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Carpet FAQ

Q: What do you mean by "construction of carpet"?

A: The construction of carpet is also known as the manufacturing method.  This affects both the appearance and performance of the carpet.  Most carpets are manufactured using one of four methods: tufted, woven, needle-punched, or hand knotted.

Tufted carpets are made on a high-speed machine that stitches loops of yarn through the backing of the carpet.  A latex coating locks the yarn into place and then another backing material is applied for strength and stability.  It's efficient and less expensive than most other manufacturing methods.

Woven carpets are similar to woven fabrics in that the pile, weft, and warp yarns interlace on the loom.  This allows for a wide versatility of design.

Needle-punched carpets are made by punching layers of fiber through a mesh fabric by thousands of barbed needles.  This makes a felt-like fabric suitable for indoor-outdoor use.  It's very durable but does not have a wide variety of styles.

Hand-knotted carpets and rugs are more commonly referred to as oriental rugs.  They use distinct traditional colors and patterns and are usually very expensive.

Q: What are carpet styles and textures?


Texture - Curled or twisted tufts made for a textured surface that helps mask footprints.  Suitable for less formal decors.

Frieze - A type of textured carpet with highly twisted tufts that curl at the pile surface.  Suitable for high traffic areas.

Loop - Loop pile with tufts of equal height or multi-level loops.  This forms beautiful patterns using solid colors.  Suitable for moderate traffic areas.

Pattern Cut Pile - Sophisticated look using Saxony yarn.  Pattern formed through tufting cut pile and loop pile with level pile height.  Suitable for both formal and informal rooms.

Cut Pile Berber - Casual cut pile construction using large and small tufts.  Normally contains small flecks of dark color on light shade background.  Suitable for informal rooms, but adds excitement.

Saxony - Dense level-cut pile.  A smooth, luxurious surface suitable for formal settings.

Cut-loop - Yarn tufted into large islands of high cut tufts and lower loops to form a sculpted pattern.  Suitable for informal rooms.

Q: How important is carpet cushion?

A: Quality carpeting needs quality cushion for maximum durability, comfort, and beauty retention.  Cushion helps absorb foot traffic pressure so a dense, resilient cushion is recommended when installing new carpet.

Q: Does my carpet cushion need replaced after being soaked?

A: Generally, yes; although some newly developed restoration procedures may be able to salvage cushion.  Wet carpet cushion is very difficult to adequately dry quickly.

Q: Can carpet be installed over radiant heat?

A: Yes, most carpets can be installed over radiant heating.  Check with both your radiant heating and carpet manufacturer's recommendations.

Q: Is any carpet mold or mildew resistant?

A: Most synthetic fibers are mold and mildew resistant such as polyester, acrylic, nylon, and triexta.  If moisture reaches between the carpet and the sub-floor and sits for an extended period of time, mold can grow and cause issues.

Q: Can you judge a carpet based on the height of the pile?

A: Sometimes inexperienced rug buyers mistake a thick pile for quality.  Though it is true that high traffic areas require a thick pile, quality is not based on this aspect solely.

Q: Can I use carpet if I have allergies?

A: There is really no guarantee that there will be absolutely no allergic reactions from a specific item, simply because each person is different.  "Hypoallergenic" does not mean that there will not be any allergens.  People who have allergies should vacuum their carpet at least twice a week and have their carpet cleaned the way the manufacturer specifies.  Usually every 12-18 months.

Q: What is this I hear about a corn-based carpet fiber?

A: Mohawk has introduced the first bio-based fiber that's made partially from corn sugar.  SmartStrand, made with DuPont Sorona polymer, represents a breakthrough in carpet fiber technology, producing a superior type of carpet fiber that combines exceptional durability with permanent, engineered in-stain protection offering environmental benefits such as reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emmissions vs. petroleum-based carpet fiber.

Q: Will my Floor Designs Unlimited sales representative let me take samples home?

A: Of course.  It is important when selecting your carpet color that you take the time to look at samples in home both by daylight and lamplight in the evening.  The color you choose will look different under your lighting than our store lighting.

Q: Will there have to be a seam in the room?

A: A seam may be required during the installation of carpet, depending on the dimensions of the room. If there must be a seam, it should run perpendicular to windows in order to minimize the light that reflects off of it.

