Caring for your products

It would be impossible to fully detail all aspects of home care and provide complete care instructions for the wide spectrum of products that we install in the space available. Therefore, you must go to the manufacturer or soils / engineering documents for the most current care suggestions. However, we would like to provide some suggestions to a few of the most common questions we are asked as well as addressing a few of the common mistakes people make that can impact the structure, value and the enjoyment of their new Custom or Remodeled Home.

Proper maintenance will protect the value of your investment by preventing minor nuisances from becoming major repairs. Remember, always refer to the manufactures warranty, maintenance and care manuals that came with your products and were provided to you at your closing or walk through. For best results, follow directions and purchase cleaning products recommended by the manufacturer. Success with the cleaning methods described here are dependent upon such factors as the hardness and temperature of the water, quantities of ingredients used and condition of the item being cleaned. Therefore, you should always test in a small inconspicuous area, which will not show before completing the job. If damage results, stop the process immediately. Again we strongly suggest that you consult with the manufacturer or soils / engineering documents for the most current, in-depth care instructions. You can use our Customer Links pages to directly go to many of the manufactures web sites.

Exterior & Structural Items

These are general guidelines only. You must refer to your manfactures specific product care and warranty guidelines and / or the engineering documents to avoid damage and potentially voiding your warranty

Landscaping and Grade

There is a risk of future damage to your home if you plant near the foundation areas and/or if you allow wetting of foundation soils to occur. You should refer to your soils report and follow the specific instructions for your individual home. However typically the following can be used as guidelines (please review your soils & engineering documents for your specific information):

  • Have all of your down spouts and sill cocks discharge into splash blocks or long downspout extensions.
  • Maintain the slope away from your house. Refill areas that may settle around foundation and slab areas.
  • From the foundation out five feet (or as stated in your current soils report) around the perimeter of your home you should install decorative materials such as gravel or bark directly on the soils or on a non woven, geotextile fabric which allows for natural evaporation to occur and still inhibits weed growth. Do not use polyethylene. The edges of these decorative areas should allow for surface drainage to be quickly discharged away from the foundation or slabs. Refer to your soils reports for details.
  • Keep drainage swales clear of leaves and debris so they function. You do not want any puddling of water within 10' of foundation areas.
  • Spray from sprinkler systems should not fall within five feet of the foundation. Zone control boxes and drains should be no closer than 10 feet to a foundation. Automatic shutoff valves are strongly recommended to help prevent leakage.
  • Shrubbery should not be planted within 5' of the foundation. Trees should be planted at least 15' away from any foundation area and water-loving trees such as cottonwoods and willows should be at least 20' away.
Septic Systems

For many years now we have only used engineered septic systems as we feel that these systems have always provided the best value to our clients. Again you should refer to your soils report and follow the specific instructions for your individual Septic System. However, typically the following can be used as guidelines:

  • Non-biodegradable materials must not be allowed to enter the system.
  • Surface of the system should be landscaped with native grasses that require very little irrigation.
  • Sprinkler systems should not be placed in the field area.
  • Septic tanks should be pumped at least every two years.
  • Chemically treated water such as from pools, spas etc should not be discharged into the sewage disposal system.
  • No traffic should be allowed to cross the area.
  • Surface runoff should not be allowed to pond on or near the system.
  • Horse or other animal grazing should not be allowed in this area because collapse of the system can occur.
  • Every six months the open valve should be closed and the next valve in sequence should be opened. The best time to do this is when you adjust your clocks for daylight savings.
Gutters & downspouts
  • Always have all of your down spouts discharge into downspout extensions.
  • You should not discharge into piping as they can become clogged and backup into the foundation soils.
  • Clean leaves and debris from your gutters on a regular basis.
Floating walls
  • Your soils report will also contain information on your "floating walls" in your lower levels (if applicable).
  • You should inspect these areas from time to time to ensure that movement has not occurred.
  • If movement has occurred and the gap is less that the amount specified in your soils report, then these areas should be adjusted.
  • If you think movement has occurred you should also check the posts, plumbing and heating expansion areas.
  • It is critical that if anyone adds any walls in areas that require floating walls that they follow the recommendations in your engineering report.

