Because Life Happens…We Offer You LifeGuard Carpet

LifeGuard Carpet by Shaw - Because Life Happens - BarryCarpet.comLife happens – often when we’re almost not even looking. Oops, your beloved puppy had an accident on your new carpet! Oh no…your 4-year-old spilled juice on your new carpet! Not me too…just spilled my morning coffee!!!

When it comes to flooring options for your home, at Barry Carpet we believe in offering products that combine the best in style and innovation – so your new flooring not only looks beautiful but will also hold up to everyday life in your home. And when there’s something new and great out there in the marketplace, we work hard to get it on our showroom floor and get the word out to all of you.

That’s why we’re excited to tell you about the latest development in the world of carpet – LifeGuard from Shaw. If you have pets or small children and are especially concerned about spills, stains, and other damage to your floors, you’ll want to check out this amazing new carpet technology.

So what exactly is LifeGuard? Here’s a bit of the technical info:

LifeGuard is a revolutionary carpet protection system in that it covers the entire product – from the carpet fibers all the way through to the carpet backing.

On the face of the carpet is Shaw’s exclusive R2X stain and soil resistance system. Unlike conventional repellents that protect only the surface of the carpet, R2X provides complete carpet protection – from the top of the yarn to the bottom. With R2X, spills that reach the base of the yarn don’t penetrate the fibers. This provides superior initial stain protection and allows you more time to react when an accident occurs. Another significant benefit is that even after repeated cleanings, R2X continues to perform well.

On the back of LifeGuard carpet, you also get a 100% thermoplastic commercial-grade backing. This highly water-resistant barrier literally keeps spills from soaking through the carpet and damaging the subfloor below. LifeGuard is the first residential-use carpet to offer this waterproof technology.

Flooring Protection…or Magic?

Can LifeGuard carpet stand up to spilled coffee? BarryCarpet.comWe all know what a mess coffee can make when spilled on carpet. So what happens when hot coffee is spilled on a LifeGuard carpet? We did the test, and it blew our minds. The coffee quickly balled up on the surface of the carpet. I took a dry white towel and blotted. Then I took a wet white towel and blotted. The carpet was clean – and no coffee went through to the backing! It was quite honestly unbelievable. Except that we all witnessed it.

Come See for Yourself

Stop by our West Los Angeles Barry Carpet showroom and see the “magic” of LifeGuard carpet for yourself. We love showing our customers the Life Happens demo. In fact, I am so excited about this carpet’s durability that I almost forgot to mention how beautiful it is. LifeGuard carpet is available in a wide range of decorative colors and textures to match most any decorating style. So if you’re shopping for the latest carpet styles but are concerned about potential stains, we’re confident this product will satisfy all of your needs.

LifeGuard carpet is perfect for the kids' room. BarryCarpet.com

Flooring Options for Large Living Spaces

Californians love the sun and big open spaces with high ceilings and lots of windows in their homes. Many homes incorporate an open-concept design where rooms flow seamlessly into other rooms. This can make a decorating challenge when trying to create a cohesive visual appearance while still adding your own personality to each interior space.

When we help decorate large living areas we always recommend breaking down the design process into four basic components: flooring, furniture, paint, and accent accessories. Since flooring is our specialty, we have put together some flooring suggestions that will help transform your large living spaces into truly stunning rooms.

Create a Beautiful Canvas with Hardwood Flooring

Preverco flooringWhen it comes to adding richness and character to large living spaces hardwood flooring’s beautiful grains and natural tones is hard to beat. Carrying one hardwood style throughout large living spaces is a perfect way to visually tie the spaces together. To achieve this sleek, continuous look, the wider and longer the planks the better it will tie the room together. Want to create a warm, rustic effect? Consider the hand-scraped or distressed wood planks visuals. For example, DuChateau specializes in wide-planked hardwoods that replicate the time-worn character of vintage European flooring. For this distinctly antiqued look, their woods go through a variety of natural processes including hand-scraping, hand-sculpting, smoking, brushing, liming, and carbonization. Hardwoods that include such distressing techniques help add visual interest in a large space.

