Vinyl Floor Problem

Q: A few years ago I had a vinyl floor installed by a professional. He put down a flake board underlayment over another vinyl floor, and then installed a glued down vinyl floor. Approximately one and a half years later little brown spots started appearing on the vinyl floor. The spots resemble cigarette burns. We went back to the store where we bought it and they told us they would supply the vinyl but would not do the labor ,because it was out of warranty. As it turns out ,the reason for the brown spots was exotic wood chips were put in the underlayment and the oils are bleeding through.
Well it appears I am stuck taking up the old floor, due to the height of the present floor. I watched the floor being put down and they did use a lot of staples. How in the world would you suggest pulling up this floor. I can picture something along the line of a heavy duty scraper with serrated teeth on the front of it. I would appreciate any advice you have.
Thomas Blessing

A: What you will need here is a circular saw (skill saw) and any kind of small lifter, such as a crow bar. You will want to set the saw’s depth to the thickness of the vinyl and underlayment, which is usually around 3/8″, then cut the floor into strips about 1′ apart. Once the floor is cut into strips, you will then take your lifter and begin pulling up the strips of flooring and underlayment.
I am hesitant to believe that the brown spots you are seeing is due to exotic wood chips being in your flake board. Commonly these spots occur when regular steel staples are used rather than stainless or galvanized staples. Then once the adhesive is applied, especially with a latex based glue, its the perfect set up for a nightmare. I would suggest checking the location of these spots as you pull up the vinyl, if these spots occur over the staples, then you have found the problem. If these spots occur in areas where no staples are, than its possible the flake board is the problem, but I stress that this is not likely to be the scenario.

Bamboo Floating Floor with Knicks/Scratches

Q: We are in the slow process of redoing rooms in our home. Our first two we went with cork flooring, the second two with bamboo, as we were told it a harder flooring than cork and would wear better. When moving an item we noticed an ugly scratch, so before we went any further, we applied felt feet to any furniture that touched the floor. What we didn’t do was any type of precaution with rolling chairs. (One of the rooms is serving as a study, and has 2 chairs that are somewhat mobile.)
What we found rather quickly was that anywhere the chairs rolled, it left pits in the floor. I called customer support, and they explained you aren’t supposed to do that, not much you can do about it now.
The floor turned our really great, and we found a bamboo carpet to put over the bulk of the area where the chairs do roll, but we are still hoping there is some way we can fix what pits and scratches we have?
Thanks for your time and assistance,
Sean & Anita

A: Bamboo’s durability is dependent on whether it is natural bamboo or carbonized bamboo. Due to the process of making carbonized bamboo, in which the bamboo is essentially cooked in steam baths to crystallize the sugars found inside bamboo (also referred to as caramelizing the bamboo), the bamboo becomes a bit more brittle and losses some of its durability.
As far as removing the pitting, this will not be possible in the bamboo; however, with scratches you can do a bit to lessen their appearance. Depending on how deep the scratch is will matter if something can be done. Scratches in the finish only, typically appearing white in color, will fade a bit in time and become less noticeable. Depending on the aluminum oxide content of the finished used on your bamboo, there is potential to use products such as Bona’s Refresher to renew the finish in problematic areas, but unless this is in dire need I would not suggest doing it. Higher contents of aluminum oxide in finishes make it hard to properly adhere most finishes to the floor, and the result is a dull or milky residue appearance as the new finish does not properly adhere.
Now if the scratch is actually gouged into the bamboo itself, you might want to look into a color matched acrylic filler. This will not look amazing as it will be visible upon inspection of the floor, but it will protect the floor from having any moisture get into the material and ruining the floor.
My guess here is that you are only dealing with finish level scratches, as these are much more common compared to actual gouging of the floor. I would suggest first ensuring that any of the scraped up finish is removed, typically normal vacuuming and cleaning will remove this, then give it a bit of time, as it will darken back up some and blend into the floor a bit. If these scratches still stand out quite a bit after a while, you can contact the manufacturer of your floor to see if they recommend any specific products, or try using Bona’s refresher. Again I stress that you give the floor a bit of time and if you decided to apply anything, contact your manufacturer for suggestions first.

Outdoor Patio Application

Q: Do you carry any products that can be placed on top of concrete for an outdoor patio area? What would happen to cork? We live in So California so rain doesn’t happen often, but it is quite sunny!
A: Before we get directly into product, remember that part of the problem with outdoor installation with many flooring products is the fluctuation in temperature. Since we can’t control mother nature, it limits the selection of items we can use for outdoor installations.
Your best bet here would be a type of decking or flooring specifically manufactured for outdoor installations. Vifah makes a great snap together decking material which would be great for your project.
You could also look into something like cork, as I have seen it used in boat cabins, which has some potential for temperature change and moisture, but I would generally suggest avoiding a wood flooring product meant to be in a home as an outdoor solution. If you were to use cork you would have to use glue down cork tiles which do not have a fiberboard core (this means no cork products which are able to be floated or are click together). The key here is ensuring that the cork itself is carefully adhered with the adhesive, which I would suggest using a contact adhesive, and ensure that all edges of the cork are well sealed or site finish your cork after installation to add a bit of moisture protection in case it does rain.
Other alternatives here would be to look into stone or tile or a composite based laminate like Mannington’s iCORE. iCORE looks much like wood, but the core of the product is made from a composite which is impervious to water. If you choose to go with stone or tile, ensure that you install an uncoupling membrane into your thinset to ensure that your stone/tile does not end up cracking over time from movement in the concrete slab.
Overall, your best bet is to find something specifically manufactured for an outdoor installation. There are alternatives out there and with proper care during the installation process.

