Carpet Cushion for Radiant Heat Flooring

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 1.19.48 PMReader’s Question: What types of carpet cushion can be used with radiant heat flooring?

Answer:  The best carpet cushion to use in a radiant heat flooring application would have the lowest R-value possible.  Carpenter’s product that would be the best suited for heated flooring is the Emerald 1/4″ product.  It has a density of 8 pounds per cubit feet and is approximately a R-1.  There are some low profile rubber products that have R-values that would be alternative to bonded cushion.

Floor Advice! A Reader Asks for Help.


Calling all designers!! A loyal From the Floors Up reader is in need of some advice and I thought it would be fun to give her different perspectives and opinions. Please read below to learn more about her project.

Some information about the house and style of the kitchen:

House is from the 1870s, more a farmhouse style than ornate Victorian. Floors throughout 1st floor are all original heart pine, except the sunroom off the kitchen which is a marmoleum click checkerboard. There is an unfinished basement below most of the kitchen, the rest (by the sink) used to be an outdoor porch (therefore we can not reuse the original wood). We would like some form of radiant in-floor heat as currently the room is unheated, but are unsure whether to go with staple-up hydronic or electric mats as sometime in the next few years we want to update the whole home heating system (either to electric heat pump/AC or geothermal). We have three growing boys and a dog and need a  kitchen floor that will hold up to them and last a LONG time. I believe the square footage of the kitchen/laundry is approximately 350.

The kitchen will have sort of an unfitted look, with a separate hutch, separate pantry cupboard, and only two upper cabinets on either side of the sink window. As mentioned previously, the lower cabinets will be off-white; the double oven cabinet, two uppers, and hutch will be blue; and the hood, refrigerator panels, and pantry will be green. So all 3 colors have to look good next to the floor. There is also an antique exposed brick chimney that runs floor to ceiling.

As you can see, our backsplash is kind of a statement piece, and while the soapstone sample is quiet, we are hoping the slab we ultimately choose will have a more dramatic veining. All of this makes us think we need a “quiet” floor but maybe we are wrong?


Our reader has gotten a couple of opinions from other designers with blogs, but I am curious to see what other opinions we can offer her! Any advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated as this is just a fun exercise in opinions and perspectives! She has already shared with me that she is considering cork as well as ceramic hexagon mosaics, but don’t let that sway your answers! If you would like to see photos of the samples of other items she has chosen, please email me at and I will forward them to you.


Tile Wainscoting – Reader Question


Reader Question:

I was with a friend last night walking through their new house. They are getting ready to install the marble and stone in the bathrooms. They are doing stone wainscot on all walls and then on the floors. She asked me if she should use her baseboard at the bottom of the wall. Hmm. I thought. In doing a little research this morning I see in most bathrooms where there is wall tile and floor tile that no baseboard is used. Is there a right or wrong way?

Imogene – Denver, CO


Great question! There is no right or wrong way, only personal preference and what’s needed for your particular situation. My advice would be to let stone floors meet stone walls and don’t introduce wood into an area that you could keep completely protected from water. If your friend wanted the look, she could do marble base and it would be a win win, but not necessary. Also, it would only slow down the  installation process by adding a trim contractor and a painter into the mix. Note how the picture here shows a clean and smooth transition from the stone wall to the stone floor. Adding base here would only be distracting.

Hope this helps! – Shannon

Granite Countertop Myths – Reader Question

Reader Question:

I am thinking about granite countertops in my kitchen and have heard many conflicting stories about whether you can cut directly on them or use hot pots directly on them. Before I fall in love with a color I want to be sure this is the right product for me! Can you clear up either of these and also tell me if there are other things I should know about? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Theresa from Washington



Great questions! These are questions I hear very frequently, so you are not alone. Granite is a wonderful choice for countertops, but even though it is a rock- it is not indestructible. Below are answers to your questions as well as a few other things you may want to know about granite.

  • Hot pots should be placed on trivets or potholders rather than directly on the countertop. Placing hot pots directly on the countertop can burn the sealer that has been applied to protect the tops.
  • You should always use a cutting board on any countertop surface for cleanliness, slip resistance and also protection from knife blades.
  • Granite countertops should be sealed because granite can be permanently stained by  grease and other oily substances. It can also be etched by acids found in common household products and foods such as lemons.
  • Granite countertops can be made from slabs or granite tiles. When choosing granite tiles, its always a good idea to seal the grout or use epoxy grout to prevent staining.
  • When selecting the color of your countertops, look at the largest sample possible to see the veining and color variation that is naturally occurring in granite. (Remember, the more movement and variation in your granite, the more unique it is and also easier to hide dirt!)

Enjoy your new countertops, but protect your investment by taking proper care of them. Thanks again for the question. I am sure there are others out there wondering the same thing!

Mannington Adura Floors – Reader Question

Reader Question:

We are very interested in purchasing the Adura wood flooring for our lake house but we are finding it difficult to find anyone that has installed this product and have concerns.
Our house has all cedar trim along the floor and we would like to have the Adura flooring butt right up against the cedar for a clean straight look – is this possible or would we have to install an additional trim?