For a more modern aesthetic visual you may opt for a clean, neutral look such as Mirage’s White Oak in Snowdrift, a wide plank in creamy white with subtle gray tones. Or, maybe you prefer for your living spaces the striking color variations found in exotic wood species, such as: Bubinga (African Rosewood), Ipe, or the popular Acacia, as well as many other wood species we offer to our Los Angeles customers. These woods will make a real dramatic visual flooring statement that truly commands everyone’s attention when they enter the room.

At Barry Carpet we are very selective of the wood flooring brands we carry to be sure styles and colors fit the California lifestyle and decorating tastes.

Add Your Unique Style with Area Rugs

DuChateau Hardwood FlooringFor large living spaces we offer custom made area rugs to complement your new wood flooring. We specialize in rugs that can be made in any size shape, color and style to add a distinct design element to your space and help visually separate the different open living areas. Area rugs also can help tie large, open spaces together and reduce the sound.

Here, a high-end custom designed wool rug can be a beautiful and durable option. Start by choosing from the many different wools we offer in our showroom and we will hand-craft it into your own unique area rug for your room.

In fact, at Barry carpet, we can create custom area rug runners for hallways and stairs that fit your exact dimensions to accommodate specific angles, including odd-shaped entryways, halls, and fireplaces. We’ve done some stunning one-of-a-kind designs with our custom fabricator, who is a true craftsman.

Stanton area rug rug-2 rug-3

Come See for Yourself

If you’re looking for new flooring ideas, we encourage you stop by our Los Angeles flooring showroom to see the difference real personal service can make. Have any immediate questions? Ask the flooring experts at Barry Carpet.

Why Buy STAINMASTER PetProtect Carpets

STAINMASTER PetProtect: Protecting Carpet from Our Four-Legged Friends

Here’s a fun fact: According to a recent survey conducted by The American Pet Products Society, 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet. If you’re one of these whopping 82.5 million families, you likely know all too well the challenges that our four-legged friends create when it comes to keeping your carpets clean – including those hard-to-remove stains, lingering odors, and excessive shedding.

At Barry Carpet, we believe that our pet-loving customers shouldn’t have to sacrifice style when it comes to choosing flooring. That’s why we’re always on the lookout for great-looking products that can coexist in homes with dogs and cats. One such product we are excited to offer is PetProtect carpet from STAINMASTER. If you have a pet, here are just a few reasons why you should check out this carpet.

Maximum Stain Resistance

PetProtect carpet is made from STAINMASTER’s own highly durable nylon fiber called SuperiaSD, which is both strong and yet, very soft to the touch. This uniquely engineered polymer fiber is also inherently stain resistant, so there’s no need for added stain treatments. In fact, PetProtect is one of strongest and most stain-resistant carpets available for residential use. This built-in stain resistance means you have more time to react when an accident occurs. And even after repeated carpet cleanings, PetProtect will continue to perform.

Color Safe

PetProtect’s fibers are also solution dyed, locking the color in and making this carpet color safe. So you can confidently clean up pet accidents with hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners without worrying that the carpet color will fade – no matter how hard you scrub.

Odor Protection

Pets can be sneaky little devils, sometimes leaving us “little presents” in areas that we may not discover right away. And as most pet owners know, once a stain such as pet urine reaches the carpet padding and subfloor below, the odor is almost impossible to remove. The STAINMASTER PetProtect carpet and carpet cushion system helps defend against these accidents with a breathable moisture barrier that prevents spills from penetrating the padding and being absorbed into the subfloor below. This enables a more thorough cleaning and greatly reduces the possibility of lingering odors.

Less Pet Hair

While certainly man’s best friend, many breeds of dogs (and cats, for that matter) can be the worst when it comes to shedding. With PetProtect carpet, a proprietary technology reduces the attraction of pet hairs to the carpet fiber, allowing for easy hair removal with a simple routine vacuuming. This equates to more hairs in your vacuum bag and less on your clothes.

All the Latest Styles Backed by STAINMASTER’s Best Warranty

Have a specific style you’re looking for? STAINMASTER PetProtect carpet is available in all of the latest textures, patterns, and colors to match most any decorating style. And PetProtect carpet is backed by the best pet limited warranty offered by STAINMASTER, with lifetime coverage for the most common pet stains.

Come See for yourself at our West Los Angeles Barry Carpet store and check out STAINMASTER PetProtect carpet for yourself. Or give us a call. We’re always happy to answer your questions about carpet or other flooring products for your home or business.

