installed in a shorter time.  So DIY homeowners can save money by installing it themselves.  But even if you use a professional installer, laminate installation costs will still be less than hardwood installation.

Speaking of cost, laminate flooring is about 25-50% less expensive than comparable hardwood floors.  So if you love the look of Brazilian Cherry or wide plank reclaimed barnwood, you can still have that look for a LOT less money!

Last, let’s talk about moisture resistance.  There are some places in your home where hardwood flooring shouldn’t go – basements, bathrooms and anywhere moisture is an issue.  Moisture will absolutely cause a beautiful hardwood floor to warp and gap.  Laminates are constructed to be moisture-resistant and are a perfect way to add the warmth and beauty of natural wood to these areas.  Please note that while laminate flooring is water-resistant, it is not waterproof.  So don’t leave water standing on your laminate floor and wipe up spills immediately.

The Underlayment

One note of caution – when installing a laminate or any other floated floor, always use an underlayment or pad underneath and buy the best pad you can afford.  The quality of the pad is just as important as the quality of laminate you buy.  A good pad or underlayment acts as a cushion between the subfloor and laminate.  It is usually made of cork, rubber or foam and accomplishes several things:

  • Evens out bumps on a poured cement slab or plywood subfloor.  This puts less pressure on the interlocking mechanism of a floating floor and improves its structural integrity.
  • Prevents moisture penetration from the subfloor below into the backside of the floating floor, especially critical in concrete slab installations.
  • Acts as a sound insulator.  All floated floors, including laminate, tend to be “noisier” than floors that are nailed to a subfloor.  You may notice a hollow sound when you walk on floated floors with hard-soled shoes or when your dog runs across the floor.  This can drive some people crazy and many learn about it only after the floor is in.  A sound insulating pad is especially important in rooms on concrete slabs and in condo/apartment buildings where there are people living above or below you.
  • Prevents heat loss, especially in below grade installations.
  • Provides extra cushioning making your floor more comfortable to walk on.

Cleaning, Maintenance & Repair

Laminate flooring is virtually maintenance-free. Routine cleaning requires you only to vacuum, use a dust mop, or a slightly damp (not wet) mop and dry with a clean, white cotton cloth. For damp-mopping, use a hard surface cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.

Laminate floors are tough, but they are not indestructible.  Dropping something heavy can dent the floor.  Dragging something heavy like a refrigerator can scratch the floor.   In the event that the floor becomes damaged, the affected plank will need to be replaced.  So make sure you save extra planks for just such an occasion.

Our Favorite Laminate Floors

I have to admit, I was not a fan of laminate flooring until a couple of years ago when my husband and I  adopted two doodles.   Within six months, our beautifully smooth hardwood floor was littered with scratch marks.  So, we went out and bought large area rugs which ended up covering most of the wood floor.  So what was the point of spending all that money on a hardwood floor?   Another reason I am re-thinking laminate is because there are some really attractive laminate floors available today.  Today’s laminate floors are so realistic-looking, you almost can’t tell the difference!

endless-beauty-laminate-edited-resized-600

Case in point – my current favorite laminate is called Endless Beauty (pictured, above).  It is made in Germany – so you know it’s a quality product.  What’s unique about this product is how the grain and texture is repeated from board to board.  This creates a unique long board visual and mimics how reclaimed wood is manufactured.  You’ll also note how the embossed surface and matte texture gives the floor a natural look and feel.  If you love the look of reclaimed flooring, but don’t want to pay $15 SF and up, stop in to Pucher’s and ask about Endless Beauty.

QuickStep is “America’s Favorite Laminate” and you can see why!  They offer an extensive selection of hardwood species, styles and colors.  You’re sure to find a QuickStep floor to complement your interiors.

quickstep-laminate-girls-bedroom-edited-resized-600You’ll find rustic looks like hand-scraped, white-washed, barnwood and reclaimed wood. In the photo on the left, Quickstep’s White Brushed Pine Planks add a charming contrast in this girl’s bedroom.  The bonus is the floor not only looks great, but it will stand up to years of sleepovers, pets and play.

Note the authentic surface texture of the Dark Wenge Planks (pictured right).  QuickStep offers a wide selection of exotic wood looks like Brazilian Cherry, Merbau and Santos Mahogany.

quickstep-laminate-dark-wenge-resized-600Here’s a more classic look, but still stunning – Quickstep’s Walnut Planks.

Quickstep offers consumers more than just gorgeous hardwood looks.  QuickStep Floors:

  • Are Made in the US
  • Feature Limited Residential Lifetime Warranty
  • Offer longer planks lengths

Key Takeaway:

I hope we’ve convinced you to take another look at laminate flooring.  Laminates give you a lot of bang for your buck.  They are:

  • Economical – Less expensive way to get an upscale hardwood look
  • Durable – Does not stain or fade like hardwood, or scratch or scuff as easily as tile
  • Moisture resistant – Great for kitchens, bathrooms, and basements
  • Fast & Easy installation – Especially with “click and lock” laminates
  • Easy Maintenance

Decorating With Kane Carpet

“Your home should tell YOUR story. It should look just like you. It should be an interesting and smart backdrop for your life. There is nothing worse than an impersonal room!” 

Celebrity Designer, Thom Felicia

We couldn’t agree more!  So when decorating a room, start with something that inspires you – like a piece of artwork that speaks to you or a gorgeous patterned carpet or area rug that you fall in love with. That piece can then guide the design of the rest of the room – from paint colors to furniture to fabrics.  That’s why we’re so excited to introduce you to our new Kane Carpet Collection!  Kane does not produce your ‘run-of-the-mill’ beige plush carpet.  Kane Carpets feature gorgeous designs, colors and textures that are elegant and lend a one-of-a-kind look to your home!

kane-display-resized-600How Kane Carpet is Different

There are three main types of broadloom carpet construction in use today – machine woven, tufted & hand knotted.  Kane Carpet is machine woven carpet.  Machine woven carpets like Axminster and Wilton (named after the English cities where these weaving processes originated) are made by massive looms that weave together ‘bobbins’ of carpet yarn and backing. The finished result, which can be intricately patterned (see the Kane Carpet display, right), creates a floor that provides supreme underfoot luxury with high performance.

