Home Improvement

Benefits of Replacement Windows

Purchasing new Replacement Windows Massachusetts can bring several benefits to your home. Besides being more accessible to open and close, they also provide a refreshed look that enhances your home’s curb appeal.

Replacement Windows

In addition, new replacement windows can help reduce noise pollution from street traffic, heavy equipment, trains, or planes — which can harm your health.

Energy efficient windows are designed to minimize heat transfer from the outside to the inside of your home. They help to keep your house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, thus reducing your heating and cooling costs. Also, they are designed to reduce noise and block harmful UV rays from the sun.

Old, leaky or poorly-sealed windows allow drafts to creep into your living space making it difficult to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature throughout the seasons. New replacement windows create a tight seal to prevent air leaks and keep climate-controlled air in your home while keeping outdoor elements out.

Choosing replacement windows that are properly installed is crucial to achieving maximum energy efficiency. You can also maximize the energy efficiency of your replacement windows by choosing a window with a low U-factor rating and durable construction.

You can further boost your home’s energy efficiency by choosing argon-filled dual or triple paned windows. By trapping argon gas between the panes, this technology helps to reduce heat transfer and reduces condensation and UV radiation in your home. This can lower your energy bills and provide a healthier home environment for you and your family.

Replacement windows can be installed into existing frames or you can choose a full frame replacement. A full frame replacement involves removing the old window, frame and moldings to replace them with a new one. This option is ideal when your existing window frames and woodwork are in good condition. On the other hand, pocket replacement windows are installed into existing frames and don’t require changing any of your existing framing or woodwork.

Increased Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is one of the most affordable ways to boost your home’s value and improve its appearance. Start by putting yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer and walking around your home to identify areas that could use a little TLC. These may seem like minor details, but they will have a major impact on the way potential buyers perceive your property.

One of the easiest ways to add curb appeal is by replacing old doors and windows with new, attractive ones. Replace outdated glass with modern energy efficient options that are easy to clean and will keep your home warm and secure year-round. You can also increase the appeal of your entryway by giving it a fresh coat of paint or adding custom wood door fixtures. A few well-chosen plants arranged around the front door can give your entrance a welcoming look that will be sure to turn heads.

Another affordable but effective curb appeal tip is to add a water feature, such as a fountain, to your yard. The soothing sound of gurgling water is calming and helps to cool your surroundings. Whether placed in a garden, flower bed or in the parking strip in front of your house, the added visual and aural appeal will help to elevate your home’s curb appeal.

You can also make your landscaping pop by adding a few structures at the beginning of your driveway or porch, such as an arbor, trellis, gate or pair of columns with planters. Then fill them with blooming flowers for the season to create a fresh and verdant look that will entice people to take a closer look at your home.

If you are considering upgrading your windows, the best option is to choose new construction windows. These windows are installed without removing the original frame or siding and can be used in both existing homes and new additions. They offer more design flexibility than replacement windows because they can be used to change the window size, style or shape and allow for more natural light.

Increased Home Value

If you’re looking to increase the value of your home, there are a variety of ways to do so. However, many of these renovations can be expensive and time-consuming.

The good news is that you can get a great return on investment by installing Replacement Windows. In fact, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value Report, homeowners can recoup around 72% of the cost of their new windows.

There are several factors that contribute to the recoupment of window costs, including energy savings and curb appeal. However, one of the biggest factors is how high-quality your windows are. When homeowners purchase quality windows, they are able to save money on their monthly utility bills and enjoy a beautiful view from their home. These savings can add up over the years, which is why it’s important to choose high-quality windows that offer a long life.

In addition, you can also improve your recoupment by taking advantage of available incentives. For example, many local utility companies offer a rebate for ENERGY STAR windows. You can find out about available incentives in your area by visiting the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).

Not only do energy-efficient windows reduce your energy bills, but they can also increase your home’s value. Homeowners are increasingly seeking homes with these features, especially since they can save them thousands of dollars a year on electricity bills. Additionally, these windows can help to protect your home from crime, as they are more difficult for criminals to break into.

There are a number of ways to improve the value of your home, from a fresh coat of paint to a full kitchen remodel. But if you want to see an immediate return on your investment, there is no better option than replacing your old windows with Replacement Windows. You’ll enjoy the increased comfort and beauty of your home, and you can rest assured that you’ll be able to recoup your costs when you decide to sell your house.

Reduced Noise

Your home should be a sanctuary, where you can relax and recharge after a long day. However, outside noises such as passing cars, honking horns, lawn mowers and garbage trucks can interfere with your peace of mind and cause stress. Fortunately, new windows can help reduce unwanted sound from entering your home. By replacing your old, single-pane windows with insulated double or triple panes, you can drastically cut down on outside noise.

A single-pane window contains no air between the glass, which allows outdoor noises to easily vibrate through the pane and into your home. Replacement windows with double-panes are thicker and more tightly sealed, significantly reducing outdoor noises. Additionally, double or triple-pane windows can also include denser gases, such as argon, between each pane. These gasses do not only improve your home’s energy efficiency, but they can muffle and “cushion” the soundwaves as they pass through the window system, preventing them from entering your home.

Other features found in replacement windows can further help reduce noise, such as an acoustic coating and insulation. Renewal by Andersen windows, for example, have a high Sound Transition Class rating, significantly lowering the amount of noise that can enter your home through its windows.

Another way to cut down on outside noise is by adding barriers, such as hedges or a fence, that can help absorb and reject excess soundwaves before they reach your window. Additionally, installing cellular shades can further minimize the amount of outside noise that comes through your windows.

While replacing your older windows can greatly improve the noise level in your home, it is important to choose a reliable contractor who will install your new windows properly and use durable weatherstripping and sealant to minimize air leaks that could impact how much noise your windows reduce. Your installer can recommend the best window options for your home, including acoustic and energy-efficient replacement windows that can drastically reduce outside noise.

Home Improvement

For Expert Advice On Internet Marketing, This Article Has It All



Internet marketing has so much untapped potential for businesses. Even a Facebook page can bring an unbelievable amount of traffic to your business and get your name out there among potential customers. There is no limit to the possibilities. This article can help you tap the potential of Internet marketing and harness the power for your business.


To best increase traffic and interest in your website, make sure that it loads quickly. All of the pages on your site should load in no more than ten seconds. Optimally, your site should load in no more than six seconds. If this means splitting up product pages or reducing the image content of your site, do it.


Joint ventures are a great way to build your business. By joining up with another internet marketer whose products or services complement your own, you create a group that is more palatable to customers because they are getting twice the services or products. You and your partner benefit from each other’s clientele.


