Friday, October 15, 2010

Home Sales Continue to Improve

According to the latest report by the National Association of Home Builders, pending home sales are continuing to improve.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) indicated that contracts signed on existing homes gained 4.3% in August, following a 4.5% rise in July. This signals that the payback period associated with the expiration of the home buyer tax credit is now behind us.

The upturn in the PHSI was consistent across all regions except the Northeast, with solid growth in the South (6.7%) and West (6.4%) and a modest gain in the Midwest (2.1%). The Northeast declined 2.9%.

The PHSI is based on contracts signed, while existing home sales are based on closings. The NAR advises that existing home sales typically lag the PHSI by one to two months.

The latest data are “consistent with a gradual improvement in home sales in the coming months,” according to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, but the “pace of home sales recovery still depends more on job creation and the accompanying rise in consumer confidence.”

At present, consumer confidence is glum, with both the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index and the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index down in September. Despite a modest gain in August, the indexes has been trending noticeably downward since the middle of second quarter because of consumers’ concerns about the economy and the weak job market.

With the economy and employment expected to improve in 2011 and 2012, NAHB expects consumer confidence to improve and housing demand to gather some positive momentum.

By the fourth quarter of 2012, NAHB anticipates that existing home sales will return to normal, pre-recession levels. The four-week moving average of applications for mortgages already has risen over the last six weeks for purchase-only conventional mortgages, and for five of the last six weeks for all purchase-only mortgages.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2011: International Year of Forests

Highlighted by Floor Covering Weekly:

The United Nations General Assembly has named 2011 the International Year of Forests in order to raise awareness and strengthen the sustainable forest management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. To gain support for the movement, the U.N. requested that private sector, governments and non-government organizations attempt to raise public awareness of progressive forest management as a key element in building a sustainable global society.

“The Lacey Act Amendments in the U.S., FLEGT in the EU and other legislation around the world are focused on legal harvesting of trees, but a serious issue of total forest destruction through mismanagement of forests remains a growing threat to the planet and the lives and livelihood of many hundreds of millions of people,” said Jim Gould, president of the Floor Covering Institute (FCI). “Each year millions of acres of forests are lost to deforestation. Thus, the International Year of Forests is designed to raise awareness and promote global action to sustainably manage, conserve and develop all types of forests.”

Gould told FCW that the U.N. chose 2011 to focus on the forest because all of the attention given to sustainability and the environment would not be complete without an emphasis on how important the forest is for protecting and providing resources. “The U.N. feels a sense of urgency to bring attention to the important role that forests play in our lives — the multitude of products and sources of income derived from them as we well know in the flooring industry, but also they are the home to 90 percent of the world’s life forms, they protect watersheds and of course they play a huge role in carbon sequestration. Sustainable forestry practices must be employed so that we continue to receive these benefits,” he said.

Gould and FCI are behind the promotion and will act as an ambassador to the U.N. in delivering the message to the flooring industry. “The U.N. has approved FCI to bring attention to the International Year of the Forests and we will bring the message to our industry. We are building an educational program at the International Wood Flooring Forum in Shanghai and will promote the International Year of Forests at Domotex Asia/ChinaFloor in Shanghai,” he said.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What a Difference the Finish Makes?

You'll spend quite a bit of time deciding what kind of hardwood flooring to install in your home. But it's about more than just the species of wood, the finish is just as important and will affect your flooring's final appearance. We're ready to discuss all of the options with.

The type of finish on a wood floor makes a difference on looks, durability and wear. From traditional oak hardwood floors to exotics such as Brazilian walnut (also known as ipe) and Bolivian rosewood, selecting a floor finish to best suit the type of wood is critical to protect it.

More and more varieties of hardwood flooring are coming from the manufacturer already finished, which typically eliminates the need for any sealer or finish after installation. Manufacturers provide information on the factory prefinish they apply and will give recommendations for any additional finishing after installation.

Most exotic wood floors are manufactured as solid floors, while some varieties are available as an engineered floor. Cork and other exotics are becoming increasingly popular as prefinished products with an aluminum oxide finish or UV-cured acrylic finish.

Also increasing in popularity and use, bamboo comes in a natural, yellow color or medium-brown tone, with grain patterns that run either horizontally or vertically. It is unusual to see it stained a dark color, but not unheard of. Bamboo can be easily sanded and finished successfully. It is not as easy to stain because of its hardness rating, which is similar to maple—harder than oak.

Most unfinished hardwood floors require one coat of sealer and at least two coats of protectant finishing. Sealing is very important, especially under polyurethane finishes, because it seals the wood and helps to prevent panelization, or the separation of groups of boards from others or from the rest of the floor. Stain can sometimes be used as the substitute for the initial seal coat, depending on the look you want, but manufacturer's recommendations should be followed. Staining most exotics, even maple, because of their cell structures and hardness, will usually give you poor results.

Beyond the application of stain and sealer, it's essential to apply a water- or oil-based finish to protect the wood. The choice depends on the type of wood, desired results, color and grain pattern. Differences in the polyurethane finishes:


  • Fast drying, need to be applied with focus to avoid brush marks
  • They let the natural color of the wood come through. Sometimes water-based finishes wash out rich, dark hues.
  • Many flooring professionals consider water-based finishes to be superior to oil-based finishes.
  • Often recommended for many types of exotic woods.
  • Because they are water-based, they are considered environmentally-friendly.


  • Add more color and depth to most woods giving an amber or yellow effect over light woods while darkening the hue of stained and dark woods.
  • They are more forgiving than water-based when application is uneven.
  • The drying time is 12 to 24 hours.
  • Enhance the wood of species such as walnut and red birch.
  • Hand-rubbed finishes occasionally are used on special wood. Tung oil is an alternative for rustic or reclaimed-wood floors to get a natural look.

Satin finishes are an overwhelmingly popular choice. A low sheen offers a natural look that shows less wear. High gloss will show wear easily - think basketball court or bowling alley.

Following manufacturer's recommendations and your flooring professional's advice will get your the best results. Call us today for a Free Quote!