Since 1947, Kane Carpet has been an established trend-setter in the broadloom carpet industry, producing fashion-forward carpets of superior quality.  These carpets will last 20 to 30 years and are extremely popular in areas where longevity and design flexibility are a big part of the purchasing decision. In fact, you’ll find Kane Carpets in some of the world’s finest hotels, including The Plaza Hotel (NYC) and The Bellagio Hotel & Casino (Las Vegas).  Many homes also use woven Axminsters to make design statements.

stair1Decorating with Patterned Carpet

Patterned Carpets add an unexpected “wow factor” to any space.  Foyers and hallways are normally areas that people just pass through.  Adding a patterned stair runner is an inexpensive way to add punch to any entry way or hallway.

Jazz Up Your Neutral Interiors

But what if you’re not ready to make a bold statement with your carpet?  You can still use tone-on-tone patterned carpets to add to texture, warmth and visual interest to neutral decor.

Coordinating Your Design Elements

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Obviously, when you’re introducing new patterns into your space, you have to make sure it complements the elements of your decor in terms of color and scale.  It’s okay to use  different patterns in the same room as long as they are in the same color family and you strike a balance with their scale.  Most designers follow the 60-30-10 Rule when working with pattern and color.  For example, in this bedroom, there are three patterns.  But note they are all done in the same color family; they vary in terms of their size and they are balanced with solid colors. For example, in the photos below, the large patterns take up 60% of the space, the solid colors take up 30% of the space and the smaller patterns make up the 10%.  Using patterns of different sizes keeps the room from looking like a circus.  Instead, you have an artfully coordinated design scheme.

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Patterned Carpets Work with Any Decor

Whether your style is traditional, transitional or contemporary, patterned carpets add a sophisticated, one-of-a-kind look to your home.

Key Takeaway:  Kane Carpets use intricate designs, colors and textures to add a “one of a kind look to your interiors.  Stop in to one of our three locations and our design consultants will be happy to show you to use patterned carpets to make a statement in your home.

Blinds vs. Shades – Which are Better?

These are basically two types of window treatments, although they come in a wide variety of styles and with lots of options.

Blinds are “hard” window treatments with slats or vanes made of wood, composite, vinyl or aluminum.  They can be horizontal or vertical.  Shutters are a gorgeous alternative but function in much the same way.

Shades are “soft” window coverings made of fabric, vinyl, woven woods or grasses.

When deciding between the two and selecting any type of window treatment you need to consider these factors:

vigtailored_powerrisetwo_bathroom-resized-600Privacy & Light Control

How will you use the room?  Bedrooms and bathrooms have an obvious need for privacy and light control, as well as rooms where you’ll watch TV or work at a computer.  Blinds provide the most flexibility with privacy & light control because they can be raised or lowered, as well as tilted open or closed depending upon the amount of privacy/light you desire.   With shades, privacy & light control is mainly achieved by raising or lowering the shade, but also depends on the type and color of material you choose.  Shade materials range from sheer to light filtering to completely light blocking. (Note that darker fabrics block more light, as the Hunter Douglas Vignette roman shade pictured above  demonstrates.)

graber-cellular-1-resized-600Climate & Natural Light

The right window treatment can actually increase your home’s energy efficiency.  Western and Southern facing rooms receive strong warm light, plus homes in Southern climates or anywhere in the summer require stronger light & heat control.  Energy-efficient window treatments like cellular/honeycomb shades (shown here from Graber) trap hot or cold air at the window.  In a Northern climate, during the winter months or in a North-facing room, you might want to allow more light in to take advantage of the sun’s radiant heat.   Moreover, UV light can damage, fade or darken beautiful hardwood floors and fine furnishings.  In these rooms, you may want to consider window shades specifically made to block UV light.

heritance-truview-childsroom_1-resized-600Architectural Details & Room Decor

Great architectural details, like the bay window (pictured right), take center stage with coordinating wood shutters or blinds.   The clean, tailored lines of shutters and blinds also complement contemporary, classic and masculine interiors.  If you’re going for a more feminine, romantic look you would opt for a soft window shade or drapery.

Also, consider the mix of materials in your room’s decor.  Ideally, you want to achieve a balance between hard materials like wood, tile & stone, metal and soft materials like fabric. For example, if your room has porcelain tile on the floor, wood and metal tables with leather furniture,  the softness & texture of a roman shade will help balance the decor.

silhouette-views-resized-600Your Lovely Views

If you’re blessed with gorgeous views outside, you’ll want shades that completely retract into the headrail or blinds/shutters with larger slats (2′” or more) that preserve more of the view outside when open.  One gorgeous option is the Hunter Douglas’ Silhouette window shading (pictured left) which does both!

Cleaning & Maintenance

In general, blinds and shutters are easier to clean than shades.  You simply dust or wipe down the slats.  Some blinds even feature removable slats!  Shades are a little trickier and are usually just spot-cleaned as needed.  Some fabric shades can be removed and cleaned in the bathtub with mild soap and water.  Our sales consultants will provide you with each manufacturer’s recommended cleaning and care tips.

Key Takeaway:  There are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for window treatments.  Our design consultants are window treatment experts and will help you navigate all the options to find the perfect blinds or shades for your home and family.