These are general guidelines only. You must refer to your manufactures specific product care and warranty guidelines and / or the engineering documents to avoid damage and potentially voiding your warranty.

  • Regular cleaning prevents soap scum buildup and discoloration.
  • Wipe surfaces clean immediately after applying cleaner, do not allow cleaners to sit or soak.
  • Do not use an abrasive sponges or other abrasive materials to wipe surfaces clean.
  • Use mild soap and water; do not use cleaners containing ammonia, bleach or chemical that can damage surfaces. Do not use abrasive products.
  • On chrome and brass use glass cleaner or metal polishes.
  • Gold plated faucets and gold used on decorative products is like fine jewelry. Use only warm water to clean.
  • Clean stainless steel once a week.
  • Be careful not to leave dirty dishes, coffee grounds, tea bags or other staining materials in contact with enamel surfaces for long periods of time.
  • The ideal cleaning technique is to always blot dry any water from metal surfaces. Allowing water to dry will form water deposits. It is important to use a dabbing motion to dry metal, not an abrasive or rubbing action.
  • For stubborn stains on cast iron use abrasives sparingly.
  • Soft abrasive cleaners may be used to clean most vitreous china products, Strong abrasives will scratch and dull the surface.
  • Do not use in tank toilet cleaners as they can damage the flush valve or other working parts.
  • Wipe any cleaner splashes from any plastic or coated surfaces immediately.
  • Disposals:
    • Use cold water at all times when the disposal is operating
    • Don't pour grease down your drain
    • You can grind ice cubes and lemon peels to freshen
  • Use a shower squeegee to clean the glass doors after showering.
  • To remove hard water deposits and soap scum use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water.
  • To remove mineral deposits from the aerator: Turn counterclockwise to remove. Soak in vinegar overnight and flush it with water, rubbing it with a soft toothbrush if deposits are stubborn.
  • Disconnect garden hoses from sill cocks during the winter or when cold weather is expected and close and insulate crawl space vents.

These are general guidelines only. You must refer to your manufactures specific product care and warranty guidelines and / or the engineering documents to avoid damage and potentially voiding your warranty.

