New! An “Eco-Friendly” Finish

What do you think of when you hear the word “whey”?  Do you think of the nursery rhyme of little Miss Muffet?  Or do you think of a health food missmuffetpictureprotein powder?  You probably don’t think about it in conjunction with hardwood floors.  If you are looking for an eco-friendly, “green” flooring option you should!

Hardwood flooring is one of the most eco-friendly flooring materials there are.  It’s renewable, and many manufacturers work with suppliers to ensure that the trees are harvested in a responsible manner.  Now, thanks to whey protein, it can be finished with the only finish made from a 100% recyclable material.

refinishing_floor1Typically, hardwood flooring is stained, and then a polyurethane top coat is applied to protect the floor.  The polyurethane seals and protects the finish on the floor.  There are two types of polyurethane used – oil based or water based.  Water based polyurethane dries quickly, provides a clear finish and has a low odor.  It can require up to four coats to provide maximum protection. Oil based polyurethane requires fewer coats, but the drying time is longer and there is a stronger odor.  It also lends an amber glow to the wood.  Oil based polyurethane tends to be more durable than water based.

A new product, PolyWhey® by Vermont Natural Coatings, combines the high durability of an oil based finish with the application advantages of a water based finish.  Plus – it’s made from a renewable resource!

CheeseWhey is a by- product of cheese making.  It is what is left after the milk has been curdled and strained.  PolyWhey® started as a collaboration among farmers, furniture makers, and the University of Vermont scientists to expand the value of Vermont’s agriculture and forest industries. What began as an interest in whey, as a possible ingredient in woodworking projects, has emerged as a revolutionary new science.  The whey acts as a co-binder and co-solvent, replacing other, more toxic substances.

Other than the ease of application and durability of PolyWhey®, the number one advantage to homeowners is that Polywhey® has the lowest VOC level in the industry.  VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds.  VOC’s evaporate into the air from many substances and can cause or contribute to many health problems.  Petroleum products, like oil based finishes, carpets and vinyl flooring can have harmful levels of these VOCS which are easily identifiable by their noxious smell.   The VOC level for Vermont Natural Coatings finishes is ≤180g/L (grams per liter). The toughest indoor air quality standard for wood finish in the United States is California’s 275g/L.

Here at Yankee Classic Flooring we are proud to add PolyWhey® Wood Floor Finishes to its line of floor finishes.  It is a beautiful finish that brings out the richness of Northern Grown Oak and Maple.  Available in a matte, satin, semi-gloss or gloss finish there is a look that is just right for your home.   With so many options, we can customize your floor any way that you want.  And with PolyWhey®, your floors can be refinished without the smell!

As always, Yankee Classic Flooring offers free consultations.  Give us a call, and we will show you how beautiful your wood floors can look.  For more information on PolyWhey® or any of our flooring options, call Tracey or Jerry at 608-467-2551 or email us at yankeeclassicfloors@frontier.com.

Polywhey finish

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Buyer Beware – You Get What You Pay For

We all know the old sayings “You get what you pay for” and “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.    And in the case of Lumber Liquidators, both apparently are true.  This past Sunday night, CBS’s news show “60 Minutes” aired a segment on their investigation of the safety of Lumber Liquidators products, which has captured headlines around the world.

Lumber Liquidators is a nationwide retailer of hardwood and laminate flooring.  They advertise inexpensive flooring options that, when you are looking to upgrade or replace your flooring seem like an attractive option.  Who wouldn’t want a pretty floor, at what seems to be a much cheaper price?  According to 60 Minutes, you don’t and here’s why:  there are serious concerns about the safety of Lumber Liquidators products and also about where and how they get their materials.

The biggest safety concern is the amount of formaldehyde found in the laminate and hardwood flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators and produced in China.  Formaldehyde is a compound chemical made up of formaldehydecarbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  It can be found all over, since it both occurs naturally and is manufactured for industrial use in many of the products we use today.  In the case of flooring, it is often used in the adhesives that hold the wood and laminate particles together.  Formaldehyde can be highly dangerous, damaging your health if concentrations are high.  It can cause respiratory problems, headaches, skin rashes, eye and throat problems, and fatigue.  It can trigger asthma attacks in people who are prone to them, and is a proven carcinogen.  You might say so what if it is in the floor, isn’t it contained there?  The answer is no, it doesn’t stay in the floor.  Just as a fragrance can be released from a material, so too can formaldehyde. Over time it simply leaches out into the air you breathe.

In the 60 Minutes investigation, an environmental attorney in California ordered testing to be done on 150 cases of laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators.  California has standards on how much formaldehyde is safe to be in certain products. These legal limits are set by the California Air Resources board (CARB).  In the testing of the laminate from Lumber Liquidators, they found 13 times the amount of formaldehyde in the Chinese Laminate products. Some of the product tested was 20 times higher.

Tiger

Tiger walking in the snow by Tambako the Jaguar is licensed under CC by 2.0

We at Yankee Classic Flooring, Inc. were already aware of lawsuits filed against Lumber Liquidator’s Flagship line, Bellawood.  The lawsuits allege that Bellawood is sourced from illegal logging operations in protected forests in the far eastern part of Russia, and delivered through suppliers that Lumber Liquidator’s work with in China. These forests are the natural habitat of the endangered Siberian Tiger. Lumber Liquidator’s Russian Timber suppliers have been convicted in Russia of 15 counts of illegal logging.