Inspiring Design with Preverco Hardwoods

For a few years now, our sales manager Marbella and I have been attending the annual flooring industry trade show held in Las Vegas. And each time we are there, we can’t help but admire Preverco Hardwood Flooring. Not only does Preverco offer beautiful collections of hardwood flooring, but year after year, its hardwoods are also right on trend with today’s most sought-after colors, textures, and design styles.

Barry Carpet is proud to announce that we are now an exclusive Preverco dealer.

Here are just a few of the reasons why we think our customers will love Preverco hardwoods as much as we do:

A Commitment to Quality

Preverco hardwood flooring for kitchensBased in Canada, Preverco designs and manufactures all of its products in North America – applying some of the highest manufacturing standards around. In fact, when it comes to craftsmanship, Preverco believes that “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” And this is more than just a motto. The company subjects each of its finished planks to a series of tests and treatments. Any boards found to be imperfect are immediately discarded. This attention to detail allows Barry Carpet to confidently stand behind the superior quality of these floors.

A Commitment to Innovation

Preverco hardwood flooringCommitted to developing products that offer consumers the best level of performance, Preverco applies the latest in flooring technology to adapt to your needs. Hardwoods are available in several formats to accommodate any area of your home – from the basement to the upstairs. Products include traditional, nail-down ¾”solid woods, as well as engineered woods with nail-down, glue-down, staple, or floating installation options. VOC-free, the Preverco Sigma Protection finish offers amazing resistance to everyday wear, UV light, and mold, mildew, and other bacterial growth. Preverco backs this protection with a 35-year finish warranty.

A Commitment to the Environment

An environmentally friendly company, Preverco also understands that the future is shaped today. These hardwoods are not only Carb 2 compliant, but the company also follows Lacey Act guidelines to ensure wildlife preservation and forest conservation. Preverco is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and various other groups that support an improved environment.

Options for Every Taste and Budget

Preverco hardwood flooringPerhaps what you’ll like best about Preverco is the great variety of styles available. From Exotics to White Oak Quarter-sawn, White & Red Oak, Hard Maple, Ash, Hickory, Yellow Birch, and Walnut – if you’re looking for it, they have it – in all of the latest colors, textures, and finishes, including oiled, matte, and semi-gloss. Preverco really gets that purchasing new hardwood flooring is a big investment, and they feel homeowners deserve choices. To simplify the selection process and help you find the look that best matches your design taste, they offer woods in four unique categories: classic, country, contemporary, and eclectic – with various price points to fit your budget.

Come See for Yourself

These woods are beautiful. The colors are fantastic. And the quality is the best. We are truly excited to begin showing these floors and invite you to visit our West Los Angeles showroom and see for yourself just how uniquely beautiful this hardwood flooring is.

Choosing Prefinished or Unfinished Hardwood Flooring

Choosing Prefinished or Unfinished Hardwood Flooring

choosing-hardwood-floors

Today’s prefinished hardwood flooring has come a long way from the old days when waxy-coated floors quickly showed scuffs, scratches, and white blotchy water spots. With advances in technology, hardwood flooring manufactures have perfected their finishing techniques, now producing floors that are not only more durable than ever before but also more beautiful.

While unfinished woods will always be an available option, the increased durability and flawless appearance of prefinished woods has pretty much made prefinished hardwood flooring the norm in the flooring marketplace. So does this mean prefinished hardwoods are better than unfinished woods? Not necessarily. Deciding whether to go with prefinished or unfinished hardwood is largely an individual preference.

Here’s some information to help you decide which finish option is right for you.

Prefinished Hardwoods

Prefinished hardwoods are available in varying gloss levels, ranging from high-gloss to matte. While gloss level will affect the overall look of the floor, it will not impact the finish’s durability.

Prefinished hardwood flooringReasons to Choose Prefinished Woods

  • Increased durability: Six layers or more of urethane combined with the superior curing ability of UV technology make factory-finished woods far more durable than woods that are finished on the job site.
  • Less mess: Prefinished flooring is all done at the factory, so no need to stain, sand, and apply several coats of urethane.
  • Less time consuming: Install the wood flooring and move furniture right back in the room. You won’t have to wait days (or weeks) for floors to dry.
  • No odor: The finish is completely dry, so there are no strong odors in your home.
  • Better finish warranties: Since the wood manufacturer does the finishing at the factory they give extended finish warranties that the installer doing a job-site finish can’t offer.

