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Should You Hire a Laminate Flooring Installer?

In this age of DIY home improvement projects, more and more people are rolling up their sleeves and taking matters into your own hands.  When it comes to installing laminate flooring, there is no shortage of resources available that teach you tips on how to avoid the many pitfalls that can be experienced. So with all the buzz about how easy laminate flooring is to install, why hire an expert?  

The truth is, you don’t have to.  If you’re handy, you own the right tools, and you have the extra time, installing laminate flooring should be a snap.  However, make sure you educate yourself before making the decision to do it yourself. 

Here are some things to consider.  

  1. Are you physically able to do this job?  Spending hours on your knees can take a toll.  Although the skill level required for this job is relatively low, the physical stamina required can be enough for many homeowners to call in the reinforcements.  Don’t under estimate this.  Although many “how to” guides make the job look easy, if you have back or knee problems, this is a job you’ll want to avoid.  Also, keep in mind that prior to installing the new flooring, you’ll need to move furniture, and remove the old flooring.   
  2. How flexible is your budget.?  If cash is tight, and you’d prefer not to finance the project (many flooring companies run promotions for 0% interest for 6-12 months), it may be worth your time and energy to do it yourself.  You’ll also want to consider where you will dispose of old carpet and padding.  If you’re forced to take these to the landfill, the cost of transportation and dump fees may offset much of the cost of hiring a professional.  Also keep in mind the cost associated with buying the proper tools, and “automatic floor leveler” which will fill in the natural dips most homes have in their subfloor.  These additional purchases can add hundreds of dollars to the total project cost.  Many homeowners make the mistake of measuring their room and multiplying that by the cost of the product per square foot.  That’s a deceiving number.  You’ll want to consider the cost of the entire project prior to making your product selection
  3. How long do you expect your flooring to last?  If you’re looking for a long term flooring solution, it’s wise to hire a professional.  Most reputable installers guarantee their work for 1 year.  Although this is different than the manufacturer’s warranty, a 1 year warranty on installation will provide you with 4 seasons of humidity and temperature change.  Any warping that is caused by improper installation will be identified in that period of time, and you’ll have the opportunity to call the installer back to correct the problem.  If you do it yourself, you’re on your own, and you may end up voiding the manufacturer’s warranty if the product was installed improperly.  It’s always better when you can hold someone else accountable! Are you under a tight time frame?  If not, you can afford for the project to be completed on your own schedule.  If you’d prefer to accomplish the project quickly, hiring an experienced installer is a great choice.  You should always expect for your installer to provide you an estimated date of completion in writing.  An experienced laminate flooring installer will have no problem getting your new floor installed in a very short period of time.  

With the advent of YouTube and other DIY websites, a new generation of handy men & women have been born.  There is great reward in accomplishing a project and standing back to admire your hard work!  However, for some, having access to trusted, experienced professionals is of great advantage.  

Regardless of whether you decide to take on this project yourself, or if you’d prefer to entrust your project to an experienced installer, we’d love to help.  We offer extremely competitive prices on all the top-quality laminate brands and products. We’d love to speak with you and provide you with a free consultation.  Additionally, regardless whether you choose Carpet 4 Less as your source for laminate flooring, or if you decide to purchase through a competitor, we’ll always point you in the right direction. We’ve built our business on the principle of treating others as we’d like to be treated. It’s the right thing to do.

How to Choose a Laminate Floor Video

How to Select a Laminate Floor

Laminate flooring is one of the hottest trends sweeping the nation, and for good reason.  It looks great, it’s very durable, and it costs much less than many natural materials.  

Although not the right choice for everyone, laminate flooring is the perfect choice for those who want to replicate the look of high end trends without breaking the bank.  And it’s the perfect alternative for active households.  

With that in mind, there are several things you’ll want to understand before purchasing your new laminate floor.  Here I’ll discuss each of these by breaking down the various layers of laminate floor construction, and giving you some tips on what to look out for.  

First, you have the Wear layer – This is a clear top layer that protects the floor from stains, fading, and scratching.  It’s made from melamine which is a tough, clear finish reinforced with aluminum oxide, one of the hardest mineral compounds known to man.  

Next, you have the Design layer – This is a High Definition photographic image of wood, stone, brick or ceramic.  There are countless styles and shades to choose from, so you’ll want to spend some time thinking through the design elements of your home, and how your floor will compliment them.  Don’t choose a floor that will clash with surfaces or furniture you don’t intent to change.  
The third layer in laminate floor construction is the Inner CoreEducating yourself on this layer is the key to saving yourself a lot of time, energy, money, and future headaches.  The market is flooded with cheap laminate floors, and countless homeowners take the bait.  Don’t let that be you.  If it sounds too good to be true, like 89 cents, or 69 cents a square foot, stay away.  Just beware of suspiciously low prices, and keep an eye out for the seal of the North American Flooring Association.  

