Category Archives: Environment

Environmental Benefits of Hardwood Floors

Many people are attracted to wood floors because of their elegant and quality appearance. They are a beautiful addition to a home and they are also an eco-friendly choice. Wood flooring is environmentally friendly.

Wood is a carbon neutral product and provides oxygen during its life cycle.

Indoor air quality is greatly improved when wood floors are present and installed correctly.

Production of wood flooring saves natural resources because they use less water and energy than other materials.

Another great benefit of wood flooring is that it can most definitely be recycled or burned as fuel. This is not the case for various other flooring options.

Aside from looking wonderful in a home, wood floors are truly the best option when deciding on an eco-friendly material. They last for decades and do not need to be replaced frequently, if ever! Who would have thought those beautiful wood floors you step on every day could be helping the environment? url-14

Why Choose Hardwood?

Let’s get basic! Why not? You’re on our page because you might be considering installing wood flooring into your home. Awesome thought. Now let’s learn a little about how wood floors can benefit your home, family, and life! First off, wood floors reveal a sense of elegance when entering a home. They immediately project comfort and style along with a right-at-home feeling.  Because wood floors are natural, they bring a positive environmental factor right into your home.  A great thing about wood floors is that there are so many styles to choose from to match any type of décor.  Every different type of wood has a unique style, design, texture, and color. The options are almost limitless when it comes to customizing your dream floor. Because hardwood is top-notch quality, your home will always stay beautiful as long as the right maintenance is put into keeping your floors the same quality as if they were just bought!

Hardwood lasts for decades. There is no doubt that it reminds sustainable for many years. It is fairly easy to maintain also. Dust mopping on a regular basis will keep your floors looking new as well as the occasional approved cleanser. For those who love to go green, wood flooring has tremendous environmental benefits. Wood floors use less water and energy to produce than other possible flooring options such as laminate or tile. Although they last hundreds of years, the flooring can be recycled! Indoor air quality is even improved when hardwood is installed. Your health will begin to see benefits from your wood floor too. Dust, mold, mites, and dirt build up on carpets, irritating colds, allergies, and other health problems. Allergy sufferers find many pros when it comes to wood floors because of the improvement in air quality.We all know wood flooring is quite an investment. Even though this is true, it is ultimately a great long term investment because it increases the value of your property and adds a beautiful charm to the overall feeling and appearance of your home.
url-4

Engineered Wood Flooring and its Benefits

Ever wonder about engineered hardwood? The fact is, it’s actually real hardwood!  There are many benefits of choosing an engineered product.  To help you understand the basics, engineered hardwoods are made up of layers that are “glued together in a cross-grain construction.” It is stronger than a piece of solid wood and can be installed direct to concrete.  The top layer of the hardwood “provides the most uniform color and the most resistance to seasonal expansion.” If concerned about the environmental factors of your flooring, engineered hardwood has beneficial aspects when it comes to the Earth.  It uses half as many trees as solid wood floors and takes less water and url-25energy to produce than other flooring options.

If considering engineered wood flooring for your home, the main question you might ask is: What’s the advantage of using an Engineered wood floor over a Solid nail down floor? The answer is simple.

“Engineered hardwood floors can be installed in areas where there is slightly higher relative humidity levels. Engineered wood flooring being more stable is a great choice to use in summer homes where the heat is turned lower when no one is there. Because manufacturing engineered flooring does not waste valuable prized wood below its wear layer, purchasing engineered flooring also helps conserve our forests.”

Tips for Handling Asbestos During Home Renovations

Tips for Handling Asbestos During Home Renovations
by Brian Turner

Since Hurricane Sandy hit the tri-state area, many older homes must be renovated and rebuilt. These home renovations must be greeted with caution because many homes built before 1970 may have materials containing asbestos. Insulation, floor tiles, drywall and joint compounds may all contain asbestos.

Asbestos may become airborne when removed from the home for replacement. When asbestos is inhaled, it becomes lodged in the lungs. Ten to 50 years later, it may develop into mesothelioma. This type of cancer is difficult to treat and may be fatal. Consider these tips to minimize asbestos exposure:

1.  Do Not Disturb Asbestos
If you encounter asbestos, you should not drill through it, saw it, break it, hammer it or disturb it in any way. Housekeepers or janitors should not sand or buff floor tiles made with asbestos. Wet stripping is recommended with floor tiles made of asbestos. During the buffing process, low abrasion pads are recommended. Speeds below 300 are suggested.

2. Involve Professionals for Asbestos Containment  
Report all suspected asbestos materials to Environment, Health and Safety (EHS). The report may include damaged insulation on a pipe, broken ceiling tiles and spray-on insulation. Asbestos abatement workers may be hired to determine if asbestos is present and remove it from the home. In the meantime, others should be prevented from disturbing the asbestos to avoid exposure.

