About Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are one of the most important design elements in your home or business. No matter what your lifestyle, wood floors add value and comfort to any décor, but with all the choices available today, selecting the right floor can be daunting.

The following pages will help you discern the various choices available to you, and help you choose the right floor for your home or business.

•Environmental Benefits of Wood Floors

Wood flooring is the most abundantly renewable flooring material available. Sustainable forest management makes it possible to harvest wood without any serious impact on the environment, because trees are a renewable resource that can be replaced time and time again.

Check out these environmental facts about wood floors:

  • Average annual net growth for hardwoods is greater than average annual removals (Source: US Department of Agriculture Forest Service)
  • Indoor air quality is better with wood floors (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency)
  • Wood is a carbon neutral product that produces oxygen during its growth cycle and stores carbon during its service life (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
  • Wood floors use less water and energy to produce than other flooring options (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
  • At the end of its service life, wood flooring can be burned as fuel or recycled (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
  • Wood floors last hundreds of years, so won’t need to be replaced as often as other flooring options (Source: National Association of Home Builders)
  • While it takes most hardwood trees 40-60 years to mature, the inventory planted today won’t be needed for 100-plus years (Source: National Wood Flooring Association)

•Species of Wood

Wood Floor Species

Wood floors come in a variety of colors that will fit any décor. Today’s wood floors come in more than 50 species, both domestic and exotic, spanning the spectrum of color options, hardness, and price ranges. No matter what the look you want to achieve, there are a variety of species to meet your needs.








Other things can influence how a species looks as well, including grain and cut.

Types of Grades

The appearance of the wood determines its grade. All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each affords you a different look.

Clear wood is a flooring product with minimal character marks that provides a uniform appearance.

Select wood is a flooring product with natural heartwood/sapwood color variations that also includes knots, streaks, etc.

Common wood (No. 1 and No. 2) has more natural characteristics such as knots and color variations than either clear or select grades, and often is chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room. No. 1 Common has a varied appearance,

light and dark colors, knots, streaks and wormholes. No. 2 Common is rustic in appearance and emphasizes all wood characteristics of the species.

First grade wood has a uniform appearance, natural color variations and limited character marks. It is similar to a select grade.

Second grade wood is varied in appearance and features knots and some variation in color. It is similar to a No. 1 Common grade.

Third grade wood is rustic in appearance allowing all wood characteristics of the species. It is similar to a No. 2 Common grade.

Type of Cuts


The angle at which a board is cut determines how the finished product looks. Wood flooring is either plainsawn, quartersawn or riftsawn.

Plainsawn is the most common cut. Characteristics are its pleasing appearance, and varied grain appearance. It is easier to produce from log.

Quartersawn is more expensive than plainsawn. Characteristics are greater wear resistance, less tendency to cup and twist, less shrinkage in width, and uniform grain appearance with ray flecks. Ray flecks appear in flooring that cuts across the wood’s ray cells, which creates a shimmering flake figure spread over the wood.

Riftsawn is more expensive than plainsawn. It’s similar to quartersawn without the ray flecks.


Types of Wood Floors

Advances in wood flooring during the past few years mean that you now can have wood flooring anywhere in your home or business. Where you want to put it, however, will determine the type of wood flooring you can use. 

There are two types of wood floors available on the market today: Solid and Engineered.



Solid wood flooring is exactly what the name implies: a solid piece of wood from top to bottom. The thickness of solid wood flooring can vary, but generally ranges from ¾” to 5/16”. One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is that it can be sanded and refinished many times. Solid wood flooring can be installed above or on grade.






Engineered wood floors are real wood floors that are manufactured using three to nine layers of different wood veneers. The sub layers can be of the same species, or of different species. The grain of each layer runs in different directions, which makes it very stable. This means that the wood will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring during fluctuations in humidity and temperature. The top layer of engineered wood flooring consists of high-quality wood. While this type of flooring can be sanded and finished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring can be installed above, on or below grade.




•Design Elements


An excellent choice for kitchen countertops, floors, and other heavily used surfaces

Exact and current extraction figures are not available, as data collection from many countries is difficult. Statistics from various sources indicate that the granite quarried in the countries of China, India, and Brazil comprises approximately 2/3 of the granite used worldwide. There are granite quarries in operation in dozens of countries, and it is one of the most popular natural stones on the market. New granite resources are continually being located and developed throughout the world.

Granite has long enjoyed use as an exterior cladding and pavement material, and its inherent strength, abrasion resistance and superior weathering durability are likely to keep it one of the preeminent material selections available to today’s architects. Granite has also been employed as the traditional material for municipal curbs, where its strength and durability have been documented with decades of vehicular abuse. In the northern climates where snow melting chemicals are used heavily, granite has resisted the attack of these caustic agents.