Q: What is the difference between shading and color fading?

A: While shading is simply the result of the change in direction of the carpet pile due to pressure from footsteps and vacuuming, color fading is more serious. Color fading of carpet occurs when particles of oily soil deposited on carpet fibers cause gradual but significant dulling of colors — the color is not lost, but hidden under the film. Cleaning your carpet regularly will help avoid color fading.

Q: My carpet looks like it is shedding. Is this normal?

A: Some shedding is common in new carpet with a cut pile. The loose fibers are easily removed with regular vacuuming. This should not affect your carpet’s quality and should diminish after a few weeks or months depending on vacuuming frequency.

Q: Isn’t the color I choose for my carpet a totally personal choice?

A: Of course, it is, and if it’s snowy white you want, snowy white you shall get. However, you should know that light-colored carpets will show more soil and require more maintenance than darker colors, which are more effective in high-traffic areas. Also, multi-colored and patterned carpets are especially effective in hiding soil.

Q: Do I really need to know about carpet fiber?

A: The performance and quality of a carpet is directly related to the amount and quality of the fiber that goes into the pile. The better the fiber and the more densely it is packed, the better the carpet will perform. Thin, less dense carpet will lose its surface appearance faster. So the answer is, in a word, yes.

Hardwood FAQ

Q: I have children and pets. Is there a specific wood I should be looking for?

A: Different types of wood are more durable than others. If you want a floor that stands up to heavy use, you may want to choose a species equal to or harder than oak, such as maple, Brazilian cherry, or ash.

Q: Do I have to keep the room temperature and humidity controlled all year round?

A: Hardwood floors can be adversely affected by extreme changes in humidity. During the hot, humid weather a dehumidifier may be required. Although engineered wood floors are less affected than solid wood floors, in the dry, heated winter months humidification may be necessary to prevent surface checking.

Q. Aside from differences in species, what accounts for the appearances in hardwoods?

A: Different appearances result from the different ways hardwoods are sawn. There is: 1) flat-sawn or plain-sawn; 2) rotary cut; 3) off-set rotary cut; 4) sliced-cut.

 Flat-sawn can be a flat or vertical grain. The rotary cut method involves peeling the log with large lathes for dramatic, wilder graining. Off-set rotary cutting is a method of cutting wood which gives a sliced appearance with added cross-grain stability. Hardwoods are more dimensionally stable across the grain, so off-set rotary cutting takes advantage of this. Sliced cutting is where the hardwood layer is sawn like regular lumber which reveals finer graining.

Q: What is the Janka hardness test and what does it mean to me as a consumer?

A: The Janka hardness rating is the standard measurement for hardness. It is conducted by measuring the force needed to lodge a .444-inch steel ball in different wood species to a depth of half the ball's diameter. The higher the rating, the harder the species. The Janka rating is also useful when assessing how easy or difficult it is to hammer or saw the wood.

Q: How do I know my exotic wood floor does not come from illegally harvested timber?

A: The U.S. currently has no law that bans the import of illegal timber, though there currently are measures proposed to do so in both the House and Senate. Domestically harvested wood and wood that is sourced and certified under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) criteria are presently the safest options. There are many certification schemes on the market but FSC is considered to be the gold standard. Reclaimed wood is also a good choice. The choice of wood as a building material is also a wise one from an ecological point of view because the product is biodegradable and renewable.

Q: I’m looking for a tough floor. What do you recommend?

A: Different species have different hardnesses that affect durability. If your floor is likely to take a lot of abuse, consider oak, maple, ash or Brazilian cherry for extra resistance to indentation. On the softer side are teak, cherry and pine woods.

Q: Why should I buy prefinished wood?

A: Factory-applied finishes are generally superior to on-site finishes in terms of both wearlayer performance and clarity. No fumes, no imperfections, no drying time, no dust, no fuss. Plus, prefinished floors are warranted for a longer time period than site-finished floors.

Q: How long will my wood floor last?

A: Both solid and engineered hardwoods are among the longest lasting flooring options and, with proper care, may never need replacement.

Q: What is an engineered hardwood floor?

