Flooring For Less



  1. What is Laminate flooring?

    Laminate flooring offers the look of hardwood or stone flooring, but without the expense and required maintenance.

    Laminate flooring usually is made from high-density fiber or wood particles, with a laminate overlay that is designed to look like wood or stone. A clear, hard layer is placed on top, giving the laminate floor its durability. Laminate flooring has become a popular way to update the look of a home.

  2. Pros of Laminate Floors

    •Price and Installation

    Laminate flooring is cheaper and easier to install than hardwood flooring. Prices range from about $1.50 per sq. ft. to $3 per sq. ft, but you can find better deals from wholesalers and from online distributors. Laminate flooring can be placed on top of almost any existing floor, excluding carpet, and several manufacturers offer a glue-free, tongue-and-groove system. The interlocking planks make it an easy installation for weekend warriors and it can be uninstalled without damaging the laminate or the original flooring underneath.



    Laminate flooring works well in high-traffic areas and homes with pets. It is scratch-resistant, durable and easy to clean. Just use a dust mop or a mop dampened with water. Most manufacturers offer at least a 10-year warranty on their product.


    •Resale Value

    Laminate flooring can add to the resale value of your home. Most home buyers are looking for hardwood floors instead of carpet. Laminate gives you the wood look for less and can make your home look more open and modern. It also is environmentally friendly because it uses less wood – if any – in its construction.

  3. Cons of Laminate Floors


    Laminate flooring does not absorb sound well and can have a hollow sound when you walk on it, particularly in high heels. Using an acoustic underlay will help reduce the noise, but it still may be a nuisance. Laminate also lacks the visual warmth of other materials, including hardwood.


    •Buyers Know It’s Not Hardwood

    Although laminate floors will increase a home’s value compared to wall-to-wall carpeting, hardwood floors will increase it even more. Buyers generally can tell the difference between laminate and hardwood or stone, and they prefer natural materials.


    •Design Options

    Another drawback is that the look of the flooring is set by the manufacturer. Color and sheen cannot be customized so choices are limited, and a buyer may not like your selection. Hardwood floors can be sanded and re-stained.



    The materials in laminate flooring are moisture resistant, but the floors can warp in high-moisture areas. There is a debate over whether it should be installed in kitchens and bathrooms or other rooms that are exposed to heavy water or steam. Most manufactures warn that laminate flooring will be damaged by standing pools of water. This is true of other materials as well, but hardwood floors may be able to be sanded and refinished. Laminate floors would have to be replaced.


    Kera Ritter

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Engineered wood flooring

  1. What is engineered wood flooring?

    Engineered wood flooring is an exciting alternative to solid hardwood flooring. Even though flooring companies would loudly protest at my description, engineered flooring basically is a sandwich of finish wood and plywood. The finish wood is what you see and walk on. The plywood underneath comprises 80-90% of the floor.

    But it's the plywood that distinguishes engineered wood flooring from solid hardwood. Each ply runs perpendicular to its adjacent ply, giving dimensional strength to the sandwich. This means that engineered wood flooring stands up well to areas with light moisture--basements and bathrooms.

    Another great thing about engineered wood is the range of installation options. The thinner varieties can be nailed down; the thicker kinds can be installed as floating floors. Floating floors are the great boon to do-it-yourselfers--no heavy staplers to lug around, no sub-floor. As long as your existing floor is level and stable, you can install the floating floor right on top.

    Engineered wood flooring's greatest weakness is its thin top layer. Remarkably, this 1/16" to 1/8" finish layer can be sanded. But only once or twice. Three is pushing it. In any case, I strongly recommend you seek the advice of a reputable flooring company before sanding. Unlike solid hardwood, deep scratches and dents in engineered wood cannot be sanded out.

  2. Is engineered wood, real wood?

    Engineered wood, is real wood. It is a sandwich of 1/16" to 1/8" of finish wood on top and non-finish plywood underneath. So, what you're looking at is 100% genuine wood.

    But did you know that it's actually better to have plywood underneath? That's right: the middle layer of plywood is laid cross-ways to the finish layer, providing additional strength to the flooring.

  3. What is the engineered wood Species options?

    Whatever specie of solid hardwood, there is an equivalent specie of engineered wood flooring.

  4. Is Engineered Wood Floor Pre-Finished?

    The top finish layer is pre-finished, which means that it's already sanded and sealed. As soon as the floor has been laid, you can walk on it.