3.Monitor Your Health After Exposure
After exposure to asbestos, you should monitor your health closely for early detection. A mesothelioma blood test can detect the cancer before symptoms appear. After exposure, you should be tested annually. Ensure the test is approved by the FDA. Other diagnostic tests may include an X-ray of the lungs to determine how well the lungs are working.

Click Image to Enlarge

Asbestos in the Home

Image courtesy of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Thinking About Doing Your Own Carpet Demo?

Thinking About Doing Your Own Carpet Demo?
by Ron Call

In this day and age of trying to save a buck or two on your home remodel you may want to consider doing your own demo.  If you’re planning on installing your new flooring project soon, doing your own demo (removal of existing floor covering) may save you a few bucks.  Here is how you can Do-It-Yourself.  For this project we will assume that we will be installing a new floating wood project.

If you have an existing old carpet to tear out here is what you will need.

  1. Hammer
  2. Pry bar
  3. Floor scrapper
  4. Sharp utility knife
  5. Work gloves
  6. Safety glasses

First start in one corner of the room and then pull up the carpet off the tack strip.  Once you pulled up the corner, pull along one wall raising the carpet only as high as to release it from the tack strip pins.  If the carpet is down so tight that you cannot grip it to pull it up, try cutting a slit down through the top of the carpet in the corner large enough to get your hand underneath then pull it up.  Now go around the perimeter of the room pulling it up along the wall from corner to corner.  Once the carpet is released from the tack strip it’s time to start cutting the rug.

First cut the carpet at any doorway seams to separate one room from another.  Carpet is very heavy so you will want to cut the carpet in manageable size strips maybe four to six feet wide.  Then roll it up in individual pieces light enough to carry without hurting yourself.

Once the carpet is gone take your floor scrapper and remove the padding, it may be glued or stapled.  Wear your gloves! Staples are sharp and trust me I have the scars to prove it.  Once you have released the pad roll it up and dispose of properly.  Depending on where you live you may be able to recycle the padding and the carpet both, which will save you dump fees and possible pay for your gas as well.  I’ve gotten as much as $40.00 for a whole house worth of old nasty padding.

Now it’s time to tackle the wood tack strip around the perimeter of the room.  Grab your pry bar and hammer, put on your gloves and safety glasses.  Take the curved edge of the pry bar place it on the floor up against the tack strip right next to one of the nails that secures it to the floor.  Start at either end of the tack strip, now hit the pry bar down low by the floor with your hammer to dislodge the nail and raise up the tack strip.  Once the first nail pops up move to the next nail.  Do this around the entire room until all the tack strip is removed.  Dispose of carefully as tack strip pins are very sharp and very painful.  Double check the perimeter of the room for any tack strip nails that may have been left behind and remove them with your pry bar.

You do not want these nails under your new floor.  Scrap any glue residue from the pad off the floor or remove any staples.  Sweep the floor and call your flooring company and tell them you’re ready for your install.  It’s hard dirty work doing demo but if you have the time and inclination, you can save a nice chunk of change.  Depending on the size of the job the savings could be hundreds of dollars.  And nothing makes your installer happier than a floor that is ready for install.  Installers love to install, not so much doing demo…

If you ever need advice, guidance or have questions you can always get in touch with me under the “Ask Ron” section of our blog HERE.

8 Environmental Facts of Hardwood Floors

Because trees are a renewable resource that can be replaced time and time again wood flooring is the most abundantly renewable flooring material available. Sustainable forest management makes it possible to harvest wood without any serious impact on the environment.  Here at Urbanfloor we only use products from ecologically managed forests and suppliers.

 

 

 

 

8 Environmental Facts of Hardwood Floors:

  1. Average annual net growth for hardwoods is greater than average annual removals (Source: US Department of Agriculture Forest Service)
  2. Trees absorb CO2 from the air and store it (Source: Wood for Good)
  3. Indoor air quality is better with wood floors (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency)
  4. Wood is a carbon neutral product that produces oxygen during its growth cycle and stores carbon during its service life (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
  5. Wood floors use less water and energy to produce than other flooring options (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
  6. At the end of its service life, wood flooring can be burned as fuel or recycled (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
  7. Wood floors last hundreds of years, so they won’t need to be replaced as often as other flooring options (Source: National Association of Home Builders)
  8. While it takes most hardwood trees 40-60 years to mature, the inventory planted today won’t be needed for 100-plus years (Source: National Wood Flooring Association)

You can learn more about the environmental benefits of wood floors by downloading a copy of the University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis or by visiting the NWFA website.

