Deco Palm Winner in IGDA, Feat. in New York House Magazine

September 15, 2011 in Palm Flooring

Deco Palm finds itself in the winner’s circle in two categories in New York House Magazine’s Innovative Green Design Awards, flooring and interior finishes. The highly decorative flooring and wall panels wowed the judges with its aesthetic charms and green resumes.

Deco Palm flooring won the best overall in the flooring category while the wall panels won an honorable mention. The material, functionality, and appearance were all impressive to the judges.

There was some debate over the sustainable merits of the product because it isn’t FSC certified. However, it was explained amongst the judges that Deco Palm, like all Durapalm products, is made from palm trees that have passed their fruit bearing years. These trees are no longer productive and will either die or be cut down to plant productive palms. Using them in the manufacture of flooring and plywood gives the palm a new life.

Some time ago, Alex Wilson, executive editor of Environmental Building News and Building Green said of the product, “Durapalm could almost be considered an agricultural waste product. It is a great example of a company recognizing an opportunity.

Newsome Law Firm, the company pictured in the article about the IGDA win, really did an amazing job with the install. The racing stripe detail using the Deco Palm was an incredible touch next to the stark contrast of the deep tones in the Durapalm coconut flooring which is so prominent. The eye can’t help but notice how textural and graphic the Deco Palm is in this setting.

Also pictured on the site are a reception desk, which is finished with the Deco Palm wall panels (honorable mention), and the wall and storage unit in the conference room. The space creatively utilized the palm products, which just feels so appropriate for the location and use. The photos were very representative of the product, and the warm response in the Innovative Green Design Awards are very encouraging.

It’s a great product and so easy to install. We really hope that homeowners and businesses will enjoy using the product as much as we do at the home office.

~nicole~

Interview with Kari Whitman

August 5, 2011 in Interview

Smith & Fong Co. did an exclusive interview with celebrity interior designer, Kari Whitman. In the interview, she outlines tips, tricks, and inspiration to incorporate her design aesthetic into you daily life.  To learn more about Kari, visit her website at: www.kariwhitmaninteriors.com.

Smith & Fong Co.: I read that you were an early adapter to environmentally focused interior design. What got you interested in this? When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

Kari Whitman: I’m from Bolder Colorado, a Tree Hugger Hippie, there’s no other way to be. I’ve never NOT been green. To recycle and reuse, even for a modern sleek home, I find pieces to redo, mix old with new, to find more personality in diversity. Older products are typically made with better ethics and better quality materials. I bring things down to the wood frame and re cover them.

SF: I first became acquainted with your work after seeing what you did with the home of Jessica Alba. Was she initially interested in green design or is it something you were able to explore together?

KW: She hired me because of my green knowledge. She understands sustainability and she will do everything she can to be non toxic. Jessica knows the value of creating a healthy home and worked with me to promote her standards through a designer’s aesthetic.

SF: What were the aims in the Alba home? Indoor Air Quality? Using rapidly renewable materials. What were the two of you going after when you collaborated on her home?

KW: Mold testing is a standard for about 65% of the homes, especially for a baby’s room. There are many issues about vocs (volatile organic compounds). So everything down to cleaning supplies was an issue. No quick fixes using chemicals. For maintenance, we used a combination of hemp oil, vegetable oil, and a splash of tea tree — wipe and clean everything, even on wood floors, they look great.

SF: I read in an interview not too long ago where you mentioned our Durapalm product (thanks by the way!) What drew you to it initially and what made you feel it was a product worthy of recommending by name?

KW: Plyboo is easy to work with as a company, has the most variation with different dimensions, and a large variety of products. I’m obsessed with Durapalm and it’s many ways of being used, along with coconut palm products having so many textures and tones. I love all the different grains. It is a sleek, yet gives an organic feel, but it can also look modern. Because it has a sleek look, I love to add metals to create a balance and harmony.

SF: Which projects did you use our products in? Do any come to mind? I am currently working on an estate, in Texas. We are creating furniture pieces with Plyboo, and possibly incorporating flooring. We might even use some of the materials to create an indoor and an outdoor look. In Aspen, with Tony Banderas’ house, I am using Plyboo to modernize a very rustic cabin to have a better balanced feeling.

KW: What challenges do you face when suggesting ecologically friendly building materials to homeowners? Challenges with manufacturers are finding those who are actually green and meet high sustainable standards. I want to use smaller companies, who are passionate. I do a background check to make certain they live up to what they say. Also getting a client to understand that green products can be sleek and modern.

