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Hardwood floors add value to your house

Why Hardwood Flooring Adds Value to Homes

These days the inventory of available homes is enormous, and that gives buyers a diverse selection of inventory. Home sellers need to distinguish themselves from the herd, and that can be a difficult challenge. But paying close attention to important details can pay big dividends.

When selecting your flooring, for example, there are many interesting choices and possibilities. Hardwoods may be the way to go, however, because they have attributes that set them apart in attractive ways that often make them a bottom-line asset. Hardwood flooring not only enhances the beauty, ambience, and quality of life in a home, for instance, but it can be a dynamic facilitator of faster sales at better prices.

 

Return on Investment

Adding-Value-To-Your-Home-e1338351026288According to an article published on CNN/Money, adding hardwood floors also tends to boost the resale value of a home in the same way that adding a fireplace or extra room does.

Of course conventional wisdom tells us that the best dollar-for-dollar returns usually come from creating an extra bathroom or remodeling and upgrading the kitchen. Hardwoods can play a contributing role in that regard, too, though, because many of today’s hardwood flooring products have the finish and durability to make them perfectly compatible with kitchens and bathrooms.

Less Time on the Market

As a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker commented in a professional forum on Realtor.com, “Hardwood floors enhance the chances of your house selling faster. It will compete better with the inventory of ‘like’ properties.” But there is more to the idea of a quick sale than meets the eye. Real estate professionals often use “time on the market” (the number of days it takes for the property to sell) as a guiding metric.

In healthy market cycles, for example, that timeframe is typically six or seven weeks. Data from the National Association of Realtors confirms that when the market was booming back in 2004 the median selling time shrank to just four weeks. But during the real estate recession that followed the average time on the market ballooned to ten weeks, while prices plummeted nearly 13 percent. So if hardwood flooring can speed up a sale, it means that it has the potential to be the difference between a house that sells as if it’s a bull market and one that languishes for months on end without a nibble.

Search Engine Parameters

Meanwhile one of the most convincing arguments for hardwood flooring happens to be one of the most often overlooked. Buyers don’t want to waste time touring homes that do not meet their criteria, so they tend to be quite specific about the features and amenities they want. They’ll search the MLS listings, for instance, using strict parameters. Not surprisingly, “hardwood floors” is one of the most popular search terms used today.

You may have a wonderful home with dynamite curb appeal. But if it doesn’t have hardwood flooring it may never even show up in a buyer or Realtor search that specifies hardwoods. You’ll remain hidden below the radar, while other homes in your neighborhood generate plenty of buzz and positive interest.

Value-Adding Characteristics

Even when buyers do not ask for hardwood floors, however, they tend to respond favorably when they encounter them in a home. They immediately feel that the builder or homeowner did not cut corners just to save money. Hardwoods are indicative of custom homes, for example, and instantly convey finer taste and enduring elegance.

By the same token, the presence of wall-to-wall carpeting or comparable generic types of flooring can be a telltale sign that saving a few dollars was more important than investing in durable quality and sustainable aesthetics.

Choose wisely and carefully, based on your own unique personal tastes and preferences. But don’t forget to factor in the influence that excellent hardwood flooring may have on your home’s value and marketability.

Refinishing Your Hardwood Floor

url-73The first step to refinishing your hardwood flooring is deciding whether your project needs a complete refinishing job.  If the floor is clearly damaged from flooding or stains, you may need to repair before refinishing. Remember that your floors need to be at least 3/4’’ thick. To avoid sanding down to the sub-floor, check with a professional if your floor is thinner than ¾.’’ Realize that if your floor is slightly thinner, it may not be able to be refinished. Pay close attention to the flooring beneath the hardwood. If there is a floor covering underneath, remove the old floor first.

Home improvement jobs take a lot of preparation, analyzing, and time before beginning the work. The floor must be cleaned and sanded properly in order to start the refinishing process. Make sure everything is cleared out of the room. Remove all furniture and closet items and cover all light fixtures. Next, remove shoe moulding by wedging a pry bar between the moulding and the wall. Place a block of wood behind a bar to prevent damage. Seal the door with masking tape in order to close off the room from the rest of your space. Lastly, vacuum the floor to remove dirt.