  • Exterior cleaning requires only wiping with a damp cloth and then drying.
  • Remove oil, grease or general soil using a clean cloth dampened with a fresh solution of mild soap and water. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth, and then dry thoroughly.
  • Avoid using harsh detergents, strong soap, abrasive cleaners, or self-polishing waxes. All of these items can remove the cabinets' factory-applied protective finish.
  • Avoid using your dishcloth to clean or dry cabinet exteriors. It may contain remnants of detergents and grease.
  • Treat your cabinets as you would fine furniture. Clean and wax exteriors occasionally (at least every six months). If you use a spray wax, spray the wax on a cloth, then wipe on cabinet.
  • Excess moisture is an enemy of any finish. Immediately dry surfaces where water may have spilled using a clean cloth.
Ceramic tile counter tops
  • Routine wiping with a clean sponge or cloth.
  • or a heavily soiled, stained or mildewed counter tops; clean with a thick solution of scouring powder and hot water. Allow to set for five to ten minutes, scrub with a stiff bristled brush and rinse. Repeat if necessary.
  • If the stain remains, apply household bleach. DO NOT use on colored grout. Rinse well and dry.
  • For stained grout, the scour-paste mix may be left for five to six hours. Tough stains may require special treatment.
  • Also see section on tile, grout, and caulking.
Laminate countertops
  • Wash with mild dishwashing liquid or powdered detergent and water using a soft cloth. Rinse with warm and dry with a soft cloth.
  • For difficult spots, use an all-purpose or bathroom cleaner following instructions. Rinse and dry.
  • For very stubborn spots, rub a soft brush with mild lava soap to create a lather. Gently rub the spot in a circular motion, pressing lightly. Rinse and dry. If the spot remains, use undiluted chlorine bleach, allowing it to remain on the spot no more than one minute. Rinse several times and dry.
  • If laminate is in an area where only dusting is needed for maintenance, a non-oily furniture spray may be used. Be sure to clean spray off several times a year to avoid build-up. This may be done with ammoniated cleaners.
  • Abrasive tools and cleaners will scratch the surface marring both the beauty and the stain resistance.
  • A cutting board should be used for food preparation to avoid cutting and chipping.
  • Delamination is when the surface edge becomes separated from the support material to which it is glued. To reglue, use a knife to scrape away dried glue from the support surface and the back of the laminate. Apply a contact adhesive evenly to both surfaces and allow to dry until shiny. Press laminate firmly and evenly down at all points. Allow to dry for 24 hours before exposing to water.
  • Prolonged exposure to high heat can cause blistering and delamination. Do not set pots or dishes directly from oven or burner on an unprotected surface. Protect the surface from heatproducing appliances.
  • The greatest cause of damage is failure to rinse after cleaning. Even a small amount of cleaning solution on a countertop will be reactivated chemically when a damp dish is set upon it. The chemicals act on the surface far longer than they should. The result could he a permanent scar.
  • Water should not be allowed to stand on the surface for a prolonged period, as it could attack the glue lines and cause the support material to swell.
Corian countertops
  • There are three types of finishes: matte, semi gloss and gloss. All sinks and bowls have the matte finish. Soapy water or ammonia-based cleaners will remove most dirt and stains from all types of finishes. However slightly different techniques must be used to remove difficult stains depending on the finish. Use our Customer links page to visit the Corian website for additional information.
  • To prevent heat damage, always use a hot pad or trivet with rubber feet to protect the surface.
  • Avoid exposing to strong chemicals such as paint removers, oven cleaners, etc. if contact occurs, quickly flush the surface with water.
  • Do not cut directly on Corian.
  • Run cold water when pouring boiling water into sinks.
  • Minor damage including scratches, general or chemical stains, scorches or burns, and minor impact marks, can be repaired on site with a light abrasive cleanser and a Scotch Brite* pad.
  • For heavier damage light sanding may be necessary (consult with supplier) Hand sand using with 400 grit wet and dry paper. To minimize dust wet the surface before starting.
  • To avoid possible staining clean up spills immediately. Use specialty natural stone cleaners is recommended to maintain your countertop in its best condition and to protect the sealer. Repeated use of dish soap can dull your countertop shine. Place hot pots etc. on a trivet.
  • Don't cut directly on countertop – use a cutting board.
  • Don't sit or stand on your countertop as it may crack.
  • To seal your countertop, obtain a specialized product recommended by your installer. Wipe the sealer across the countertop after cleaning and drying it thoroughly. Allow the sealer to dry overnight and repeat again the next day. This process usually occurs once a year.
Engineered countertops
  • To avoid possible staining clean up spills immediately using a soft damp cloth or paper towel and if necessary a mild detergent.
  • Place hot pots etc. on a trivet as engineered products are sensitive to heat.
  • Engineered products can scratch so don't cut directly on the countertop – use a cutting board and avoid scraping with knives etc. to remove hardened spots
  • Abrasive cleansers or harsh cleansers, especially anything that contains bleach should not be used.
  • Most engineered stone surfaces do not require polishing or the use of sealants

These are general guidelines only. You must refer to your manufactures specific product care and warranty guidelines and / or the engineering documents to avoid damage and potentially voiding your warranty.