Try using multiple domains with your website. This is especially helpful if your site covers multiple topics since search results generally preview one or two pages from your domain. This way can ensure that you can be found and that you attract more traffic. This can also help you get more listings via directories.


To find interesting products, you can use sites like CB Engine. CB Engine lists new products from Clickbank and ranks the best-selling products. Clickbank has a huge selection of products: browse through it to find something to get started with and then, additional products to sell to the same niche.


As already mentioned, Internet marketing has so much potential available for your business. For a small investment or even for free, you can reach out to customers and bring them to your business in droves. By taking action with the information contained in this article, you can reach out and tap that potential for your business.


You can also visit our other website and post your article.


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Home Improvement

Smart Home: A Brainier Backyard

Summer 2021, Smart Home, smart lights
Turn these smart lights on from a phone, and use them as patio lights or tuck them into garden beds. | Courtesy Ring

As smart tech aimed at outdoor living evolves, the range of tasks it can handle—from lighting the patio to freeing you from the grill to robo-mowing the grass—is more impressive than ever.

This article appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of This Old House MagazineClick here to learn how to subscribe

Months of social distancing have made outdoor spaces more central to our lives than ever before. So this might be the season to double down on smart home tech designed to make outdoor living and entertaining simpler, easier, and more enjoyable—allowing you to take your playlists to the backyard, tend the grill from afar, and dim the string lights for dinner with a voice command or smartphone app. The best devices give you the same level of control from a lawn chair that you’re used to having from your family room couch.

Using smart home technology outdoors isn’t a novel idea—you’ve probably taken a smart speaker out to the deck to crank up some tunes—but this new gear was designed with outdoor use in mind. That means it comes in a durable, weather-
resistant build made to survive the elements, and in many cases with rechargeable batteries that untether you from an outlet. Ideally, the smart devices in a backyard mix are easy to set up and to control with either your phone or the virtual assistant you already use inside. Here are a few of our favorites.

Summer 2021, Smart Home, smart projector

Dinner and a Movie

Film screener

Not much bigger than a soda can, this portable projector casts a 100-inch picture onto a screen or wall (or, in a pinch, a bedsheet) for open-air movie nights. Stream up to 4 hours of Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu—or download to its internal hard drive when Wi-Fi isn’t available.
Anker Nebula Apollo Projector, $350; Nebula

Summer 2021, Smart Home, cooler

Flex-temp cooler

A refrigerator is a luxury in an outdoor kitchen, but this portable electric cooler might just be more versatile—it can freeze down to −7°F when plugged in. And its 36-liter capacity fits more than you’d expect, since no ice pack is needed. Monitor and set temps from your smartphone.
Dometic CFX3 35 Powered Cooler, $900; Dometic

Summer 2021, Smart Home, pellet grill

Clever cooker

At one time, low-and-slow barbecue required minding a grill or smoker for hours—even overnight—to regulate the temperature. But once you sync this pellet cooker to your Wi-Fi, making those adjustments, and checking the temp of the food inside, happens from your phone, whether you’re indoors on the sofa or across town.
Traeger Pro 575 Pellet Grill, $800; Traeger

Summer 2021, Smart Home, wireless hub

Wireless hub

This thermos-size smart speaker works with Alexa and the Google Assistant to control your other connected devices while cranking tunes during dinner. Its rugged, splash-proof body protects against drops, so you won’t have to baby it. Connect through Bluetooth when you’re away from Wi-Fi—say, at the beach.
Bose Portable Smart Speaker, $350; Bose

Summer 2021, Smart Home, smart light/speaker

Light Up the Night

Sound-light combo

A touch-sensitive ring on this 8½-inch-tall outdoor-rated lantern controls the brightness and the volume of the built-in Bluetooth speaker. Delivers 15 hours of diffused, warm light and tunes per charge.
Pablo UMA Mini, $299; Pablo Store

Summer 2021, Smart Home, smart plug

Easy switch

This weatherproof outdoor plug turns any standard set of string lights into a smart one that you can control from your phone. It requires Lutron’s Smart Bridge ($80), which uses a low-frequency wireless band to sidestep spotty Wi-Fi; or sync it with a virtual assistant’s app for voice control.
Caséta by Lutron Outdoor Smart Plug, $80; Caséta

Summer 2021, Smart Home, smart light

Patio pillar

Line a path or an outdoor room with these solar-powered LED fixtures for up to 6 hours of soft, white light, using Dusk to Dawn mode. No wiring needed; just pop them in the ground. Connect them to Wi-Fi with a bridge ($50), then turn them on or off, or adjust the brightness, from a smartphone—or ask Alexa to do it.
Ring Solar Pathlight, $35; Ring

Summer 2021, Smart Home, smart sprinkler controller

Less work, better lawn

Precision watering

Traditional irrigation controllers, with their gaggles of dials and switches, can be confusing to use. This one avoids all that with an intuitive smartphone dashboard. Wiring is DIY-friendly, and the controller uses Wi-Fi to find local weather updates so it won’t waste water if rain is on the way.
Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller, from $230; Rachio

Summer 2021, Smart Home, robot mower

Turf service

This robotic mower keeps lawns as large as ¼ acre manicured, freeing up your weekends. It’s quiet enough to run at night; schedule it so you wake to freshly cut turf. Onboard controls are easy to use, or operate it via a smartphone through a cellular network—perfect for those remote corners of the yard that Wi-Fi can’t reach.
Stihl iMow RMI 422 PC-L, $1,900; Stihl

TOH Pro Tip

“If your mesh network has satellites, plug one in by your patio or deck, or move it to an interior wall nearby, for better Wi-Fi. Just remember to take the satellite with you when you go inside—they’re not designed to handle rain or harsh sun.” —Ross Trethewey,home technology expert

Blanket Your Yard in Wi-Fi

Even the latest, greatest outdoor smart tech won’t work well if your home’s Wi-Fi network can’t reach it. Sure, moving an indoor satellite to a nearby wall, or even outside, can help. But for complete coverage, add a weather-resistant outdoor satellite extender, like the Orbi Tri-band Mesh WiFi Outdoor Satellite Range Extender ($350; Netgear), which can live outside year-round. Plugged in to an outlet and linked to your main router, it’ll add up to 2,500 square feet of coverage. Remember, a satellite sends out signals in all directions; for the best coverage, be sure to center it in your backyard, or mount it on a wall or fence post.

Home Improvement

Save This Old House: Colonial Revival with an Added Cottage

Summer 2021, Save TOH, exterior front
Courtesy Preservation NC

See this classic with good bones,­ and a cottage!