Now it’s time for sanding! A drum sander is the perfect tool to use. Most of the time these tools can be rented. A few tips for using this are:

  • Step 1
    • Begin sanding in the center of the room. Sand with the grain from one end of the room to the other, overlapping passes by an inch or two. Repeat the procedure on the other half of the room. Sand the entire center portion of the floor.
  • Step 2
    • After the main portion of the floor has been sanded with the drum sander, hand-sand or use an edge sander to sand areas where the drum sander did not reach. Use the same grit sandpaper you used with the drum sander. You may need to hand-sand or use a detail sander to reach the corners.
  • Step 3
    • When the entire floor is finished, vacuum and repeat the entire process using smaller grit (larger number) sandpaper with each pass.
  • Step 4
    • Finish by sanding the entire floor with 120 grit sandpaper.
  • Step 5
    • After the last sanding, vacuum once more and wipe with a dry cloth or tack cloth

Staining your floor

You can apply a clear sealer to your newly refinished floor or apply a stain, water- or oil-based. Some stains require more than one coat with a sanding between. Remember to keep the furniture out of the room until the floor is completely dry. After the floor is dry, reinstall the shoe moulding. To get the best finish, buff the floor after staining or sealing.

Picking the Perfect Area Rug for Your Flooring

A bedroom is a place to call your sanctuary. To have the most comforting satisfaction, most people want their decorations and flooring to be just right. Hardwood flooring of course adds elegance and style, especially to a bedroom. It can also add value to your home! Before you make a decision about what kind of flooring best suits you and your style, consider how long you plan on staying in a certain spot (as flooring can be expensive), consider design trends that match with the flooring you choose, and also be aware that it is perfectly okay to design your home  by using area rugs that complement the room’s theme. These come in a variety of sizes, styles, and colors. If placing an area rug on top of your wood floor, remember that hardwood has many benefits such as quality and durability. This means that you do not want to take away the beauty of your hardwood floors by choosing the wrong area rug. A few simple steps will help you find the perfect rug to fit your style.

1. Measure. Of course you need to know what size rug you need to fit the space you are looking to place it. The key idea is to find a rug that does not cover the entire floor, but to leave enough space to be able to see the beautiful wood.

2. Style says it all.  First recognize the color of your floors. The color of the rug and color of the floors should contrast each other. Also, consider those objects around you. What color are the walls? What does your furniture look like? For lighter furniture and cherry wood floors, a traditional area rug would look perfect. These kinds of rugs show many patterns such as diamonds or flowers.

3. Texture is important too! You want to feel comfortable when walking on your brand new area rug. A woven texture tends to be rough, a braided texture is more relaxed and soft, and a bamboo texture is rough.

Final tip: Padding prevents the rug from sliding which is perfect for it to stay in place. The padding should be an inch shorter than the rug itself.

 

 

How Your Floors Reflect Your Style

What better way to start a fresh year than to re-design a room to match your wood floors?  The correct flooring and texture go hand in hand with the interior design of your home. It has much to do with the layout, feel of your home, and the style that you wish to have. Wood flooring has become a very popular, modern trend that many have become fond of as an addition to their homes.

Design sets a sense of style that catches an eye when entering a room.  In order to choose your perfect hardwood flooring, design is the first step that factors into your transformation. It is ultimately the most important decision when it comes to choosing the correct flooring.

In fact, your own inspiration is what sets the decision making process.  Start with a plan.  How would your room look in order for you to be content with it when you walk in? Ask yourself a few more questions. What objects in your home inspire your lifestyle? Do you enjoy a modern look? A contemporary one? Or are you more traditional when it comes to the comfort of your home? Of course, there are many more factors that go into the decisions of creating your newly designed room.  Considerations include the size of the room, color of the walls, and the idea that the colors must complement each other for the final product to be beautiful. It is important to remember the color of your floors should not match perfectly with your walls or furniture. Diversity is key, but it should also be done tastefully. The color of your wood floor can be light, natural, or a darker stain. It is all up to your own preference.

Sofa-and-wooden-floor-in-living-room“In terms of a traditional look, dark wood floors suggest a formal appearance. Lighter colored walls as well as floral accessories accent the room greatly”.

Luanne Kelchner

Quotes from experts can be inspiring as well.  Holly is a design expert who has a love for art, design, and architecture.

“The wood flooring in a home is a critical part of the perfect design. It should be a canvas or a place to start for the overall picture that a quality designer will create. It should not be the focal point but a back drop.”