Being one of the hardest of the dimension stone types, granite was historically avoided by the smaller, local stone fabricating shops, who favored marbles and limestones due to their easier working properties. A recent boom in the supply of affordable machinery and abrasives technologies eliminated these previous difficulties in fabrication. The use of granite has skyrocketed in residential interior applications as a result. Available in a striking array of colors, granite’s durability, longevity, and economy make it ideal for kitchen countertops and other heavily used surfaces, including table tops and floors.

Some synthetic surfaces scratch easily, while the hardness of the minerals comprising most granites surpasses that of the utensils that are used on them, resulting in excellent scratch resistance. Granite is typically heat resistant up to temperatures of ±250°C (±480°F), although direct application of localized heat sources is discouraged, since strong thermal gradients within the stone can initiate cracking. Studies of bacteria retention on common countertop surfaces have proven granite to be superior to the majority of surfaces employed for that purposes (Ref: MIA Technical Bulletins).

Absorption rates (% water, by weight) of stones in this group range from 0.05% to 0.40%, indicating that the available pore volume capable of harboring a staining agent is very slight. Impregnating repellents are sometimes used to further increase the stain resistance of these materials.

Dry – Treat

Dry-Treat manufactures innovative sealers for porous building materials, including natural stone, brick, pavers, tiles, engineering concrete and grout. Dry-Treat technology is different – Dry-Treat’s innovative impregnators penetrate much deeper and bond permanently inside the pores of the treated material, creating a substantial oil and water repellent barrier.

This substantial barrier, the Dry-Treat barrier, not only provides great stain protection, but is also able to protect from serious common structural damage caused by liquids, including: salt attack, efflorescence, freeze-thaw damage, spalling and picture framing and inhibits the growth of mosses and moulds in the pores of the treated material.

How to Design a Kitchen !!!

Your kitchen is where you nurture your loved ones’ souls as well as their bodies. So you want it to be as efficient, comfortable, and just plain beautiful as possible! But where do you start? The ideas and suggestions in this article will help you make that perfect new kitchen happen:

•Assessing Your Kitchen Needs

Before any kitchen project can begin, you have to access what you want, what you can actually have, and what would work best for you. On this page, we will help you determine exactly what kind of kitchen can fit inside your home and how feasible some of your wildest dreams might be. We will also tell you the “triangle” theory of kitchens and show you how to stay true to your initial vision for your dream kitchen.

•New Versus Remodeled Kitchen

Maybe your old kitchen is falling apart and is not inspiring you any longer. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to tear the whole room apart and start from scratch. On this page, we will show you the pros and cons of remodeling your kitchen as opposed to completely building a new one. You might be surprised how a few decorative changes can go a long way to revitalizing your kitchen.

•Designing a Kitchen on a Budget

It’s easy for home projects to spiral out of control. Whenever you are rebuilding or renovating a room there are always hundreds of small expenses you never considered when your were in the planning stage. While these costs are unavoidable, there are ways to keep the price down. In this section, we will show how to design your kitchen on a strict budget. There’s no reason why the price of your dream kitchen has to be a nightmare.

•Hiring a Professional to Design a Kitchen

While designing your kitchen will save you money the headache it cause might not be worth the extra dollars. A professional who designs kitchens for a living can really simplify the process. In this section, we will show you when it is time to admit defeat and bring in a pro. We will also show you how to maintain control of your kitchen once a designer is brought in and how to check your designer’s credentials.

•Basic Tips for Kitchen Remodeling

Once you have assessed your kitchen needs and decided how you want to go about executing them, it’s time to put pen to paper and start designing your new kitchen. On this page, we will give you some general concerns you should keep in mind when you are planning your new kitchen. For instance, you don’t want to end up with a kitchen that has the sink positioned too far away from the fridge.

•Kitchen Size Considerations

Despite the picture of the dream kitchen you have in your head, the actual space you have in your house might not be compatible with your ideal. As with any home project, you have to balance practicality with your grandest wishes. In this section, we will show you how to plan around the size of your kitchen space and use every inch to its maximum potential.

•Kitchen Shape Considerations

Next to size, the shape of your kitchen space can your biggest design headache. In this section, we will show you how to plan around an oddly shaped kitchen. There are three main types of kitchen shapes the U shape, the L shape, and the G shape. We will also show you how to manage a small, or galley, kitchen.

•Eat-In Kitchens

Many people prefer the informal, casual style of an eat-in kitchen. There are three styles of kitchen dinning. First there is counter dining, which would naturally require a counter top. Next there is a breakfast nook, which requires a small space or alcove. Finally, there is the traditional eat-in kitchen. On this page, we will show you which option is right for you and your home.