A: There are generally two types of hardwood floors – solid and engineered. Solid flooring is a single piece of wood which can be re-sanded to change finishes. Engineered is made of three to five layered pieces of wood bonded together. Engineered looks like solid wood, but is actually considered to be structurally more stable and can be used in places with moistures problems such as basements.

Q. How many times can you sand a floor?

A: The Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association (NOFMA) calculates that sanding operations should remove no more than 1/32-inch. A 1/16-inch hardwood layer on an engineered floor then could be sanded one or two times, if done correctly. Sanding a 1/32-inch thick hardwood layer is not recommended. Solid wood floors can only be sanded to 1/32-inch above the tongue to maintain the stability of the tongue and groove joint.

Q: What’s the difference between engineered and solid wood?

A: Solid wood products are milled from one piece of wood into boards that are 3/4-inch thick. They should not be installed below grade, as moisture makes them expand and contract. Typically, solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished several times. They also are offered a very wide selection of colors and stains. Made from real wood, engineered wood is constructed of multiple layers of crossgrain woods that are bonded together. They are designed for installation at any house level, including below grade, and are considered the most structurally sound wood flooring product.

 Laminate FAQ

Q: What is laminate flooring?

A: Because laminate flooring, which arrived from Europe more than a decade ago, is relatively new to the American market, and because it so closely resembles other hard surfaces, there’s a mystery surrounding it. Basically, laminates are the result of a direct-pressure manufacturing process that fuses four layers into one extremely durable surface.

Q: I’ve seen laminate that looks just like real wood or ceramic tile. How do they do that?

A: Yes, laminate flooring has become the flooring of choice for many homeowners due to its ability to closely emulate today’s most popular hard surfaces. Using photographs, laminates lock in the realism of a hardwood strip, weathered or natural stone and traditional brick. When these floors first came to the U.S., they were often simple looks and patterns. Today, laminate floors offer an unparalleled level of realism heretofore unattainable. With embossing and now embossed-in-register technology it’s getting more and more difficult to tell the difference.

Q: Then why buy a laminate floor, and not just get the real thing?

A: Laminate’s real claim to fame is its durability and ease of maintenance. Since most come with an aluminum-oxide wearlayer — one of the hardest substances known to man — it can stand up to kids, pets, traffic and more. Plus, the great thing about laminate flooring is not only does it closely emulate other hard surfaces, but it does it at a fraction of the cost and with no natural material drawbacks. 

Q: What are the average costs I should expect?

A: Generally speaking, laminate flooring will cost anywhere from $1 to $6 per square foot, depending upon the quality of design as well as thickness, with installation running about $1 to $4.50 per square foot, including underlayment. However, keep in mind that installation costs can vary greatly, depending upon geography as well as subfloor preparation needs. Your retail flooring specialist will be able to provide you with an accurate installed cost estimate.

Q: How long will my laminate floor last?

A: With proper care and maintenance, a quality laminate floor should last 15 to 30 years, which is on par with other types of manufactured flooring, but considerably less than that of genuine stone, ceramic and other natural materials.

Q: Can a laminate floor be refinished, like hardwood?

A: No, laminate floors cannot be refinished or recoated.

Q: I’ve seen really cheap laminate flooring being sold on the Internet. Is this the same laminate flooring found in flooring retail stores?

A: There’s one thing you should be careful of when buying a laminate floor: quality. Unfortunately, there are a lot of cheap laminate products being imported from countries such as China, so it’s important to buy from a reputable and reliable retailer and to buy the best you can afford, depending upon the setting.

Q: How much laminate flooring will I need?

A: Although your retail flooring specialist will take detailed measurements, you can get a sense of how much laminate flooring you will need by measuring the length and width of the rooms where your new laminate flooring will be installed and then multiplying the length by the width to determine the estimated square footage. Also, add 10 percent to your total square footage to account for cutting, installation errors and variation in floor design.

Q: Can I install laminate flooring myself?

A: There are basically three types of laminate installations:

  • Glue laminate requires that the glue be manually applied to the tongue and groove of each plank during installation.
  • Glueless laminates do not require glue, but rather have a trademarked locking system that hooks, snaps or clicks the tongue and groove together to lock the floor into place. The innovation of these locking systems has greatly simplified the installation process for laminate floors. These floors can be installed faster with no messy glue clean up, and are able to be used immediately, whereas most glue laminates need to set for 18 to 36 hours before being walked on.
  • Pre-glued laminate is a combination of the two methods above and has glue pre-applied by the manufacturer on the tongue and groove that is moistened prior to the planks being clicked together.