Unfinished Hardwoods

While on-site finish techniques and products have improved over the years, finishing a wood floor yourself is a messy, time-consuming process. But for some, the level of customization it can produce is far worth the added time and effort

Unfinished hardwood flooringReasons to Choose Unfinished Woods

  • Wider color range: Finishing the wood flooring at the job-site means you can select any stain color you want. Whereas, with a pre-finished floor, you are limited to the manufacturer’s available colors.
  • Increased moisture protection: When floors are finished on-site, the seams between the planks are also sealed, allowing for more moisture protection. Whereas with prefinished woods, only the individual planks are sealed.
  • Closer-matching wood trim: Unfinished woods can be stained to match the trims and moldings.

Find Out More

Ask_An_Expert_logo_colorTo find the hardwood flooring that best meets your needs, contact us. We’d be happy to answer all of your hardwood flooring questions and show you the latest trend in hardwood flooring.

 

Evaluating Eco-Friendly Carpet Options

eco-friendly_carpetWhen we think of environmentally friendly flooring, what often comes to mind are naturally renewable flooring materials such as cork or bamboo (discussed in a previous green flooring options post). But in evaluating the impact a flooring material has on the environment, there are many other factors to consider.

For instance,

  • is the flooring able to be recycled, or is it made from recycled materials?
  • Does the manufacturer use environmentally responsible manufacturing practices?
  • How does the flooring and its finishes or pretreatments affect toxicity levels in the environment?

With these criteria in mind, here are a few more options to consider if you’re looking to go “green” with your next flooring purchase.

Eco-Friendly Carpet

VOCs

When it comes to carpet, a big concern for eco-conscious consumers are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be found in the latex binders used to secure the “tufted” fibers to the carpet backing, as well as in some carpet cushions and adhesives used in installation. Fortunately, newer technologies have allowed carpet manufactures to significantly reduce VOCs in their products.

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), an organization dedicated to educating consumers about carpets, has developed testing to help identify those products with very low VOC emissions. When choosing carpet, look for products that include CRI’s Green Label Plus icon, which signifies the product meets CRI’s established low-VOC standards.

Environmentally Friendly Carpet Fibers

In addition, following are some great environmentally friendly carpet fiber options to consider.


wool is an eco-friendly carpet choiceWool

When it comes to carpet fiber, you can’t get much more natural than wool. Typically sourced from the hairs of sheep, wool quickly regrows once shorn. This renewable resource is also 100% biodegradable, recyclable, and hypoallergenic. And wool’s natural built-in resistance to stains and soiling often makes pretreatment with stain protectors unnecessary, so there’s no need to worry about potentially harmful chemicals. This is another big plus if you have pets or small children who will be crawling around on this flooring.


Sisal is an eco-friendly carpet choiceSisal

Commonly used to make twine and rope, sisal is an extremely durable natural fiber harvested from the mature leaves of the agave sisalana plant in a process that uses no pesticides or chemical fertilizers.Sisal rugs have a rough, coarse surface that adds texture and visual interest to a room. If you prefer a less-rugged look and a more comfortable feel underfoot, consider sisals that are blended with softer fibers such as wool.


Seagrass is an eco-friendly carpet optionSeagrass

Naturally eco-friendly, seagrass is a plant fiber sourced from thick, rigid reeds that are non-porous and smooth to the touch. Once harvested, seagrass is dried and spun into yarns meticulously woven to create rugs known for their dense textured patterns. Soft underfoot, naturally stain-resistant, and hypoallergenic, seagrass rugs are not dyed but instead come in natural colors, which change as the carpets age.


Seagrass is an eco-friendly carpet optionPET fibers

For a truly recycled product, there’s polyester carpet made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) – the plastic material used in water and soda bottles. A big advantage of PET fibers over other synthetic carpet fibers such as nylon is that PET is naturally stain-resistant and does not require chemical pretreatments. Polyester also has fewer VOC emissions than nylon because it is made with fewer additives. PET carpets also retain their color longer and are extremely resistant to fading caused by sun exposure.