Remember, plenty of design magazines and books have even more visual tips to help create your perfect home.  When your interior style changes, there are many things you can do to re-arrange the look of your home.  Furniture and accessories say it all when a change of heart occurs!

 

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.

Urbanfloor Hits Celebrity Circuit

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Thinking About Doing Your Own Ceramic Tile Demo?

Thinking About Doing Your Own Ceramic Tile Demo?
by Ron Call

As we continue in the series of do-it-yourself demo, today I will cover ceramic tile and stone removal from a concrete slab.  This is a quite a bit more involved and difficult compared to carpet removal.  Depending on the method of installation (whether installed over slip sheet or direct to concrete) and the materials used in bonding the tile, removal may be fairly easy or one of the most difficult jobs you will ever tackle.  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) will save you money.  The cost to remove an existing ceramic tile or stone floor could be as much as the labor to install a new floor!  Here is how you can do it yourself.  For this project we will assume that we will be installing a new wood floor.

If you have an existing ceramic tile floor that is on a concrete slab here is what you will need.

  1. Hammer
  2. Pry bar
  3. Floor scrapper
  4. Work gloves
  5. Dust mask
  6. Safety glasses
  7. Five gallon bucket
  8. Flat head shovel
  9. Red rosin paper
  10. Blue painters tape
  11. Plastic sheeting
  12. Rotary hammer
  13. Commercial ceramic tile stripper (optional)
  14. Concrete grinder (optional)

Start your demo project by first protecting all the areas you are not demoing from flying debris.  Use your red rosin paper and blue tape to protect any cabinets or walls that you don’t want to repaint.  Hang your plastic in doorways or openings to adjacent rooms to keep the dust contained.  Always wear your safety glasses, gloves and dust mask.  If the area to be removed is not that big such as an entry way or small bathroom or kitchen hand tools may be all you need.  Doing larger rooms you will do yourself a big favor by renting a ceramic tile demo machine from your local tool rental outlet.  Your rotary hammer with a chisel bit will work as well but will take much more time.  Here is a youtube video of the ceramic tile machine you may want to rent.

You will need to start your tear out at an exposed edge, possibly a door way or where the edge of the tile meets carpeting.  If the carpet is staying pull it back away from the tile far enough to start your demo without causing damage to the carpet.  If the carpet is being replaced as well, remove this first (See last week’s blog).  If the room is totally tile with no exposed edges use your hammer to breakout a few tiles in the middle of the room.  Once you have enough area exposed use your rotary hammer or your machine to start your demo.  As you proceed through the demo use your shovel and five gallon bucket to carry the broken tile out to your truck or dumpster.  Tile is very heavy and the broken edges can be as sharp as a razor so wear your gloves.

I do not recommend trying to fill your trash cans with the removed tile as it will become so heavy your trash man will most likely not pick it up for you.  Transport it to the dump in a truck.  Be sure to remove any residual mortar from the floor using your floor scrapper, rotary hammer or concrete grinder as needed to achieve a clean smooth surface for your new floor.  Once all your old floor is removed your ready to call your installer…

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.

You Get What You Pay For

You Get What You Pay For
by Ron Call

So I’m driving down the road today with my wife in the car coming back to San Diego from a business trip in LA.  I admit after a long 5 hours in the car I was a little grumpy.  And this radio advertisement comes on and tells me they sell their flooring at 80% off cost.  After I calmed down ranting and raving things like “sure 80% off a 100% mark up, bunch of lying so and so’s”!  My wife says don’t get mad about it just blog about it.  So anyway I’m calm now and collecting my thoughts.

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

Everyone needs to make a profit.  That’s how we all pay the bills right?  If no one could make a profit we’d all be poor living on dirt floors.  But 80% off?  Come on, next they will be selling stuff at what?  100% off?  Remember you get what you pay for.

I did an installation for a customer last month that is a perfect example of you get what you pay for.  I’m a licensed flooring contractor that works out of a small shop.  I am typically hired by retailers, interior designers and general contractors to do installations of the flooring that they sell.  Occasionally I’ll have a customer usually a referral where I’m asked to provide both the flooring and the installation.