•Kitchen Islands

A kitchen island can be a cheap and attractive way to expand your counter space. An island can also help you add a second sink, dishwasher, or oven to your kitchen. On this page, we will show you all the benefits of a kitchen island and whether or not it would be right for you. We will also discuss the growing trend of having a desk in your kitchen.

Home Energy Saving Tips


By making a few small changes to both your bedroom and routine, you can not only save energy but also reduce your utility bills, resulting in a more comfortable and energy efficient environment.

Unplug any battery chargers or power adapters when not in use.
Use inexpensive outlet gaskets to seal any holes around outlets.
Light Switches
Always turn off the lights when leaving the bedroom (or when it’s not in use).
Invest in electronics that are ENERGY STAR certified.
ENERGY STAR certified products use less energy without sacrificing quality or performance.
Learn more:
Consumer electronics account for 15% of household electricity usage.
Many electronic products continue to use energy even when switched off.
ENERGY STAR certified products conserve energy when switched off while still maintaining clock displays, channel settings and remote control functions.
Bedside Lamps
Replace light bulbs and fixtures with ENERGY STAR certified products.
Learn more:
Save up to $70 in annual energy costs by replacing your 5 most frequently used light bulbs or fixtures with ENERGY STAR certified ones.
ENERGY STAR certified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) provide a high quality light, use less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs.
Choose from a wide range of attractive and stylish ENERGY STAR certified lamps and light fixtures.
Pledge to replace your current light fixtures and bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified ones.

Air Conditioner
ENERGY STAR certified air conditioners often include timers, allowing for better temperature control.
Conserve energy and save costs with an ENERGY STAR certified air conditioner, which uses a minimum amount of energy to cool your bedroom.
Learn more:
Make sure window-fitted A/C units fit snugly in the window frame, to prevent outside air from getting in.
Large window A/C units should be equipped with their own separate electrical circuits to avoid system overloads.
WINTER TIP: remove window A/C unit during winter months to prevent energy loss.
Ensure the A/C unit is the right size for the bedroom.

Butternut Squash cake Roll

Prep: 15 min. Bake: 15 min. + chillingYield: 10 Servings15 15 30

•3 eggs
•1 cup sugar
•2/3 cup mashed cooked butternut squash
•3/4 cup all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1 cup finely chopped walnuts
•Confectioners’ sugar

•1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
•2 tablespoons butter, softened
•1 cup confectioners’ sugar
•3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
•Additional confectioners’ sugar, optional

•Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with waxed paper; grease and flour the paper and set aside.
•In a large bowl, beat eggs for 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat for 2 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored. Stir in squash. Combine the flour, baking soda and cinnamon ingredients; fold into squash mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with walnuts.
•Bake at 375° for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
•Turn cake onto a kitchen towel dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Gently peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel, jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool completely on a wire rack.
•In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Unroll cake; spread filling evenly over cake to within 1 in. of edges. Roll up again. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Just before serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired. Yield: 10 servings.

… Designing the Ultimate Backsplashes…Creating the WOW factor

Imagine walking into a stunning designer kitchen outfitted with the most extraordinary cabinetry,captivating tiles and awe-inspiring amenities you have ever seen. Now imagine that same kitchen without it’s countertops and backsplash… does it suddenly seem as if something is missing? When I enter a kitchen where this all important focal points has been ommitted, it is the bare space that first catches my eye undermining my inmediate appreciation for the overall composition. You might ask how it is that such a small area can carry such weight in the over-all design scheme. The answer is simple, it all boils down to location, location, location. Nestled between the countertops  and upper cabinetry, this tiny space lands directly in the line of vision for anyone entering the room.

Sometimes overlooked and often under appreciated, the splash offers designers and homeowners alike a blank canvas upon which to compose functional piece of art. capable of dramatic impact, this pint sized component can pack a hefty punch whether featured as the primary focal point or an unpretentious but compelling backdrop. With so much importance riding on this one element, it is important to not overlook the power of this petite space when planning your masterpiece. Take your time, be creative and make use of the backsplash to instill the WOW factor in your design. Here are some tips to use when you decide to start your project.

  • Plan ahead  
  • Formulate your Design
  • Create more space
  • Carefully place electrical outlets on cabinets
  • Harmonize the elements of your design
  • Pay attention to the details
  • Create a style.

Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad Recipe

My family has been fixing grilled mixed vegetables as a side dish for a long time. To make them more substantial, I added pasta. Then, to give the salad a Mediterranean flair, I tossed in some olives and feta cheese. —Tina Repak Mirilovich, Johnstown, Pennsylvania

This recipe is:Diabetic Friendly
[X] Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad Recipe
Prep: 40 min. Grill: 10 min.Yield: 26 Servings40 10 50
•1 pound fusilli or pasta of your choice
•2 medium eggplant
•2 medium zucchini
•2 medium yellow summer squash
•1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
•1 medium sweet red pepper, cut in half and seeds removed
•1/4 cup olive oil
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon pepper
•3 plum tomatoes, chopped
•1-1/2 cups (6 ounces each) crumbled feta cheese
•2 cans (2-1/4 ounces each) sliced ripe olives, drained
•2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
•PARMESAN VINAIGRETTE:•3/4 cup olive oil
•1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•1/3 cup white wine vinegar
•3 tablespoons lemon juice
•1 teaspoon sugar
•1 garlic clove, minced
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/2 teaspoon pepper

•Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
•Meanwhile, cut the eggplant, zucchini and summer squash lengthwise into 3/4-in.-thick slices. Brush the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, red onion and red pepper with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables, covered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender. When cool enough to handle, cut into cubes.
•Add the tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, parsley and grilled vegetables to the pasta. In a small bowl, whisk the vinaigrette ingredients. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Yield: 26 servings (3/4 cup each).

Nutritional Facts
3/4 cup equals 185 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 4 mg cholesterol, 262 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 5 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 fat, 1 starch, 1 vegetable.

Laminate Flooring

 There’s no way to prevent spills, stains and heavy traffic. But you won’t have to worry about the damage anymore with new laminate flooring. It would be difficult to find a flooring product that’s tougher and more versatile than laminate. Laminate flooring is available in a variety of colors and finishes, and is extremely simple to install.
How Laminate Flooring Is Made
Laminate flooring shouldn’t be confused with engineered wood flooring. Both are made of layers of material laminated together for strength. Laminate floors use several materials, such as resin, wood fiber and kraft paper (materials vary by manufacturer) compacted under pressure to create the final product. The flooring is made into planks.

The surface of a laminate plank is actually an image, printed from film onto a thin decorative layer, which is then treated with a wear layer. The high resolution of the film allows an extremely authentic appearance. The finished material is similar in feel to a kitchen countertop. A variety of finishes are available from woodgrain to color.

Most laminates are coated with aluminum oxide, which is where it gets its strength. Laminates are known to be very durable, water-resistant and dent-resistant. They also resist wear better than hardwoods.

When it comes to choosing color for your laminate floor, there’s everything from oak to cherry to bamboo. As you’re thinking about a color, consider how your selection will work with your home’s furniture and cabinets. Keep in mind that darker woods tend to make a room feel formal whereas lighter colors create a more casual mood.

Laminate Flooring – Pros
•Very Durable Surface. Unlike wood, which can dent, laminate flooring is almost impervious to dents and scratches. Laminate flooring has what’s called in the industry a “wear layer” that protects the photographic layer underneath. Some manufacturers, DuPont in particular, give very generous 10+ year warranties on this wear layer.
•No Bad Pieces. Unlike real hardwood, which comes with many imperfect pieces that need to be thrown out or re-engineered, there are no defects in laminate flooring.
•Good for Moist Places. Laminate flooring can be installed in bathrooms, kitchens, and other places where you encounter “topical moisture” (as Mannington calls it). But it will not tolerate standing pools of water. However, let’s be clear that neither solid hardwood nor engineered wood can tolerate standing water, either. For heavy moisture, you need a very impervious surface like vinyl or tile.
•Easy to Clean. Just use a vacuum or broom. Mop with a slightly damp mop. No floor waxing needed.
•Resists Stains. Laminate flooring’s tough surface resists stains. And if you do get a stain, it’s easy to clean off.

Color of The Month … Cosmos!..

Cosmos is a schist that contains quartz, mica, feldspar, garnet and biotite. The shiny flecks of mica give this stone a unique look. Because the areas containing mica are not as hard as the other minerals, fabricating the edge detail can be difficult. Due to the varying degrees of hardness throughout the stone, it is normal to have some chipping and waving. A flat or beveled edge detail will show less waving in the final installation. Additionally, the softer areas are more prone to scratching. Cosmos is not recommended for use around spas or in excessive wet areas. During the polishing process, an epoxy resin is applied to the surface of the stone to fill in any natural pits, cracks or fissures that may exist. This does not affect the durability, maintenance or beauty of the stone. It is possible for some of the more minute pits that are too small to effectively hold the resin, to reopen during other finishing stages. However, this will not detract from the overall quality or appearance of the stone. As a natural stone product, it is recommended that this be sealed to extend its longevity.

This granite is also known as Black River.