General Home Improvement

7 Indoor & Outdoor Entertaining Area Renovation Tips Just In Time For Summer

With entertaining at the heart of the season, you may be considering giving your entertaining spaces a little (or big!) makeover this summer. 

Between summer cookouts and late-night movie nights out on the deck, when it comes to inviting guests into our homes, we all want to make an impression. Whether you’re looking to make big changes or you’re wanting to spruce up your space on a shoestring budget, there are a number of ideas that will help you wow!

Check out these 7 summer renovation tips which are sure to impress your visitors.


  1. Flooring and Decking

Upgrading your floors can completely transform a drab space into a fresh, modern and beautiful area bound to make your guests take notice. Hardwood flooring is incredibly effective in entertaining areas as it not only looks stunning, but it can withstand foot traffic too (if you pick the right one!). What’s more, during summer, when many homes throw open their patio doors, hardwood flooring creates a cohesive flow between indoors and outdoors, especially if you have decking. 

If you do have decking, consider sanding and re-oiling it before summer comes around. It might feel like a big job but it’ll be worth it when you see the life breathed back into your old boards.


  1. The Devil’s In The Detail

It’s the small things that can make all the difference. So, if you want to revamp your space without making any major changes, think about decorative items which will brighten things up. A summer vibe can be achieved with vibrantly colored kitchenware – think waterjugs, glasses and table linens – summery flowers and sweet smelling candles. 


  1. Keep It Cool

We all love summer, but sometimes, the heat can get a little too much! Making sure your guests have a way to stay cool while you’re entertaining can make for a much more enjoyable experience. Obviously, look after the basics first and make sure your AC unit has been serviced and the filters have been changed (TIP: get a professional HVAC servicing company to do it so you don’t have to!), but then have fun with your cooling options. Opt for some outdoor fans which suit your aesthetic, offer your guests water spray bottles and create a stylish ice-box area so your guests can keep their drinks cool.


  1. Think Of The Children

Entertaining isn’t just for adults, backyard BBQs are often a whole family affair. So, as well as creating a space for the big kids to enjoy, think of the little ones too. Think inflatable pool, playground equipment and giant backyard games. If there are teenagers in the mix, create an outdoor chill-out zone they can enjoy.


  1. Remember: it’s all about the food!

Summer isn’t summer without the food! If you don’t have a high-quality grill, it might be time to invest in one. Creating a focal point around your outdoor food-preparation area is a wise idea in terms of design and functionality; the grill itself acts as a design piece and the food is right near your guests, just where they want it!


  1. Think About Your Windows

Window treatments are an often overlooked part of interior design, but with a little love, your windows can actually change the whole feel of your space. Depending on the look you want to go for, you have a multitude of different options open to you. That said, the versatility of roman blinds in terms of style and color makes them extremely effective when trying to create a certain feel in a room. As a pro tip, make sure your window treatments don’t clash with your floors ie, if you have dark hardwood flooring, lighter window treatments would work; if you have white tiles, colorful blinds and drapes may be ideal.


  1. Infuse Your Home With Scent

Creating an inviting atmosphere for entertaining doesn’t just stop with what you can see. When guests walk into your home, you want them to feel the fresh, vibrance of summery delight! Using fresh lemon in your detergent when cleaning, lighting a summery candle or diffusing some zesty essential oils will go a long way to setting the scene for summer in your home. What’s more, if you do have hardwood flooring or wooden furniture, consider polishing them with a lemon-scented polish.

General Home Improvement Hardwood Flooring Hardwood Maintenance

This is How to Install Hardwood Floors Over Concrete

When you install hardwood floors, concrete is one of the best bases to work from — there are only a few steps to take. Follow these steps with care to safely complete the installation yourself. Whether you’re planning on renting out your home or looking to increase its value, using concrete as a base is a great idea.

To get you started we put together this do-it-yourself guide. Follow these steps with care to safely complete the installation yourself.

1. Remove Anything Standing Between You and the Concrete

While pulling up carpet, laminate, or any other flooring is the obvious first step, existing flooring isn’t the only thing that needs to be removed before you can install hardwood floors. Your baseboards will need to be taken out, as well, to ensure the new flooring has no gaps around the edges of the walls. If you’re careful while removing the baseboards, you should be able to reuse them. You can even spruce them up by sanding any paint off or staining them the same color as the new floor.

Look to see if your concrete has paint or not. If it is, the varnish may prevent the adhesive from working correctly. Don’t worry, though. You can rent a concrete grinder from most big-box home improvement stores. You can even call around your local tool rental shops or hardware stores to see if they offer concrete grinder rentals.

Strip Existing Glue, Finish, or Paint from Concrete Before Installing Hardwood Floors

Once you have the hardware you need, carefully grind the pain, glue, or finish from the concrete. You’ll want to wear protective gear, like goggles and a mask, while you do this. You don’t want to inhale any concrete dust or get some in your eyes. Make sure you remove all the paint and sweep up any dirt or debris that might be left behind.

2. Protect Your Floor From Moisture

Moisture and moisture vapor is your hardwood’s natural enemy. To combat these villains, you’ll need to apply a moisture barrier to the floor before the flooring can be laid out. You will need a barrier that is appropriate for the flooring you choose:

  • Floating Floors – Typically, these moisture barriers are made from plastic.
  • Nailed Floors – You will need a moisture barrier that protects the subfloor as well as the flooring.
  • Glued Floors – A heavy coat of moisture barrier will be required since the flooring is glued directly to the subfloor.

Before you begin, open any doors or windows in the room to provide proper ventilation. You will not likely want to inhale the fumes from your moisture barrier because it is likely to contain chemicals that are harmful to your lungs. As a precaution, it’s a good idea to wear a mask. If you are using plastic sheets, this step isn’t crucial.

Next, start at the side of the room opposite the door, and follow any and all instructions on the barrier’s packaging. Once the barrier is applied, you do not want to step on it. If you do, there’s a chance you’ll have to start over, so take care to move your materials with you as you work your way out the door.