  • Once a week, vacuum your entire carpet using very short, slow movements, about 2 or 3 strokes in each spot for maximum soil removal. Vacuum the traffic lanes more frequently.
  • Place wipe-off rugs on hard surfaced floors adjacent to carpeted floors. Keep adjacent areas free of dirt and substances that may be tracked onto your new carpet.
  • Protect your carpet from prolonged periods of direct sunlight with blinds, shades, awning or special glass.
  • Refer to your manufacturer's brochures for details on stain removal provided by the mill that manufactured your carpet. If a stain removal process is used which is not recommended, the warranty on your carpet may be invalid. Remove spots quickly so they do not become permanent stains
  • Shampoo as soon as soil, which cannot be removed by vacuuming, is evident. Vacuum as soon as carpet is dry to remove soil loosened by shampooing.
  • Do not rely on foam cleaning products, as they cannot remove deeply imbedded soil. Some foam products leave a residue in the carpet that attracts and holds soil. To avoid this, conduct the following test: Dispense a small amount of foam in a shallow dish and allow to dry. If the residue is hard and sticky, the product will act the same when spread on the surface of the carpet. If the residue powders easily, the product is safe to use as a surface brightener.
  • Always take immediate action so that spills do not become stains. On liquids absorb as much as possible by blotting (never rubbing) with a clean, absorbent material like tissue, paper towel or sponge.
  • Remove pastes by scraping carefully, working from the edge of the spill to the center to prevent spreading.
  • Remove powders by vacuuming, do not moisten.
  • Don't use a liquid household detergent or soap, as these will leave a sticky residue that will cause resoiling and may damage the fiber.
  • If the carpet should become over wet for any reason, the carpet should be pulled up and turned face down in order for the backing to dry. If left on the floor to dry, mildew may occur.
  • Covering the crushed area with a damp white clean cloth and then applying heat from an electric iron that is set on medium setting to the cloth can sometimes restore crushed or matted areas. Remove the cloth and restore the pile by brushing it lightly.
  • For you teenagers who want to have a party while your parents are out of town: first of all, don't, but if it's too late: A deep cigarette burn can only be corrected by replacement of the affected area (bummer huh) and you shouldn't be smoking anyway! A light burn which has affected only the tips of the pile ruft might be treatable with the following steps:
    • Lightly rub the burnt tufts with a course sandpaper.
    • Rub with a clean white cloth dampened with carpet shampoo.
    • Brush tufts lightly to blend with surrounding tufts.
    • Place several layers of dry, white cloths on the damp area with a weight on top. Leave weighted layers in place long enough to absorb moisture.
    • If all else fails, then place a potted plant over the burn area.
Hardwood Flooring
  • Polyurethane and water-based urethane finishes do not require waxing.
  • Place throw rugs in entries, in front of the kitchen sink, and in other highly trafficked areas to avoid the accumulation of dirt.
  • Vacuum or dust mop on a daily basis as loose dirt will scratch your floor and dull the appearance.
  • Protection such as protector pads placed under furniture legs will help prevent scratches.
  • Wipe up all spills from the floor as soon as possible to prevent spotting and staining.
  • The use of cleaning products containing wax or oils is not recommended. If these products are utilized, additional finish coats may not adhere properly and the wood may need to be resanded to achieve a new look.
  • When floor becomes soiled, damp wipe with a mixture of one-cup vinegar to one gallon of warm water. When damp wiping, be sure to remove all excess water from the mop.
  • Never wash or wet mop wood floors. Excess moisture can penetrate the finish causing discoloration and warping.
  • When traffic patterns begin to show, your finish is worn and should be professionally reapplied. This "screen and coat process" (rough up the old finish with a fine screen and reapply a finish) is usually a one-day process. The necessary frequency will depend on the amount of traffic your floor receives. If the floor is too worn for the screen and coat to repair, it will be necessary to resand and refinish.
  • Measured in pounds per square inch (psi), a car has a load of 28-30 psi, an elephant 50-100 psi, and a 125 pound woman with a 1/4" high heel 2,000 psi! That's a problem for any floor. An exposed nail head on a high heel can exert a force of 8,000 psi! That's high enough to crush hardened concrete. It's difficult for any flooring material to resist that high of a force. High Heels can damage any flooring.
Vinyl flooring
  • Equip all furniture and appliances with large surface casters, glides or furniture cups.
  • Avoid rubber as staining may occur. Use hard plastic or glass, if possible. The heavier the furniture, the wider the base should be. Be sure all casters have a wide, flat surface.
  • When moving appliances and heavy furniture, use plywood or hardwood panels and "walk" the furniture or appliance across the floor.
  • Rollers under appliances are meant only to roll straightforward or backward.
  • Extreme exposure to sunlight, such as through sliding glass doors, could cause fading or discoloration. It is best to draw your draperies during periods of peak exposure.
  • Hot items dropped on the floor will permanently mark the floor. Heat producing appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves, may discolor the vinyl underneath them.
  • Floor mats placed in entries will assist in avoiding damage from tracked in dirt and grime. Avoid using rubber-backed rugs as they cause permanent staining.
  • Sweep, dust mop or vacuum your floor daily to remove dirt before it scratches the surface of the floor.
  • NEVER use undiluted chlorine bleach and DO NOT allow diluted solutions to remain on the floor for long periods of time. NEVER use cleaners with abrasives or solvents. They will dull your floor. DO NOT use steel wool. NEVER use single step cleaners / polish combinations. DO NOT mechanically buff high gloss floors.
  • When applying a floor finish, DO NOT pour directly on floor. Pour into a small pan and dip a clean sponge mop or applicator into a thin layer of finish. This will prevent deposits of finish from collecting in depressions. Thick applications will remain sticky and will attract dirt.
  • Spills not wiped up immediately may cause permanent staining. See manufactures guidelines for stain removal.
  • When your floor starts to look slightly dirty all over, wet cleaning is necessary.
    1. Sweep or vacuum up all loose dirt.
    2. Mix a mild detergent with water according to directions.
    3. Mop with a sponge mop with an attachment to squeeze out excess water.
    4. Clean mop frequently in detergent solution and change water as needed.
    5. Using a different mop that has not been used with detergent, rinse floor with fresh, clear water.
  • If waxing is required: Follow label directions. Use clean sponge mop, dipping into a shallow pan containing wax. DO NOT pour directly on floor. Spread lightly and allow to dry thoroughly