    By contrast, unfinished solid hardwood must be sealed, and this requires waiting time before use.

  5. Can Engineered Wood Flooring Be Sanded?

    The advantage of engineered wood flooring versus laminate is that engineered wood can be sanded after scratches and dings develop. Two catches, though:

    •Limited Sanding - Engineered flooring cannot be sanded more than 1-3 times (depending on the thickness of the finish layer).

    •Professional Sanding Recommended - Because of the low tolerance for failure with sanding engineered wood, I seriously recommend that you have a professional do the sanding. It is very easy to gouge your engineered wood floor, revealing the plywood underneath.

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Solid wood

  1. What is solid wood?

    Solid wood is a term most commonly used to distinguish between ordinary lumber and engineered wood, but it also refers to structures that do not have hollow spaces.

  2. Comparing solid wood with engineered wood.

    Perhaps the greatest advantage of solid wood is appearance. Most people consider it more attractive than fiberboard, which is sometimes enhanced with a solid wood veneer or other overlays, such as formica or vinyl. It is also more attractive than oriented strand board, which is rarely used where it can be seen. Plywood has a similar look to wood, but its layered structure is visible on the ends.

    Solid wood is stronger than fiberboard, but not as strong as plywood or oriented strand board. Many engineered woods disintegrate if gotten wet, unlike solid wood.

    One of the most important disadvantages of solid wood is its significant cost. Engineered wood can be made from waste material like sawdust and chips, but solid wood requires large sections of wood that are relatively free from defects. Composite wood can also be made with trees that have soft or hard wood.

  3. What is Wood finishing?

    Wood finishing refers to the process of embellishing and/or protecting the surface of a wooden material. The process starts with surface preparation, either by sanding by hand (typically using a sanding block or power sander), scraping, or planing. Imperfections or nail holes on the surface may be filled using wood putty or pores may be filled using wood filler. Often, the wood's colour is changed by staining, bleaching, ammonia fuming and a number of other techniques. Some woods such as pine or cherry do not take stain evenly, resulting in "blotching". To avoid blotching, a barrier coat such as shellac or "wood conditioner" is applied before the stain. Gel stains are also used to avoid blotching.

    Once the wood surface is prepared and stained, a number of coats of finish may be applied, often sanding between coats. Commonly used wood finishes include wax, shellac, drying oils (such as linseed oil or tung oil), lacquer, varnish, or paint. Other finishes called "oil finish" or "Danish Oil" are actually thin varnishes with a relatively large amount of oil and solvent. Water-based finishes can cause what is called "raising the grain" where surface fuzz emerges and requires sanding down.

    Finally the surface may be polished or buffed using steel wool, pumice, rottenstone and other polishing or rubbing compounds depending on the shine desired. Often, a final coat of wax can be applied over the finish to add a slight amount of protection.

    French polishing is not polishing as such, but a method of applying many thin coats of shellac using a rubbing pad, yielding a very fine glossy finish.

    Special tools used to apply wood finishes include rags, rubbing pads, brushes, and spray guns. The processes involved and the terminology for the materials used are quite different in Britain than the processes and terms used in the USA. For instance, the process of replicating the look and feel of traditional French polished wood is more commonly done in the UK by "pulling over" precatalysed lacquer, within 24 hours of spraying, whereas in the US a "rubbed" finish is more common.

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  1. What is tile?

    Tile is a man made product made out of clay and it's heatproof, scratch resistant, long lasting, and relatively inexpensive. Even the average, handy homeowner can install it, saving a lot of labor

  2. What is porcelain tile?

    The primary ingredient in the composition of true porcelain tile is finely-ground sand. Unlike ceramic, processing of the porcelain composition involves pressure and extremely high temperature. The end result is a very dense, glass-like material with a water absorption rate of less than 0.5%. Because of its density and composition of natural ingredients, porcelain tile has all the same excellent qualities of glazed ceramic.

  3. What is ceramic tile?

    The term "ceramic tile" is often used as a generic name for all types of tile. But the composition of true ceramic is very different from that of the other types. Ceramic is made primarily of clay mixed with various minerals and water. This composition is then processed with heat to create the solidified product. Since ceramic material is porous, the top surface is usually sealed with a glaze. The glazed surface is referred to as the design layer since it determines the tile’s finished color, design and texture.

