Home ownership, while satisfying and wonderful, is not always glorious. Things go wrong occasionally.
So it is comforting to know that new products and ways of doing things are constantly coming down the pipeline to solve myriad home-related issues.
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The devastation to basement and lower level family rooms and recreation rooms caused by torrents of rain like we experienced last April can now be substantially lessened, for instance, thanks to Karndean, a United Kingdom-based company which supplies realistic wood and stone-effect flooring made of vinyl.
"We sold a ton of this last spring because Karndean has made significant progress in the way the floor is installed," explained Mike West, president of Century Tile (www.century-tile.com), a Chicago-based, family-owned firm with 12 stores around the area.
"It doesn't have to be glued down because it has a nonskid backing that you just lay down and it doesn't move," he said. "You don't need a professional to lay it and if a room floods, you just pick up the wood-look planks or the ceramic-look tiles, wash and dry them and then lay them back down once the surface has thoroughly dried too. You can just cut it with a putty knife to make it fit the space."
Once the floor is installed, you cannot tell that it is anything other than wood or ceramic and, depending on the size of the room, it only takes a couple of hours to install with no adhesive involved.
"These floors are ideal for people who rent," added Elaine Carlson, Century Tile's vice president/general manager. "They can cover the hard surface floor of their rental without damaging the original floor. The neat part of it is that when they decide to move, they can pick up the floor and lay it down in a new room. This practice is common in Europe, but even though this floor is easy to remove, it works for long-term installations, too."
The wood-look and ceramic-look planks and tiles can even be mixed on the same floor for a custom look in your home, Carlson said, and if a piece of the flooring somehow becomes damaged, replacement is a breeze.
Another problem area where technology has made great strides in recent years is in the production of totally custom interior doors to replace outdated and ill-fitting doors on rooms and closets.
"Any house settles over its life, especially during the first 10 years. That natural process leaves homeowners with door openings that are no longer perfectly square, causing doors to rub or to not close perfectly anymore," explained Dan Teuscher, owner of HomeStory Chicago, based in Elk Grove Village (847-258-3417 or www.HomeStoryChicago.com).
Until recently, however, the mess and expense involved in replacing a home's interior doors served as a deterrent to making that change. Doors had to be cut, planed and then painted on site. It was an expensive, time-consuming and messy process, so homeowners just lived with less-than-perfect doors.
Homeowners also ran into problems when they replaced carpeting with hardwood floors, leaving them with large gaps at the bottoms of their doors.
"You could practically serve dinner under those doors," Teuscher quipped about doors which remind one of flood pants.
HomeStory Chicago's new computer technology allows them to precisely measure the existing geometry of each door opening, using 13 different reference points, and then doors are made in the factory on an automated door machine so that they fit perfectly. They are also painted or stained in the factory so that the homeowner doesn't need to endure the mess and fumes.
That factory finish holds up better to the wear and tear caused by children and pets and you will never see brush or roller marks since it is spray-applied.
The majority HomeStory Chicago doors are solid core, made of medium density fiberboard. MDF is more durable than wood, according to Teuscher. Wood doors and hollow core doors are also available, as are louvered doors and doors with inlaid glass. Arched doors, however, are not available.
"While we offer a variety of paint colors and stain finishes, most people today seem to be trading out their oak for white doors and trim. A few accent color doors are also being chosen. Mirrored doors in which the mirrors are inlaid into the door, not just attached to it, are also very popular, especially for closets. Our doors can also be installed as sliders, not just on hinges," he said.