The Natural Choice for Your Home

Ask_An_Expert_logo_colorBarry Carpet carries many eco-friendly carpet & flooring options from some of the industry’s leading brands. Stop in our Barry Carpet showroom in West Los Angeles to see some samples. Or, give us a call or send an e-mail. We’d be glad to answer your questions and help you pick the natural choice that’s right for your home or office.

The Growing Popularity of Luxury Vinyl Tile

One of the fastest-growing flooring categories among homeowners today is luxury vinyl tile (also referred to as luxury vinyl planks, or LVT for short). Here are a few of the reasons why LVT is becoming so popular…

Amazing Realism

Kardean luxury vinyl tile flooring for bathroomOne of the biggest reasons homeowners are attracted to LVT is its ability to impressively replicate the high-end looks of today’s most popular luxury flooring materials, including hardwoods, parquet, ceramic tiles, limestone, marble, slate, and travertine – often with a much lower price tag.

Applying the latest 3D imaging technologies, today’s LVT manufacturers are able to take a photographic image of a natural material, such as wood or stone, and transfer it directly to a tile. Then, through processes like embossed in register printing and laser engraving, each tile is uniquely embossed to match a desired texture. Many high-end LVT manufacturers have done such a great job at mastering these embossing techniques, their flooring not only successfully mimics the grain patterns of real woods and textures of natural stone, but it also reproduces the subtle highs and lows in the color variations of these natural materials. In fact, once installed, many LVT products are often pretty hard to distinguish from the real materials they masterfully mirror.

Limitless Design Options

karndean2While realism is certainly changing the way homeowners perceive LVT, the abundance of available design options truly makes this flooring a top seller. From popular gray tones in both wood and stone looks, to wider, longer planks that include hand-scraping and wire-brushing affects, to oversized tiles – LVT offers all the latest in flooring trends. To add more realism, tiles can be laid with a special grout that won’t crack or discolor like real grout can. Or, tiles can be installed without grout for a modern, seamless look. For further customization, many top manufacturers offer design strips and borders to mix and match styles – a stone tile with a metallic border, or light wood planks with a dark wood trim, for example. The design options are limited only by your imagination.

Enhanced Durability

Perhaps the true secret to LVT’s appeal is its durability. Average 1/8” thick tiles are made of several layers, including a protective top layer, called the wear or mil layer. Often topped with urethane for increased protection, this specialized wear layer makes tiles exceptionally resistant to scratches, scuffs, indentations, and stains – a plus for homes with small children or pets. LVT is also resistant to the chipping, warping, and yellowing that can occur with some natural materials. And tiles are naturally water-resistant, making LVT a perfect choice for areas where moisture is a concern. In fact, LVT’s dimensional stability and durability make it well suited for just about any room in a home. This resilience is often backed by manufacturer’s warranties of up to 20 years or more for residential use.

In addition, LVT is also softer and warmer underfoot than many natural materials. And many high-end collections include a slip-resistant layer for added safety in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms.

More Installation Options

Kardean luxury vinyl tile flooringA great option for remodeling projects, LVT is easy to install over most existing surfaces. This is because LVT is typically thinner than most hardwood planks, stone, or ceramic tiles. High-end LVT products can even work well over radiant heating systems.

Floors can be glued down or floated – a relatively easy process, particularly for do-it-yourselfers. One caution: Before installing LVT yourself, check the fine print of the manufacturer’s warranty. Some LVT manufacturers require a professional installation to validate their warranties.

Easy to Maintain

For today’s busy families, perhaps the biggest highlights of LVT is that it’s easy to maintain. To stay looking like new, floors simply require a weekly damp-mopping with water and the manufacturer’s recommended cleaner.

Find Out More

Have questions about LVT? If you would like check out LVT’s amazing realism and style options for yourself stop by our West Los Angeles showroom for free take home samples and to arrange for a in home consultation / estimate.

Design Tips

Design Tips - blog.barrycarpet.comWhen it comes to decorating your home, do you have a knack for knowing which colors, styles, and textures work well together to create the perfect décor? Or does the prospect of decorating a new home or updating your existing one seem completely daunting?