This article appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of This Old House MagazineClick here to learn how to subscribe

bout This House

Originally built in the Greek Revival style in the 1840s, and attributed to noted local carpenter Jacob Holt, this spacious house was remodeled as a Colonial Revival in the 1920s, when it gained its fine brick cladding and a front porch, now long gone.

At that time it became home to Eugene Allen, the prominent owner of a building supply company, and his wife, Florence.

It eventually passed to the Allens’ socially active, civic-minded daughter, Louise, who lived there until 2006, when the house was sold.

Shown: The symmetrical facade of the 2,992-square-foot house is in keeping with both the Greek Revival and Colonial Revival styles. The brick front and dentiled cornice were added in the early 20th century.

Why Save It?

Summer 2021, Save TOH, staircase, fireplace
Courtesy Preservation NCThe four-bedroom, three-bath house retains original 19th-century features inside, including Greek Revival–style fireplace mantels and dog-ear casings. The graceful double staircase and a sunroom remain, as do the exterior brickwork and dentiled cornice, all added in the early 20th century.

As a bonus, the house also comes with a charming Craftsman-style cottage that dates to the 1930s and might last have been updated in the 1950s.

The houses sit on an acre and a half in the town’s picturesque historic district. An hour’s drive from Raleigh, and known as a welcoming small town, Warrenton has become a popular weekend getaway.

Shown above, left: Turned balusters and handrail volutes distinguish the double staircase.

Shown above, right: One of five fireplaces in the house, with its original Greek Revival mantel.

What It Needs

Summer 2021, Save TOH, extra cottage
Courtesy Preservation NCWhile the main house is structurally sound, it requires a total rehab, including all new mechanical systems, a modern kitchen, and bathrooms. The front porch could be reconstructed from historical photos. Inside, the front rooms’ plaster walls and wood floors are in fair condition, but the back of the house shows signs of water damage. Restoration covenants do apply, and state tax credits are available.

Located in a vibrant community, this unique “twofer” just awaits an energetic old-house lover—and guests!

Shown above: The property’s 1930s Craftsman-style cottage is laid out with two rooms and one bath in about 1,200 square feet. Once updated, it could make a fine home office, guest house, or in-law apartment.

Summer 2021, Save TOH, archival photo
Courtesy Preservation NCThis archival photo shows the house’s front porch, added in the early 20th century. Its footings remain in place.

Summer 2021, Save TOH, bathroom
Courtesy Preservation NCThe second-floor bath’s fixtures probably date to the 1930s.

Summer 2021, Save TOH, staircase
Courtesy Preservation NCThis entry staircase rises from the front foyer, where one of the parlors can be glimpsed.

Summer 2021, Save TOH, parlor fireplace
Courtesy Preservation NCPeeling paint reveals layers of previous wall finishes in one of two large first-floor parlors.

Summer 2021, Save TOH, door casing, cottage gable
Courtesy Preservation NCLeft: This dog-ear door casing is an example of the house’s original Greek Revival–style woodwork.

Right: Wavy glass in the cottage’s windows is likely original.

n Additional Historical Note

The lot on which this house sits is the site of an even earlier 19th-century home erected by builder Thomas Bragg for his family’s use. Three of Bragg’s children rose to national prominence, among them Braxton Bragg, a Confederate army general during the Civil War. After the war, the Bragg house was owned by Harry Plummer, a notable Black attorney, who for many years rented it to a former slave and respected community member, Albert Burgess, and his wife, Annie. Local historians report that the original Bragg family home was moved two lots to the south in the latter half of the 19th century. This remaining 1840s brick-clad structure was a later front addition to the Bragg house, made after the family had moved on.

House Stats

Interested in saving this old house?

Price: $35,000
Location: Warrantor, NC
Contact: Cathleen Turner, Preservation North Carolina; [email protected]

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Home Improvement

All About Plunge Pools


Backyard plunge pool surrounded by green landscaping and two lounge chairs.
Trina Curci/Courtesy Molly Wood Garden Design

Wading in the water in a backyard meant having a massive swimming pool or settling for a scant hot tub. But plunge pools fill the middle ground, give a splash of fun, and offer relaxation in smaller yards.

Ask any kid who grew up with a pool, and they’ll tell you there’s no such thing as a bad one. Typically, if you wanted to take a dip in the backyard, you had two options: an in-ground or above-ground pool. The size of these pools, which start around 14×28 feet for an in-ground one and 12 feet in diameter for an above-ground one, come with a high cost and plenty of routine maintenance. That has given way to the popularity of the plunge pool.

For homes with smaller lots, a plunge pool gives you the cooling, relaxing benefits of a traditional pool, but on a smaller scale. Like traditional pools, plunge pools can be outfitted with bells and whistles like lighting, built-in stairs, jets, and water features. They use the same filter equipment and can be saltwater or chlorinated. The smaller size also means plunge pools are not only less expensive to buy than full-sized ones, but they cost less to maintain; fewer chemicals are required, and if you choose to heat a plunge pool with a supplemental heat source, the water comes up to temperature faster, saving fuel. Here we dig into the basics of plunge pools.

What is a Plunge Pool?

Smaller than a traditional pool, a plunge pool—sometimes called a digging pool—is just deep enough for lounging and cooling off, rather than doing laps or playing Marco Polo. While they’re not ideal for active games, they can be great for low-impact water exercise and rehabilitation.

How big are plunge pools?

Because they can be built on-site like traditional pools, the size can vary widely. But plunge pools typically run from 6 1/2 to 10 feet wide and 10 to 22 feet long. The depth ranges from 5 1/2 to 7 feet, and the bottom is almost always flat. A plunge pool that’s 10×20 feet is a popular size. Pre-cast or pre-fabricated models can start as small as 7×13 feet at 5 feet deep.

How are plunge pools made?

Like traditional pools, plunge pools can be custom made in your backyard or manufactured off-site. Custom versions are usually made by forming the earth, then covering it with a vinyl liner for an in-ground look. Pre-cast versions made off-site from fiberglass, concrete, or sometimes metal, like stainless steel or copper, get craned into your yard, and dropped into an excavated hole. There are above-ground plunge pools made from concrete or fiberglass, as well. Another popular option is a semi-in-ground plunge pool where the top 12 to 18 inches are above grade. Once finished, usually in stone, this allows for a short sitting wall around the pool.

Types of Plunge Pools

While they can take the form of any regular pool—oval, round, or rectangular—a rectangular version is often the most space efficient. Any style can be fitted with features like stairs, a sitting ledge, or a splash pad, but it’s often easier to get those elements in a pre-made version.