What Does the LEED after my name mean?

Denise Colestock, LEED A.P. BD+C

Denise is one of the newest members of Team Urban and has a background in design and architecture with an emphasis in sustainable design.  In her free time she enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, traveling, reading, running and yoga- usually with her active toddler in tow.  Denise even has her own urban farm which satisfies her passion for local, healthy eating- and introducing her son early to nature in its purest form.

What Does the LEED after my name mean?

By Denise Colestock, LEED A.P. BD+C

As the newest member of the Urban Floor team, I am excited to share my knowledge and passion for sustainable design with our clients and colleagues.  The credentials after my name, LEED BD+C, mean that I am a LEED Accredited Professional and have passed an exam that allows me to design environmentally friendly buildings using strict codes and guidelines that lead to efficient buildings.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is redefining the way our built environments are designed, constructed and operated.  Factors that are considered when creating a LEED building include sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.  This rating system can be used for commercial buildings as well as for residential homes and neighborhoods as a whole, and is constantly aimed at achieving high performance in human and environmental health.

With a background in design and architecture, I am excited to bring the latest news and trends to the Urban Floor team when it comes to flooring design and sustainable building technologies. To learn more about the LEED system, please visit www.usgbc.org.  Also feel free to contact me directly at denise@urbanfloor.com if you have any questions regarding environmentally friendly design.

Art Collectors & Former Gallery Owners Make Art of Their Home

Info Source: ArchDaily
Architects: Fernau + Hartman Architects
Location: , CA, USA
Architectural Team: Richard Fernau, Laura Hartman, Laura Boutelle, Jenee Anzelone, Kate Lydon, Jason Wilkinson, Luc Johnston
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Richard Barnes & Marion Brenner
Landscape Architect: Pamela Burton & Company
Contractor: Jim Quick, Coastal Builder, Inc.
Mechanical: Lee Falkenstern, LDF Engineering, Inc.
Structural: Craig Dobbs
Civil: Penfield & Smith
Electrical/Lighting: JMPE Electrical Engineering + Lighting Design

In the Santa Ynez Valley in California a beautiful home was designed by architecture firm Fernau & Hartman Architects.  Their clients, one of which works as a visual artist and both are avid art collectors and former gallery owners wanted a home that incorporated energy-efficiency as well as a complimenting harmony with the rural landscape and Mediterranean climate of the area.  As I’m sure you have noticed above from the significant resources it certainly takes a reputable team to bring projects like this to life.  Certainly not like going to a planned neighborhood and just choosing one of three plans.  This is custom all the way and the talents of everyone involved certainly show it.  The design of the home compliments the surrounding landscape.  Well thought out and planned!

Photo Credit © Richard Barnes

 

Photo Credit © Marion Brenner

Want to see more of this magnificent home and get more details on the brilliant design elements from the inside-out?  Visit ArchDaily HERE

Ron Call’s Tip of the Week #010- Asbestos Safety When Installing Your Hardwood Floors

Tip of the Week
Saturday, May 26, 2012
by Ron Call, your Urbanfloor guy

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

DYI tip of the week.  If you’re planning on installing your own floor either gluing direct, nailing or using the floating method one thing you might not have considered especially if you have an older home built before the late 1980′s is asbestos.

A lot of these homes were originally built using base grade VAT (Vinyl Asbestos Tile) as a floor covering.  You may still be walking on it today, or it may be hidden under the carpet or vinyl flooring you are thinking about replacing.  In any case if the tiles on your floor are 9″ x 9″ or are secured by an adhesive that looks like black tar, there is a real good chance that it contains asbestos. Both the tiles and the adhesive may contain asbestos.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen that can cause cancer.  You should NOT attempt to remove or alter this tile or adhesive in any way.  It is against Federal Law and you may possibly contaminate your home.  The problem is not that it is in your home, as long as it remains undisturbed it will not cause any health concerns.  The problems can come from the improper removal and disposal.

If you were planning a glued direct method, you will need to find a certified asbestos abatement contractor to properly remove and dispose of the tile and the adhesive residue.  Even disposing of the tile in a regular land fill is against the law, so do not attempt to do this yourself.  You are risking your families health and major fines if you are caught.  Now if you find that you have this in your home you can still install your new floor without removal if you use the floating method.

If your floor is flat with in a tolerance (see the specs that came with your floor) just install right over the tiles. You can use a good self-leveling concrete patch to fill any low spots (just go right over the tiles).  If you have any high spots that need grinding, STOP and contact your certified asbestos abatement contractor.