Finally, let the moisture barrier set for 24 hours. This should be plenty, but before you take a chance and step back in the room, lightly touch the floor – if it’s still tacky to the touch, it has not set all the way and will need to be left alone a little longer. Some areas are more humid than others and will require more time to dry. In this case, check back every four hours or so.

3. Lay out the Flooring Materials

It’s time to start laying down your floorboards. Depending on the type of flooring you chose, your method for completing the next part will be different. Do this in one of two ways:

Method #1: Lay out the Materials for Floating Floorboards:

If you will use floating floorboards, you don’t need to worry about using an adhesive (If you’re unfamiliar with floating floorboards, they’re the boards that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle). The edges of each board click into place with the boards around it, creating a solid floor.

After you’ve measured the room and made sure you have the correct amount of flooring, the installation can commence. You can lay down a foam layer as you go, but you don’t have to. The foam will help if you want a cushion between the boards and the concrete, which can help muffle sound and create a more pleasant walking experience, depending on your preference.

Method #2: Lay out the Materials for Conventional Floorboards:

If you decided to use any boards that don’t click together, you need to apply adhesive while you place the boards. Just like when you apply the moisture barrier, start at the back of the room and work towards the door. Don’t administer all the adhesive at once. Instead, work in small sections. Let the adhesive dry for 24 hours after you install the flooring.

No matter the type of hardwood you’re using, be sure to cut the boards as you work. Don’t measure the room and assume how many boards need to cut, or you’ll likely run into trouble. You will also want to leave a small half-inch gap between the flooring and wall. Wood doesn’t stay one size, and you want to make sure it has room to expand.

4. Finally, Add the Finishing Touches

Now it’s time to finish up. Reinstall your baseboards and trim, then clean up the room. Be sure to take a moment to admire your work. There’s nothing like a job well done!

Let us teach you how to select the best hardwood floors for any home.

This post was originally published on December 15, 2017. It has been updated for clarity.

General Home Improvement Hardwood Flooring

What you need to Know about Prefinished Hardwood Flooring vs Unfinished

For many years, unfinished hardwood flooring was the backbone of this particular niche of the flooring industry. But prefinished hardwood flooring has been rapidly becoming more popular among both residential and commercial customers in recent years. If you’re going to run a tally and go by popularity alone, prefinished selections would probably have the edge over unfinished flooring these days.

Of course, the ultimate decision about which unique type of hardwood flooring is right for your home or business will be determined by factors beyond contemporary consumer popularity. To help you make a well-informed choice, here’s a closer look at what you need to know about prefinished and unfinished hardwood flooring.

Unfinished Hardwood Flooring

“Unfinished” hardwood is flooring that is raw hardwood. You must install, sand, and refinish flooring on site. There are some notable pros and cons associated with this type of flooring to consider as you explore your flooring options.

The Pros of Unfinished Flooring

From various hues of oak and cherry to stunning shades of maple, pine, and mahogany, there are many different wood species and natural color variations available with unfinished hardwood flooring. Because wood floor installation requires on-site finishing, you can customize your floors any way you want. Add personalized touches to your inlays, borders, and other flooring features.

You can even choose your finish system, stain color, and sawn profile. These customization options can be especially appealing if you have a specific look you want to achieve for your kitchen, living room, hallway, entryway, or office. Some other significant pros associated with unfinished hardwood flooring include:

  • There’s a more natural ability to resand and refinish your floor as desired.
  • You will add inlays after you sand the floor, which makes them perfectly flush with the rest of the floor.
  • You will “sealed” the entire floor since you will finish after installation.

The Cons of Unfinished Flooring

The most significant con associated with unfinished hardwood flooring is the time it takes to complete the installation process. However, the reason why this flooring takes more time to install is that it has to be sanded and finished manually. Often there’s a staining step in between these processes. Plus, you’ll have to give the finish time to cure fully.

Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

“Prefinished” hardwood floors are factory-finished.  Each board is coated with polyurethane before it hits the shelf. There are also notable pros and cons associated with this particular type of flooring.

The Pros of Prefinished Flooring

The biggest pro associated with prefinished hardwood flooring is the ability to complete installation fairly quickly since the sanding and finishing process is complete. And, once the floor installed, you won’t have to worry about being overly-cautious to avoid scratching your new floor during the curing process. Instead, it’ll be ready to use and enjoy immediately. Prefinished flooring also has the following beneficial things going for it:

  • It’s a more convenient option for some renovation or improvement projects.
  • Pre-applied finish is exceptionally durable.*
  • There are more uniformity and consistency with the coloring and staining in the boards.

*Some manufacturers also add an anti-scratch coating that makes the floor more resistant to minor surface damage.

The Cons of Prefinished Flooring

The main downside with prefinished hardwood flooring is the limitation of widths, lengths, colors, grain, and other common customer preferences. Also, the durability of the finish on prefinished flooring can make it difficult to remove these surface layers should you want to refinish or re-sand your floor in the future.

So, What’s the Final Verdict?

When it comes to the prefinished vs. unfinished debate, there’s no clear winner. Both options can have some pros and cons worth considering when you make your decision. Some people love the natural imperfections in unfinished flooring and the ability to conveniently refinish it. However, others appreciate the convenience of choosing perfectly prepared, flawless, ready-to-install flooring.

Whatever your preference, there’s no denying the fact that a top-quality hardwood floor will add beauty and value to any room, home, or business (for many years if you properly care for it). Let us help you choose the best hardwood flooring for your home.

General Home Improvement

5 Grueling Facts You Must Face Before You Invest in Rental Property

Many wise investors realize that rental property is a great way to grow long-term wealth. With the homes being well taken care of, the maintenance of multiple houses is not astronomical, and you make a decent amount of money on a monthly basis from each rental property you own. While this seems like a simple process, there are a few things that you need to be aware of before beginning a rental agreement. The better prepared you are for various situations to arise, the more successful you will be in the long run.

