Cork Flooring Delivers on Eco-Chic Style and Comfort

Cork flooringThere was a time when homeowners were forced to choose between beauty, function and responsible sourcing. Not so now, according to famed architect and designer, Vern Yip. As a long-time champion of sustainable design, the HGTV star is constantly looking for eco-friendly materials with a fashion-forward appeal that can adapt to any aesthetic.

“The variety of choices available to environmentally-conscious consumers today is remarkable,” he begins. “Sustainable design and décor options have come of age, and the advances in cork flooring finishes are a great example.”

Recognized for being soft on the feet and warm to the touch, cork flooring is often ranked high on comfort and durability, but was sometimes overlooked for its limiting design options.

New technology enables the look of cork flooring to range from traditional and vintage to artistic and modern, presenting an array of exquisite design possibilities. In fact, cork’s versatility offers finished looks that can emulate hardwood, marble, and other textured surfaces.

Yip explains that, “thanks to its diverse, modern, and natural look, cork flooring gives us elegant designs that are as eye-catching as they are functional. New finishes give it a chameleon-like quality that fits any room aesthetic”.

Today’s printing technologies result in cork being matched to virtually any color, tint, or shade imaginable. For example, if a consumer loves the look of marble, but not the fact that it’s cold to touch, cork flooring can be a great alternative that resembles the look while remaining warm and pleasant underfoot.

If you want a rustic look you can consider designs in colours such as deep mahogany or rich chocolate brown that will create a warm look and feel. If you are decorating a child’s room you can combine cork planks in different colours, styles, or textures to create a playful appeal.

For open concept homes, cork flooring complements a variety of different wood stains, effortlessly bringing together colours from furniture, doors, cabinets, mantles, tables, and more. Mix and match old with new, high with low, or light with dark. The timeless nature of cork allows your home to be as eclectic as you desire.

You can even give your kitchen a retro appeal. Geometrical and angular floors are making a comeback in a big way this year. Try zigzag, herringbone, or chevron patterns to bring some mid century flair back into your home.

Cork’s versatility, beauty, and the fact that its production does not result in any trees being cut, makes it a favorite among green-living advocates. Get inspired with stylish cork décor ideas at

5 Kitchen Flooring Ideas You’ll Love

kitchen-flooring-ideasKitchens are high-traffic rooms that need exceptional flooring. Besides having to look good, successful kitchen floors need to withstand spills, food, sliding chairs, dropped dishes and the occasional mopping. Here are the pros and cons of the five top flooring choices for this important room.

Ceramics, porcelain and stone tiles:

Ceramics are a favourite for kitchens because they’re tough, easy to clean, long-wearing, and able to let you enjoy the warmth of in-floor heating. Natural stone tiles are tough and beautiful too, but not all stone resists staining as well as ceramics and porcelain. Whichever of these materials you choose, install an uncoupling membrane underneath any kind of rigid tiles to prevent cracking.


This is a dream to walk on because cork offers cushioning action. Commonly available as click together tiles, most cork flooring comes factory finished and ready to install. Think laminate, except softer.


A lighter duty choice than others, hardwood will do fine if you install protective felt disks on chair and table legs. Want a dark floor? You could stain lighter woods to suit, but scratches and wear eventually show through. Instead, make your kitchen floor DIY-repairable using darker woods such as cherry or alder. Apply polymerized tung oil and the floor finish can be repaired without sanding.

Resilient flooring:

This is a catch-all term that refers to any of the one piece roll floorings that are cut to fit from wall to wall. Some of the best resilients lay flat on their own with no need to glue them down. Vinyl, linoleum and fibre resilient floors all provide very good water resistance.


Not all laminates are tough enough for kitchens, so consider products with an abrasion class rating of three or higher. Lighter colours hide dirt and footprints much better than darker laminates.

When you hire a contractor to install your new kitchen floor, make sure your sales contract specifies the exact product you choose and outlines the warranty provided. Check out the Canadian Home Builder’s Association’s website for free advice on hiring a pro the smart way,

The Beauty and Durability of Laminate Wood Flooring

Laminate Wood FlooringBeing the owner and editor of two home decorating websites, I was recently asked my opinion of laminate wood flooring. In my opinion, laminate flooring is becoming one of the fastest-growing products in the flooring industry.

Today’s laminate floors are created using a photographic image of wood, marble, or tile that is bonded to fiberboard, backed with melamine plastic and coated with aluminum oxide. Aluminum oxide is considered the second hardest mineral after diamonds. This process allows the laminate surface to be almost indestructible, stain-resistant and fade-resistant.