Laminate floors come in various thicknesses, and are measured in millimeters.  As a general rule, the thicker the plank, the more resilient it will be to falling objects.  It’s also important to note that thicker boards generally have a stronger locking mechanism, and will therefore last longer in most cases.  
With that in mind, it’s also important that you understand not all laminate floors are created equal. There are two basic techniques manufactures use to construct laminate floors.  Simply put, these are Direct pressure, and high pressure.  Direct pressure is a one-step process and results in a less expensive, and less resilient end product.  High Pressure laminates are constructed using a two-step process, and is a much higher quality, more durable product.  
So, just because a plank is thicker than another, may not mean it’s higher quality.  You want to make sure you’re purchasing the highest quality floor as possible, even if it’s not quite as thick.  Thickness is good, don’t get me wrong, you want as thick of a board as possible.  But more important is the quality construction of the plank.
Last, but not least we have the Backing.  Backing board varies depending on the manufacturer, but ranges from paper to a full plastic laminate layer. It’s primary function is as a balancing agent to stabilize the board and prevent cupping and bowing. It also has moisture resistance qualities. Obviously, a full plastic later is much preferred over paper.  It will provide much greater protection against potential water damage than those with paper backings, and as a result you’ll have a longer lasting floor.
So there you have it.  The wear layer, the design layer, the core, and the backing.  Understanding the functions of each of these will help you make an informed decision, and keep you from making a costly mistake when it comes to selecting the right laminate floor for your budget and lifestyle.   

How to Choose the Right Carpet

Choosing the right carpet for your family's unique needs and lifestyle can be overwhelming.  Step into a big box store, and you’ll be bombarded with various types, styles, manufacturers and colors.  Butmaking the right decision doesn’t have to be so difficult.  

The first step once you’ve decided to replace the carpet in your home is to choose the carpet style.  Once this is done, you can move on to the style, then manufacturer, and finally the color.  

Here I’ll discuss the 3 basic types of carpet.  I’ll talk about deciding on manufacturer & color in later posts.  

  • Plush (AKA Saxony) Carpet.  Plush Carpet is an example of a cut pile carpeting that is distinguished by a weave that is smooth and dense.  This gives the impression of a perfectly manicured lawn.  

    • Pros:
      • There are several advantages when it comes to choosing Plush.  Because the fibers are closely spaced, this type of carpet offers a great cushioning effect.
      • Maintenance is relatively easy with this choice. Most manufacturers offer soil and stain resistant varieties, which can be enhanced by applying protective chemicals to the surface of the fibers, which will help repel stains from liquid spills, a well as prevent tracked in dirt from “sticking” to the fiber.
    • Cons:
      • There are more expensive varieties, but if you plan to spend more money, you might want to consider another option.
      • This variety of carpet is often used in rental homes and is considered a “builder’s grade” carpet.  This is because it’s relatively inexpensive to replace.  There are more expensive varieties, but if you plan to spend more money, you might want to consider another option
      • This carpet sheds!  If you want a low maintenance carpet, or if you’re planning to install carpet in a high traffic area, this may not be a good choice for you.  

  • Berber Carpet.  Many people will choose a berber because they believe it’s more durable than other choices.  However, this is not always the case.  Not all berbers are created equal.  Only an informed buyer should purchase this type of carpet.
    • Pros:
      • Depending on the type of material chosen, typically wool, nylon, Olefin or PET fibers, berber can be a great choice for high traffic areas. Wool and nylon are the most expensive, attractive, and durable choices.  Nylon is also very resilient.  When it comes to maintenance, wool or nylon are your best options, as they can be more forgiving. Rule of thumb: The more expensive the material, the softer, more durable, and easier the carpet will be to care for.  
    • Cons:
      • Berber is referred to as a “continuos loop” carpet.  With that in mind, you’ll want to be very careful moving furniture, vacuuming, walking on the carpet with high heels, and allowing children to play with their toys on this type of carpet.  The reason is because one snag can result in a run down the middle of the carpet.  If this happens, you’ll have to replace the whole room.  
      • Because of the design, it has highs and lows that are uneven to walk on.  It’s not as appealing for many because of the stiff and “scratchy” feel.  
      • Be careful not to purchase Olefin or PET variations if you plan to use this in a high traffic area.  Olefin is a man-made material that has been around for about 60 years, and was designed as an inexpensive substitute for wool or nylon.  PET is actually recycled plastic, and is often referred to as “pop carpet” since a lot of the material comes from plastic pop or water bottles.  Although these are inexpensive options, these materials shed and mat easily.  Even with modest traffic, these carpets will likely need to be replaced 3-6 years after installation.
  • Frieze (AKA Tight Twist, Casual Texture, Short Shag) Carpet.  These fibers are tightly twisted, and in my opinion offer the best bang for your buck.  
    • Pros:
      • Frieze styled carpet s popular around the country.  In addition to being softer in feel, and offering a more contemporary look, it’s considered a very wise and practical choice for active households. They’re less likely to show footprints or vacuum marks than other cut pile styles
      • This style usually carries the best & longest warranties when compared to berber or plush.  Many manufacturers offer a 10 year warranty on stains, and a lifetime warranty on wear.  
    • Cons:
      • Because the carpet-making process is more involved, frieze carpet is more expensive than traditional pile carpets.  Although this may seem like a disadvantage at first, due to it’s rugged durability, a properly maintained frieze carpet often lasts much longer than a pile or berber.  If you’re staying in your home longer than 3-4 years, it may be worth spending a few extra dollars now.  
      • Frieze has a slightly shaggy appearance.  Although this is perfect to achieve a casual and contemporary look and feel in your home, it might not be the best design selection if you’re looking to replace carpet in a formal setting.  In this case, you may want to select a nice plush, since you’ll probably have less traffic in a formal area than you would in your family room.