Here are five facts about rental investing you can’t ignore.

Fact #1: Choosing and Purchasing Rental Property Can Be Stressful

Regardless of how many rental properties you plan to own and rent out, you need to make sure you can purchase them all at a reasonable rate. The cost of the home will have a direct impact on how much you can make each month. If you end up financing the house and then turn around and rent it out, make sure you can make more money by renting out the home than what you owe in a mortgage payment. Work with the real estate agent and try to get the lowest possible amount for each house you rent out. The location of the home is something that heavily weighs into the process because if you are buying a home in an excellent area, you will always have a steady stream of income with people wanting to live in your rental property.

Fact #2: You Most Likely Have to Make Updates to the Home

If you are getting a home at a low cost, chances are you are going to have to drop a few thousand dollars to update the house. You want the house to be appealing for potential renters to want to live there. Updates might include new flooring, a fresh coat of paint on the walls, new appliances, updated countertops, and modern light fixtures. Your goal should be to have the home looking as sharp as possible, so you are sure to have tenants ready to sign a lease with you. All of the work needs to be as professional as possible and closely reflecting the latest trends. If you are not willing to update the home between tenants living there, then you might not be successful when it is time to find a new family to live in the property.

Of course, hardwood flooring is an excellent choice for rental homes because it’s durable and easy to repair or refinish.

Recommended Reading: 

Fact #3: Choosing Tenants is a Tedious Chore

As soon as you complete your updates, you are ready to find someone to live in your home temporarily. While it is easy to jump at the first person who shows any interest, make sure to take your time with the process and choose a renter you trust will take care of the home and be responsible for making their monthly payments on time. Waiting for the perfect tenant will be worth your time in the end as you will not have to worry about them causing severe damage to the home.

Fact #4: Someone Must be Available to Monitor the House

If you are living close to the rental property, you can make it part of your weekly or monthly routine to drive in and check on the status of the home. If you are far away, however, there are property management crews that can take care of this job for you. Either way, you need to keep an eye on the home and make sure that the tenants are properly caring for the area and helping to make the house stay as beautiful as it was the day the tenants stepped inside.

Fact #5: You Need to be Prepared to Manage Repairs Right Away

One thing people often forget when they take on rental properties is that if anything goes wrong inside or around the house, it is your responsibility as the homeowner to handle these issues. Renters do not have to replace broken dishwashers or plumbing issues that arise, because that is the responsibility of the landlord. Make sure you can handle the financial burden of fixing these issues yourself or have access to professionals that can resolve the problems. You need to remain patient in the process and keep your schedule open to address the problems as they arise. If you want to be a good landlord, then handle the problems without letting tenants know you are upset or stressed, even if it is a financial strain on you.

Final Thoughts

Owning rental properties is a lot more than just collecting a monthly check. You need to have to have the finances available to fix up your rental property before listing it. You need to be prepared to handle the different problems that will arise while the tenants are residing in the property. Being aware of the entire process and all responsibilities associated with owning a rental property will make it a smooth and easy way to make extra money each month. As long as you keep this in mind, get ready to make a wise investment. 

General Home Improvement Hardwood Flooring

7 Questions to Answer Before Buying Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is one of the best ways to improve your home. This versatile and long-lasting enhancement works with any décor or lifestyle. To be sure that your floor meets all of your expectations, it is a good idea to have a few questions answered before you begin. For your convenience, we have compiled the following list of the most crucial concerns.

1. Which room are you working on?

Opening the front door to see the natural beauty of solid hardwood floors can be captivating. It establishes the mood of a warm, welcoming environment and is therefore very popular for foyers and formal living rooms where guests are entertained. Hardwood flooring can be used in just about any room in the house but it is not recommended in closed areas that experience great fluctuation in humidity such as laundry rooms and full bathrooms.

2. How do you want the room to look?

For older generations, a solid wood floor consists of one unified color across the floor which could be as light as blonde or as dark as a mahogany brown. Today this is referred to as traditional wood flooring and, although it is still very popular, it represents a small portion of the options available. Depending on the look you are trying to create, you may want to explore a wide range of colors, a patterned effect, or a range of textures. The possibilities are endless.

3. What is the current flooring?

Not long ago it was impossible to install hardwood floors on top of concrete because there was no way to secure the boards to the concrete. Now, with engineered hardwood floors, you can glue the flooring directly to a concrete floor. Engineered wood is made up of several layers of wood lain perpendicular in sequence with a thick top layer of solid hardwood. It is actually very strong and does not react to climatic changes like solid hardwood might. Once it is installed, it is virtually indistinguishable from a traditional hardwood floor.

4. Refinish or Replace?

If you have hardwood flooring in your home that is stained or otherwise damaged, you may be able to repair sections of it instead of replacing the entire floor. Sanding down the finish and staining the wood may also be preferable to replacement. The main advantage of replacement is that it takes less time and effort. Refinishing a hardwood floor is very labor-intensive and the fumes are very strong. The family may be displaced for several days. The best hardwood flooring available is arguably pre-finished and can be installed in a day or two without any fumes.

5. What is the climate?

Because wood is a natural element, it swells and contract with changes in the humidity and temperature. If these changes are significant, it can result in gaps between the floor boards. In extreme cases, these changes can cause the wood to crack, split and even bow. The experts at MacDonald Hardwoods can help you select the best wood for your climate.

6. Do you have pets?

If you have pets, there is no better choice for your flooring than hardwood floors. They are easy to clean and durable. Surface scratches will vanish when a new coat of polyurethane is added. In addition, it is possible to make scratches less noticeable with certain tones or textures. No matter what you choose, a hardwood floor holds its value far better than any other option, especially in the home of an animal lover.

7. What is your budget?

There are several costs to consider when installing hardwood flooring. The first question that needs to be answered concerns the square footage of the room.  This will determine how much wood you need to purchase. Another important question concerns the installation. MacDonald Hardwoods provides free training and technical support to any flooring customers who wish to install it themselves.

