Garage Conversion Update

As promised, Lev sent in some new photos. As a reminder, Lev has been working with the team here at iFLOOR throughout his project of converting his garage into a playroom. The concrete subfloor used to have a slope to it and the goal was to install a radiant heat system and prepare for a new floor.
Here’s the Update:
The floor is level and we put one step from the play room down into the new room, and
one step up from the patio (which used to be a driveway).
Best regards,

Now Lev is shopping for his floor so he can finish off this great renovation. We’ll have more updates for you after Lev gets his new floor install going.

Westhollow Exotics

The attention that Westhollow has demonstrated with regard to making sure the the Brazilian Cherry, Tigerwood, Angelim and Brazilian Walnut are harvested with sustainable practices is to be commended. The dedication that the chain of custody partnership is something that all companies are evolving towards and I hope to continue to see advancement and further certifications as they become practical and available.

I thought I would share some exotic photo room scenes to share just how beautiful a well executed project can be.



TIGERWOOD – Westhollow hardwood


Laminate for a Kitchen

Q: Can you tell me what the best laminate you sell for the kitchen? Do any of your brands have paraffin wax sealed joints?
Bridgette N.

A: The “best” laminate is part fact part opinion. To avoid the opinion part, I’ll suggest a few that have performed well in testing we have done. Pergo Select, Quick Step Eligna and Perspective and Westhollow Vise-loc all performed rather well for durability and moisture resistance. There are a few others whom have performed well, but those tend to be the top tier laminate choices.
As far as paraffin wax sealed joints are concerned I went to Ryan W.,’s VP of Products, to get an in depth answer for you. Ryan mentioned that wax sealing the edges of flooring was done long ago and isn’t done much today. I actually got quite the interesting history lesson about the evolution of laminate when it comes to moisture resistance.
After using paraffin wax to seal edges, companies began to paint on oils or something similar to seal the edges of laminate. Ryan mentioned he could distinctly remember seeing boxes of flooring where the sides of the boxes had soaked up some oil, similar to butter soaking into the buckets of popcorn you get at a movie theater – not a pretty sight. After this oil process, manufacturers began adding moisture resistant chemicals directly to the core of laminate during manufacture. This is still done today so nowadays the entire core of laminate is moisture resistant and not just the edges. This is great when cuts are made as the cut edge is just as resistant. Keep in mind no wood flooring is water proof, but they are moisture resistant.
It used to be that the green cored laminate contained moisture resistant additives, but nowadays any color core board can hold these additives, so as Steve always says “Buyer beware” and make sure the laminate you purchase contains these additives and not just that the core is a specific color.
The brands and collections I mentioned all have such additives, so I would look into those as good flooring choices for your kitchen. Also make sure to use a good underlayment.

Underlayment in an Apartment Building

Q: I have been reading all of the information on laminates (absolutely the best and most concise ever) and will be ordering laminate for my upstairs tenant’s apartment. While picking the laminate is not such a problem thanks to your information, I am unsure of what is the best underlayment for me. You mentioned you liked cork, but when I looked at my choices there was a soundproof acoustical underlayment that said it was the best. Since these tenants are above my head I would like to minimize the amount of noise as much as possible. Your suggestions please.
Thank you,
Annette W.