If you improperly try to grind the high spots you WILL contaminate your home and put your family at risk.  If you are not sure if your flooring contains asbestos, for safety sake just assume that it does.  You can have it tested for about $50.00 depending on the area of the country you live in.  It is almost always impossible to tell the difference between VAT (Vinyl Asbestos Tile) and VCT (Vinyl Composite Tile).  If you have your certified abatement contractor remove the tiles and adhesive residue for you, be sure he gives you a Clean Air Certificate upon completion.  This will certify that your home is safe to occupy and the air safe to breath.  Once this is done install away…

Have questions about a project you’re working on?  Need advice?  For answers post a comment below or visit the Ask Ron page HERE

Your Health and Hardwood Flooring

May 7, 2012
By Dan Simon

www.urbanfloor.com

Spring time is a beautiful time of the year.  Flowers blooming, leaves turning green, the smell of fresh cut grass and nice warm weather.  But for allergy and Asthma sufferers it can also be a miserable time of the year and the floors you have in your home can contribute to allergy season lasting in your house all year long.

While having carpet can offer comfort and warmth in your home it also traps in dirt and debris very easily as well as being a breeding ground for dust mites and bed bugs.

Yup, that’s right bed bugs don’t just live in your bed.  According to eHow Home“Although bed bugs are notorious for infesting bedding and mattress, these are not the only places that they live. It is not uncommon to find bed bugs in carpet as well. They will typically hide in places such as carpet during the day, and then make their way to the bed at night to feed on human blood. It is important to eliminate bed bugs from carpet in order to completely get rid of them in your home.”

If you have pets carpet also traps in pet hair and dander not to mention mold, mildew and spills can suck into carpet and the padding underneath like a sponge.  Every time you let your pets inside the house they can bring in dust and dirt from underneath their paws.   As they shed hair, pollen and other outdoor airborne elements that had stuck to their fur coat end up falling off and trapped in your carpet.  Let’s not forget that with pets also come fleas which can also live in your carpet and lay eggs very rapidly reproducing.  A female flea can produce 600 offspring in one month.  A flea’s life cycle from egg to larva to pupa to adult can be as short as 12 days or as long as 174 days, depending on temperature and humidity.

What if you have brand new carpet installed in your home that hasn’t had any foot traffic on it yet?  New carpet manufacturing uses synthetic materials and chemicals (that new carpet smell) which you are breathing in these fumes each time you are exposed.  Long term exposure to this can be hazardous to your health causing sinus and breathing problems.

Cigarette smoke also not only discolors your walls and ceilings but gets trapped into your carpet fibers causing a terrible stench in your home as well carcinogenic fumes that release back into the air every time you run a vacuum cleaner, your children are playing on the floor or you’re simply walking from room to room.

Carpets need to be cared for much more frequently than harder flooring surfaces.  The Carpet And Rug Institute recommends vacuuming your entire home at least twice a week.  If you have a larger home with a lot of surface space or a home with carpeted staircases this can be a very time consuming and a daunting task making it difficult to keep up a twice weekly schedule upkeep.  Plus every time you run the vacuum cleaner allergens and other harmful elements release back into the air you breathe.

In addition to vacuuming, your carpets need to cleaned on a regular basis.  RugDoctor recommends “as a general rule of thumb, the carpeting in a household containing two non-smoking adults should be cleaned once every six to twelve months. If those two people are smokers, on the other hand, the carpet will need to be cleaned once every four months instead. Similarly, if you have children or pets in your home, you will need to clean the carpeting at least once every six months. And, if you have both pets and children, you will likely need to clean your carpet once every three months in order to keep it in good shape.”

Between vacuuming and cleaning properly caring for your carpet can not only be labor intensive each week but also expensive each time you have it cleaned.

Hardwood floors are convenient to maintain and clean, making it easier to avoid the dust build-up that often occurs with carpets.  Cleaning up pet hair and spills is also more convenient with hardwood floors.

Hardwood floors require minimal maintenance in terms of effort, equipment and upkeep costs.  For example think about the difference in price between a mop versus a vacuum and regular carpet cleaning services.  Hardwood floors are also much more resistant to stains.

As mentioned above carpet is a constant source of dander, dust, lint, fur, mildew, mold, pollen, dust mites, bed bugs, fleas and other elements that can cause poor air quality and cleanliness.  Hardwood doesn’t hide these harmful elements – making for a healthier, easier to clean, safer living environment, especially for allergy sufferers.

So before making that final decision to invest in a hardwood floor or carpet remember to consider you and your family’s health.  Plus it’s way more fun to put on a pair of socks and slide across the floor.  You can’t do that with carpet!

 

Plugin from the creators of Brindes Personalizados :: More at Plulz Wordpress Plugins