Cost of Plunge Pools

As with all home improvement projects, prices for materials and labor vary. A small plunge pool can cost $10,000 to $25,000 or more. A ballpark figure for installing an in-ground plunge pool is about $20,000. While this is less than a traditional in-ground pool, it’s not an inexpensive upgrade. Concrete pools tend to be the most expensive, while vinyl and fiberglass are less, and similarly priced. The least expensive versions are the above-ground designs.

The costs associated with a plunge pool are similar to a full-size in-ground pool, but on a smaller scale. Like an in-ground pool, you’ll need to hire an excavator (and provide access to your backyard for heavy equipment), pull permits, and spend to finish the pool deck around the watering hole. In most cases, the upgrade will be added to your property’s value and taxed accordingly.

Benefits of a Plunge Pool

The size enables homeowners who wouldn’t otherwise have the space or budget for a full-size pool to have a place to relax that beautifies the outdoor living space. After the initial installation cost, you’ll spend less to maintain a plunge pool than you would a traditional pool.

If you choose to add a heat source, it’s more economical to keep the pool at a comfortable temperature, which may extend your pool season. For older homeowners, the plunge pool is easier to cover and maintain; skimming out debris takes very little time when compared to a regular pool. Design-wise, it can be more cost effective to get higher-end treatments on a plunge pool versus a traditional pool. Details like tiling, water features, an infinity edge—all of which add significantly to the bottom line—might be in the budget with a plunge pool.

Limitations of a Plunge Pool

A plunge pool won’t be able to fit as many people as a traditional pool. Once four or five adults get in, it might start to feel more like a crowded hot tub. Young children who are used to cannonballing into a regular pool could get severely injured in a plunge pool—which is shallower than normal and has no “deep end.” Like a regular pool, your town will have regulations covering setbacks as well as fencing requirements to prevent a child from falling in

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Home Improvement

Outdoors & Outbuildings | 2021 Modern Barnhouse


Fall 2021, Idea House, Modern Barnhouse, St. Paul, MN, exterior rear view with patio
Chad Holder

Tour the property, get a closer look at the exterior building materials, and take a peek inside the remodeled outbuilding/workshop

Dairy farm roots

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderThe St. Croix River Valley property that Amy fell in love with and purchased in 2017 was originally home to a late 1800’s dairy farm. With an eye toward conserving both the site’s old growth trees and historic farmstead buildings, Amy nestled her new-construction home among the classic red barn, a quaint milk house and (not shown here) a workshop.

New life for old outbuildings

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderThe rustic red barn is now used for storage and will eventually be restored. The quaint green milk house where the former dairy farmer cooled his milk until it could be taken to market is slated to get a new metal roof and siding to match the main house. In its new life, it will serve as a garden shed.

rchetypal barn-shape building

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderThe modern Idea House feels at home surrounded by the site’s similarly shaped historic outbuildings. A study in gray and black, the house has a classic standing-seam, galvanized-metal roof that is good for 50-plus years of service and factory-stained vertical cedar siding.

Siding: Real Cedar; Exterior stain: Cabot; Windows and French doors: Sierra Pacific Windows; Roof: Bridger Steel; Pavers, steps: Polycor; Landscape: Likes Landscape

Inviting the light

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderWalls of windows and solar-powered operating skylights bring light flooding into the home and enable natural convective cooling in summertime.

Windows: Sierra Pacific Windows; Skylights: VELUX

Gray and black cedar siding

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderPlans for Shou Sugi Ban charred wood for the horizontal accents had to be abandoned due to supply shortages during the pandemic; instead, Amy and a cadre of loyal friends painstakingly stained cedar boards with flat black stain to achieved a similar, far-less expensive look.

Siding: Real Cedar; Exterior stain: Cabot

Keeping it simple

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderThe sleek garage door mimics the look of the black decorative cedar panels that abut the windows.

Garage Door: Clopay, courtesy of BlackHawk Garage Door

Reaching for the sky

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderThe chimney structure braces one entire gable end with help from a beefy cross beam. Two window-lined, flat-roofed one-story wings extend from the front and back of the house.

Windows: Sierra Pacific Windows

Outdoor gathering spaces

Fall 2021, Idea House, Modern Barnhouse, St. Paul, MN, exterior rear view with patio
Chad HolderSheltered behind the house, the dining room wing reaches into the landscape. A manmade stream and pump-powered waterfall divide two seating areas: a rustic in-ground firepit surrounded by Adirondack chairs near the edge of the woods and, closer to the house across a small bridge, an outdoor kitchen with dining and lounging area.

river runs through it

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderWhat looks (and sounds) like a natural spring-fed waterfall cascades down the hillside at the edge of the woods and then levels out into a stream that traverses the full length of the house. But it’s actually a man-made water feature powered by a pump that pushes the water back up the hill to return again and again. Constructed of glacier rock from the St. Croix River Valley and surrounded by native flora, the stream is a magnet for a wide range of wildlife.

Outdoor oasis

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Amy MatthewsJust steps from the dining room and adjacent to the gurgling waterfall and stream, Amy placed comfy conversation seating around a sleek fire bowl to create a welcoming space for guests or for simply unwinding after a long day.

Fire bowl and outdoor kitchen: Kindred Outdoors + SurroundsPavers: Polycor

Perfect patio match

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Amy MatthewsOversize limestone pavers in subtle shades of gray create a stunning patio that’s accessible from the dining room. Sourced from the same Indiana quarry that has provided the natural stone for landmark buildings like the Empire State Building, the patio blends seamlessly with the cedar siding treated in a Driftwood Gray bleaching stain.

Pavers: Polycor; Siding: Real Cedar; Exterior stain: Cabot; Fire bowl and outdoor kitchen: Kindred Outdoors + Surrounds

Fiery focal point

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Amy MatthewsA modern linear fire bowl made of glass-fiber reinforced concrete delivers 65,000 BTUs of heat to warm guests on even the chilliest evenings. It’s powered by a propane tank cleverly hidden in the side table between the two chairs.

Fire Bowl: Kindred Outdoors + SurroundsPavers: Polycor

DIY outdoor kitchen

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Amy MatthewsThe handsome outdoor kitchen was a DIY project made easy thanks to glass-fiber reinforced concrete cabinets that can be assembled in just hours. They can be ordered with cut-outs for custom features such as drop-in grills or drawers. Amy dressed the kitchen in a cement block-style stone that complements the fire bowl and gray cement floors inside the house and topped it with a weather-worthy quartz counter.

Outdoor kitchen: Kindred Outdoors + Surrounds; Vertical stone: Cultured Stone; Countertop: Caesarstone

Storage essential

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderThroughout the build, a moving-and-storage bin stood sentry ready to accept arriving products and materials. By move-in day, it was stuffed to the brim with the furnishings and accessories that make this house a “home”.