Due to the durability of laminate wood flooring, it is a smart choice for kitchens, dens, playrooms, and even dining rooms.

How do you recognize quality and pick a laminate wood floor? Generally, lower priced laminates may not be as realistic as the higher priced laminates. The best laminates employ a complex printing process to achieve full color, which is more expensive than the process used in the lower priced laminates. Also, the more expensive laminates are made with high-density fiberboard that repels moisture better than the medium to low density fiberboard found in the less costly versions.

The latest versions of laminate wood flooring snap together like puzzle pieces resulting in fast and clean installation. Normally, no sealants are necessary and the laminate floors are rarely glued down due to their edges locking together. Laminate floors “float” over a level subfloor, which can be concrete, tile, linoleum, or wood. Carpet, however, is not a suitable sub flooring for laminate flooring.

Laminate flooring is easy to care for. Simply dust with a dry mop, wipe with a damp cloth or mop, and/or vacuum with a soft brush attachment. Be careful not to damage your laminate floor by using wax and polish, steel wool, or harsh abrasive cleaners. It is also suggested by manufacturers to place felt pads or casters beneath furniture legs to help protect the laminate flooring.

Repairs to laminate wood flooring can be difficult. Damaged laminate cannot be sanded down or refinished the way wood can. If your laminate flooring becomes damaged, the planks can be replaced. Usually the process of replacing planks requires special tools and a professional floor installer.

Overall, laminate wood flooring is a great choice for your home. It is durable and beautiful coming in a variety of finishes including glossy, hickory, cherry, bamboo, and even scraped like real wood for an aged appearance.


Lesley Dietschy is a freelance writer and the founder of – The Home Decor Exchange is a valuable website full of information and resources about home and garden decorating.

In addition to editing the Home Decor Exchange website, Lesley is a crochet pattern designer and needle fiber artist. You can view her crochet patterns and needle fiber designs at:

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Home décor rules to live by

Home décorAre you looking to refresh a room, or give life to tired space? Take a look at a few creative quick tips from Vern Yip, the acclaimed interior designer, long-time HGTV star, and an ambassador for the Portuguese Cork Association. Especially for DIYers, here are Yip’s top design rules:

Tie in the Old with the New

Pull a room together that shows off the things you love most. Mix modern, functional furniture with relics from travels, or beautiful antique pieces from generations past. A gallery wall is one of the easiest ways to combine old and new. Get creative with an eclectic mix of modern prints, travel photos, and family mementos.

Make Your Flooring Functional

A beautiful floor is one of the simplest ways to punctuate a room. Opt for materials that are both chic and comfortable, such as cork flooring. Cork floors are warm, soft on the feet and eco-friendly. Whether a kids’ playroom, where we spend a lot of time on the floor; a kitchen, where we stand for a long time; a basement and bedroom, where we may be stepping on it barefoot, cork’s natural ability to insulate against heat, cold, noise and vibration make it an ideal choice for any room in the home. What’s more, with design styles that range from wood-like planks to marble-esque tiles, plus an easy-to-install system, cork flooring meets a wide range of aesthetics and is a DIYer’s dream.

Don’t Shy Away from Colour

If you’re stuck in a sea of neutrals, it’s time to take a risk with colour. Start small by replacing old pillow covers, throws and lampshades to reflect the hues and tones of the season. Or, create an accent wall with a printed wallpaper or painted design. Keep your larger items white or neutral so that you can easily mix and match seasonal colours with permanent pieces.

For more tips and design inspiration, visit

Natural materials top the home décor trends for 2015

Natural materialsLeading designers are saying that 2015 will be all about ‘style fusion’ and natural materials. There is also a trend towards re-use and recycle, says long time HGTV star Vern Yip, who is also a vocal champion of eco-friendly materials with a fashion-forward appeal.

“The variety of choices available to environmentally-conscious consumers today is remarkable,” Yip begins. “Sustainable design and décor options have come of age, and the advances in cork flooring finishes are a great example.”

As we continue to move to smaller spaces, the floor has become essential for maximizing space. Opt for materials like beautiful cork, says Yip, which is chic and comfortable and natural too.