I look forward to hearing from you.




Thanks for your comment. Adura is a wonderful product and will be great for your lake house! We used it in our corporate offices and LOVE it.

On Mannington’s installation instructions it says: “Cover all exposed edges. Use wood molding or vinyl cove base along all walls, cabinet toe kicks, etc. Use transition

strips in doorways or where new flooring joins another floor covering. Caulk along tubs, toilet bowls, etc.”

You can read all of the instructions here.

Hope this information helps!


Holiday Rugs: Reader Question


I have almost finished decorating for the holidays and after reading one of your earlier posts I wanted to see if you knew where I might be able to find a holiday rug to place in my entry way in order to help with some of the traffic from holiday visitors. I have friends that celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah so a holiday rug would be perfect. Thanks for your help.

– Nancy from Nebraska



Thanks for your question! I have always found the area rugs from Shaw Living to be perfect for situations like yours. They have an entire collection dedicated to the holidays. There are 20 different styles that are 2’7″ x 3’10” and  include “holiday neutral” scenes such as snowmen, snowflakes, nut crackers, polar bears and even Scotties! The decorative patterns will do a great job and hiding dirt and traffic from holiday visitors. Don’t forget your rug pad so that no one slips on their way in or out!You can use the dealer locator on their site to find a retailer near you. Keep in mind, these also make great gifts!

Happy Holidays

– Shannon

Question 10 In the Series Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Flooring

Today we are answering the last  question in the 1o part series: Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Flooring.

Question: Won’t it be cheaper if I buy my floors and install them myself?

Answer: It certainly can be cheaper to install flooring yourself, but there are a few things to keep in mind about the overall decision.

Some flooring installation require specialized tools. These tools can be expensive to buy and / or complicated and dangerous to use if you are not familiar with them.

If a floor type such as ceramic tile is installed improperly, often the only way to repair it is to remove the floor and start over in which case you end up buying the material twice! In other cases, it can cost more for a professional to repair damage done during a DIY installation that it would have to have it professionally installed from the beginning.

Improper installation techniques can also result in the warranty being voided.

If you are typically a handy person and are comfortable with tools, a do it yourself installation may be for you. Just be sure to weigh all of the possible consequences before making that decision!

Question 8 In the Series Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Flooring

Today we are answering the eighth question in the 1o part series: Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Flooring.

Question: Is carpet a bad choice if I have allergies?

Answer: NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.

The folks at the Carpet and Rug Institute say it best on their site so I will give you the highlights from them. (for the full page of information with links and other useful info, click here.)

Things you should know:

  • Carpet actually  helps keep the air free of allergens and pollutants when properly vacuumed and maintained.
  • It’s what falls to the carpet – such as allergens, common dust, pet dander and other pollutants – that tends to stay on the carpet until it is vacuumed, unlike smooth surfaces that allow these particles to re-circulate.
  • Properly maintained carpet leads to improved air quality and a healthier indoor environment because regular vacuuming with a Carpet and Rug Institute Seal of Approval -certified vacuum cleaner locks pollutants in the machine and removes them from the air you breathe.

Need more?

  • There is no scientific study linking the rise of allergy and asthma to the use of carpet. Indeed, several studies actually disprove any correlation.
  • Carpet may even be helpful to people with asthma:
  • A 2003 study of more than 4,600 school children in New Jersey found that having carpet in a child’s bedroom was associated with fewer missed school days and less need for asthma medication.
  • Studies have compared the distribution of airborne dust associated with normal activities on hard and soft flooring surfaces. Findings show that walking on hard surfaces disturbed more particles. These particles became airborne and entered the breathing zone. In contrast, carpeted surfaces trapped more particles so that walking disturbed fewer particles. The result was less dust in the breathing zone over carpeted floors. PDF

Hope this information helps!

Question 6 In the Series Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Flooring


Today we are answering the sixth question in the 1o part series: Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Flooring.

Question: Does carpet cushion really matter?

Answer: Even though you can’t see the carpet cushion it is just as important to consider as the carpet itself. Did you know that it’s carpet cushion, not the carpet itself that determines how a carpet feels beneath your feet?

Carpet cushion:

  • Helps preserve the look of the carpet
  • Can extend the life of the carpet
  • Provides protection against wear
  • Absorbs the impact of foot traffic
  • Can improve the sound absorption in a room
  • Actually helps keep your carpet cleaner and easier to maintain

Things to consider when purchasing carpet cushion:

  • Thicker is not always better
  • Look for cushion that is not too soft nor too hard – this is purely personal preference
  • If different rooms have different needs, different cushion can be used in different areas
  • Put your money in the cushion, better cushion allows you to buy a less expensive carpet
  • Make sure that if you are purchasing prime urethane cushion that it is FHA approved

When selecting carpet cushion, place the sample under a carpet sample and walk on it. Take your shoes off! Feel the difference! You may be surprised at how great the right cushion can make a piece of carpet feel.

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