Onsite storage: PODS

DIY workshop

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderAmy and a group of good friends and family members tore the existing outbuilding down to its concrete foundation and rebuilt this workshop in the image of the barnhouse using materials they reclaimed, including the corrugated tin siding (seen here) under the gable. Solar power-operated skylights and custom fold-out carriage-house doors capture the light at every time of day.

Siding: Real Cedar; Exterior stain: Cabot; Metal roof: Bridger Steel; Skylights: VELUX; Carriage house doors: RealCraft

Corrugated roof redux

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderSorting the salvaged corrugated metal roof panels allowed Amy to create a character-rich rusted gable wall v. a cleaner galvanized look for the ceiling. A modern ceiling fan, operable skylight, and swing-open carriage doors keep the air flowing.

Ceiling fan: House of Antique Hardware; Skylight: VELUX; Carriage-house doors: RealCraft

Workable workshop space

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderTeam Amy salvaged the vintage workshop table from the existing outbuilding. Farmhouse-style pendants illuminate the workspaces. Vintage-style push-button light switches add to the charm. The walls are economical plywood that’s the same color as the oak floors and cabinets in the main house. A deep utility sink and a built-in filtered-and-chilled water dispenser contribute to the functionality of the space.

Lighting: Circa Lighting; Light switches: House of Antique Hardware; Sink, faucet and water dispenser: Elkay

Gorgeous guest quarters

Modern Barnhouse, Idea House 2021
Chad HolderTucked behind the sliding barndoor in the workshop is a modest guest quarters for visiting family and friends. A full-size kitchen outfitted with an undercounter fridge, icemaker, a five-in-one wall oven, and warming drawer also make it ideal for staging food and drink for events at the workshop.

Barn doors: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods; Lighting: Circa Lighting; Sink, faucet: Elkay; Appliances: Monogram

To see more of the TOH 2021 Modern Barnhouse, click here!

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Home Improvement

Before & After: Inside a 1925 Craftsman Remodel 

New two-over-two windows throughout brighten the entry, as do the custom transom and sidelights that surround the front door, which moved to expand the living room. | Laura Metzler

A minimalist approach to renovating a 1925 house maximizes the available light, allowing original features, including Craftsman-style millwork, to shine.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2021 Issue of This Old House Magazine. Click here to learn how to subscribe.

Often the best way to honor an old house is simply to highlight its good bones. That principle guided the renovation of this 1925 house, where prized original features remained in place. “It felt like an old-soul house with lots of potential, and I had always wanted a renovation project,” says Scott Moren about why he purchased the place, located in Washington, D.C.

Dining Room, before
Courtesy HomesiteBEFORE: An elaborately patterned wallpaper above the stained chair rail gave the dining room a Victorian-era feel.So, after living in the house for eight months and hiring an architect for initial plans and permits, Scott teamed up with designer Evelyn Pierce Smith for the remodel. Her overall approach: Keep the period charm and chestnut woodwork, brighten up with new windows, rework previous rear additions, and better utilize the space. Enlarging the kitchen allowed for the pro-grade appliances Scott wanted, as well as a bright breakfast nook.

Laura MetzlerThe former screened-in porch was rebuilt as a sunroom and the step-down eliminated; cantilevering the back wall over the foundation gained 2 feet. Tall windows, patio doors to the backyard, and white-painted casings brighten the space.Turning a screened porch into a four-season sunroom yielded a favorite hangout for him and his yellow Lab, Grayson. But when company comes over, it’s the living room that beckons.

The homeowner scrubbed the limestone fireplace of surface grime with dish soap and water. Tall, narrow double-hungs replaced the smaller original windows.
Stacy Zarin GoldbergThe homeowner scrubbed the limestone fireplace of surface grime with dish soap and water. Tall, narrow double-hungs replaced the smaller original windows.“The first things that drew me to the house were the woodwork and the fireplace,” says Scott. “It’s nice to have friends over and sit around the fire. It’s now an easy house for people to gather in.”

Floor Plans

Ian WorpoleMoving the front door, swapping radiators for forced-air heat, making the kitchen bigger, and rebuilding rear additions updated the layout.

Moved the front door toward the stairs to enlarge the living room; shifted two windows.Removed steps and a doorway leading into the kitchen to gain a usable range wall.Swapped two small closets and a shallow pantry for side-by-side pantry and coat closets.Demoed the old sink wall to annex the former family room, enlarging the kitchen and creating a breakfast nook in a new window bay.Closed up a window in the powder room and relocated the toilet.Made the doorway between the dining room and sunroom wider and a foot taller, at 8 feet; added French doors to invite in more natural light.Rebuilt the screened porch as a sunroom, cantilevering the back wall over the foundation to gain 2 feet; added patio doors leading to new back stairs.

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Home Improvement

Personalized Gifts | Gift Guide 2018


Add a sentimental touch to your gifts this year! Here are our favorite personalized gift ideas.

Personalized Gifts from Target’s Wondershop

PHOTO: TARGET WONDERSHOPVisit any Target Wondershop (in about 80 participating stores) to have these made while you wait, or order the charming gifts online. Best part? Price tags won’t break the bank.

Prices range from about $6- $20; Target Wondershop

Keepsake Frames

PHOTO: KEEPSAKE FRAMES/ THIS OLD HOUSEUse the Keepsake Frames Web browser design tool or mobile app to create a professionally-framed masterpiece. Just drag-and-drop the photo, then pick the perfect frame and mat. The perfect way for photographers to gift their photos this holiday season.

Prices start at about $29; Keepsake Frames


Use promo code ABOUT10 to save 10% on your first orderFamily Recipe Cutting Board

PHOTO: UNCOMMON GOODSPass down a family recipe on this “recipe card.”

$140; Uncommon Goods

Leather Whiskey Case

PHOTO: WALNUT STUDIOLOYou can get this handsome carrier monogrammed for the whiskey or wine lover in your life. Doubles as a small document or blueprint roll.

About $145; Walnut Studiolo


Enter promo code TOH-MONOGRAMS at checkout to get free monograms on your orders. Offer ends 12/31/2018

Tree Hut Wood Watches

PHOTO: TREEHUT.COOrder a Treehut design (limited quantities) or design your own.

Shown here (clockwise, top left): North Chocolate Walnut Gold ($195), All Bamboo Zebrawood Anza ($120), NOVA($85), All Zebrawood + Olive Ash ($130)

Starts at about $85 (+$25 for engraving); Treehut.co

Custom Map Serving Tray

PHOTO: UNCOMMON GOODSComemmorate a favorite vacation spot or a hometown in beautiful mango wood.

