Innovative solutions for creating healthy, efficient, eco-friendly homes

July 2002

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The New Look of Laminate Floors

Hardwood, tile, vinyl, carpet. Marble, stone, bamboo, rugs. Does the number of choices have you floored? Over the past few years, another option has gained ground. An increasing number of Americans are choosing laminate for their floors, an option that's been in the United States for less than 10 years. Laminate, or engineered, flooring is durable, easier to install and maintain than other floor coverings, simple to replace and, at $2 to $5 a square foot, costs less than many other surfaces.

History Under Foot

When antique dealers Mark and Elen Grove built a new timber-frame house outside Charlottesville, Va., last year, they sought the best building materials they could find. Fir for the house's frame, for example, was cut in the Pacific Northwest and shipped to a mill in New Hampshire for processing. When it came to flooring, the couple settled on century-old longleaf pine salvaged from a Worcester, Mass., distillery and re-milled into random-width flooring.

Planning Maintenance for Your Home

Do you feel overwhelmed when faced with caring for your home? A common reaction is to do what you can to make the place look good and hope for the best. Often the need to get serious about maintenance is recognized only after disaster strikes. Many times I've been called to a home when owners wake up in the morning to find their gutters and cornices lying in a decayed heap on the lawn. Decades of ignored gutter cleaning finally claims their undivided attention.

Modular Homes Deliver

Shelli Lachance is a hard-nosed shopper. She generally knows what she wants in a new home and won't stop looking for it until she gets it - at the right price. "When someone says, "No, you can't have that,' I get stubborn and start looking around, checking to see how to do it, doing whatever I have to do to get what I want," says the 40-year-old mother of five. As a prospective new homeowner, Lachance's buying attitude therefore meshed perfectly with the modular homebuilding world, which is one of the fastest-growing segments of the residential construction market today.

The Lowdown on High-Definition TV

If you want the best picture money can buy, high-definition television (HDTV) offers jaw-dropping clarity. But when you start making decisions about which set to buy, that picture looks muddy. As with any new technology, the prices are falling - they already dropped about 40 percent over the last three years, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, and are likely to fall further. And the bells and whistles are becoming more sophisticated as competition increases. So there's a lot to be said for waiting.

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