Most people probably fall somewhere in the middle. Maybe you have ideas about what you like, but you’re not exactly sure what will work best in your home. Today, there are more ways than ever to find your perfect decorating style. Websites like Pinterest and houzz have literally thousands of room scenes to view. There are entire television networks devoted to home makeovers.  Many manufacturers like Armstrong and QuickStep offer tools on their websites that allow you to design your own virtual room to see how their products fit into your decorating scheme. And, you can always grab a good old-fashion home design magazine to pull ideas. But, sometimes, too many options can make your head spin. To sort through it all, here are a couple of tips to follow when planning your next home remodel.

Pick one key element, and build from there.

When you look at room scenes you like, is there one thing in particular that catches your eye? For instance, do you find yourself gravitating toward rooms with dark hardwood flooring?  Or maybe you’re drawn to certain colors such as gray tones or warm browns and reds? Rather than picking all the furnishings for a room at once, try starting with that one key feature, such as the room color or the flooring, and then build the room’s décor from there.

Gray looks good with many different color palettes - blog.barrycarpet.comA big trend in flooring right now is using one flooring material to cover a lot more space. If your home has an open-concept design where one room flows into another, this can be a great way to create a cohesive look. Using the same flooring throughout a large space also adds an element of simplicity to your design and can give your home a more relaxed feel. For this look, consider a neutral tone. Gray continues to be the hot neutral color in interior design right now – and flooring is no exception. From carpet to hardwood flooring to laminates and luxury vinyl tiles, grays are everywhere. A big reason is that gray mixes well with many color pallets. For a more natural, earthy décor, gray flooring coordinates beautifully with brown tones. Lighter grays can also brighten up a dark space, while darker grays will add more visual interest to lighter-toned furnishings.

Or for a more traditional feel, you can go with hardwood flooring or laminates in warmer brown tones. Dark browns can add a more contemporary vibe. And flooring in medium-brown shades gives rooms a cozier feel – and may do a better job of hiding the signs of every day wear in busy homes.

Add a pop of color.

The brightly colored light fixture really pops and livens up the room - blog.barrycarpet.comLooking for an inexpensive way to give a space a little pizazz? Try adding a bold color. When choosing a room’s color palette, many design experts recommend using the 60-30-10 rule, whereby roughly 60% of the room includes a more neutral shade, 30% applies a secondary color, and the final 10% showcases a bolder accent color. Try adding an area rug or bold-colored accent pillows, which can easily be replaced as your tastes change.  Painting one wall red (or a favorite color that works) can also be a great way to add a pop of color to your space. To be sure you pick a color you love, test out a few paint samples on the wall of your room.

What you like and what you can live with may not be the same thing.

Keep in mind that sometimes styles you are drawn to visually may not be the most practical choice for you.  You may love the sleek, modern look of ebony-stained hardwoods. But if you have pets with sharp claws or who shed, you may soon wish you chose flooring that was a bit more camouflaging. It’s also important to think about how you want your new room to make you feel. You may be drawn to more formal room settings with ornate chandeliers and beautiful marble floors. But ultimately, a room with a more laid-back rustic décor may be where you will truly feel “at home.” For this reason, when customers come in to our showroom and select flooring they like, we encourage them to take samples home. You need to see how the flooring will look against the backdrop of your space. How do the textures and colors work with the overall design elements in the room? How is the flooring affected by different lighting, etc. This is really the only way to be sure that the styles you like are also ones you can be happy with in your home for years to come.

Have Questions?

Have questions about your next flooring purchase?  Ask one of our Barry Carpet flooring experts. Or visit our Barry Carpet showroom in West Los Angeles to see our broad selection of flooring options from many of the industry’s leading manufacturers.

The Versatility of Today’s Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring by Shaw FloorsWhen you think of laminate flooring, does it conjure up images of “imitation” floors that are easy to discern from real woods or natural stone? If so, you might be surprised by the selection of high-end laminates available today.

Top flooring manufacturers such as Quick Step, Shaw, and Mohawk have applied the latest in flooring technologies to create laminate products that are far more authentic looking than ever before. With beautiful design options, impressive realism, and durability that allows for easy maintenance and long-term wearability, today’s laminates are worth a second look if you’re shopping for new floors.

A Few of the Perks

Far more affordable than many other hard flooring surfaces, laminate flooring features an abundance of designs that impressively replicate some of today’s most sought-after flooring, including domestic and exotic woods, ceramic tile, and natural stones such as slate, porcelain, and travertine. Styles range from traditional narrow planks to today’s popular wider planks and include varying lengths and an array of tile styles that make it easy to create your own unique designer look.