$65; Uncommon Goods

Personalized Bamboo Cutting Board

PHOTO: ETSYThe perfect gift for the chef on your list, you can commemorate a memorable date on this board’s design.

$46; Etsy

Custom Pet Bowl

PHOTO: ETSYYou won’t mind leaving these handsome ceramic bowls out in the open.

Starts at $39; Etsy

Personalized Yarn Bowl

PHOTO: UNCOMMON GOODSA handy tool, this will keep yarn clean and untangled.

$60; Uncommon Goods

Personalized Picnic Table

PHOTO: UNCOMMON GOODSA beautiful gift for loved ones who enjoy eating al fresco.

$150; Uncommon Goods

Personalized Wooden Puzzles

PHOTO: ETSYA beautiful addition to any young child’s toy box.

Starts at about $33; Etsy

Personalized Wine Tool Set

PHOTO: THINGS REMEMBEREDIncludes wine pump, aerator, drop ring and foil cutter. Engrave with significant date, name or monogram.

$100; Things Remembered

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Home Improvement

GIFT GUIDE | Fan Picks for Mother’s Day

We asked you, our TOH fans, to share your wish lists. Here are some of our favorite responses, including gifts at a range of price points

Tools and DIY Gifts | 1. eTape Digital Tape Measure

Known as “the original” digital tape measure, this model features a traditional tape along with large digital display. The eTape has a save function and converts measurements with a built-in calculator.

About $30; Amazon

2. Narex Woodworking Chisels

Chrome manganese blades set into hefty, stained European Beech handles. Contains 6 mm thru 26 mm sizes in one handy kit.

About $85; Amazon

3. American Barn Birdhouse Kit

Grab a screwdriver and get started on this fun project! Instructional video available online to guide you along, if needed.

About $44; Amazon

4. Klein Tools Canvas Tool Bag

A durable open-top design for quick and easy access to the tools you use most. Tough, double-layer canvas bottom sits comfortably in any hall closet to keep tools organized and at the ready.

About $70; Amazon

5. Succulent and Cactus Growing Kit

Everything you need to grow four healthy plants. This kit includes a moisture meter to ensure the easy-care plants have what they need to thrive.

About $20; Amazon

6. Bosch Power Tool Combo Kit

A TOH Top 20 Best Home Products pick, this electric screwdriver’s 5-in-1 design can tackle a multitude of everyday jobs.

About $190; Amazon

7. Indoor Herb Kit

Spade to Fork-brand growing kits are made by a family-owned farm in Oregon and contain certified USDA organic seeds. Give the gift of fresh garden herbs.

About $22; Amazon

8. Festool Cordless Sander

As seen in the TOH Top 20 Best Home Products, this powerful sander offers corded or cordless operation.

About $560; Amazon

9. EcoQube Growing Frame

Water the included seedpads once and you’re on your way to sprouts in 7-10 days, guaranteed. A pretty and space-saving way to start a countertop garden of herbs or microgreens.

About $60; Amazon

10. Extech Pinless Moisture Meter

This tool displays moisture levels in wood and other building materials. An audible alert beeps faster as moisture levels increase. Featured in the TOH Top 20 Best New Home Products round up, this is a must-have for spring upkeep.

About $98; Amazon

Home Goods and Décor Gifts | 11. Modway Knack Wood Office Desk

This contemporary mod-style desk comes with clever storage solutions and the slim design allows you to turn any small nook into a work station.

About $125; Amazon

12. Cotton Craft Room Divider

An intricately carved room divider with a mango-wood frame. Use this beautiful piece for privacy while dressing or just use it to hide clutter.

About $190; Amazon

13. Hibou Pour-over Coffeemaker

A beautiful copper design with permanent (paperless) filter and non-slip stand.

About $26; Amazon

14. Fellow Stagg Electric Kettle

This kettle is as fun to look at as it is to use. Brew like a pro with variable temperature control.

About $149; Amazon

15. Meelano Office Chair

Sleek gold-and-white design pairs well with the Modway Desk in this gallery, but also makes a chic and comfy addition to any existing home office.

About $205; Amazon

16. H Potter Terrarium

Any gardener would appreciate this elegant display case. You can craft a terrarium yourself before delivering the gift, or work on the project together. Planter measures approximately 14.75 inches high by 10.25 inches long by 14.25 inches wide, and the metal planting tray is 2 inches deep.

About $180; Amazon

17. Le Creuset French Press

Shown here in Le Creuset shade “Marseille,” this stoneware coffee brewer is available in a range of colors in case you want to match it to an existing set. Dishwasher safe.

About $70; Amazon

UP FOR A SPLURGE? Get the full Le Creuset Tea & Coffee Set with teapot, French press, mugs and more for about $225.

18. Rivet Cotton Throw

This cozy handwoven and hand-tied blanket makes for a bold design accent. Drape it over the couch or use as a wall hanging.

About $80; Amazon

19. Sauder Lux Bar Cart

Use this as a serving cart for summer parties or set up a well-stocked drink station inside.

About $160; Amazon

20. Rivet Table Lamp

This modern design features a milky-white orb on a golden, metal stand. A stunning addition to any end table, and one of our favorite gifts (well) under $100.

About $50; Amazon

21. Bloomingville Vase

This trendy gray vase is best gifted with a full, bright-pink bloom placed inside.

About $13; Amazon

22. Jonathan Adler Wink Tray

Wrangle loose change and keys at the entry or use this bold dish to hold small pieces of jewelry at the vanity.

About $20; Amazon

23. HOMES: Inside + Out Coffee Table

This glam table measures 32 inches in diameter by 16 inches high and features an easy-to-clean black-glass tabletop.

About $126; Amazon

24. Stone Aromatherapy Diffuser

This gorgeous hand-milled ceramic porcelain diffuser operates at 3-hour continuous or 7-hour interval settings. Vitruvi also makes natural, pure essential oils for freshening rooms the nontoxic way.

About $119; Amazon

25. Kikkerland Storm Glass

This interesting tabletop decoration doubles as a tiny weather station! Crystals in the chamber respond to atmospheric pressure to reveal a forecast.

About $18; Amazon

26. Vertical Hydroponic Garden

Grow fresh herbs year-round with this self-watering planter. Features an LED lighting system for optimal plant growth. Touch-screen control panel allows you to water your plants at set intervals.

About $97; Amazon

27. Cararra Blanco White Marble Tray

This luxe board features no-slip rubber feet, brushed metal handles and offers plenty of surface area. It measures at 12 inches by 12 inches.

