floors and interiors


How to Remove Sharpie Markings From a Hardwood Floor

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No matter how careful we are accidents are an unavoidable part of life – especially if you throw little ones into the mix. So whether you dropped your sharpie with the lid off or your two year old was getting creative, you don’t need to despair. Despite what the advertisements might declare, sharpies don’t write on everything forever.

So how do you get stubborn sharpie off your beloved hardwood without damaging it? Try and of these methods:


This one might surprise you, but it works! Mix equal parts baking soda and toothpaste thoroughly then apply with a clean cloth to the stain; use a circular motion to scrub the marker gently. This may take a little while, so be patient. When the stain is removed clean the residue with soapy water and a clean cloth. You can use the original cloth to remove the toothpaste.

Dry Erase Maker

Another unexpected method, you can use a dry erase maker to get rid of permanent pen.  All you need to do is make sure the pen is dry erase and basically ‘color’ over the entirety of the stain. Leave for one minute then with a dry cloth or sponge wipe the marker – it should lift right up.

Magic Eraser

This is a more traditional choice – just wet the magic sponge then carefully scrub the stain in a circular motion (just as with the toothpaste). Continue until the stain is gone, then dry.

Nail Varnish Remover / Hairspray / Hand Sanitizer / WD40 / Isopropyl Alcohol

These options can work, but it’s important to test them in an inconspicuous area first as they can do damage to the wood. Place or spray your choice on a cloth and dab the area until the stain is lifted, rinse then pat dry.

Whichever method you decide, you should try and do it as soon as possible. The longer you leave the pen, the more it will soak into the wood and the more likely it will be to stain long-term.


Home Improvement: Hardwood or Carpet on Stairs?

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Stairs are tricky customers in the flooring world: they’re difficult to install, a struggle to clean, and are in a high traffic area. Plus, more than any other area in the home, safety is a concern. Then there’s the question of aesthetic; should you match your stairs to the rest of the house? Should there be a contrast?

With all this in mind it can be a toughie to decide what flooring is best, posing the age old question…hardwood or carpet?


There’s no denying hardwood is visually impressive, but sometimes looks aren’t everything. The big issue with hardwood stairs is they can be dangerous – they’re slippery and there’s nothing to cushion you if you do fall. If your home has sleepwalkers, children, pets, or seniors, it’s probably best to avoid the hardwood.

If your home isn’t host to the aforementioned, you’ll be happy to learn the advantages of hardwood stairs. They’re durable, strong, and have a long lifespan – especially if you maintain them regularly. They’re also easy to clean (just a quick dust and a mop) and hold less dust and allergens than carpet. If you’re concerned about safety but like the look of hardwood, you can purchase stair treads which are easily installed and provide extra grip and cushion.


Carpet is an obvious choice thanks to its many benefits: it quiets sound (particularly advantageous if you have people up and down the stairs regularly), insulates, comes in a variety of styles and materials, is less costly, and of course offers a higher degree of safety and comfort.

One big disadvantage of carpet is the wear and tear that happens overtime thanks to its location in the home, so it’s a good idea to invest a little more into your stair carpet. You can get tough, stain resistant materials that will hold the test of time – just remember to regularly vacuum your stairs bi-weekly, steam clean them four times a year, and spot clean regularly to avoid permanent stains working their way into the fibers.


Can You Lay Floor Tiles Without Grout?

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As a rule you should always lay tile with grout – if you don’t you run the risk of replacing them sooner than you might think. The fact is even though you might think tiles look better without grout, there’s a reason it’s used universally.

So What Does Grout Do?

The purpose of grout is to not only to secure the tiles to their position, but also to protect them from damage. It keeps the tiles rigid and the entirety of the area strong. Additionally although it may look like all tiles are exactly the same size and will fit together perfectly, in actuality they are often miniscule differences that grout helps to bridge. Grout is also used to ensure no foreign matter get in between the tiles – no matter how hard you try to fit them together there will always be space which will get filled with debris over time. There is also the problem of moisture getting underneath into the subfloor, which grout protects against. Finally, tiles will always move and as they rub together, they run the risk of cracking. In short if you don’t use grout, chances are your tiles will get ruined. Even having an extremely small amount of grouting will help your tiles a great deal, making them last longer and be stronger.

