Cleaning Stone Floors

By Steve Cooper

Marble-EntryUnwelcome guests may be entering your home and damaging your stone floors. Small stones, tiny pebbles, sand and stone-hard grit sneak into your home on the bottom of shoes. These little invaders are your floor’s No. 1 enemies because they can easily scratch and mar elegant-looking stone.

Protect against such attacks by putting up defenses outside your front door. Put down industrial-strength mats with tough ribbing, which encourage visitors to scuff dirt from their shoes before crossing the threshold. Purchase mats that are 4 to 6 feet long, allowing guests ample opportunity to leave grit behind before they enter. Typical 2×3-foot doormats are too lightweight to handle the job. Put them at all entry doors and add a smaller mat inside as an added precaution. The best mats will also absorb significant amounts of water, so that isn’t tracked into your home either.

Having kept most of the worst outside, you also need to keep a close eye on the inside entrance area. Wet mop this area whenever dust, dirt, pebbles or stones collect on the floor. Mopping frequency depends on the amount of foot traffic and how well shoes are cleaned off at the entry. Tackling this as a once-a-week task is common.

When mopping, use a microfiber mop, instead of rayon. The newer material does a much more effective job taking up grit and water. Neutral pH cleaners are recommended for most stone because they will not harm the stone sealer. Remove as much of the water as possible to avoid streaking and clouding. Never use acidic cleaners containing lemon juice, vinegar or ammonia. Also avoid abrasive cleaners. All these may damage stone, particularly the softer varieties such as marble and limestone.

For more information on flooring visit the World Floor Covering Association’s Consumer Carpet & Flooring Guide.

DIY Room Designs…Don’t Go Too Far

By Annette Callari, Allied ASID; Chair Holder, Color Marketing Group

DIY_350It’s official.  I am married to a man who is addicted to the DIY Channel.  I enjoy the how-to programs, but on a limited basis. He (on the other hand) is under its spell and can watch for hours at a time.  For any professional designer watching, it’s impossible not to critique the finished interiors we are force-fed.  Most of the time, the designs are creative and spot-on as to good design theory.  But (someone has to say it) there are times when the finished design is a swing and a miss.

I can hear the DIY disciples screaming, “You can’t be serious.  That’s not possible.  It’s on TV after all, so it has to be good design.” All I can say is be wise and understand that it’s inevitable that everybody misses now and then.  I’ve seen model homes that also went too far in an effort to be creative. When you push color harmonies and design principles beyond the limits, that’s a recipe for bad design.

My fellow-ASID designers said it quite well — “DIY is creating unrealistic expectations from clients.  They see an entire design (and sometimes an entire house) come together in a week or less, so why can’t real-life designers do that?  Maybe because we don’t have a crew of 100 people off-camera working to get it done.  Maybe because manufacturers are stocking less inventory in these tough times, and back-orders are inevitable.  Maybe because we are dealing with real life and don’t have the advantage of “cut and edit” to make the design appear to be moving seamlessly.  And that’s just one angle that makes TV design pure fiction.

The other part of this is that these amazing TV shows make design look effortless, something that anyone can put together.  I assure you that there will be a difference between the DIY room designs you attempt on your own and the designs put together by a professional who has studied color and design principles for two, four, and in some cases five years.  It’s an intricate profession that takes knowledge, hard work, intense task management and thorough follow-up.  By the time I have completed just one design, I have a 4” binder notebook (tabs for each room) filled to capacity with sketches, specification sheets, vendor P.O.’s, and of course a master schedule to get things done IN SEQUENCE and efficiently.  Your professional designer already has a credible cache of craftsmen to call on to implement every facet of your design.  And THAT is why it’s not so easy to DIY.

I cannot give you specific numbers, but every designer I know has been on the receiving end of a call from a frustrated customer who gave the DIY method an honest try.  After creating a mess and spending too much time and $$$, they make the call for professional help.  My advice to readers would be this— if you are in need of a big design plan—one for your whole house—you will end up saving yourself time, money (truly) and throwing tools at your spouse, if you enlist the help of a professional designer.  Trying to take design too far all by yourself is treacherous territory.  Design should be an exciting and fun process, and the right “guide” will get you exactly where you want to go.

For more information on flooring visit the World Floor Covering Association’s Consumer Carpet & Flooring Guide.