General Home Improvement Hardwood Flooring Hardwood Maintenance Home Decor Pets Species

This is How to Choose the Best Hardwood Flooring for any Home

So, you’re thinking about retiring your old floors, or you’re moving into a new space, and you’re interested in a natural, easy-to-maintain flooring choice. Of course, hardwood is an excellent pick for many people — it’s easier to clean than carpets and is known to stand the test of time. But, there are so many available options that finding the best hardwood flooring can be overwhelming.

How to determine the best hardwood flooring for your home:

  1. First, understand the pros and cons of hardwood floors.
  2. Next, examine your lifestyle.
  3. Then, set a realistic budget.
  4. After that, explore various hardwood types and species.
  5. Once you know the rest, research your finish options.
  6. Finally, consult with an expert.

Each of the above items has its own set of intricacies. In this article, we take some of the guesswork out of it for you. Here’s everything you need to know to choose the right hardwood flooring options. 

First, the Pros and Cons of Harwood Flooring:

Hardwood is a natural, long-lasting choice for home flooring. Still, it comes with maintenance responsibilities. Before you do anything else, it’s crucial to consider the pros and cons of installing wood floors in your home.


The Pros and Cons of Hardwood Flooring via @macwoods

Hardwood is durable… as long as you don’t overexpose it to water.

While hardwood floors are durable and can withstand spills and stains with proper treatment, they are especially prone to water damage (kind of like the wicked witch of the west); this makes them a risky candidate for areas like your bathroom, kitchen, and entryways. Installing hardwood in rooms where they are exposed to liquid will lead to damage.

It is easy to refinish, but not so easy to install.

Most people will tell you it is easy to refinish hardwood floors, as long as you can stay off of them for a few days. Even so, it is difficult to install them, even for experienced DIYers. So, in the beginning, be prepared to hire a professional for the installation. At the very least, consider hardwood flooring installation classes

It is considered a wise investment.

The homeowners’ paradigm is that hardwood flooring will increase the value of your property. Most homebuyer’s jump at the idea of purchasing a home with hardwood floors — in many cases, even when carpet covers the original wood flooring. So, in the long run, the initial investment is probably worthwhile.

Hardwood flooring isn’t likely to go out of style.

Hardwood floors are timeless in the decor world; it was considered a luxury interior decoration asset as early as the 1600s and is popular still today. If you choose hardwood, your floors are likely to stay in style as long as your home stands. According to GentlemanZone Magazine, hardwood stands for luxury and fine taste. It is the warm and shiny glaze of wood that noblemen love to this very day.

It isn’t the coziest flooring to walk on.

One of the downsides to hardwood flooring is that it can be hard and cold on your feet compared to carpeting. Because it is so hard, it doesn’t absorb sound; this can lead to more noise when walking around with shoes. Some people might not like this idea, for a number of reasons, and will opt for carpeting instead. But, if you’re still undecided, there are ways to reduce sound with hardwood floors.

It is an allergy-friendly, eco-friendly, low maintenance flooring option.

People with pets will tell you that carpets need to be vacuumed daily to keep a hair and dander-free home. If you have allergies to pets or pollens, you can be sure hardwood floors will be much easier to maintain, and you’ll experience fewer attacks. Also, most of the wood used for flooring materials are sustainably sourced and use non-toxic adhesives and finishes.

Next, What You Need to Consider About Your Lifestyle:

Your lifestyle dictates the best hardwood flooring option for your home — foot traffic, kids, pets, and maintenance crucial considerations. Are your floors prepared for wear and tear, or will choose luxury options for their aesthetic appeal? Consider the following.

While you probably won’t be bowling on your floors, you may live in a home with a lot of guest foot traffic, kids playing, or pets running around. In this case, you are going to expose your floors to scratches; this requires a “harder” floor and finish (or a ridiculously laid-back attitude).

Is Hardwood Flooring Good for Homes with Kids and Pets? via @macwoods

On the contrary, if you have a lifestyle with more solitude, you might be able to afford to go with softer wood and a natural oil finish. If you require people to take their shoes off at the door, take precautions when moving furniture, your home isn’t prone to messes, and you expect things to stay this way, there’s no reason to worry yourself too much over potential scratching and stains.

Recommended reading for the best hardwood flooring care: 

Then, get Clear About Your Flooring Installation Budget:

While some homeowners consider hardwood flooring installation to be a DIY job, more often than not, they require professional installation. Whether you install the flooring yourself or hire someone to do that for you, be realistic about your budget. It’s always a possibility that you will end up spending more than you anticipate by the time everything is complete.

According to Home Advisor, the national average cost of installing hardwood in 2018 is $4,415. But this can vary tremendously based on the project.

What to consider when you set your hardwood flooring budget:

  • Cost per square foot of flooring
  • Size of the project area
  • Subfloor, joists, and other structural materials
  • Floor finish
  • Molding replacement
  • Professional labor costs
  • Future flooring repair & replacement costs

In addition to the installation (all materials and labor), you must consider the cost of repair and replacement for your hardwood floors. So, while you may have the initial budget for an exotic species like Padauk, think about whether you will have the funds to repair or replace a more expensive floor in the future, should you have to. If you have to refinance your home to pay for new floors, it may be best to choose an option that is on the conservative side of the price scale. 

Recommended reading to set your hardwood flooring budget:

After that, Consider Solid, Prefinished, Engineered, and Laminate Flooring Options:

There are three main hardwood flooring options: solid, engineered, laminate, and prefinished. Here are the similarities and differences.

Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid hardwood is the term used for planks of wood, cut directly from the tree — it is precisely what you think it would be; this is the flooring that has been around for ages. It is the most natural and customizable type of hardwood flooring. If you choose this option, you can have any wood species, stain and flooring finish you like. The only downside is that, in general, it can be slightly more prone to damage than your other options and typically more expensive. It would be the obvious choice for any luxury home and is the only type of wood flooring that can be refinished.

Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

A convenient option for homeowners is to choose prefinished flooring. Again, this is precisely what you might think it is: hardwood flooring planks that are finished prior to installation. Both engineered and solid hardwood, exotic and common species come in pre-finished options. The upsides are that installation takes less time, you will be able to walk on your floors sooner, and you will not have to inhale sometimes toxic VOCs of polyurethane finishes. It can be more expensive than unfinished planks, but that is usually made up for by negating the final step of installation. It might be difficult to find high-end species, yet many people still consider this the best hardwood flooring option.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring 

Not to be confused with laminate flooring, engineered hardwood flooring is a semi man-made product. However, it is made from several layers of real wood. The top layer is a piece of solid wood lamella, and it is most often prefinished. So, if you choose this option, colors and grains are preserved. At a glance, you won’t be able to tell the difference between solid and engineered hardwood, as you are basically left with the same color and appearance of natural wood flooring.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is another choice that many modern homeowners go with, especially in rentals or homes with small children. Homeowners with laminate flooring claim that it is extremely easy to keep clean. With laminate flooring, you don’t have the high risk of water damage. It is also less prone to sun damage and staining. But, there is a downside: it is obviously not wood. This option doesn’t leave you with the same unique grain variants and color evolution as many hardwood options.

And, Explore Common and Exotic Hardwood Species:

If you like the idea of solid wood flooring, it’s best to look at several different species. There are common American species like Oak, Maple, and Hickory, that you’ve probably already thought about. You should also look at exotic species like Australian Cypress, Merbau, or Burmese Teak. Here’s a brief breakdown of some of the most popular species that we work with to inform your journey to the best hardwood flooring.

Black Cherry:

Black Cherry Hardwood Flooring

The heartwood of Black Cherry is a stunning red-brown color and the sapwood ranges from pale to light brown with an almost pink tint. Rather than using this type of wood for an entire floor, it is usually used for accents and borders, creating a luxury decor feel. This species is more stable and softer than oak with a moderate hardness.


Birch Hardwood Flooring

Birch grain is generally wavy or curly but maintains an even, medium texture. The heartwood of Yellow Birch is usually red-brown while the sapwood is white or yellow. The heartwood of Sweet birch is generally dark brown with reddish tones and the sapwood is typically lighter. It is more stable than red oak and is known for absorbing shock.


Red Oak Hardwood Flooring

Oak grain is coarse with a flame or curvy pattern. White oak varies from light brown to off-white with hints of pink or gray and is naturally protected from many insects and fungi. Red oak has a strong, reddish tint and is slightly less durable than white oak, but is more likely to absorb shock. These are two of the most common species used in flooring. 


Heart Pine Hardwood Flooring via @macwoods

Southern Yellow Pine and Heart Pine (aka “Blue Pine”) are the two most common Pine species used in flooring. Heart Pine is yellow but contains occasional bluish-black sap stains. Southern Yellow Pine ranges in color from orange and light yellow to yellow and brown. It is known for its knotty grains and is much softer than its rival Oak flooring options.


Sugar Maple Hardwood via @macwoods

Sugar Maple is available in a myriad of colors. The sapwood can range from a creamy or pale white while the heartwood can be creamy white to reddish-brown. It has a closed fine, light grain and subtle appearance overall. Occasionally, on the higher end of the price scale, Maple grain presents quilted, “fiddleback,” or bird’s eye patterns.


Black Walnut Hardwood via @macwoods

Black Walnut, another common American hardwood species, contains a myriad of heartwood tones ranging from beautiful medium browns to almost purple hues. The straight, open grains can occasionally burl or curl, but for the most part, maintain a long brushstroke look.  It is softer but more stable than typical American Red Oak hardwood.

African Padauk:

African padauk Hardwood Flooring via @macwoods

African Padauk is a popular exotic hardwood flooring option, mostly because of the way it changes color over time. In the beginning, Padauk floors might be reddish-orange, but will darken to red and can eventually become purplish-brown to black with age. Padauk is significantly harder and more stable than oak, making this one of the most durable available flooring options.  


Merbau Hardwood Flooring via @macwoods

Merbau has medium to high color variants on each board. It is especially lustrous, with golden yellow streaks throughout. Like Padauk, it changes color with age, typically starting out reddish-orange and eventually turning dark reddish-brown. The sapwood is, however, much lighter than the heartwood. Merbau grain is coarse and either straight, interlocked, or wavy.

Australian Cypress:

Australian Cypress Hardwood Flooring via @macwoods

Australian Cypress is much more stable and slightly harder than Oak. The heartwood ranges from honey-gold to brown, and the sapwood is generally cream-colored. Cypress grain is generally closed, yet it can often resemble the knotty texture of Pine. While the stability is high, some movement can happen with Cypress after installation. 

Thai/ Burmese Teak:

Thai Burmese Teak Hardwood Flooring via @macwoods

Thai/ Burmese Teak sapwood is usually a light cream color. The heartwood ranges from dark, golden-brown to yellow-brown. Teak becomes richer in color when exposed to the sun, which is not typical of other hardwoods that often experience sun bleaching over time. It is more stable yet softer than Oak and has a straight, coarse grain with inconsistent texture.

Take a Closer Look at Wood Grains

Each floorboard will have a unique pattern in the wood grain, but there are some basic identifiers in the most common species used in hardwood flooring; one may be more appealing to you than others.

wood grain appearance via @macwoods

Maple, for example, has a fine, light pattern. Oak tends to have a classically beautiful grain pattern that resembles flames. Hickory grains generally have an interesting, jagged, peaked structure that resembles watercolor paintings. Cherry and mahogany, though unique in many other ways, usually have similar grain patterns in that they are non-directional and subtle. Walnut looks like someone painted long, straight brush strokes with various shades of brown on a flat surface. Each is gorgeous in their own way.