Cork floors are warm, soft on the feet, and eco-friendly, he points out. Its natural ability to insulate against heat, cold, noise and vibration make it an ideal choice for any room in the home, whether a kitchen, playroom, basement or even bathroom. With design styles that range from wood-like planks to marble-esque tiles, plus an easy-to-install system, cork flooring is easy to recycle and reuse.

Living outdoors is yet another way we are maximizing our living space. Make it cozy with pillow, tiki lights or a bonfire pit. In cold temperatures, use heat lamps positioned around the border of the patio.

To see Vern Yip’s 2015 updates to his New York City apartment, visit the décor inspiration gallery at

Give Your Home a DIY Facelift with New Wood Floors

New Wood FloorsAfter another winter’s worth of wear and tear, has your flooring reached the point of no return? Or perhaps you’re just ready for a change. Either way, bringing the beauty of wood flooring into your home is a great way to instantly change the look of a room.

From the country feel of oak to the elegance of maple, there is a wood floor for every taste. And now, there is a wood floor that do-it-yourselfers can install easily in about half the time it would take to install regular hardwood floors.

Alloc Wood is a collection of beautiful hardwood floors made from the highest quality wood materials that provide real wood beauty, durability, ease of maintenance and installation. The flooring fits together with a snap — literally. The company’s patented mechanical locking system makes installation easy and the joints tight and strong. The joint locking system aligns the planks precisely, so no messy glue is necessary.

“I would love to let everyone know just how easy it is to install Alloc,” says Barbara, a customer from Red Creek, N.Y. “I am a 58-year-old married lady whose husband is not a do-it-yourselfer, so I tackled the job all by myself. I have no carpenter skills to speak of but I’ve got a lot of nerve. The area I installed was about 13 feet by 20 feet with a lot of cuts. I made a few mistakes, but they were so easy to correct.”

Choose from 11 different finish styles and colors to find one that is perfect for your décor. From the rich, deep colors of Merbau to the light and airy look of Beech Authentic, you can choose a finish to match existing wood in your home, or opt to complement your furniture with a contrasting wood. You can also choose between the traditional three-strip designs, which are just over 8 inches wide, or opt for the recently introduced 6.5-inch one strip plank design.

The flooring is pre-finished with Alloc’s Lifestrong surface treatment to provide long wear resistance and years of pleasure. It is perfect for just about any residential area, including foyers, kitchens, living and dining rooms, dens and half-bathrooms. You can install the flooring with confidence: Alloc backs its products with a 25-year warranty.

Busy families will appreciate the ease of maintenance with these wood floors. The Lifestrong finish is a non-porous, stain resistant coating that protects the floor from traffic and spills. All you need to do is sweep clean and wipe up spills. To maintain the beauty of your wood floor, the experts at Alloc offer the following simple tips:

* Use protector pads under heavy furniture and chair legs.

* Put mats by exterior door entrances to pick up dirt, abrasive materials and moisture from shoes.

* Avoid scratching from pet claws by keeping them trimmed.

* Use area rugs to protect the floor in heavy traffic areas. Keep in mind that in sunny rooms, rugs may cause a difference in fading from non-protected areas.

* Do not wet mop or clean with products containing lemon oils, ammonia etc. Use non-wax floor cleaners.

* Water can permanently damage your floor — wipe up any spills immediately.

* Sweep and vacuum (using brush attachments) your floor regularly.

In addition to their wood flooring, Alloc manufactures an entire family of laminate mechanical locking products, including Alloc Commercial, Original, Domestic, Home Flooring and Tile.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Keeping Hardwood Floors Looking Beautiful

Keeping-Hardwood-Floors-Looking-Beautiful(ARA) – No matter what the setting, the good looks and durability of hardwood floors can be maintained with minimal effort. It’s simply a matter of proper care and maintenance.

The American Hardwood Information Center,, in conjunction with the National Wood Flooring Association suggest the following care and maintenance guidelines to keep hardwood floors looking beautiful today, and for years to come. Here’s how to begin.

General maintenance guidelines

All hardwood floors should be cleaned regularly to remove dirt and grit from between the floor boards. Avoid using a wet mop which can dull the finish. Instead, sweep with either a dust mop or broom that features exploded tips, or vacuum the floors using a vacuum with special hardwood floor attachments or one with the beater bar turned off.

Wipe up any spills immediately, using a soft, dry or slightly damp cloth, starting at the edges of the spill and working toward the center. Allowing spills to remain on hardwood floors could damage the finish, as well as the wood.

Avoid walking on hardwood floors with sports cleats or high heel shoes in disrepair. These can scratch the finish, or even dent the floor. Placing felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs will also minimize scratches.