A Football bet gone wrong…

At times we get competitive around here. I suppose it is the nature of a group of high performers that they are always cooking up some kind of bet or competition.

In this case, Theron our CMO and Dennis our director of Customer service entered a bet. Each would wear the jersey of the other person’s favorite team depending on who won the Seahawks-Packers game.

The photos below illustrate the the packers won and Dennis lost. He proudly wears the packers jersey. (the pride was mostly from Theron, but Dennis honored his commitment. Now he only has to wear that jersey for another 364 days. Or was that not the bet?)


Quality of Cork Flooring

Q: The cork flooring you offer ranges from $2.79/SF to $7.69/SF. What influences the price? I purchased a bunch of cork samples based on color so they are in all different price ranges. All are soft, which I understand is the nature of cork. So is there something else in the higher price range that makes the cork more durable, especially to kids?
I picked a cork based on color: APC’s “Rusty”. It is a glue down variety. I am installing the floor in a new extension with plywood under-floors so glue is fine. But I am hesitating ordering because I know the new room will get a lot of abuse. I have tested my small sample in every way I can think of and, true to cork, even the deepest table leg dent eventually pops back out. So what does a higher price give me?
Also, I wrote to APC to find out where they manufacture their product and if formaldehyde is used but they never replied. Do you know if formaldehyde off-gassing is a problem with any of the cork you offer?
Thanks in advance for your help.
New York

A: When it comes to flooring, cork or otherwise, the price of the flooring itself is based off many factors. One of the largest factors is the brand itself. In some cases, much like with medication or beverages, you are paying for the name. Very large companies which have been around for years, the big names in the industry, have a premium attached to them which is part of their reputation and long standing (think similar to Pepsi Cola vs generic colas found in a grocery store).
Another major portion of the cost comes with the manufacturing process of the flooring in question. For cork this usually comes down to whether the cork was manufactured in a more green fashion, such as those made in Portugal vs cork made in China. Higher quality manufacturing processes which make a better product both in quality and in the green aspect will come with a bit more cost.
APC is one of the larger names in the cork flooring industry and their product is manufactured out of Portugal, much like Westhollow’s newer lines of cork. The cork in Portugal is the most environmentally friendly cork made and it makes the E1 standard for emissions. E1 emission class can be achieved, if the free formaldehyde content of the resin is lower than 0.2% by mass.
The third major factor is the finish used on the floor. Certain specific name brand finishes are available and much like the brand of the floor, the finish can carry its own premium as well. One of the best examples here is the Klumpp brand finish which is applied to some Bamboo floors. Higher quality finishes or certain eco-friendly water based finishes are more expensive to produce and apply and thus the cost of the end product goes up.
As you can see there are several factors which influence how certain items are priced. In the end you can get a similar product in quality for lower price if you look into lesser known brands. Also, items which are extremely low in price should be researched to ensure they meet certain standards and meet what you are looking for as a product.
Overall, APC makes one of the best cork product lines on the market. I’m a big fan of their selection of patterns and colors as well as their quality of product. The same can be said for the Westhollow lines of cork, especially the newer stuff in the State and Urban Premium collections which are manufactured in Portugal. Both are great green products and are some of the best cork floors on the market.

Matching Existing Carpet

Q: I have been having trouble identifying a commercial carpet that needs to be reordered. It’s possible that it has been discontinued but I would still like to know what it is so I can find out if there’s any stock left. The pattern is a slight checkerboard in the background and bubbles in the foreground, and the bubbles are raised a bit. (I’ve attached pictures).

A: A patterned carpet similar to the one that you are working with here is often hard to find. Depending on the dimensions of the area you are working with this carpet could possibly be a one-off made specifically for the particular job. This being said I don’t recognize the particular carpet you are working with and without a bit of detail on who manufacturers the carpet it would be very difficult to source a similar item and likely its not available. The fact is you will NEVER match the colors used in the manufacturing of this carpet. All dye lots vary. Most Designers when faced with a situation such as this will work with the field color of this existing carpet and pick a complimenting fabric. There are lots of options, but it really depends on the size of the project, the lay out of the space and most importantly the experience and creativity of the designer.
This being said, let’s look into feasible solutions. One solution would be to find a field color which is a similar fabric to install in the areas in question. Although the color will coordinate, the design aspect will likely be missing. Another solution, which will take a bit of work, would be to cut away some of the existing carpet from areas which would be good to refloor, but will also work as a good transition area between existing carpet and new carpet. Use the carpet you have removed as a border to work around the new chosen carpet. This can help to tie in new carpet with the old.
Here you can see part of the carpet we are dealing with installed.

In this picture you can see a portion of the carpet removed or old scrap to be used as a color sample.

Landing again

Another safe landing in Seattle. I think I am already past 20,000 miles for this year in frequent flyer miles, but you never take a safe landing for granted. I am also amazed each time the plane lifts off the ground that something so big can fly. It is a great feeling to come in for a landing on a beautiful day!

Short on time this week, but I thought I would share some fuzzy window shots from my seat on the plane to share some of the natural beauty that Seattle has. It really is a neat place. (especially when it is sunny.)