About $40; Amazon

28. JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

Nothing beats fresh-ground coffee beans! This conical burr mill has an adjustable grind selector to ensure precision control of coarseness. It’s small, sleek, and perfectly portable for frequent travelers.

About $26; Amazon

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Home Improvement

All About Cork Flooring

A checkerboard floor is a kitchen classic; these glue-down cork tiles make it back-friendly, too. SHOWN: Duro Design’s Barriga Natural and Baltico Stormy White, about $8 per sq. ft. | Michael J. Lee

It’s cushiony underfoot, easy to care for, and far more versatile than you might think. Here’s what you need to know about choosing and using this resilient natural floor material in your home.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2021 Issue of This Old House Magazine. Click here to learn how to subscribe.

The bark of the cork oak tree has been used to seal champagne bottles since the 1600s, but it was a pretty new idea to use it as flooring in 1937 when it was installed at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Visit the iconic house today, and you’ll see much of that cork still in service, a testament to its durability. The material was prized for its warm natural look, noise-dampening ability, and ergonomic comfort—and still is. “Many adults with back issues who can’t stand on hardwood or tile for very long love cork,” says Joel Hirshberg, co-owner of Iowa-based Green Building Supply, who has been selling the flooring for 21 years.

How is Cork Floor Made?

It’s also a sustainable choice. Cork is harvested by carefully peeling off the outer layer of a mature Quercus suber; the harvest doesn’t damage the evergreen tree, which regrows its bark roughly every nine years. Cork is made into two types of flooring: glue-down tiles and click-together planks. In 2019, waterproof cork planks hit the market, making cork floating floors viable anywhere in the house, even bathrooms and laundry rooms. Cork flooring now comes in a wide variety of looks, too, from classic speckled designs to a range of colors to finishes that mimic wood and stone.

But while today’s cork works with all kinds of interiors, its inherent characteristics remain its strongest sell. “I installed a floating cork floor over vinyl tile in my living room, dining room, kitchen, mudroom, and den,” says Texas interior designer Amity Worrel, who has worked with cork for more than two decades. “When I drop things they do not break, they bounce. And when my kids run through the house at breakneck speed, their footfalls do not interrupt my Zoom calls,” she says.

The Basics of Cork Flooring

What does it cost? About $5 to $10 per square foot. Pro installation adds $2 to $3 per square foot for a floating floor and about $6 to $10 for glue-down.

How long does it last? Both glue-down and floating cork can last 40 years or more if they’re carefully maintained—otherwise expect 15 to 20 years.

DIY or hire it out? Floating cork clicks together without fasteners or adhesive, making installation a DIY-friendly job. Glue-down cork requires a perfectly flat subfloor and quick-setting adhesive, so in most cases, installation is best left to a pro.

How much maintenance? Cork requires the same routine care as a wood floor: vacuuming, damp mopping, and protection from sliding chair legs and grit-covered footwear. Most cork flooring needs recoating with polyurethane every 3 to 10 years, depending on how much use it gets.

Where to buy it? A flooring store, green building supplier, or manufacturer’s website will have the best selection and service.

What’s the warranty? It will range from 15 years to “lifetime,” or as long as you own the house. There should be one for the cork and one for the finish.

Is Cork Flooring Right for You?

Thinking about installing cork flooring? Here are some pros and cons to consider.

Pros of cork flooring

RESILIENT AND COMFORTABLE: A cubic inch of cork bark holds about 200 million air cells—so even a quarter-inch of cork in a floating floor offers ample cushioning for your feet and back.WARM AND QUIET UNDERFOOT: Its air cells make cork a natural thermal and acoustic insulator. Cork flooring is an especially good choice in colder climates.MOLD, INSECT, AND FIRE RESISTANT: Cork contains an antimicrobial wax called suberin that also repels moisture, mold, bugs, and even fire.DAMAGED SPOTS CAN BE REPLACED: If tiles or planks get gouged, the affected pieces can be removed and new ones swapped in.ECO-FRIENDLY CHOICE: In addition to regrowing their bark roughly every nine years, cork oaks can live for 200 years or more. Cork forests absorb millions of tons of carbon each year.

Cons of cork flooring

FADES IN DIRECT SUN: Unless it’s a wood-look product with a PET (plastic) top layer, cork flooring—including products printed to look like stone or colored with stain—will lighten with exposure to ultraviolet light. The UV protectants in a clear coat provide some buffer, but not as much as UV-blocking windows or window film. Without these precautions, it’s best to avoid cork in areas that get a lot of direct sunlight.PRONE TO SCRATCHING: Like other natural floorings such as wood and linoleum, cork can get abraded over time, especially if you have pets. If that’s a concern, avoid it in high-traffic areas, or be prepared to refresh the topcoat regularly.HARD TO TELL WHEN IT’S TIME TO RECOAT: The visual complexity of many cork floors can make it difficult to see when the finish is wearing away and a new coat of polyurethane is needed. Poor maintenance will shorten its life span.

Waterproof Floating Floors

The structural layer inside waterproof floating cork planks is impermeable to moisture.
Courtesy RealCorkFloors.comThe structural layer inside waterproof floating cork planks is impermeable to moisture. SIMILAR TO SHOWN: Wood Inspire in Quartz Oak, about $5 per sq. ft.; amorimwise.usIts natural wax makes cork inherently water-resistant. But the high-density fiberboard (HDF) layer that typically stiffens floating floor planks and forms their click-and-lock fastening system can absorb moisture that seeps into the seams between the planks.

That’s what makes waterproof click-together cork such a big deal: It replaces the standard HDF structural layer with one made from cork that’s been impregnated with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. “Although it’s derived from petroleum, it is free of chemicals like formaldehyde or PVC, and is a favorite among people with allergies and chemical sensitivities,” says Hirshberg, who has seen a 300 percent spike in cork flooring sales since waterproof planks were introduced.

The HDPE makes floating cork floors a great choice for full baths and laundry rooms. In the wettest locations, Hirshberg recommends following manufacturer instructions for gluing down the waterproof planks rather than floating them; that way, if water does work its way down between planks, it’s unlikely to lead to mold growth or rot underneath.

Two Types of Cork Floors

Their costs are similar, but the two types of cork flooring are manufactured and installed differently.

Click-and-lock floating planks

Cork Tile
Meg ReinhardtBest for: DIY installation, including over existing flooring such as vinyl or tile.

These planks click together and have an HDF or HDPE core that’s typically sandwiched between layers of agglomerated cork, which is ground-up cork pressed together with adhesives.

They come in a range of looks: Many products have cork veneers, often stained or photo-printed with a realistic wood or stone image. Boards can be laid horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, allowing for certain patterns like herringbone. Floating cork usually has beveled edges and almost always comes with a long-lasting polyurethane-based factory finish.