Further minimize scratches by placing scatter rugs at all entrances to help keep small stones and debris out. But choose wisely. Scatter rugs with rubber backs can discolor wood floors. Special rug mats can be purchased from a wood flooring retailer to protect the floors from discoloration.

You’re not “finished” just yet

Knowing which type of finish applied to protect the hardwood floor is important. Different flooring finishes require different kinds of care, so if or when in doubt, contact the flooring manufacturer or a wood flooring professional in your area.

There are three major types of wood flooring finishes available – surface finishes, wax and acrylic impregnated – and the experts at the National Wood Flooring Association,, stress that using the right maintenance products will protect and prolong the life of the floor.

Surface finishes, also referred to as urethanes or polyurethanes, are practical and very popular. They remain on the surface of the wood and form a protective coating that is water-resistant, durable and requires minimal maintenance.

For cleaning purposes, use products recommended by the flooring manufacturer. If the floors were finished or refinished on site, contact the installer. If neither is known, use a generic hardwood floor cleaner which can be purchased at a retail flooring store. Never use wax-based or petroleum-based products on a surface finish floor, as they will damage the finish.

Wax finishes soak into the wood, harden to form a protective penetrating seal, and when needed, are maintained with additional thin applications of wax. Only solvent-based waxes, buffing pastes or cleaning liquids made specifically for wax-finished wood floors should be used.

Use cleaning products, available at retail flooring stores, made specifically for wax finishes. Follow the directions carefully to determine how long the cleaner should remain on the floor. Once the floor is clean, apply a new coat of wax to restore luster.

Acrylic impregnated finishes are injected into the wood to create a super-hard, extremely durable floor. These finishes most often are used in high traffic areas of malls, restaurants and other commercial settings.

Cleaning an acrylic impregnated floor depends on the finish. If the floor has a urethane-based finish, follow the same procedures suggested for surface finished floors. If the floor has a nonurethane-based finish, use a spray and buff system, as recommended by the manufacturer.

Don’t hesitate to investigate

It pays to be knowledgeable. Proper care and maintenance will protect and prolong the performance of hardwood flooring for a lifetime, and even longer. To learn more about how to sustain the natural beauty and durability of your hardwood flooring, visit the American Hardwood Information Center at

Make an Impression with Your Flooring

ImpressionMost people think the first impression of their home is made by the color on the walls or furniture in a room; but in reality, it’s made by what’s under your feet – the flooring. If the carpet is dirty and worn, tiles are chipped, or the wood floor is warping, it’s time for a change.

So what’s holding you back? A lot of people are hesitant to jump into a home improvement project involving flooring because of all the work involved. First you have to remove and dispose of the old material, then invest the time and effort necessary to get the base surface ready for the new material before finally putting it in.

“Do-it-yourselfers are overwhelmed when they learn how much work is involved in redoing a floor. But it doesn’t have to be that way,” says Scott Day of Forbo Flooring. Forbo recently introduced a new product that’s turning a lot of heads in the remodeling industry.

Marmoleum Click is perhaps the easiest flooring surface there is to install. No adhesives or fasteners are necessary. The panels simply lock into place with a tongue and groove system. “If you have an existing resilient floor, no need to remove it. The planks and squares can be installed right on top of the old surface. If you have carpet or tile, you just need to remove and dispose of the old materials and start clicking the Marmoleum tiles together right over the subfloor,” says Day.

Marmoleum Click comes in 18 different colors and is available in two different sizes: panels that are 12 inches wide and 36 inches long, and 12-inch by 12-inch squares.
The panels and squares can be mixed and matched to create a wide variety of patterns and color combinations.

“It’s really cool. You can mix and match colors to create a space that is uniquely your own,” says Day.

In addition to being decorative and easy to install, Marmoleum Click is made from natural materials consisting of flaxseed oil, pine rosin, limestone and jute. It also has anti-static and bactericidal properties, meaning it’s easily kept dirt and dust free, and is resistant to such micro-organisms as Staphylococcus. These qualities make it especially popular in bathrooms and kitchens – and in places young children play.

“Marmoleum Click is the ideal do-it-yourselfer’s surface,” says Scott Day of Forbo. “We’ve received a lot of feedback from customers that it’s the easiest material they’ve ever worked with, and they’ve had a lot of fun with it.”

