Get a “Load” of This: Top Load Laundry Tips

With all of the industry changes that have been made in the category of top-load washing machines it can be hard to know what is the right model for you and your loads. While a front-load washer can be an excellent choice for cleaning if you have heavily-soiled items, don’t count top-load washers out! Many of our farming and machining customers still select from our HE top-loading models for their toughest loads. These models can still get you great results and save you energy as well. You may have a longer wash time but these models will use less water and spend less time and energy in your dryer. As this article from Consumer Reports states, high-efficiency top-load washers can and be an ideal choice if your laundry is near bedrooms or a family room as they cause less vibration and noise. 

The Whirlpool®, Maytag®, and Amana® top-load laundry options you find at Village Home Stores try to make things simpler on you the customer every time they launch a new model. It can always be difficult to adjust to a new machine and all of it’s functions but after your few few loads you will begin to get more comfortable and start to see the wash results right for your own lifestyle. To get the best results from your high-efficiency washer we recommend you are sure to select the right temperature for your wash, use the correct detergent (and recommended amount of that detergent), and select the best cycle for your load.

wash_timeThere are really just two simple questions you need to answer when selecting your wash cycles on a top-loading machine. What you are washing and how you want your garments to be treated during the wash cycle. Many of our top-load washer models now offer an estimated time display for you to see how your selections effect your wash time. Some of the newest models of top-load washing machines even have an added feature that can remember your recent settings from previous loads to make it even easier on you. 

Image Courtesy of Whirlpool®
Image Courtesy of Whirlpool®

If you haven’t shopped for a washing machine recently you may be surprised when you open the lid and find no agitator in the center. This is due to the water usage regulations and HE standards now put into place as these machines are manufactured. When you stop in to shop for a new washer and dryer from Village Home Stores our staff can show to you and explain how these new HE washer operate and wash your garments. How these machines now wash compared to the “older” methods is a large subject in itself and our staff has been heavily trained on all of these changes. This same staff is just a phonecall away when you are learning how to use your new HE washer from Village Home Stores.

whatThis is where you can select from options like “delicates”, “whites”, and even “bulky” or “sheets” settings on some models. Maytag® offers their award-winning PowerWash® system with the best cleaning in its class to remove everyday tough stains in a single wash using PowerSpray, optimal dispensers and the PowerWash® cycle. This PowerWash® cycle is ideal for farmers and work clothes that may get soiled with oil or grease. 

howThis is where you will select your soil levels, temperature, rinse, spin speeds, and any pre-treatment options for your load. Lower water usage is one of the main goals of these newer models. Because these machines use an impeller to move your garments in the wash basin and not an agitator, a full basin of water doesn’t allow the movement needed for the best wash. Millions of dollars have been invested by Whirlpool®, Maytag®, and Amana® to perfect this new system of washing. Trust us when we say that the testing behind the best fabric care and best cleaning for you has been invested into these washers.

full_laundryThere may be times that you may feel you want more water to be used during your wash cycles and there are ways to achieve this. Adding an extra rinse can of course help achieve this added water but selecting features like a “Deep Water” wash can also be a great choice. When this option is selected, it still uses the load sensing technology built into the machine so the water levels will vary based on what you loaded into the machine. If you want a full tub of water, you can select the “Bulky” Items cycle which will give you more gallons of water in the wash followed by more gallons in the rinse.

presoakSelecting the “Presoak” option is also a great choice when you have a heavily soiled garment. This Presoak option that lets you skip soaking outside of the washer. It works by adding extra time for it in the washer before the wash cycle starts. This is a feature available on even some of the entry-level models of high-efficiency washers. Other options like the ColorLast™ option from Whirlpool® can help you combine your wash selections with the right temperatures to keep your garments looking fresh and not faded.

With so many options from all of our brands there is a model just right for you and our expert staff can help you find it. Shop all of our top-load washer selection by stopping in to talk to a member of our expert sales staff about what machine is best for your lifestyle. Laundry_Geneseo

Product Profile: Natural Soapstone

Natural stones have been mined from the Earth for centuries to be used for decorative purposes. Each natural stone that is formed has unique qualities from every other. That is why you may find certain materials recommended for specific locations or uses. For example, marble is ideal for  pastry-making because of the temperature the material maintains among other reasons. While the common use for Soapstone may not come to mind right away, chances are you have work on a Soapstone surface before. Think back to your Chemistry class or any lab course you may have taken…remember the lab tables?

soapstone_on_islandThose dark green chalky tabletops? There is a very good chance those tops you are picturing  were Soapstone! But why? Many of the same reasons why Soapstone has been used in labs for hundreds of years are why you may want to consider it for your kitchen counters.

soapstone_benefits

The first reason you see listed we will touch on when we talk about care and maintenance for Soapstone. The second item listed is that Soapstone is a naturally non-porous material. Nothing will absorb into the material itself. This means it is completely stain-resistant! A fantastic quality in any kitchen countertop!

soapstone_on_white_cabinetsBut why is Soapstone so great in a lab? Soapstone is also an inert material. This means that it is impervious to acids, heat, and chemicals. Bottom line, not a thing in your kitchen can change the makeup of this material once it is installed in your home. While Granite and Marble are extremely durable materials to install in your kitchen, you do need to be cautious of some things that can harm them. Read more about this here on our blog. Another interesting characteristic of Soapstone is that it can absorb, store, and even radiate heat. In fact it is still used as a material in some heaters. Native Americans and Vikings used soapstone and shaped it into cooking-vessels because of these characteristics. 

