Wood WISE by Amorim review, our new cork flooring



The next project on our list was to replace the 30+ year old carpet in the guest room. I really liked the carpet, but it was tired and worn and truly needed to go. But what to replace it with? More carpet; luxury vinyl plank; hard wood; engineered wood; laminate; tile? They all have their pluses and minuses to be sure; and when you add in the plethora of options, information, finishes, scorings, ratings, touchability, visuals, different names, manufacturers, country of origin, environmental issues, reliability, durability....this research is not for the faint of heart.

After many months of learning and comparisons and hair pulling, we chose to replace the carpet with a hard surface and decided on cork, a "green" product without any VOC's (nasty fumes), no formaldehyde nor phthalates.  We agreed to install Wood WISE by Amorim. Amorim has been in the cork business since 1870 and is a world leader in this sector. Wicanders, another big name in the cork world, is part of the Amorim family. They harvest the cork and create their flooring in Portugal. It's manufactured in a carbon negative facility (read about that here), making it a sustainable product. They use recycled water bottles for their top, protective layer. When we're done with it some day, our floor will be fully recyclable.

Gary at I&J Carpet introduced me to the product in their showroom. Of all the hundreds of samples of flooring I had looked at, Wood WISE topped my list for visual beauty and touchability (yep, that's a word in the flooring world). It looks very much like real hardwood. It's available in many colors and styles. There is texture on the surface which I wanted to help our dog keep her footing. Poor thing often does the Scooby scramble on our existing hardwood floors. As a huge bonus, this product is 100% waterproof, so those occasional accidents are easily cleaned up.

Wood WISE planks are brand spanking new, so we could not find even one review. It frankly took a huge leap of faith for us to even consider it. After weighing all the pros and cons, and factoring in that Wood WISE checked all of our boxes, we decided to place our order.

We pulled the baseboards off ourselves. It was quick and easy and even kind of fun due to having the right tool.




If you're going to reuse the baseboards, remember to number the back of the pieces so re-installation of your baseboards goes smoothly.




Wood WISE is a click-in product, so you can install it yourself if you like. We were in a time crunch, so we hired a pro.

Our floor looks absolutely beautiful! What a transformation. I love the feel of the floor. It's warm, and soft, and very quiet. Since it's only been installed for a few weeks, I'll have to update you as time goes on to report on durability. I can vouch that for us we could detect no off-gassing. My parents came to stay for the holidays a few days after the floor was installed. My mother is extremely sensitive to any and all noxious fumes or smells, and she did not have any issues at all. Gotta love that!

For now, we'll enjoy our new floor. I'll breathe easy knowing there is no off-gassing in our home; admire the beauty of our floor; enjoy the new updated look of our room; and hope the durability is as promised.



UPDATE: I cannot believe it's been over a year since we've had our cork floor! In the past year we've adopted two large dogs. Even with the extra wear and tear, the floor looks as beautiful now as when we first installed it. We've also had a few spills, some that weren't discovered until the next day. No problem at all.  I use a non-rotating head vacuum cleaner; and mop with the suggested Bona floor cleaner.

We have hardwood flooring in most of the house.There is a difference in feel. The cork flooring is softer. It makes sense, because the cork is protected by a layer of recycled plastic bottles and hardwood floors will have a harder finish. The cork is also more flexible and padded with a backing layer of cork. It's not better or worse: It's just a little different. 

We're extremely happy with our cork floor and would use it again if we have the opportunity. Best of luck with your flooring search!






Wire Shelving Makover


Trouble with space issues has sent the organizational part of my brain into overdrive. We do plan on some remodeling/additions eventually, so I don't want to spend too much money on temporary solutions, but being a Virgo I cannot abide living in chaotic mess. An awkward corner of stacked boxes and plastic storage bins was driving me nuts. I brought in a shelving unit that had been languishing in the garage filled with deflated soccer balls, old lacrosse sticks, and miscellaneous stuff that hasn't been used in years. Score! I love it when I can shop my own home, especially during a pandemic. Even more fortuitous is that this shelving was the perfect size to fit tidily into this corner, and had casters to roll easily out of the way if we wanted to fully access a seldom used door.




Now I appreciate the minimalist look, and wire shelving in the home can be done quite successfully, but it just wasn't cutting it in my art/sunroom. The wood trim and terracotta tiled floor begged for something warm and not the cold steel look. Plus I was still looking at plastic bins and clutter. I had previously ordered a large quantity of natural linen from Fabrics-store.com (subscribe for their most awesome sales). I'm contemplating recovering an old sofa, and I knew there were lots of projects around the house that I could use this linen for......like covering metal shelving.


Lowe's had a solid pine board the perfect size to fit on top of the shelves. I ordered that and a curtain rod online, and utilized their convenient, contact-less curbside pick up. 





I put screws on the bottom of the board; then wired the board to the shelving to help keep it in place. 





I then screwed the curtain rod to the front of the board. The hardware didn't fit exactly, so I'll be sure to gently move the curtains when I'm accessing the boxes. 