While this section is informative about hardwood species and their looks and qualities, this is not inclusive of everything you may want to know. Once you have an idea what you want, it is a good idea to further research species including Janka rating and how to protect hardwood floors from sun bleaching to learn more and make the best hardwood flooring decision. 

Finally, Understand Your Options for Hardwood Finishes:

While the grain examples above showcase various shades of brown, red, and yellow, the final color and luster of your floor will be dictated by the finish that you choose. If you aren’t set on prefinished or laminate floors, you should explore at least a few different finish options.

One of the first questions you might ask is, ‘Do I actually need to finish my floors?’ — wood is lovely on its own after all. The answer is ‘yes.’ If you install hardwood floors, you don’t necessarily have to stain them, but you do need to finish them. Otherwise, you risk exposure to damage and early aging.

Here are some of the most popular hardwood flooring finish options.

  • Wax Finish
  • Polyurethane Finish
  • Acid-Cured Finish
  • Moisture-Cured Urethane Sealer
  • Penetrating Oil Sealer

Each above item has pros and cons. Use this list to choose the best hardwood flooring finish based on your needs and wants.

Closing Self-Examination Questions to Choose the Best Hardwood Flooring:

As long as you remember that you should not install hardwood flooring in rooms where they will be exposed to water, you understand all of your options, and you are clear on your budget and preferences, you’re ready for the final self-exam. Here’s what you need to ask to make the best hardwood flooring decision:

  • In which rooms will you install hardwood flooring?
  • What will the foot traffic be like in these rooms?
  • Will you choose solid, engineered, laminate, or prefinished hardwood?
  • In which species are you most interested?
  • What type of hardwood finish do you want?
  • Does your budget match the hardwood flooring options you prefer?

And, when you know the answers to all of these questions, if you still don’t have your mind made up, consult an expert to help you make a final hardwood flooring decision. Or, check out bamboo flooring as an option. Our Denver flooring company, serving the community since 1986, provides the finest quality hardwood floors, service, and installation.

General Home Improvement Home Decor

Granite, Quartz, and Marble: Explore Your Kitchen Countertop Choices

Whether you choose granite, quartz, or marble — your kitchen countertop will have a significant impact on the style and functionality of your home. So, before deciding which material you want, go through these points; ask yourself, what is the final look I want?

Do you want a smooth, luxurious look or do you want something more casual? How much effort do you want to put in cleaning? Do you often host parties at home or do you rarely cook? These questions will help you decide if your countertop for your should be more luxurious or functional.

Home decor is about the mix of the latest trends with classic choices that can frequently be changed, but it is rare that people change or upgrade their kitchen that often. Your countertop is a long run investment, and therefore it has to be compatible with the many coming years.

Countertops are exposed to all kinds of substances, both organic and artificial, like water, salt, and detergents; this makes it crucial for them to be durable and enduring. Most common choices that people make are granite, quartz, and marble. Before making a decision, it is good to know the qualities of them all.

Choice #1: Granite Kitchen Countertops

The most preferred choice for countertops, granite is available in many colors like pink, brown, black, grey and even red. The material is most suited for people who want to opt only natural materials. This natural rock is found around the world and is known for its unique character and beauty. Granite has excellent resistance to heat and cold and is lightly porous to absorb some liquid.

However, this might result in getting stains easily on the light granites, but dark granite would be safe from that. Granite countertops are hard and do not break easily, which makes them an excellent long-term choice.

Choice #2: Quartz Kitchen Countertops

Although not a natural material, quartz is the closest humanmade material to them. Quartz gets its color from a resin binder combined with colorants. Quartz is quite similar to granite. One advantage that it has over granite is that it is a human-made material and offers a higher range of color choices; this gives you extensive choices even to combine and match with many other elements. The best property of this material is that it is non- porous and does not absorb any liquid, which makes quartz countertops look clean and new for a more extended period.

Choice #3: Marble Kitchen Countertops

If you want to go out of the way with style and opt for exceptional color choices like greens and grey, then marble is your ideal choice. A marble worktop gives a more furnished look, but at the same time, it requires great caution. It is soft and easily breakable. Marbles are also more porous, which can result in difficult-to-remove stains. Hence, marble countertops are often a decent choice for people who rarely indulge in cooking.

It can be concluded that the choice for your kitchen countertop depends primarily on your lifestyle. Yes, the look matters but it is mostly the functionality and the physical properties of the material that we should consider before making a potentially lifelong decision — Much like choosing the right hardwood floors.

General Home Improvement Hardwood Flooring

How to Choose Flooring When Building A New Construction Home

Choosing the floors for your new construction home can be so exciting. With a plethora of great options to choose from, and an opportunity to customize the look and feel of each room to your exact liking, starting from scratch is rewarding. However, exciting as it may be, there are often a mound of questions that come up.

When choosing a new floor, it is not only important to select a floor type that coincides with the furnishings, but it should also fit the unique needs of each space to ensure you get the most out of your flooring. Some flooring options and their benefits include:

When is Stone Flooring a Good Idea?

Stone Flooring

You’re probably accustomed to seeing stone pavers outdoors, but they can also be used to create a stunning, rustic indoor floor. Plus, they are available in a variety of styles, including marble, limestone, sandstone, and old stone, to suit various tastes.

In addition to providing a unique look for the interior of your home, stone floors offer many benefits:

  • Help keep allergens at bay.
  • Stay cool in warm temperatures.
  • Durable enough to withstand the vigor of daily life for years to come.
  • Easy to maintain.

Just sweep the floor each day to remove surface dirt and debris, which helps the stone maintain its effervescence. You should avoid applying cleansers directly on the flooring because this can cause discoloration.

What about Hardwood Flooring?

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood floors, available in solid hardwood and engineered wood, are a classic choice for their warmth and durability.

In fact, no matter which wood type you choose, it is sure to add a luxurious and inviting ambiance to your space, and they are available in various finishes to further add to their allure. They also come in different sizes, including wide planks, for added character.