SF: I see that you have a pretty large influence in green design, and you’re covered quite heavily in popular magazines. What advice would you have for a homeowner interested in making more environmentally sound design decisions — improving indoor air quality for instance? What advice do you have for renters?

KW: Find pieces of furniture, which are timeless. Also refurbish, reuse and give another life to a product. Take a chair and gut it. Perhaps use a beautiful royal blue fabric with cream piping. You can after five years take that same chair and use a silver grey fabric with nail heads and create an entirely different look. There are fantastic green no voc paints. I like AFM Safecoat. Take a few of their vibrant colors, add some lighting at lamps plus (a store known for green products, kooky and funky with a bit of hollywood glam). Find a few pieces of lighting, add some timeless pieces of furniture, use a Plyboo woven palm panel in a key place, and you have great design. It does not have to put you into debt to make your space sleek and well designed.

SF: Which eco-focused media do you follow? Any blogs in particular?

KW: I read the Bolder Magazine, Bolder Daily Camera, my home town is so profound they seem to be one step in front of everyone else. They even started their own sustainable place, Boulder Sustainability Network. CU has an education center which is tremendous. Dwell is great for ideas. Also Solar Row, reading from my roots, listen to lectures from CU sustainability project.

SF: Do you feel it’s difficult to transition into running a sustainable household?

KW: Not at all. Once you take steps, starting with cleaning solutions, fabrics, carpets — they all add up to a better organic aesthetic. You can feel the healthy environment. it becomes evident!

SF: I noticed that you’ve also done commercial design, and even have extended your brand to designing pet spaces. Is there any one area you feel people should really reconsider impact on their immediate environment when making their design to-do lists?

KW: Design with Paws in Mind, my book, is in the works. Pets and children, should use durable, non-toxic products. Chemicals and petroleum based products interact with pets and kids. I recommend when working with Don Henley when they were expecting their child, to look at all household cleaners. We also made certain that no carpet or other materials on the floors were going to be toxic. As we researched chemicals used in carpet I became more ware of how unhealthy carpet can be with all the added chemicals for stain resistance and simple binders they use for backing. Kids and pets are so interactive with materials that we focused on natural organic flooring and coverings. Also, take a look at Greener Pup Dog Beds. Remember use natural products, meaning few chemically developed fragrances and harsh solutions. The more simple it is the better.

SF: What would you like to see happen with the future of interior design?

KW: I’d like to see mandatory laws to really guide. I’d also like for sustainability not be a trend but a reality, from fad to a way of life. We should figure out a way for really green companies to be noticed and validated and be successful.

The views expressed are those of the interviewee and may not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Smith & Fong Co.

Plyboo Bamboo Flooring Video

July 19, 2011 in Installations

Here is a video to explore the many uses and types of bamboo flooring offered by Plyboo.  The video introduces it’s easy to install fitness flooring appropriately named PlybooFit.  All of the bamboo flooring featured in the video is appropriate for residential and commercial use.  To learn more about which type of palm or bamboo floor will work best for your space, contact us: 866-835-0577.

How to Build Bamboo Stairs

June 24, 2011 in Bamboo Flooring Trim and Accessories Tutorial

If you do a Wikipedia search on stairs, you’ll get all kinds of information. Things like an escalator and even a ladder are types of stairs or that stairs are constructed in practically every conceivable way.  Of course, our concern today isn’t about the history of stairs or their philosophical contexts, but how to complete the look of your palm or bamboo floor between floors.

Useful Facts about Stair Contruction

The stairs pictured here have both treads and risers made out of Neopolitan.

Stairs are constructed of a series of steps. Steps consist of a tread and a riser. The tread is the portion of the stair that you stand and walk on. The riser is what makes ascending possible and is the vertical portion of the stair. Sometimes these are left out like in the photo below. Typically, though, in single family homes they are used.

These stairs do not have risers, so they’re considered to be a floating staircase. Floating staircases are usually supported by one or more stringers, which structurally support the treads (and risers when used).

Giving your stairway the Plyboo Touch

Now that you’re armed with knowledge about what makes a stair step, let’s apply that knowledge to continuing the look and feel of your Plyboo or Durapalm floor on the stairway.  There are several options to build a stairway that’s right for your needs.  The first option is to custom build the stair out of palm or bamboo plywood.

Although the most expensive option, it offers complete versatility as you can build the step into whatever you desire. Floating stairways, spirals, any option that there’s a full view stairway can utilize this method.  Work with a professional to design the stairway of your choice.  This way you have full control over the look and feel of the tread, the visual effect and thickness of the whole step, and complete design freedom of what your step will look like.