    Glazed ceramic tile is very durable, and when properly installed and cared for, it will last longer than any non-tile material used for the same purpose. It is also one of the easiest surfaces to clean, and because of its composition, it will not absorb odors, nor support allergens or bacteria. When coated with a Grade III or higher glaze, ceramic tile is highly resistant to scratching and moisture. Another important feature is that it will not burn, emit toxic fumes or scorch

  4. What is the Pros and Cons of ceramic and porcelain tile?

    Both ceramic and porcelain tiles have their positive and slightly less positive points, but they tend to offset each other. For example, since porcelain is a denser material, it is stronger than its ceramic counterpart. By the same token, porcelain’s hardness makes it a little more challenging to install. Porcelain tile requires special tools for cutting and shaping. The average do-it-yourselfer would not typically have these tools and may not be experienced enough to use them if they were rented or purchased.

    When comparing price and durability, there is little difference between ceramic and porcelain tile. Expensive and inexpensive styles are available in both types, and under normal circumstances, there would be no noticeable difference in wear between the two.

    The bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter which type of tile you select. Ceramic and porcelain are both exceptional floor and wall covering materials. The only problem you’ll have is deciding which size, color and texture will suit your needs.

  5. What is glass tile?

    Glass tile is basically glass that is made into various sized tiles and finishes.

    Glass Tiles are available in different shapes including: Glass Tile Squares, Glass Tile Bricks, Glass Tile Sticks, Glass Tile Ovals, Glass Tile Rounds, and Glass Tile Mixed Sizes.

    Glass Tiles are available in different finishes, including: Polished Glass Tile, Glossy Glass Tile, Matte Glass Tile, Tumbled Glass Tile, Rippled Glass Tile, and Iridescent Glass Tile.

    Glass Tiles are available in individual pieces or mounted on a sheet depending in the size of the glass tile and the glass tile manufacturer.

    Glass Tile is frost resistant making it ideal for exterior applications such as pool, spa, fountain, and barbeque installations.

    Glass Tile is also stain resistant making it ideal for use as a kitchen back splash, bathroom wall, shower wall, and shower floor installations.

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Natural Stone

  1. What is travertine?

    Travertine belongs to the larger family of stone called limestone also known as Calcium Carbonate. Marble is also a type of limestone that has had additional heat and pressure applied to it by the earth’s crust. Travertine is formed by minerals dissolving in ground water and then being deposited on the earth’s surface by rivers, natural springs, or geysers.

  2. What colors does travertine come in?

    Travertine comes in many different colors including ivory, beige, walnut, noce, and gold. The color of travertine is the result of iron compounds or other organic impurities.

  3. What does the finished surface of travertine look like?

    Travertine can have four major finishes, polished (shiny), honed (matte), brushed and tumbled (textured surfaces). The type of finish given to the travertine will determine how shiny the surface will be. The polished and honed surfaces are flat and smooth, while the brushed and tumbled surfaces are flat and textured. The polished surface is the shiniest, while the tumbled surface reflects the least amount of light. The most common finish for travertine is honed.

  4. Where would I use travertine?

    Travertine has been used in the construction of buildings for thousands of year. In today’s construction, travertine is used for flooring, cladding on buildings, showers (extensively), wall coverings and counter tops.

  5. Why is granite an excellent material for kitchen countertops?

    Next to diamond, sapphire, and ruby, granite is the hardest natural product on earth. Once polished, natural granite will maintain its high gloss virtually forever. Normal use of kitchen knives, cutlery, and cookware leaves no scratches. Heat has almost no effect on natural granite, making it much safer than synthetic surfaces with polyesters and resins. Pots and pans heated to 900 degrees Fahrenheit will not dull natural granite's lustrous finish, but the use of trivets is recommended to keep your granite counter clean.

  6. Can Granite or Travertine get stained and do I need to seal it?

    Granite is a highly dense material and relatively porous so it can get stained if a spill is not cleaned quickly. Sealing the surface with a water-based sealant is therefore recommended to protect the granite from water patches and stains. Sealing can be done once a year or once every two years depending on the usage of the surface.

  7. Can granite and travertine tile be butted or do I need to leave a grout line?

    Granite tile floors appear the best when the tiles are butted. However, it is important to make sure the tiles are matched before setting on thinset.

  8. Can I use granite/travertine tile for counter tops

    Granite/Travertine tiles can be used for a counter top surface. It is recommended to use a 3/4"sub-board with waterproof membrane to support the tiles. It is also essential to seal the tiles after installation to avoid staining.

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