However, hardwood floors are one of the most elegant flooring materials; therefore, you need to take special care to avoid damaging the floor. For instance, avoid dropping weighty objects on hardwood floors and never slide heavy furniture across the wood, which can lead to scrapes and dents.

You should regularly remove hard particles from the floor using a soft bristle broom, and avoid using harsh cleansers on the floor because it can dull its shine.

Is Laminate Flooring the Right Choice for You?

Laminate Flooring

Laminate floors provide the look of various flooring materials, including hardwood, stone, and brick, but at a fraction of the cost.

They are available in more textures, patterns, styles, and colors than traditional flooring, and they are more resistant to scratches, dents, and stains. However, you still need to take care to prevent spills and clean up liquids instantly to avoid warping and discoloration.

You should use a soft mop when cleaning the floor as it will help prevent hard particles from scratching the surface. You should also only use gentle cleaners diluted in water to clean the floor, which also helps protect the floor’s surface.

This is When You Should Choose Tile Flooring

Tile Flooring

Tile floors make an excellent choice for kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, and more, and they are available in a wide range of colors, sizes, styles, finishes, and faux finishes, including natural wood and natural stone, to complement various decors.

Tile floors provide a cost-effective choice over other types of flooring. They are a popular choice among many homeowners.

Maintaining tile floors is also easy. Just vacuum or sweep the floors to remove debris, and then be sure to clean the floor using a damp mop at least once weekly to maintain their look.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring, which is available in floor tiles and vinyl planks, provides a sleek and modern feel for a new construction home; this is suitable for a wide range of decor schemes. Vinyl floors are also available in various color combinations. And because they are waterproof and damage resistant, they provide a durable choice for high-traffic areas.

Regularly sweeping the floor and thoroughly rinsing the floor after mopping it can help keep vinyl floors free of detergent and dirt build-up, which can cause them to become lackluster over time.

Vinyl floors are also vulnerable to scratching, so avoid dragging heavy objects across the floor.

Finally, When is Carpet the Best Choice?


Carpet is a common choice for homeowners who want warmth and coziness in their space; it is available in a range of fabrics and colors to suit various tastes. Carpet provides noise reduction, which makes it an excellent choice for upper-level floors, hallways, and play areas.

To care for carpet flooring, you should first begin with a quality carpet, which helps ensure it wears well. Regularly vacuuming carpet will help the fibers from accumulating dirt (which can cause the rug to become dull and dank) in high-traffic areas.

You should have your carpets professionally cleaned at least once annually. This will keep the carpet in pristine condition for years to come. Fantastic Services Group can give tips and provide services for maintaining all types of flooring.  

In the end, when selecting flooring for your new construction home, you should be sure they complement your lifestyle. Also, they should go well with your decor. Ensure that you end up with stylish and functional flooring that you can be happy with for years. When in doubt, consult your builder’s exclusive interior designer or another flooring professional. Someone knowledgeable can recommend a selection that fits your needs.

General Home Improvement Hardwood Flooring Hardwood Maintenance Pets

Hardwood Flooring 101: Best Rooms, Tips for Pet-Owners, & General Maintenance

Choosing a room for your hardwood flooring is not that difficult. Hardwood flooring can withstand almost anything that you can do with it. The grains on hardwood are beautiful and can make your home look stunning. However, your floor should not take the limelight from the room itself. Hardwood should be used to enhance not to overshadow a room. But where is hardwood flooring most effectively installed? Here are some tips that you need to consider.

The Best (and Worst) Rooms for Hardwood Flooring

Before you start planning a new hardwood flooring installation, keep in mind why you might or might not want wood floors in specific rooms.

Here are the Best Rooms for Hardwood Floors:

  • Master Suite – with its luxurious and romantic appeal, hardwood flooring will enhance the atmosphere of love in this most crucial part of your house.
  • Home Office – your office at home will also take a more professional ambiance if the full grains and striking colors of hardwood adorn its floor.
  • Dining Room – hardwood flooring is also a choice floor for dining rooms. It will lend its characteristics to whatever atmosphere you want to imbue in this section of your house. If you want a more casual ambiance, you can choose thin-grained and light colored hardwood. But if you want a more elegant and formal appeal, choose wood species with concentrated grains and darker colors.
  • Living Room – you can also install hardwood flooring on your living room. With its wonderful play of colors and meandering wood grains, your flooring will be a conversation piece when your friends visit your place.
  • Den – you will be able to relax well with the soothing character and atmosphere that hardwood flooring will impart to your den. Reading a book, watching a TV show, or just plain relaxing on top of beautiful hardwood flooring will be something that you will always look forward to at the end of the day.

These are the Worst Rooms for Hardwood Flooring:

  • Bathroom – you cannot install hardwood flooring all over your house. There are at least two rooms where you shouldn’t install hardwood and the bathroom is one of them. Even the most durable and sturdiest exotic wood species can’t withstand the continuous onslaught of water and moisture.
  • Laundry Room – another room where you should avoid hardwood flooring for the same reason; this part of your house is exposed to the elements such as grime, dirt, spilled oil, detergents, and water — it is not the ideal domain for beautiful and expensive hardwood.

Hardwood Maintenance Tips for Pet Owners

Pets are the typical house inhabitants that do damage to house flooring. Even hardwood floors are not immune to their claws and their bites. To keep your pets from damaging your flooring, follow these simple maintenance tips:

  • Clip your dog’s nails, and your cat’s too if necessary – Dogs and cats are unusually fond of scratching the floor and to some extent. So, if you don’t clip their nails regularly, you will be the one that will ultimately pay for the damages that they will cause.
  • Get your pets their own beds – Buy an appropriate bed for each dog or cat that you own. Dogs usually sleep around twelve hours each day. Cats sleep even longer than dogs. So if you will train them to stay on their bed when sleeping, you will avoid scratches and bites on your hardwood flooring.