In conclusion, you’ll want to think about a couple things before making your selection.  Where is the carpet being installed?  Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom?  Does this area experience a lot of traffic, or is it a more formal area of your home used only occasionally?  What look are you going after? Casual? Contemporary? Formal? How long do you need the carpet to last? Are you planning to sell your home soon, is this for a rental, or is this a long-term decision?  

Answering these questions will go a long way in ensuring you make the best carpet decision for your unique needs and lifestyle.  

As always, if you have any questions, I’m here to help.  You can reach me at 586-443-3693, or by visiting my website @ www.carpet4lessonline.com.  

How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Carpet

We’ve all been there.  You’re enjoying your evening entertaining friends at your home, and all of a sudden, there’s a gasp.  The room slows down to slow-motion as everyone’s attention is drawn to the glass of red wine that is propelling toward your carpet.  Then... T-minus 3, 2, 1... IMPACT.  An explosion of red wine spatters the surrounding ground zero.  

Not good.  

Well, it doesn’t have to be quite so apocalyptic.  Removing the red wine stains from carpet, upholstery, and other materials is possible as long as you follow the right steps.  

First, you can’t let the stain dry.  As with any other wet stain, once it dries, it will be much harder to get it out.  At this point, your only option may be to call in support in the form of a professional cleaning service.  However, assuming your stain is still wet, we recommend taking the following action.  

First, blot up as much of the spill as possible using a clean white towel.  Once you’ve removed as much of the red wine as you can, go to your pantry and grab some white vinegar.  

You can pour the vinegar directly on the stain if needed, but we suggest pouring the liquid into an empty spray bottle.  Just keep in mind, if you use an old spray bottle from say a window cleaner, you need to thoroughly rinse out any remaining cleaner in the bottle.  You’ll also want to put the spray hose back into the bottle, and clean out any remaining window cleaner by pumping the trigger and running fresh water through the hose and spray nozzle.  

Once you’ve poured your white vinegar into the bottle, spray a very generous amount of liquid directly onto the stain.  Be sure to do this on all the spots surrounded, and look for other explosion evidence on things like surrounding furniture, drapes, or clothing.  These smaller spots will dry faster, so it’s important that you douse them with the vinegar first.  

After applying a generous amount of liquid to the red wine stains, get a new, clean white towel and place it over the affected area.  You then want to stand on the towel and bounce up and down applying at least 250 pounds of pressure.  This will ensure you remove all of the red wine, down to the fibers at the bottom of the carpet.  

Once you’ve bounced 5-7 times, repeat the process applying more white vinegar.  Keep in mind, you’ll want to use a new section of the white towel. Then bounce. You can keep the music going in the background so your guests don’t loose their groove, and you have style while confidently handling this buzz-kill situation.  

You’ll want to repeat this process as many as 3-5 times until the stain is removed.  

Once the stain is gone, you’ll probably wonder about the smell.  It’ll go away as soon as the floor dries, so you can light a candle to cover the smell and go on with your evening.  Your friends now have a deep respect for your ability to quickly resolve even the worst of party faux pas.  That’s because you’re awesome.   

If the stain had a little more time to dry before you noticed it, you might have a tougher time.  In that case, you can try mixing one drop of hand dishwashing detergent with with your white vinegar mixture.  On this one, you’ll want to be sure and test first in a less noticeable spot of your carpet, and make sure the solution doesn't harm the color of the carpet.  Follow the Blot & Bounce approach above. 

If all else fails, call in reinforcements.  Professional carpet cleaners are highly trained and outfitted with the best gear for the job.  A red wine stain should be no sweat for them.