While easier to install than most other flooring, unless you’re experienced and accustomed to working with your hands, you might want to leave this one to the professionals.

Q: I know that water is a concern for laminate flooring. Does this mean that I can’t put laminate flooring in my bathroom?

A: Laminate flooring can be used in virtually any room of the house. Although it’s true that laminate floors do have some sensitivity to excessive moisture, if you plan on using laminate flooring in your bathroom, you’ll need to take special precautions to prevent water from contacting the core material of the flooring, such as sealing around the perimeter of the floor with caulk or sealant. Be sure to discuss the installation procedure and care and maintenance of your laminate floor with your retail flooring specialist.

Q: I’ve heard people refer to laminate as a "floating" floor. Does it really float?

A: Well, no, but because the laminate floor tiles or planks attach to each other via an interlocking tongue-and-groove glueless system rather than to a subfloor, they are said to float. 

Q: Can you put a laminate floor over any type of flooring?

A: It is possible to install a laminate floor over virtually any existing floor, except high-pile carpet.

Q: Is underlayment required with a laminate floor?

A: Yes. Underlayments provide protection against warping from moisture beneath, particularly if you’re installing the floor over concrete. Underlayments also reduce or eliminate "hollow" sounds generated from traffic on the floor. Keep in mind that some laminate floors come with underlayment attached. However a "rolled out" or separate underlayment can provide greater sound absorption and moisture protection than laminate floors with one attached.

Q: How are laminate floors different than hardwood flooring?

A: Though resembling hardwood flooring, laminate floors are constructed of several materials bonded together under high pressure; no solid wood is used in its construction. The substance of laminate flooring lies in particleboard core, which is sandwiched between a moisture resistant underlayment and high-resolution photographic image of the wood species being mimicked. This photographic layer is then topped off with an extremely hard, clear resin-coated cellulose layer that makes the floors nearly impervious to dents and scratches. Laminates mimicking stone and ceramic tiles are created in a similar fashion.

Q: What are the advantages of laminate flooring?

A: Aside from sparing the life of trees, particularly rare, exotic species, laminate flooring has several advantages over real hardwood flooring. First, comparable visuals and designs can be achieved at a fraction of the cost to the end-user. Secondly, laminate flooring can be installed both above and below grade, where hardwood flooring can only be installed above grade. Another big advantage is that laminate flooring is installed without nails or glue, making it a perfect choice for do-it-yourselfers. Lastly, laminate flooring is extremely durable, easy to maintain and can be easily replaced.

Q: How do laminate floors lock together?

A: The entire laminate floor industry turned to mechanical locking over five years ago as a means of alleviating claims associated with installers using either too much or not enough glue. While there are several versions of mechanical locking available today, the most popular methods rely on either adjoining the edges of two boards on an angle and snapping them into place or lying them side-by-side and slightly tapping together.

Q: Are there any disadvantages to laminate flooring?

A: While laminate flooring inherently contains a few drawbacks they are mostly contained to a few installation concerns. Primarily composed of compressed wood chips, laminate flooring’s core board is susceptible to swelling when exposed to moisture. Thus, it is recommended to never install the product in bathrooms or washrooms where run ins with water are likely. Also, because it is a floating floor, laminate flooring requires expansion joints for most installations to prevent the floor from buckling due to natural reactions to the environment.

 Ceramic FAQ

Q: What are ceramic tiles made of?

A: Just like all ceramic products (china, washbasins, etc.) ceramic tiles are made from a mixture of clay, sand and other natural materials. Most often, the mixture is pressed or extruded into the shape of a tile and then fired at high temperatures (somewhere between 1000°C and 1250°C).

Q: What’s the difference between porcelain and ceramic tile?

A: Most types of tiles are made from clay and a mixture of other materials and then fired at very high temperatures to create a dense, durable surface.