Smith&Fong Co. offers both bamboo plywood and palm plywood in addition to flooring.  Contact our main office to find your local distributor if you’d like to know how to customize your staircase.

A second, albeit, more common and less expensive option, is to buy a stair step to meet the riser.  Stair steps are yet another solution to completing the look and feel of your flooring choice up the stairway.  They’re simple to install and they have the rounded nose that extends beyond the tread in one easy piece.  Just purchase as many as you have steps and install.

The third and least expensive option is to use stair nosing with any additional flooring you may have ordered.  Smith&Fong Co.’s stair nosing is different from its stair steps.  While both extend beyond the rising, the stair nosing is an economical solution to offer the continuity of a flooring look. You merely lay the flooring down as your tread and clip the nosing piece onto the tongue of the palm or bamboo flooring.

Stair nosing is implemented for both aesthetic and practical reasons. It extends beyond the tread and rounds off the edge of the step finishing it off and giving a traditional (or in the case of Neopolitan non-traditional), yet polished look. The photo below uses Durapalm flooring and stair nosing to finish off the steps. It makes the tread extend beyond the riser beneath much like the stair step.

As you can see, there are many possibilities with bamboo and with palm as a building material.  Each offers a great deal of versatility and  there is a solution for every price range. If you’d like to know more ways to use bamboo, feel free to contact us at sales@plyboo.com.

Photo credits in order of appearance: Patrick J. Killen, Margot Harford (Courtesy of Hershon Hartley), Kotaro Mick Miyake (Courtesy of Boora Architects) , and Benny Chan

How to Clean and Maintain Your Bamboo Floor

June 16, 2011 in Maintenance Series

In our last Maintenance Series, we discussed how to avoid cupping. One of the mentioned ways was to avoid wet mopping the floor, which of course leads to the question: How do I clean and maintain my bamboo floor?

First, if you have a prefinished floor, be sure to follow the maintenance instructions included with your installation and warranty paperwork. Be warned, if you do not follow the instructions to the letter, you risk voiding the manufacturer’s warranty! If you have an unfinished floor, follow the instructions from the floor finish manufacturer. If you don’t know whether or not the floor was purchased prefinshed or unfinished, or even who the manufacturer is, then keep reading. This article will outline several alternatives given a few general guidelines.

Nip it in the bud!
Spills on the floor, tracked in dirt, food debris – clean it up immediately! Dirt and debris on the floor can cause scratching. Regular sweeping or vacuuming is highly recommended. If there is a wet or sticky spill, wipe it up when it happens. Hard-to-remove spots can be removed with a damp (not wet) cloth and a little elbow grease. Of course, follow with a dry cloth if there’s any remaining moisture or with cleaning product. You can use a generic wood floor cleaner directly on the stain.

Bust the dust
Using a dust mop, dry Swiffer or a similar dry cloth product, can work wonders at keeping your floor in tip-top shape. If using a dust mop, use an untreated mop. Water-based or petroleum-based treated mops are never recommended. Don’t use spray dust cleaners. Spray cleaners can have incompatible chemicals or oils that can leave a film on your floor. Also, they tend to dull the sheen of the floor and even make recoating difficult if not impossible!

Leave it at the door
Using a mat at the door is a great way to keep from tracking dirt onto your floor. Also, check that the taps on your shoes and high heels are well maintained to avoid scratching or impressions on the floor.

Cover up
Have you been eyeing a fancy imported rug? Well consider protecting your floor a good reason to invest. Using area rugs, throws, and floor protectors on furniture prevent scratching and help protect your floor from surface damage.

Get a system
Find a non-harmful cleaning routine. As previously mentioned, wet mopping is not recommended. You should also avoid using ammonia and products with ammonia on it’s ingredients list. Sweeping, cleaning, and polishing, is a possibility. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Although this isn’t a direct endorsement, products by Bona tend to work well on Smith&Fong flooring. There are some natural products on the market, but check with your manufacturer first to see if it will work with their product. For example, some oil based cleaners work on wood, but are horrible on surfaces with a polyurethane finish. In lay-person’s language: ask first because flooring is not created equal and each can respond differently to the same product.

Recoat? Call in a pro
Your floor’s original shine will eventually fade, even with proper maintenance. This is natural and to be expected. You will need to recoat your floor periodically to revive it’s luster. It’s a good idea to call in a flooring professional to help with this.

Photo credit:
Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net