For design ideas, or to find a retailer near you, log on to

Courtesy of ARA Content

Recommended Cleaning for Bamboo Floors

bamboo flooringThat beautiful new bamboo floor is the envy of the neighborhood. Friends are dropping by to check out its beauty. All this in and out traffic is bound to create some dirt that needs to be removed, but what is the recommended cleaning for bamboo floors?

The first thing to understand is that this is not a typical hardwood floor, the same recommendations that so often are ‘across the board’ don’t apply to bamboo. It is not difficult to clean and maintain, just different than other woods.

Water Be Gone

Water is not a friend to any hardwood and bamboo is no exception. Even though it is a water resistant material, that doesn’t mean puddles can accumulate for long periods of time without some visible damages. Wipe up spills as soon as possible.

If the spill is sticky liquid, like soda, use a damp sponge but don’t use a sponge that is dripping wet.

Do Away with Dust

Other than wiping up any spills that occur, the recommended cleaning for bamboo floors is simply to sweep or vacuum up the dust that accumulates on a daily basis.

A dust mop will help to add a special shine to the floor when it appears to need it. Do not use a wet mop on bamboo floors.

Above all else, it must be remembered that the same chemicals and wood cleaners that are recommended for other wood floors do not work on bamboo flooring. Bamboo does not react well to the chemicals that are used to make these cleansers. Waxes and polishes should also be avoided.


Maintaining bamboo flooring will help keep it beautiful for many years to come. Simple steps like not wearing stiletto heels to prevent excessive scratches are recommended.

High traffic areas should have rugs or runners to help collect dust and debris that accumulates from shoes. Don’t be excessive and cover up the beauty of the floor, but do consider placing them in doorways or hallways to help keep the dirt off the floor.

Furniture gliders or felt tips will help to prevent unnecessary marring when moving furniture around. Bamboo is not scratch proof and these protective coverings will help keep scratches to a minimum.

If there are animals in the home, keep their toenails trimmed to help prevent scratches as well.

Bamboo floors are highly durable and don’t dent easily; however, the finish that is applied to the floor will determine how scratch resistant the floor is.

As the floor ages it might need to have a fresh, clear finish applied to help keep scratches at bay. This is not a difficult task but should be done by a professional.

Simple steps to keep bamboo flooring looking beautiful from the day it is installed to twenty years down the road. Maintaining and cleaning the flooring is not a difficult task, the key is to keep spills wiped up and don’t used chemical cleaners.


Solid Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Forest

When looking for durable, strong flooring, many people are turning to solid bamboo flooring to beautify their homes and have a floor that will last for many years. Traditionally, strong floorings have been made from hardwoods like oak and pine. However, with much of the world focused on sustainable products that are long lasting, bamboo has become a front runner in the hardwood flooring industry.

Bamboo flooring can be solid or engineered. The main difference being that engineered flooring has an added layer of wood underneath the bamboo planks which add a layer of strength to the floor. This doesn’t mean that solid bamboo flooring is not strong; it is quite strong and remarkably durable.

In actuality, bamboo is not a hardwood but actually a grassy plant whose stalks are very hard and durable. Bamboo has been used in China for hundreds of years for everything from floors to actual house walls. Over time, the uses for bamboo as a hardwood option spread beyond the Orient and it became recognized as a superior choice for flooring.

Bamboo has a green or environmentally friendly aspect that has made its popularity explode in recent years and that is its fast re-growth. Bamboo is mature enough to be harvested after four to five years whereas a hardwood tree can take from thirty to a hundred years or longer to be ready for harvest.

Solid bamboo floors are made strictly from bamboo stalks and because they don’t have the added support of the wood layer underneath are harder to install. Nails or glue are the installation options with a professional flooring person the preferred installer. Homeowners who choose to install a solid bamboo floor will find that it doesn’t nail easily and can split and crack from the force of the nail going into the bamboo. This is why professional installers typically do a solid floor installation. It is also worth noting that solid bamboo floors cannot be installed as a float or click-n-lock flooring.

Solid bamboo floors are the bamboo flooring option that is most like traditional bamboo flooring from China. During ancient times the idea of engineered bamboo flooring did not occur, they used the bamboo strictly as it was cut from the stalk. The end result remains the same today as it did hundreds of years ago, a solid, durable floor that is perfect in any room of the house and is able to withstand the rigors a family puts on it.

Bamboo, regardless of whether or not it is solid or engineered is a sound eco-friendly choice in flooring that will last many years and help to extend the life of the planet.