But today’s laminate is more than just good-looking replicas. A highly durable wear layer makes these floors extremely resistant to daily wear, moisture, staining, and fading caused by direct sunlight. And most laminates are easier and often less expensive to maintain than other flooring types. Installation is also easier, as most floors can float over a variety of subfloors, including concrete and floors below-grade level. Many laminates can even be installed over radiant heating systems – typically not an option with solid hardwood. And installations are literally a snap, as most flooring includes the latest in click-and-lock technology.

What to Look for in a Quality Laminate

Laminate Flooring for Every RoomMost laminates are comprised of four layers: a bottom backing layer for stability; a core layer made of high-density fiberboard and often a melamine resin for durability and water resistance; a thin paper image layer on which a digitally enhanced image is printed or embossed; and a top wear layer for added protection. Layers are then combined under incredibly high pressure and heat to produce a resilient sheet, which is then milled into planks or tiles.

Of course, as with any type of flooring, there are different levels of quality.  So how can you tell the high-quality laminates from the lower ones? Here are a few things to look for.

Thickness

Laminate planks typically range from 7 millimeters to 12 millimeters in thicknesses. While thickness doesn’t always determine dent resistance, a thicker laminate will help prevent bends in the floor that can occur if the subfloor is not completely level. Thicker laminate products are also typically less noisy.

Abrasion Class (AC) Ratings

To assess laminate’s durability, the flooring industry uses the Abrasion Class rating system (also known as AC rating) as its standard. After extensive durability testing, laminates are assigned an AC rating between 1 and 5, with 5 being the most durable. Here’s a quick overview of each rating category:

  • AC 1: Suitable for home use with minimal foot traffic (guest rooms, for example)
  • AC 2: Suitable for home use with medium foot traffic (such as formal dining rooms or living rooms)
  • AC 3: Suitable for home use with all levels of foot traffic (includes high-use areas such as entry halls, kitchens, and busy family rooms)
  • AC 4: Suitable for home use in all traffic areas and for standard commercial use (such as an office building)
  • AC 5: Suitable for heavy commercial traffic (busy retail stores, for example)

Laminate floors that fail any of the durability tests are not certified and are labeled “Unrated.” Generally, this flooring is not recommended for long-term use.

Embossed in Register and Liquid Laminate

The Versatility of Laminate FlooringTo produce laminate’s amazing realism, many manufacturers use an embossed in register (EIR) technique in which digitally enhanced images of natural materials are embossed onto a paper image layer that is pushed toward the tile surface, producing a raised image that adds more depth and texture to the surface. This embossing process is also used to mimic distressing techniques such as wire-brushing and hand-scraping.

A new technique that is further enhancing the overall look of laminate is liquid laminate technology. This process, which originated in Europe, uses liquid melamine to adhere the wear layer directly to the backing layer, eliminating the need for the top paper. Without the paper, the surface is much more transparent, which adds to the floor’s overall realism.

Learn More

Have more questions about laminate?  Ask one of our Barry Carpet flooring experts. Or, if you want to see just how well laminate can capture the look of woods and natural stone, stop in our Barry Carpet showroom in West Los Angeles.

Hardwood Flooring Grades and Quality

When shopping for hardwood flooring, you’ll likely come across the term “grade.”  And if you’re like many consumers, you may wonder if a high-grade wood ensures the best-quality flooring. The short answer is: Sometimes yes – and sometimes no.

Hardwood Flooring Grades rate the wood's natural appearance. GAT-OAW7-GWD-3 Oak flooring is rustic grade.Actually, grade and quality are two independent measures that together help evaluate a product’s overall value. Grade can best be thought of as “what the tree gave you to work with” – the wood’s natural appearance. Grade is evaluated along a wide spectrum that ranges from woods that are very uniform in appearance and color, without knots or other noticeable character markings, to woods with significant color variations and other visible natural character features.

Quality is tied more closely to manufacturing – how the final planks are produced. Quality issues may include milling defects, finish imperfections, and stain color variations, for instance.