So I head over to her house to meet with her and go over all the details.  I find out what type of flooring she wants, I figure out how much material that will be needed and what type of sub-floor she has (very important).  Because she lives upstairs in a condo, I also need to make sure for any sound proofing requirements.  She also lived right on the ocean which can bring a whole set of challenges in itself.  So I submitted my bid for labor which detailed exact square footage required, moldings, base boards, demo of the old floor etc., everything but the floor that she would eventually choose. We planned on me returning in a few days with samples of all the different types of flooring she was interested in.  A couple days later she called to say that she was putting things off for a couple weeks as her mom was ill.

Two weeks later she called me very excited that she had found the perfect bamboo floor at that large national discount chain.  (I won’t mention their name) but they constantly advertise on T.V. and have their signs hanging in baseball parks all over America.  I was a little disappointed that I didn’t sell her the floor myself but I was happy she was happy, and work is work.

So we scheduled the installation for two weeks later.  She scheduled her vacation time so she could be home during construction.  The plan was I would pick up the bamboo and deliver it, start the demo and prep which was extensive, then on day 4 after proper acclimation we would start putting down some wood.

Here’s where its starts getting a little sticky.  We pick up the bamboo and deliver it to the house up two flights of stairs and stack it in the dining room.  I open one of the boxes to verify the color and quality and to my shock and dismay it’s solid bamboo not engineered.  Which basically means it needs 10 -14 days acclimation not the standard 3 days for engineered products.  This customer’s home was one block from the ocean which means acclimation is hyper critical even for engineered products let alone a solid one.

I tell my customer the situation and I explain that we cannot start the install for two weeks.  She was beside herself telling me that she could not change her vacation time and what could I do.  I explained that without proper acclimation her floor would have no warrantee from the manufacturer.  And that from my experience, installing a solid floating floor without proper acclimation would almost surely fail and that I, in all good conscience could not install it.  So the job was rescheduled for 2 weeks later as the discount store did not have a similar engineered product in stock so we could not exchange it.  My customer thought she was getting a good deal saving what she thought was a few cents per square foot.

In the end she took 2 more weeks off work unpaid and I lost 2 weeks of work myself.  Between the both of us it cost us thousands of dollars.  I went to the see the store manager at the discount warehouse and he was no help at all.  I asked him if he qualified his customer’s to make sure that what he’s selling people is actually suitable for the application involved (he should have known she lived by the ocean and sold her engineered flooring).  He basically told me when a customer comes in and buys a floor that his sub-contractors don’t install he just sells the customer what they want.  Cash and carry, all he cared about was that he made the sale.

The purchase of new flooring in your home can be one of the most expensive purchases that you will ever make.  You need to make sure that you shop at a good retailer with experience and one who only utilizes good licensed contractors.

Some retailers don’t use sub contractors they use their own employees, which is fine as long as the retailer is themselves an experienced contractor.  There are many factors to consider when choosing new flooring and there are many things that need to be considered to ensure your flooring purchase is a good experience such as type of floor, environment, location of the home, sub floor, type of home (ie: single family, condo, apartment, mobile home or a high traffic business location), method of installation, type of floor, warrantee and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes when you’re trying to cut corners and save a few pennies it ends up costing you more in the end.  Remember you get what you pay for!

To Base or Not to Base

To Base or Not to Base
by Ron Call

Often when people are looking to upgrade their homes with new hardwood or laminate flooring they often overlook the details like base boards and trims.  They will spend many hours shopping and comparing prices on the net or drive from store to store.  But they seldom give much consideration to the moldings.  You can purchase an inexpensive floor and install new base boards and the job will look awesome.  You can also install a high-end beautiful floor and remove and replace your existing base boards and if they don’t look good or they’re not wide enough to cover the required expansion gap you will be disappointed.

If your existing base board is in good shape and you want to keep it you have two choices:  1) You can remove it and replace it after the flooring is installed, or 2) You can leave it on the wall then leave the proper expansion gap between the floor and the base and cover it with quarter round or base shoe molding.  Either method works fine.  It’s all a matter of the final look you want.

Here are a couple photos of an install with just base and one with base board and quarter round.  It’s really up to you as to which method you choose.  Just be sure to figure the extra cost into your budget.  If you try and remove and replace the existing base board and a piece or two should break be sure that style is still available so you can purchase replacements.

Base Board Only

 

Base Board with Base Shoe Molding

 

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