Step by Step: How to Get Scratches Out of Hardwood Flooring

However, if your pets have already left some scratches on your hardwood flooring, you can fix them by using a wood staining marker that will conceal the scratches. Here are the steps in using this marker.

  1. Clean the damaged spot or spots.
  2. Perform a spot test before applying the marker.
  3. If the spot test is successful, apply the concealing marker.
  4. Rub the stain into the scratches with a clean rag that is soaked with a paint thinner or mineral spirit.

Now, let us reveal how to pick the best hardwood floors for your home.

General Home Improvement

10 Home Improvements to Instantly Boost Your Property Value

This is a guest post contributed by Real Estate Advertising Network WorldWide, experts in home improvements and sales.  Here’s what they have to say about the best ways to increase your home’s value before you list. 

Home Improvement #1: Add an extra bathroom

Adding a bathroom is one of the top-rated home improvements you can choose to add a dash of value to your property. It adds more to the comfort meter but also attracts more eyes to your listing.

Unsure how you can make it happen?

Questioning whether there is enough space to fit an extra bathroom?

Believe it or not, there are always a few square feet you could utilize. It could be either an old closet or a more ambitious improvement like stealing space from two new rooms. If you can’t see the potential yourself, you could always ask a professional to assist you.

Home Improvement #2: Can’t add a new bathroom? Renovate what you have.

Is your bathroom dating all the way back to the 20th century? Well, we’re in the 21st for quite a while and if you haven’t done any renovations lately, adding a dash of modern looks and functionality will always tip the scale regarding value and price.

“If you don’t want to or you don’t have the budget nor time to gut the entire bathroom but, you can retile, repaint, install a few extra lighting fixtures or improve the ventilation. Having a recent renovation to your bathroom will be a huge plus regarding increasing the value of your property.” says the property expert Tom Davies “A few other great ideas are replacing countertops or installing a bit of extra shelving and hangers too.”.

Home Improvement #3: Let’s talk about tiles.

Worn out tiles will have a somewhat negative impact even though if your bathroom is still in great shape. That’s why going the extra mile to prepare your walls for tiling and retile will make the difference. 

Adding unique garage flooring can also make a huge impact on property value, especially for the handyman looking to use that space as a shop. Garage floor tiles can be installed in a day and can give your area a completely updated feel.

Home Improvement #4: Green thinking is fab.

Energy efficiency and low carbon buildings are not only nature-friendly but also business-friendly. You can install energy-efficient light bulbs, a motion sensor to reduce energy consumption, low-energy appliance, heating, smart AC’s and the list goes on. Other areas where you could introduce a greener way of living are your bathroom and kitchen. Reduce water usage by installing a smart toilet, shower head and sink faucets — plus, these are some of the easiest and cheapest home improvements you can make.

Another critical aspect of energy efficiency is heat and hydro insulation. Insulated properties will sell at a higher price and if properly managed, and that means return on investment.

Home Improvement #5: Get rid of old-looking floors: Sand or re-install.

Freshly-sanded hardwood or new tile floors will or add a considerable amount of value while tiles and laminate require less maintenance and are easier to clean. They tend to attract and hold on to less dirt, which is excellent leverage when trying to attract allergy sufferers. These are the type of buyers who are more likely to spend the extra bit you’re after.

Read more: This is How to Install Hardwood Floors Over Concrete?

Home Improvement #6: Equip an outdoor kitchen corner

Functionality and comfort are what luxury home buyers are always after. Being able to prepare a meal outside is an absolute win when it comes to adding more charms to your property. A great project suggested by James who is a professional bricklayer from Edinburgh is to fo a small masonry job and make room for a small refrigerator, sink, or pick the best BBQ for your particular case.  

When it comes to real estate, being able to offer an already-built kitchen corner, without appliances installed, will still tip the scale. Offer culinary arts in the fresh air, and any prospective buyer will appreciate your space. 

On top of having a kitchen corner, think about organizing a dining area nearby. You can make it en plain-air or, even better, inside a gazebo if the size of your backyard permits. A 10×10 soft top gazebo would do a good job here. It can make your outdoor space more welcoming and show the potential buyers its true capacity.

Soft top gazebos are easier to disassemble, so when it comes to selling, you do not have to leave the gazebo to the new owner unless you decide to use it as a bargaining chip in negotiations.

Home Improvement #7: Repaint the front door

This is one of the best home improvements that add value and won’t break the budget. The entrance of the property takes a crucial role in building impressions. The least you can do is add a fresh coat of paint, change the handle or maybe a dash of extra decoration such as metal fittings, engravings, or any of the countless other creative ideas, you’ll find on the web.

Home Improvement #8: How about a conversion?

Basements, lofts, and garages. Property conversions are a chore and fund consuming home improvement that is worth it. If you don’t have the strength to pull of a thorough renovation, bringing in the extra dash of functionality, such as hangers all over the garage walls, or a bit of plaster here and there can still do the trick.

Another great idea is to spruce up your terrace. Consider basic furnishings such as seating, a coffee table, and shelving.

Home Improvement #9: Take care of the overall curb appeal

If you’re after a sale, a photo of your property will be the first thing that a potential buyer will see. That’s why the curb appeal is crucial. Do you have a driveway? Make sure it’s well maintained and clean. Do you have trees in the garden? Take the time to prune. Refresh your mailbox, or even repaint the exterior.

Home Improvement #10: Install or repair underground sprinklers

Underground sprinklers set up on a timer can make a homeowner’s life so much easier. Sometimes, automatic sprinklers can be the tiebreaker when a buyer needs to choose between two different homes. After all, nobody worried about the stress of moving and undertaking a new mortgage wants to move hoses around or, even worse, tear up their yard to install an irrigation system. If you’re planning on selling, call your local sprinkler repair service and let them worry about it this instant property value booster.

Final Remarks

Boosting the value of your property can work in your favor in many ways, and the opportunities are out there for you to reach out and grab. Ranging from low-end budget home improvements, all the way to stable jobs with a substantial return on investment.