I sewed the front curtains from two rectangular pieces of cloth, using the selvedge as the hem for the bottom. I then used a third piece of linen and attached it with fabric tacks for a stationary covering on the side to completely enclose the shelves.





It's also nice to have an extra work station or flat space to put things. 





All in all I'm very happy with the outcome of this project, corralling the clutter and creating more useful space, while not spending too much time and money on it. 






Beeswax Wraps


We're all trying to do our part to re-use, recycle, and not create so much waste. A few years ago I purchased a set of wax wraps by Meli Wraps. They're a nifty way to cover leftovers without using plastic wrap. They're not leak-proof or completely air tight, but in most cases they work very well and are environmentally friendly. Using the warmth of your hands, as you press the wrap onto your container, it will cling and mold to its shape. I've tried a couple different brands and found Meli Wraps far superior to the others. All the wax wraps I've used leave a slight waxy residue on my container that is easily washed off with soap and hot water. To wash the wraps, use cool water and soap and rub with your hands. Do not put them in the dishwasher, microwave, or use hot water. They are not recommended to use with raw meat. They should last about a year. 






I like to tinker and make. Since I enjoy encaustic wax painting, I had all the tools and ingredients on hand to make wax wraps myself. There are quite a few blog posts and Youtube videos explaining different methods of how to make wax wraps that are worth checking out. Some people used a foil lined pan in an oven. Some people used a double boiler to melt their wax. Some people did not use an iron, which might be a good method to try if you do not have a dedicated wax iron. There are also a variety of recipes for the wax mixture. My friend was ahead of the game and had already experimented with ratios and ingredients, so I was happy to use what worked best for her instead of reinventing the wheel. 


Wax recipe:

100 g beeswax

68 g damar resin

2T jojoba oil


She first tried pine resin, but found it was very pungent smelling and did not stick as well as the damar. I did not have jojoba oil and substituted coconut oil. The results seem very similar.


Tools I used:

electric griddle

oven thermometer

glass jar or metal container

foil

rags

meat tenderizer or hammer

clothes pins

small clothes line (I just used string)

stirring stick

paint brush (natural bristles so they won't melt)

wax iron (an iron without holes)

apron

thinner woven cotton fabric





Use pre-washed and ironed, thin woven cotton fabric for your wraps. If the fabric is too thick it will not be pliable and will be too cumbersome to meld onto your bowl or cup. I made an assortment of sizes: 4x4, 5x5, 8x10, 10x12. Use pinking shears to cut your pieces. The wax will seal the edges so they shouldn't fray. 





I have an electric griddle that I covered with foil. The wax/resin gets extremely sticky, so the foil is essential for cleanup. To clean my hands when I was done I put a little oil and rubbed it around then some soap. I use an oven thermometer on my griddle to maintain a temperature of about 200 degrees. You don't want it much hotter or you'll get smoke which means toxic fumes. I was in a cold garage, so my temperature while melting the mixture sometimes went up to 220.





Put the wax and oil in a metal container or glass jar, place it on the hot foil-lined griddle, and let that melt. If your resin is not in powdered form, crush it. Put the resin bag inside some rags and a paper bag and gently pound it with a hammer or the smooth side of a meat tenderizer.





You'll want to lightly add a tiny (about 1/4 teaspoon) sprinkling (not one big blob) of damar powder, then completely mix that into the melted wax/oil mixture. If the resin is in chunks it will be too difficult to dissolve. Don't rush it; keep adding a tiny bit of damar sprinkled on top, and stir, stir, stir to mix it in. It took me about 40 minutes and my friend almost an hour to completely mix the resin into the wax with no remaining lumps or gelatinous clumps. 






Once your wax/resin mixture is completely melted and incorporated, put a piece of fabric onto the heated foil to heat the fabric. Paint a thin layer of hot wax onto the fabric. I used wooden clothes pins to maneuver and flip the fabric. Paint a thin layer of wax onto the other side. You want the fabric completely saturated but not dripping.


I then placed a clean piece of fabric on top of the waxy fabric and lightly ironed to soak up excess wax. My first go around I ironed too much of the wax off and the fabric didn't quite stick enough so I had to go back and apply an additional layer of wax. It works just fine with the additional wax. I would suggest making one or two, then trying them out to make sure you've got the correct amount of wax. 






After you iron, use your clothes pins to peel the two pieces of fabric apart. Place the cleaner fabric back onto the foil and drape the saturated fabric over the clothesline (ie piece of string). The finished wrap will cool quickly, in less than a minute. While it's cooling, go back to your griddle and add your thin layer of wax to the fabric, flip over, and add a thin layer of wax. Top with another clean piece of fabric, iron, etc. and repeat. 






You can save any leftover wax in case you need to re-apply more wax later on to keep your wraps well primed and extend their longevity. I made about 25 pieces of assorted sizes with this recipe. 





I love the smell of the beeswax! These wraps smell lightly of honey, especially if they're sitting in sunshine or a warm room. I put together an assortment of sizes, wrapped in parchment paper, and popped them into my family's gift bags. 


I hope you enjoy this fun project.