These are general guidelines only. You must refer to your manufactures specific product care and warranty guidelines and / or the engineering documents to avoid damage and potentially voiding your warranty.

Ceramic tile walls and floors
  • If you have soft water, use an all-purpose cleaner (see manufactures list of recommendations). Allow to stand for five minutes, and then lightly scrub with a clean sponge. Rinse well.
  • If you have hard water, use a commercial tile cleaner. You may also use a solution of equal parts water and vinegar.
  • Be sure to first test this solution in a small area to be sure it won't etch your tile or erode the grout. (Vinegar can damage some crystalline tile glazes). You may need to scrub with a nylon scrubber.
  • DO NOT use steel wool as rusting may occur.
  • Dry shower walls after each use.
  • A light coat of lemon oil (DO NOT USE WITH COLORED GROUT) will help keep water from spotting.
  • For heavily trafficked floor areas, a concentrated solution of Spic & Span or Oakite is recommended. Be sure to rinse well.
Unglazed mosiac tiles - Walls and Floors
  • Use a household scouring powder on a wet sponge or an all-purpose cleaner with a nylon scrubber.
  • Heavy duty cleaning of floors requires mixing scouring powder with hot water to a paste-like consistency and mopping over floors. Allow paste to stand for about five minutes. Scrub with a brush and rinse well.
Quarry tile floors
  • Mop with a household cleaner or a vinegar-water solution.
  • Easy maintenance and a natural patina can be acquired by following these steps:
    • Thoroughly clean floor.
    • Apply a thin film of a soapless, oil-based cleaner, such as Lestoil, Pinesol, or Janitor-in-a-Drum, undiluted to the floor with a soft, clean cloth. Avoid using a mop, which spreads an uneven film of oil over the floor.
    • After drying, if the floor is "tacky", mop with one half cup of Lestoil mixed with eight cups of warm to remove excess oil from the surface of the floor.
  • Continue routine maintenance using a normal solution of cleaner and water. You may expect a uniform darkening of the grout.
  • A patina can be achieved by buffing with marbling rouge when floor becomes dull. Marble is porous and readily absorbs liquids; therefore, it can stain. In order to prevent staining or dirt build-up, regular cleaning with warm water and a clear, non-abrasive, non-acidic soap is recommended Caulking and grout
Caulking and Grout
  • It is essential to remove and replace caulking (latex or silicone) or grout when it begins to crack or develop holes. If it is not done routinely, water will reach the support surface and cause swelling and will cause the tile to loosen.