Tile Alternatives

If you really don’t want to use grout there are several alternatives to tiles you can consider. One option is waterproof wall panels, which are incredibly easy to maintain and durable. They come in a variety of different styles to complement your home, and are quick and easy to install. Another option you could consider is waterproof wallpaper – a relatively new product which is making waves in the décor world. You could also look into ‘pee and stick’ self-adhesive mosaics, which are super simple and fast to install, as well as being inexpensive.



Can I Repair Scrapes in a Hardwood Floor?

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Hardwood floors are the much coveted material of the flooring world. They are durable, stylish, luxurious… and have a price tag to match. This type of flooring is a labor of love, and responsible owners should regularly maintain it correctly in order to ensure its longevity. Unfortunately, no matter how much care and attention you give your flooring accidents can happen – but fear not! A scrape in your hardwood is actually not too difficult to repair, and your beautiful flooring will be as good as new in no time. Take a look at the following methods:

Use a Marker

This option is great for small scratches, and is an easy, inexpensive way to touch up your floor. The first thing you need to do is visit your local hardware store and see what options they have in way of color – be sure to take a picture to compare. It’s important to test the marker on an inconspicuous area first (like the corner of the room or underneath an item of furniture) Next you should wipe the area with a soft, damp, clean cloth to remove any debris, then all you need to do run the marker down the scrape a couple of times to ensure it’s fully disguised. It may look a little lighter than the wood, but don’t worry. To finish saturate the marker stain with a cloth soaked in a little mineral spirits, going with the grain of the wood. This will help the marker penetrate the scrape.

Protective Coating

Another option for minor scratches is to use varnish, sealant, or another type of protective coating. Again, you should ensure the area is clean by wiping it with a cloth (you don’t want to seal any dirt inside the scratch) then wait for it to dry. Finally apply the protective coating and leave to overnight.

Wood Filler

Finally if you have deeper scrapes wood filler is the way to go. Find a suitable product that best fits your flooring, then prepare the area by wiping with a soft, clean, cloth. Fill in the crevice generously using the wood filler – don’t worry if there’s excess filler when you’ve finished. Allow the filler to dry according to the manufactures instructions (usually around 24 hours) Finally use a putty knife to smooth and blend the filler into its surroundings, finishing with a sealant.


What Are the Best Ways to Clean Vinyl Floors?

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Vinyl floors are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their reasonable cost and durability. Another benefit of vinyl is how easy it can be cleaned, giving it longevity and meaning it requires little maintenance. That being said, it’s not indestructible and you still need to give it some TLC every now and again .

Let’s take a look at some of the top tips for cleaning vinyl floors:

Prevention is Better Than Cure

If you regularly sweep your floor of any debris or dirt, you’re going to give it a longer lease of live and lower the risk of abrasions. Have floor mats in doorways so dirt doesn’t have the chance to get in, and clean up any spills as soon as possible.

Treat it Kindly

Scrapes and tears can ruin vinyl, so treat it kindly and take precautions when needed. This means if you’re moving furniture ensure to pick not drag, and if you have heavier items try placing them on plywood. You should also invest in some vinyl coasters to place on the feet of furniture to prevent permanent indentations.

Clean it Well

  • Sweep or vacuum regularly. Be sure to get into the corners and close to the baseboards as these areas pick up the most dust. Do this before mopping.
  • Mop with a vinyl floor cleaner or make you own. Making your own eco-friendly cleaner is much cheaper than buying from the supermarket, and it works just as well if not better. All you need to do is combine a gallon of warm water with a cup of apple cider vinegar and hey presto! You have a great, non-abrasive cleaner without any build up that removes all traces of dirt. Add white vinegar if you need to disinfect anywhere, and a few drops of dish soap if you have an extra dirty floor to deal with. A fresh squeeze of lemon is also a nice idea if you enjoy fresh scents.


If you have stubborn stains that don’t want to lift, use specialized vinyl floor stain removers or try a sponge eraser (just remember to test on an inconspicuous area first)



How to Level a Concrete Floor

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Concrete floors are extremely durable, however even the hardiest of floors can develop problems. One of the most common complaints is that the concrete has settled unevenly, or there are dips in the surface. This is problematic if you wish to install new flooring, as it needs to be laid evenly.