A: When it comes to underlayment in apartment or condo style housing, the choices get narrowed a bit, but they become more difficult. The best underlayment for sound suppression would be Sound 6 Barrier Acoustical underlayment, but this does not mean it’s the best for your project. Aside from Sound 6 your best sound suppression will come from cork (6mm then 3mm respectively).
Nearly all HOAs for condos require cork as an underlayment for any wood floor to be installed. This statement alone shows the support for cork in such living environments, but I would suggest you look into the pros of each underlayment and make a choice as to which has the most benefit for your project.
Sound 6 has the highest STC (Sound Transmission Control) ratings of any underlayment out there at 73. It is made from a rubber/foam style material designed specifically to control sound transmission. The only downside you will encounter is that Sound 6 is not as dense as cork, meaning that it is going to break down a bit or “Sack out” as my good friend Gene D. likes to say. Also, since it is less dense, it will cause the floor to have a bit more spring to it (although this tends to be almost unnoticeable).
Cork offers great STC ratings 51 for 6mm cork. Cork’s big benefit is its natural density and its memory feature. Like all cork products, cork underlayment will naturally attempt to return to its natural state, meaning it actively prevents itself from compacting over time. The density of cork also gives your floating floor a much more solid feel under foot. A few other great benefits of cork are that it is naturally hypo-allergenic and acts as a natural insulator.
In the end, I would tend to suggest 6mm cork, as it has become somewhat of a standard in Condos and apartments for its many properties, but I would not count Sound 6 out. I feel regardless of the choice you make, you will have an underlayment that will perform well. It becomes a question of additional sound control versus feel under foot and ability to withstand time.
Follow-Up: Annette has been working with James A. over in our sales team along with myself to get some additional help.
Q: Thank you both for your comments I really do appreciate it. With tenets above our heads I am looking for the quietest floor for the longest period of time I can. This may sound like and overdo question, but can I use a combination of the cork underlayment with the Sound 6, and if so is it overkill? Thanks again, I am looking forward to ordering my floors soon from a company that seems so responsive.

A: You could use both underlayments in theory, but in practice I would personally pick one underlayment and stick to it. I’m sure James would agree with me here that another option to look into would be to use 6mm cork and 3mm cork if you want to combine underlayments. The additional thickness of cork will provide more sound control while keeping to the better density cork offers. You can also get underlayments of cork up to 12mm in thickness through APC cork. One note I will give you is that the standards for public education facilities in the US show that the STC requirement near the loudest rooms (such as a music room) is 60. This is for STC ratings of walls, which means an STC rating of 50 or higher for a floor is very good.
My personal preference would be to use cork, but Sound 6 is optimal when it comes to suppressing sound and is far more durable than cheaper foam underlayments – so it should hold up just fine for several years. My suggestion would be to find out how much height you have to work with for an installation then maximize your underlayment while allowing the room for the floor.
Follow-up: I was forwarded a series of emails where Steve, iFLOOR’s CEO, was helping advise a similar project on underlayment. Although I mentioned to Annette that I personally prefer to stick to one type of underlayment in a thicker amount, Steve gives some excellent advice.

I would use a 6mm cork first and then the Sound 6 Barrier. The key is the 6mm is comfortable, yet rigid and provides a great baseline for sound reduction.
The sound 6 barrier has INCREDIBLE sound reduction specs that can be found on the website. It is worth a few extra pennies to kick up your sound reduction to the low 70’s vs. quietwalk. (I have only limited experience with quietwalk and it was not all positive.)

Steve was asked: “a friend asked why cork first and then sound 6 on top, why not the other way around? Got me wondering – does it matter?” Here is where Steve’s knowledge and years of experience yield great advice.

Yes – it matters – cork underlay is more stable than the sound 6 and should be the primary substrate. (if you need a moisture barrier use poly-ethylene under the cork – it is not relevant to the deflection and tensile strength discussion.)
At the end of the day it may not matter from a total components used point of view, however, the cork would be less stable over the sound 6 which would weaken the integrity of the floor above. My experience tells me that there is only one way to do it right.

How can I Cover a Gap in my Stairs?

Q: we have spaces where the hardwood was laid on the floor. we don’t know how to cover these gaps, at the edges of the stairs, other than using quarter round, which still leaves gaps between the riser and the stair nose.
any suggestions for a not so skilled person?

A: Based on your description it sounds like the gaps you are referring to are against the wall. If this is the case you should be able to cover these gaps rather easily using a stringer (also known as a stair skirt). Normally the skirt is put in place against the wall before installing your treads and risers, but in a case where you have a gap that quarter round or similar trim (such as base moldings) you could use a skirt or make a modified one from some lumber like a 1” x 6” then stain to match the color.

There are several great write ups you can find online about how to make your own stringers/stair skirts, just make sure you measure the gap and get an accurate idea of how much space you will need to cover.