A separate lawsuit has been filed against Lumber Liquidator’s in reference to their bamboo flooring product.  Lumber Liquidator’s claims that their Morning Star Bamboo flooring is extremely durable and free of defects for 30 years.  However, there have been several complaints of defects showing up within weeks of installation.

Why do we bring this all to your attention?  Because at Yankee Classic Flooring we believe that you should know what products go into your home.  Good quality product comes at a price.   We don’t buy from questionable sources, we know where our flooring products come from.  We buy our wood from northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota family farms, which in turn have the product locally milled.

In the past 5 years, we have seen more finishing operations open up locally in the state of Wisconsin. This will guarantee that all pre-finished products are being stained and finished in Wisconsin, following strict guidelines and codes in this process.

Yankee Classic Flooring scrutinizes all products that we bring in to sell to the customer. We understand that we might not be the most inexpensive, but offer safety and quality to our customer on all products we install and finish. If you ever have a question about what we sell, just ask us!

Lumber  Liquidators certainly offers “cheap” inexpensive products – but now we fully understand the ramifications.

Another take on staircases

In our last blog, we talked about a staircase reflecting the character of the home.  This week we wanted to show you how a staircase can really make a statement, and reflect the homeowner’s personality as well.

Staircase 2 before

This homeowner was tired of how tired his staircase looked.  Covered in carpet, it was hard to keep clean, and no longer worked with the new American Cherry flooring that he had just had us install.  Working with Tracey and Jerry, he decided that he didn’t want to simply carry the same cherry floor up the staircase.  Instead he wanted to create more of a statement look.

 

There were actually two staircases, one to the upstairs, and one to the third floor.  In addition to wanting to create a “WOW” look, he also wanted the two to have a cohesive feel.

 

 

 

Staircase 2 after #2Because he is very concerned about the environment, this homeowner wanted to use sustainable materials to redo his staircases.  He already had cork flooring on the basement level, so to tie everything together, we used cork for the treads and risers, and American Cherry for the nosing.  Combining the two gave the staircase a unique, one of a kind look that was also a “green” choice.

Cork as a flooring option has many benefits.  The cork itself is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree so the tree itself isn’t cut down.  A cork tree can have a lifespan of 200 years or more, and the bark can be harvested every eight to 14 years without harming the tree.  It is easy to care for, comfortable under your feet, safe, wears well, and versatile. Cork can come in tiles or planks and in many different colors.  Unlike vinyl, the pattern and color goes all the way through.  Because cork has a natural insulating property, rooms with cork flooring are warmer, and quieter.

By combing cork and American Cherry, this homeowner was able to achieve a unique, one of a kind statement look, all while keeping to his goal of using sustainable materials.

Staircase 2 after

Are you interested in using more environmentally friendly, sustainable materials in your home?  There are many options to choose from. Yankee Classic Flooring can help you design a look for your home that is unique AND green.  Consultations and quotes are always free, so give us a call today.

Staircases

From the sweeping grand staircase that Rhett Butler carried Scarlett O’Hara up in Gone with the Wind, to the cupboard under the stair where Harry Potter lived before he went to Hogwarts, staircases have played an important role, not only in films but in our homes.  We’ve glided down them to greet dates at the door, hidden in the shadows at the top to listen in secret to conversations, stomped up them when we were mad.  Most two story homes will have a staircase in the front hall. It’s a practical way to divide a large expanse of vertical space into smaller vertical spaces to make it easier to reach the second level of your home.  A staircase is a much more practical way to get to the upstairs bedrooms than a ladder.    It’s also the first architectural feature that you see when you open the front door.  It sets the tone for many other features in the house.

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In a Colonial style home, your stairs might be made of wood, solid treads with turned spindles and a polished wood banister.  In a more Modern home, it might be a suspension staircase, slabs of clear acrylic suspended from steel cables.  Whatever your home’s style, you want the staircase to reflect it.  If your staircase looks tired, the treads worn out from years of use, the banister grimy, the spindles dated looking, it carries over into the rest of the house.

That was the case for one of our clients.  They had just purchased a home that they loved, but it needed some updating.  The first thing you saw when you walked in the door was a staircase with outdated handrails and covered with dirty carpet.  Not the impression that the new homeowners wanted to convey.

ImageTracey and Jerry worked closely with the homeowners to determine the feel that they wanted to convey in their home, and the best way to go about it.

 

 

 

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The first thing the expert installers at Yankee Classic Flooring did was tear out the carpet and remove the outdated spindles, banister and newel post. They prepped the underlayment by removing old glue and staples.  Any rough spots were sanded down.

 

Sanded treads

Next, they installed new oak treads and risers.  These were not pre-finished, so once installation was complete, the Yankee Classic Flooring team stained them to a warm honey color.  The final step was to install new custom wrought iron spindles, and a new banister and newel post stained in the same finish as the floor.

 

 

 The result? An entry way that no longer felt dirty and outdated, but instead was warm and welcoming.

Yankee Classic Floors Finished Staircase

Take a look at your staircase.  Does it work with the rest of your house?  If it is in the front hallway, does it convey the impression that you want when someone walks in your front door?  If not, give Yankee Classic Flooring a call.  We are happy to come out and talk over your needs with you.  Estimates and consultations are always free.