Leveling concrete isn’t a particularly hard job, however you do need a fair amount of strength to lift and carry materials. You’ll also have to rent specialized equipment. If you don’t feel confident in your abilities, you of course have the option of hiring a contractor to complete the job.

Leveling a Concrete Floor

  1. Remove furniture and baseboards
  2. Sweep and clean the area. Use a mop and a mild cleaner, or a power washer if needed. Wait until it’s completely dry before going onto the next step
  3. Mark any areas that are visibly uneven with chalk, distinguishing between dips and high areas
  4. Mix a batch of concrete and use it to fill in the holes. Try to make it as even as possible and leave to dry
  5. Rent a concrete grinder if needed, grinding down any high spots whilst wearing the correct safety protection. Clean and allow to dry
  6. Add protection to any doorways (such as a strip of wood) so nothing leaks where it shouldn’t
  7. Use a self-leveling concrete primer – usually two coats are needed but check the instructions. Allow to dry
  8. Next mix self-leveling concrete resurfacer, ensuring to add dry mix to water. Mix as directed (usually with a paddle attached to a power drill) to the right consistency.
  9. Pour resurfacer starting at one end of the room, evenly and carefully. Pour across the narrowest width of the room steadily with a little overlap, ensuring you don’t get trapped in the process. It set quickly and needs to all be done at once, so ensue to make enough or have someone on resurfacer duty just in case
  10. Allow to set for at least two days

Perks of Bamboo Flooring

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Thinking of getting new flooring and not sure which direction to go in? Why not try something different and install bamboo!

Bamboo flooring is becoming an increasingly popular choice thanks to its many positive qualities. From architects to homeowners and contractors, more and more of us are choosing this type of flooring. Here are some of the reasons why:


Nowadays a product being sustainable is important to many consumers; we see it in the cars we drive and the food we buy. Bamboo is an eco-friendly choice that’s incredibly sustainable. It grows quickly in comparison to other woods, and when being farmed the root remains so it doesn’t need replanting.


Sometimes when we opt for eco-friendly choices the price gets hiked up – luckily that’s not the case with bamboo. The great thing about bamboo is you’re still getting a natural and aesthetically pleasing, luxurious product, but unlike traditional hardwoods you don’t have to pay through the nose for it.


It may surprise you to know that bamboo flooring offer a variety of different styles and shades. From light and airy pale tones to modern stone greys, you can easily find something to suit your décor. The way it’s constructed also makes a difference to the overall aesthetic (vertical, horizontal, woven etc.) as does the finish you choose.


Even though bamboo is technically a grass it still holds an admirable amount of strength – in fact it’s twice as hard as oak! This makes it a great option for high traffic areas in both domestic and commercial buildings.


Another great advantage bamboo offers is its dimensional stability. This means it can readily cope with alterations in both temperature and humidity. This makes it a viable choice for rooms with under floor heating, bathrooms, conservatories, basements etc.


The final perk of bamboo is the relative ease it offers. It’s super easy to install (you can even have it as a floating floor) and it doesn’t require a huge amount of maintenance in comparison to other wooden flooring.


How to Repair White Concrete Floor

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White concrete floors have traditionally been thought of as an option just for industrial or commercial properties, but recently more and more homeowners have been installing this chic material to give their rooms a sophisticated, modern edge.

In the past concrete was seen as the base to cover, whereas now many people are seeing the benefits (both aesthetically and functionally) of treating it as the flooring itself. The practical advantages of this material are numerous, and include:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Strength
  • Durability
  • Speed of installation
  • Easy to maintain
  • Fire and damp resistance

The above are the very reasons why concrete has been used for years as the base for lot of other types of flooring, but what about aesthetics? Well nowadays many companies offer stylish options to add to the décor of your home or business. One of the most popular is to have white concrete installed, but there is also a huge variety of colors and finishes available.

So you have your beautiful white concrete floor installed, but after a while wear and tear takes its toll. Concrete flooring is designed to be durable, so if early on your flooring seems to be in need of maintenance you should speak with your contractors as it may be a sign something under the flooring needs fixing.