Planks are often 36 inches long and 7 12 or 12 inches wide, although some products with wood or stone looks come in tiles and squares.

Glue-down tiles

Glue down cork tiles
Meg ReinhardtBest for: A showpiece pattern or an authentic mid-century look.

These tiles get adhered to the subfloor and have been made the same way for 75 years: Agglomerated cork is pressed into blocks, sliced into sheets, and cut into tiles. They’re either homogeneous—meaning the material looks the same throughout—or heterogeneous, which means they have a veneer layer that may be stained or printed.

Most are 3⁄16 of an inch thick and are prefinished with polyurethane (a few old-school products come unfinished or coated with wax). What sets them apart from floating cork is that they’re available in a wide range of colors, sizes, and shapes, such as triangles and pentagons, allowing for endless mosaic patterns, like stars and geometrics.

See if it has a rating

Some cork products are labeled according to one of two classification systems for resilient flooring. This means the manufacturer tested and rated the flooring’s resistance to abrasion, impact, staining, fire, and moisture. When in doubt, order a higher level for your project; this ensures a more durable floor and finish, says Gonçalo Marques of Amorim Cork Flooring, the world’s largest producer of cork products.

Marks of Quality to Keep in Mind

Here is what to keep in mind when shopping for cork.

Cork from the Mediterranean is more resilient than cork from Asia, which comes from a different tree species, Quercus variabilis.To ensure cork flooring has no formaldehyde and won’t release VOCs, look for independent certifications such as GreenGuard Gold and Global GreenTag.Most cork flooring with a veneer top has a wear layer 2mm to 3mm thick. Check the spec sheets and choose products with the thickest wear layer: They will be more resilient and durable.

Syles of Cork Flooring

eight types of cork options
Meg Reinhardt

1. Dramatic Veining

Made from offcuts produced by the wine cork industry, this click flooring has a bold marbled pattern.

Shown: Marmo Creme 12×36×7⁄16-inch plank, about $7 per sq. ft.; novafloorings.com

2. Staggered Stripes

Because this glue-down tile is made from homogeneous, or “through-color,” cork, it can be sanded and refinished.

Shown: Tigress 12×24×3⁄16-inch tile, about $7 per sq. ft.; apccork.com

3. Faux Stone

This slate-look click flooring’s AC5 rating means it will hold up to heavy traffic at home.

Shown: Serenity Collection 17 23⁄32×24 13⁄32×7⁄16-inch rectangle in Hearth Slate, about $8.50 per sq. ft.; wecork.com

4. Harvest Hue

Order this 3⁄16-inch-thick glue-down flooring in any size or shape; its earthy orange color is an instant warm-up.

Shown: Nugget tile in Tangerine, about $10 per sq. ft.; corkfloor.com

5. Classic Cork

With veneer cut from a full sheet of bark—no agglomerated pieces—this click plank’s square edges create a seamless look once installed.

Shown: Avant Garde Collection 11 7⁄8×35 9⁄16×7⁄16-inch plank in Canyon, about $9 per sq. ft.; wecork.com

6. Versatile shade

Available in dozens of shapes, this glue-down cork’s soothing blue color is a natural for subtle patterns.

Shown: Nugget 3⁄16-inch-thick tile in Powder Blue, about $9 per sq. ft.; corkfloor.com

7. Tile Effect

It may look like limestone, but this click flooring has a springy feel underfoot.

Shown: Cork Essence 48 1⁄32×7 9⁄32×3⁄8-inch plank in Flock Moonlight, about $6 per sq. ft.; wicanders.us

8. Wood Look

This narrow, waterproof click plank comes embossed with realistic graining and knots.

Shown: Wood Inspire 48 15⁄64×7 31⁄64×9⁄32-inch plank in Sprucewood, about $6 per sq. ft.; amorimwise.us

What to Know About Installation

Floating floor planks click together with the help of a hammer and a tapping block made from flooring scrap.
iStockFloating floor planks click together with the help of a hammer and a tapping block made from flooring scrap.With any type of cork, order at least 10 percent more than is needed to allow for any cutting mistakes and to ensure there’s a good supply of replacement tiles or planks for the future. Acclimate glue-down cork tiles and floating-floor planks for three days before installation—and, as with other natural flooring products such as wood and bamboo, avoid laying them during humid weather.

Test a concrete subfloor with a moisture meter; depending on the manufacturer’s installation guidelines, you may need to apply a moisture sealer. If you’re installing glue-down tiles, make sure that the product is compatible with your adhesive.

Floating Cork Floors

Floating cork floors have a strong, rigid middle layer, so they can be installed over an existing floor or subfloor; using a foam underlayment in between helps soften any imperfections. Start in a corner and work from left to right or right to left; use an aluminum straightedge—not the walls—to keep your rows straight. A hammer or mallet and a tapping block will assist in clicking the planks together without damaging the flooring.

To allow the floor to expand due to changes in temperature and humidity, leave a 1/2-inch gap along the perimeter. If you remove existing baseboards, they will cover the gap when they are reinstalled; otherwise, cover the gap with a 3/4-inch quarter round.

Glue-Down Tiles

Glue-down tiles require a perfectly smooth subfloor; otherwise, dips and bumps will transfer to the finished floor surface. To fix an uneven wood subfloor, typically underlayment plywood is nailed down over it; with concrete, a floor-leveling compound may be used.

Both the subfloor and the back of the tiles are painted with quick-setting contact cement before tiles are placed. This type of adhesive is unforgiving: As soon as the surfaces meet, that tile’s placement is permanent. Some manufacturers now offer heavy-duty double-sided tape to simplify the job. This is still a project for the most meticulous DIYers—especially when piecing together intricate patterns.

How to Care for and Maintain Cork Floors


While most dents eventually disappear on their own, cork is prone to scratching. To prevent abrasion, consider implementing a leave-your shoes-at-the-door policy, add felt buttons to the bottoms of furniture legs, and set door sweeps just above floor level.


Vacuum as often as daily to remove grit that can otherwise get ground into the finish and scuff it. Once a week, use a just-damp mop and an oil-free wood-floor cleaner, such as Bona’s.


Most types of cork flooring should be recoated with water-based polyurethane every 3 to 10 years, depending on the abuse it takes. One exception: Wood-look cork with a PET finish can’t be recoated. Assess the condition of the finish annually.

To recoat, prep the floor according to manufacturer instructions—often with a light screening to rough up the finish without sanding into the cork itself— then apply three coats of polyurethane. This process can be tackled by any handy homeowner.

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