So back to my answer above: A high-grade wood doesn’t necessarily guarantee a floor’s long-term value. For example, flooring made from a high-grade wood may include manufacturing defects that would lower the flooring’s “quality” – and thus its overall value. On the other hand, flooring made from a lower-grade wood, but with little to no manufacturing defects, would be considered higher quality, raising the flooring’s value. For this reason, product warranties are often based largely on quality and are much less dependent on a wood’s grade.

Oak, with more active graining patterns and natural color variations, will never look as “clean” as Maple, even at its highest hardwood flooring grade.Additionally, since no two tree species are exactly the same, grade is not always the best indication of a wood’s appearance. For example, Maple, which characteristically has clean lines and light coloring, looks almost white at its highest grade. Whereas a wood such as Oak, with more active graining patterns and natural color variations, will never look as “clean” as Maple, even at its highest grade. And grading doesn’t always account for the wood’s source. For example, reclaimed woods are often sought-after flooring choices because of their rich patina. While board-to-board color variations are typically a low-grade characteristic, in this case, this time-worn look is what makes reclaimed wood uniquely beautiful and often far more expensive.

Hardwood Flooring Grades: How Woods Are Graded

Within each species of wood, the highest grades will be the ones that are the most uniform in color and have the longest board lengths. Following is a brief description of each grade. The allowable defects for these grades are considered part of the industry’s standard 5% allowable waste for all better wood flooring grades (this can be as high as15%-20% for low-grade woods). While the descriptions within each category are fairly similar for prefinished and unfinished woods, the names used to refer to these grades may differ depending on the manufacturer.

  • Prime Hardwood Flooring Grade Natural White Oak FlooringPrime Grade: Representing the top grade within each wood species, these boards are also referred to as Clear, A, 1st, and Select & Better Grade. Woods are uniform in appearance with minimal natural color variations and character marks, and they include the longest plank lengths. Allowable defects include: occasional small burls, very small, tight knots, and fine pinworm holes – in limited pieces and when properly filled. After finishing, the face of the plank will have the cleanest appearance within the species.
  • Standard Grade: The next-best wood flooring grade, these boards contain more wood characteristics relevant to the species, while the face is still even and smooth after filling and finishing. Also referred to as Select, #1, 2nd,  Common, and Common & Better Grade, boards include the following allowable defects: small worm holes; season and kiln checks;  dime-size broken knots; larger open knots, if properly filled and finished; minor imperfections from machining; and other minor characteristics that will not affect the floor’s durability.
  • Builder Grade: Boards include most of the wood’s spectrum of natural character – more color, bigger knots, and creamy-colored sapwood. Sometimes referred to as Natural, #2 Common, C, Mill Run, Run, Rustic, Sapwood, or Shorts, boards have a limited amount of unfilled or unfinished open characteristics. Allowable finish irregularities include: bubbles; small skips; lines; stain or color variations; and surface scratches. Expect overall shorter pieces.
  • Cabin Grade Riverbed Flint White Oak FlooringCabin or Tavern Grade: This grade tends to have better board lengths and cleaner faces but may include some low-grade wood characteristics and quality imperfections such as machining issues. Overall, this grade has shorter board lengths, more color variations, and small dings, and is thus expected to have more than a 10% waste factor. Because quality defects are allowed, there typically is no structural warranty offered on this wood, but a warranty on the finish may be available. [Add image showing some common imperfections]
  • Utility Grade: Also called #3 Common or D Grade, these boards include those with the most wood imperfections and matching issues.  The expected waste factor is 10%, and there is generally no structural warranty offered on this wood, but a warranty on the finish may still be available.
  • Shop Grade: The lowest-grade of wood flooring, these woods include all of wood’s imperfections. Often offered at the best prices, these woods can be a great value but expect more labor, waste and added materials to get the desired look.

Deciding if a Flooring Makes the Grade

It’s important to remember that grade is only a spectrum, with the “cleanest” woods rating the highest. If you prefer hardwood flooring with more color variations and character, there’s nothing wrong with going with a lower grade. The main consideration here is quality. In general, the lowest-priced woods will be those that are both low-grade and include manufacturing defects that impact quality.

Ask_An_Expert_logo_colorHave more questions about wood grades?  Ask one of our Barry Carpet hardwood flooring experts. Or visit our Barry Carpet showroom in West Los Angeles.