Ceramic tiles, or non-porcelain tiles, are usually made from white or red clay, are fired in a kiln and coated in a glaze that gives it color. They work for both floor and wall applications, but are usually softer and easier to cut than porcelain tile. Carry a PEI rating of 0 to 3, or light to medium traffic. No-porcelain tiles are good for light to moderate traffic but are more prone to chipping, scratches and wear than porcelain tiles.

Porcelain tiles are usually made from porcelain clays and are fired at much higher temperatures, which make them even more dense and durable than non-porcelain tiles. True porcelain tiles have a water absorption rate of less than 0.5 percent, giving them frost resistant. Some porcelain tiles are glazed with color like ceramic tiles. Other porcelain tiles are "full body", which means the tile carries its color throughout its entire thickness making them impervious to wear and appropriate for high traffic areas. Most porcelain tiles today have a PEI rating of 5, or suitable for heavy-duty traffic.

Be careful about what is advertised as porcelain tile. Since not all ceramic tile is porcelain, buying your flooring from a reputable dealer will ensure that you are getting the quality you pay for.

Q: Is ceramic tile a practical choice for flooring?

A: Because ceramic tile is such a hard surface, it is a very practical and durable type of flooring. There are many reasons why you might choose tile over other types of flooring. Glazed ceramic tile is:

  • Hard-wearing
  • Hygienic and easy to clean
  • Moisture-resistant
  • Won’t stain
  • Never needs waxing or sealing
  • Never needs refinishing
  • Comes in many shapes, styles and colors for every decor

Q: Does Ceramic Tile work for every style of decor?

A: Yes! Tile is a fashion-forward flooring option. There are many different styles, shapes and colors to choose from Today’s ceramic and porcelain tiles come in both bold and neutral hues, unique shapes and sizes, and can even mimic the look of materials found in nature, such as stone and wood. Your local tile showroom will have many displays that showcase the different styles of tile, including rustic, traditional, contemporary, exotic and transitional.

Q: Where can I use ceramic tile?

A: You can consider ceramic tile for every room in your home.

It’s an obvious choice for kitchens and bathrooms — two rooms that need hard-working surfaces that can stand up to moisture, heat and stains. Glazed tile repels cooking stains and spills and will not retain smoke or cooking fumes. It’s also a safe product to have around heat and flames. In the bath, installing slip-resistant tile on the floor can help guard against dangerous falls. Shower areas, backsplashes and floors can be easily cleaned with water and many household cleaners.

Entryways can really benefit from tile flooring. High-quality ceramic and porcelain tile stands up to dirt, dust and a lot of foot traffic. An easy maintenance program of sweeping, vacuuming or light mopping will keep them looking their best.

Sunrooms and enclosed porches are always stylish with tile. The glazed surface keeps the room looking bright. Glazed ceramic tiles won’t alter their color after years of sun exposure and heat.

Tile is also appropriate for living spaces and can help liven up your decor when paired with other types of flooring. You might, for example, use tile for the entry or perimeter of a living room and install a square of carpeting or an area rug under sofas and easy chairs.

Tile can define traffic pathways, lead the way outside through sliding and French doors, and create a practical laundry room.

Q: How do I clean ceramic tile?

A: Ceramic tile is very easy to clean and requires very little maintenance to keep it in pristine condition. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep a mat by the front door to trap dust and dirt
  • Sweet, vacuum or dry-mop regularly
  • Wipe spills with a damp sponge
  • Use water and common household cleaners for mopping

Resilient Vinyl FAQ 

Q: What is resilient flooring?

A: Though vinyl is by far the most popular material found in resilient flooring, these floors can also be composed of materials such as linoleum, cork and rubber usually compressed with heat into a sheet or tile format.

Q: What are the advantages of resilient flooring?

A: Composed of several sub segments, resilient flooring is versatile. While capable of mimicking popular hardwood, ceramic and stone, sheet vinyl can also incorporate custom, artistic designs. Resilient flooring is also the least expensive floor option. Meanwhile, linoleum and rubber flooring are sometimes the only options for work areas requiring hypoallergenic or slip resistant flooring. Another major attraction for the category is its ease of maintenance, which requires little more than soap, water and a mop. The surface layer on resilient flooring is also extremely resistant to scratching, fading and wear.

Q: What are some of the categories disadvantages?