If you need to make a repair to your concrete flooring, you can easily find a variety of concrete patchers at your local hardware store. If you’re unsure of which is best, do some research beforehand or speak to an employee and see what they recommend.

Use the following steps to make your repair as smooth and hardy as possible:

  1. Clean the area, removing all grease, loose dirt, grit, and flaking concrete – do this by using a hammer and chisel.
  2. Use a soft bristle brush to scrub as needed.
  3. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.
  4. Using a trowel, mix the concrete patcher thoroughly.
  5. Spread the mixture carefully using the trowel, ensuring it is level with the rest of the floor. Using a wet trowel will keep the product smooth.
  6. If the repair is deep, do not attempt to fill it all at once. Apply in several layers, ensuring each is dry.
  7. The products tend to take a few hours to dry – even if it looks dry on the surface it may not be the case. Give the patcher at least 2 hours to harden.



Is It Worth the Cost to Rent a Floor Sander?

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While renting a floor sander is a much more affordable option than hiring a contractor to help you refinish your floor, is it worth it? Having a professional complete the work means you know it will be finished to a high level, however if you have some skill, a little patience, and do some research, you can cut costs considerably by renting a floor sander and completing the job yourself.

You should bear in mind that this isn’t a job you should rush, so you might well have to rent it for several days in order to ensure the job gets done right.  Also make sure to check if your floor can be sanded – you’d be surprised by how many people forget to do this! If you don’t feel confident in your sanding abilities, then the best advice would be not to risk it – paying for brand new flooring to be installed is going to be more expensive than hiring a contractor or a few days.

If you do decide you can handle the sander you’ll usually be renting two pieces of equipment: the large drum sander and the edger. Check out the following tips:

Keep Moving

You need a steady pace when using the sander so keep moving – if you stop in the same place you can cause an unsightly dip. That being said, it’s not a race. Take your time and move with the machine.

Be Methodical

It will be easier for you to work out a system and stick to it, to do so minimizes the risk of missing spots. You shouldn’t turn with the drum machine like you would a vacuum cleaner – only ever go in straight lines. Overlap a little on your path to ensure you cover the entire area (this is true for the edge sander too)

Use a Pencil on the Edges

If you mark the edge of the entire room with a pencil, you can then clearly see where you have and haven’t sanded.

Keep Safe

Always wear a dust mask and safety glasses, and empty the bags when they’re a third full as they’re a fire hazard. Rest as often as you need and don’t apply any extra pressure to the drum sander – its own weight is enough.

Ask for Help

If you haven’t used a floor sander, ask the employees at the rental for any tips. You can also ask them to show you how to install the sandpaper, and get them to put the first piece on for you.


What Stain or Sealer Do I Use to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

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Hardwood flooring requires regular maintenance to keep it looking its best – it has a long lifespan but needs some TLC right from the start and frequently along the way. The longevity and condition of your hardwood flooring will be greatly affected by the type of stain or sealer you choose to treat it with. There are several types to choose from, resulting in different benefits, lifespans, and aesthetics.

It’s important to note the difference between stain and seal, so be sure to speak with an expert to check what your floor needs. Staining can be a tricky business and some types of flooring are not made to be stained – in fact it can sometimes actually make scratches and imperfections more visible.

If your floor needs to be stained, opt for a wood or stain conditioner which is designed to control penetration or to use gel stains. An alternative is to try a dye, but whatever you do ensure to speak with a professional first as the last thing you want to do is ruin your beautiful hardwood.

When it comes to sealing (which helps to protect the floor) you have several options. Here are three of our favorites:

1. Varnish

Our first choice is one you’ve probably heard of and it comes in a variety of different possibilities, ranging from super matte to startlingly glossy. The general rule is the higher the gloss, the more durable the varnish.

2. Polyurethane

This can be either oil or water based and is one of the most popular sealers. This is a good option for high-traffic areas, but can be tough to repair and tends to darken the wood. That being said it’s very easy to clean.

3. Oil Sealer

Oil sealer is a good choice if you’re intending to do the sealant job yourself. It’s easy to apply and is great at enhancing the natural shades in the wood, bringing a more natural look to flooring. It isn’t as strong as some of the other options and requires several coats every five years.