The most common radiant floor warming systems are either hydronic (circulating hot water in tubes in the floor) or electric (heating cables in the floor). Hydronic systems are more complicated, requiring pumps and valves and modulators and so on, and, as a result, are a lot more expensive to install than electric. Still, for whole house heating solutions, hydronics are a good choice. By contrast, electric systems are inexpensive enough for single room applications and simple enough for do-it-yourselfers. Suitable for new construction or remodeling applications, electric floor warming systems include a network of cables installed in the mortar just below the tiles. These cables gently warm the tiles, operating on ordinary house current. While using a professional electrician is advised for those not comfortable working on electrical installations, these systems are generally easy to install and will not compromise the integrity of the tile installation.
Controlling dust is very important for people who are allergic to animal dander and mites. You cannot see mites, but you can either remove their favorite breeding grounds or keep these areas dry and clean. Dust mites can thrive in sofas, stuffed chairs, carpets, and bedding. Open shelves, fabric wallpaper, knickknacks, and venetian blinds are also sources of dust mites. Dust mites live deep in the carpet and are not removed by vacuuming. Many doctors suggest that their mite-allergic patients use washable area rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpet.
Pay special attention to carpet on concrete floors. Carpet can absorb moisture and serve as a place for biological pollutants to grow. Use area rugs which can be taken up and washed often. In certain climates, if carpet is to be installed over a concrete floor, it may be necessary to use a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the concrete and cover that with sub-flooring (insulation covered with plywood) to prevent a moisture problem.
You may be able to renew a dull finish without completely refinishing the floor. Still, some hardwood floor manufacturers recommend that only professional refinishers tackle the job. If you decide to do it yourself, begin by sweeping with a good broom and then vacuuming the surface. Next, use a buffer with an abrasive pad and/or fine-grit sand paper until the finish feels smooth. Another option would be to use a rectangular oscillating sanding machine. Hand-sand any areas that remain rough or irregular. Keep in mind that you want to lightly sand the top coat of the finish, not sand through it. Remove dust by sweeping, vacuuming and wiping the floor with a lint-free towel slightly dampened with water. (Make sure the towel has not been treated with fabric softener or anything else.) Allow the floor to dry completely before applying a single coat of polyurethane finish. Check with the manufacturer of the new finish if youâ€™re not sure itâ€™s compatible with the finish already on the floor. For a waxed floor, apply a mineral-spirit based renovating product and buff with a No. 1 steel wool pad. Allow the floor to dry completely. Next wax and buff. Keep in mind that these steps will brighten the appearance of the finish, not lighten the wood itself.
Properly maintained, hardwood floors can last a lifetime. The key to preserving your investment is assuring that the finish on your floor is still doing its job. You can test this by going to a high-traffic area where the finish is likely to be most worn, pour a tablespoon or two of water onto the floor. Does the water: Bead up so that you can wipe it up without a trace? Congratulations! Your floor's finish is doing its job! Soak into the wood after a few minutes, darkening the floor only slightly? Don't panic, your floor's finish is only partially worn. Immediate refinishing probably isn't necessary, but keep a close eye on the floor. Immediately disappear into the wood leaving a dark spot? If so your floor's finish is seriously worn and it's probably time to recoat or refinish.
The first step in keeping your hardwood floors in top shape is to keep grit off them. Use dirt-trapping, walk-off mats at all exterior doors to help prevent dirt, grit and sand from getting inside the building. Throw rugs or small sections of carpet just inside the entrances are also recommended. Dirt and grit are any flooring's worst enemy, and that includes carpets and vinyls as well as hardwoods. Keep door mats clean. In kitchens, use area rugs at high spill locations and at work stations-stove, sink, refrigerator. Cotton is generally the best fabric since it is easily washed. Mats with a smooth backing, i.e. rubber or vinyl, may trap water beneath.
Floor finishes and certain chemicals in wood oxidize and are affected by ultra violet light sources. This may cause the wood and finish to change color and develop a patina or aged appearance. To avoid uneven appearance, move area rugs occasionally and drape or shade large windows.
When purchasing carpeting, you should buy the best-quality carpet you can afford, coupled with the highest quality padding. In fact, the padding that goes between the carpeting and the subflooring is as important as the choice of carpeting itself. Padding provides softness and support, cuts down on noise and insulates the floor. Often referred to as "underlay" or "cushion," padding thickness depends on the pile of the carpet above it. Padding should be no thicker than 7/16 inch, even for a very deep pile carpet. Too much cushion can actually void a manufacturer's warranty; so, take the time to find the padding that is right for your new carpet.
Ceramic tile is a natural material, and some types of tile are made from recycled glass (including the products listed below). When buying tile (especially imported tile), just be careful not to buy tiles with lead-based or radioactive (often cobalt blue or burnt orange) glazes. Also, use non-toxic adhesives, mortars, and grouts for installing the tile.
When nailing subfloor plywood, snap chalk lines on the plywood to indicate the position of each joist. This gives a nailing target to ensure that nails hit the joists for good holding.