A: Some of resilient flooring greatest drawbacks are due to perception, namely that it is cheap and environmentally unfriendly. However, the growing popularity and high-design associated with Luxury Vinyl Tile, available in both individual plank and tile formats, is changing this negative perception with retailers and end-users. Likewise, resilient floor manufacturers are making great strides to reduce the environmental impact of their products.

Cork FAQ

Q. What is cork flooring?

A: Cork flooring is a product made from the bark of the cork oak tree, a material which is ground, processed into sheets and baked in a kiln to produce tiles. Much of the cork flooring supply comes from southern Europe, particularly Portugal, where the cork oak species is plentiful.

Q. Why is cork flooring such an environmentally conscious flooring choice?

A: Cork is one of the most renewable sources for flooring. Harvesting the cork oak for its bark is strictly regulated, limiting such harvesting into nine-year cycles. The individual cork oaks must be at least 25 years old before they are harvested and when they are, the health of those cork oaks must be ensured. The cork oak is harvested by hand, and remains unaffected by the harvesting process. The bark of the cork oak grows back, leaving the cork oak as healthy as ever.

Q. What’s this I hear about cork flooring having a "memory"?

A: Because of its cellular nature, featuring millions of microscopic air pockets, cork flooring has "memory" that allows it to withstand foot traffic and the pressure of furniture legs. This helps it to take its original shape after impact. That said, it is still recommended that you use felt protectors on furniture legs. Better safe than sorry.

Q. What colorings are available in cork?

A: Although the perception is that cork flooring comes in only 3 colors—tan, tan and tan—but in addition to the various tonal changes available, there are also cork flooring products sold in dramatics blacks or blues.

Q. How long will cork flooring last?

A: With proper maintenance and care, cork flooring can last for decades.

Q. How is cork flooring sold?

A: Traditionally, cork floors used to come in the form of tiles that were messy and difficult to install. Nowadays, there is a wide choice of cork floating floors available as tiles or planks that offer easy installation; many incorporate click or snap lock joints that eliminate the need to use glue.

Q. Is cork flooring easy to care for?

A: Regularly spend a little time on some light cleaning of your cork floors surface either with a light dust mop or a vacuum cleaner, preferably without a beater brush. Wet cleaning is not advised, however a very slightly damp mop can be used so long as the moisture from it is light enough to quickly evaporate and therefore not settle on the floors surface.

Q. I’ve heard that cork flooring is great for hallways. Why?

A: Well, cork flooring can be installed virtually anywhere on-grade or above-grade, but because of its cellular nature, it naturally absorbs sound. And this can have a significant quieting effect in areas, such as hallways or entryways, which are normally associated with echoes.

Bamboo FAQ

Q. What is bamboo flooring?

A: Bamboo is a very had grass that can be engineered into planks to make durable, beautiful flooring that’s also environmentally friendly.

Q. Would bamboo flooring complement my traditional furnishings?

A: Bamboo flooring works well with any décor. Like wood flooring, wide-plank bamboo is especially great for large, open spaces, while narrower, random lengths are more traditional and eclectic.

Q. What kind of bamboo flooring should I be looking for?

A: A knowledgeable salesperson will be able to guide you. Take the time to learn about the manufacturing process and quality assurance practices of the supplier. Check for clarity and consistency in color. Read the warranties.

Q. What colorings are available in bamboo?

A: Bamboo is available in a light, natural color and warm "caramelized" tones that aresult from heating the sugars in the fibers during manufacturing. Also, bamboo can be stained in colors such as cherry.

Q. How long will bamboo flooring last?

A: Good quality bamboo flooring will last for generations with proper maintenance.

Q. How is bamboo flooring sold?

A: Bamboo flooring is typically available factory-finished or unfinished—installed on a job site like hardwood flooring. It can be installed just like a traditional tongue-and-groove solid hardwood floor. Depending on the product, it can be nailed, stapled or glued to concrete, or installed as a floating floor with a self-locking system requiring no adhesive. Some types may even be installed below grade.

Q. Is bamboo flooring easy to care for?

A: As with any quality hardwood, vacuum or sweep your bamboo floor regularly. There’s no need to use a damp mop or household cleaner. Simply wipe with a manufacturer-recommended hardwood floor cleaner.