soapstone_maintenanceBut didn’t we mention above that Soapstone “builds character over time”? Soapstone (also known as steatite, or soaprock) is made up mainly of the mineral talc. This is what gives Soapstone the chalky and “soapy” feel and appearance.   While Soapstone is inert and non-porous, it is a soft material. In a kitchen countertop application this means your Soapstone counters will develop surface scratches. These surface scratches and worn areas are what tell the story of your stone once it is in place. If this is not a look you are after, then discuss with your designer at Village Home Stores what materials can give you this same look but in a harder surface. How do you get your Soapstone to have that darker look with less talc? You oil it. Take a look at this image of an un-oiled Soapstone countertop:

beforeIf a more traditional Soapstone patina is what you are after you will want to oil your counters. Note below the same top with an oiled section in the center:

oiled_imageSee the natural patina that comes out of the stone when an oil is applied over the material? Applying mineral oil (NOTE: not mineral spirits) to Soapstone brings the natural beauty out of the material. The mineral oil will not absorb into the top it just enhances the surface of the material. Many times a coat of mineral oil can also conceal the appearance of surface scratches. If you still have surface imperfections on your Soapstone you can remove them by hand with a fine-grit sandpaper before oiling.

clothKeep your mineral oil and a designated cloth for oiling with your other kitchen cleaning supplies. This way you can continue to use the same cloth and not confuse it with others used for food prep. Because the oil will not absorb into the Soapstone, you may have some non-uniform oiled areas on your tops for a few days as your oiled tops “dry”. These can be wiped clean with a dry cloth. This oiling process can be done as often as you would like. Oiling your Soapstone tops is not a mandatory maintenance. It doesn’t have to be done at all, just often enough to maintain whatever patina and look you want your tops to exude. Many customers oil their tops once a month for a year and get the overall look they desire. They then may oil it once a year or never again as it builds its character.

howto_oil_soapstoneWe are so lucky to have a local source for natural stone material right here in the Quad Cities. Epic Stone LLC in Davenport, Iowa is our local source for Soapstone and other natural stone materials. Epic is the warehouse facility where the fabricators used by Village Home Stores will be picking up the material for your project. Read more about what you can expect from a visit to pic here on our blog.  If Soapstone is what you have selected for your project you can pick the specific slabs of material your project will use. Your designer at Village Home Stores can help coordinate an appointment for you to visit Epic to tag your material. Are you considering Soapstone counters for your kitchen or bath project? Make an appointment today to discuss your options with a designer at Village Home Stores. Call or click here to make an appointment. soapstone_counters_quad_cities

Product Profile: Is L.V.T. For Me?

What is L.V.T. ? L.V.T. is short for “Luxury Vinyl Tile” and it has become a very sought-after material since it’s arrival into the floorcovering scene many years ago. The first L.V.T. began production in the late 70’s but it wasn’t until the last 5 years that Luxury Vinyls have began to take their place among the top choices for material in both remodel and new construction projects.

vinyl_tilesWhy is L.V.T. such a great material for your project? The first reason many of our customer love their L.V.T. are the qualities the tiles themselves. Compared to other harder surfaces, Luxury Vinyls are warmer underfoot and more comfortable to stand on for longer periods of time. Advancements in the industry in the last few years have also played a part in the rise of L.V.T.’s popularity. These tiles can have a photo realistic replication to true natural products at a fraction of the cost.

LVT_installationLuxury Vinyls can be installed to have the look and feel of ceramic, natural stones, and even hardwoods. As with all materials we sell here at Village Home Stores, we offer expert installation for your project by crews local to you and your home. Luxury Vinyls require a specific installation method and materials (see grout portion of this post) so your best result will be to hire a professionals to install. If you are wanting to install your material yourself, there will be some preparation to the space needed.

Village_flooringDiscuss your existing subfloor with your salesperson and find out what needs to be done before installing your new floors. An underlayment may be needed as well so be sure to review your material options with your salesperson.

Vinyl_tile_groutL.V.T. can be installed grouted or without grout. If a true ceramic tile look is desired, a grouted application is recommended. However, L.V.T. can be installed without any grout for a very clean look. photo-replicated wood L.V.T. flooring will look most realistic if installed without grout. The grout used for installation of Luxury Vinyls is a specially formulated acrylic that it will not scratch the tiles. The grout used for ceramic tile is cement based and should NEVER be used with luxury vinyl tiles.

LVT_informationBecause the grout used for L.V.T. installations is acrylic based, it will not absorb stains like a cement based grout will. The grout itself is stain-resistant because of the makeup of the product. Cleanup is also very easy for L.V.T. materials. Simple damp mopping is recommended.

LVT_pricesWhat is the price for this category of flooring? There are obviously many products and styles under the category of “Luxury Vinyls” but we can offer some perspective where L.V.T.s fall into the bigger picture. L.V.T. can vary in price.  Entry level pricing is comparable to entry level sheet vinyl and at the high end it is comparable to a mid-range hardwood.  With pricing everywhere in between depending on product line and brand.

Village_floor_companyWe have multiple brands of Luxury Vinyls on display and also installed in our Geneseo showroom. Call today or contact us via our website to schedule a consultation with a flooring expert at Village Home Store. Let us help you decide if L.V.T. is right for your project. flooring_Quad_cities_phone

Use & Care: Stainless Steel Appliances

One of the most common questions we get when showing Stainless Steel appliances to customers is but doesn’t it show fingerprints? The short answer to this is yes, but we usually then walk that same customer over to a Black appliance. With the industry change to a smooth and glossy finish in place of a texture, Black appliances can actually shows fingerprints pretty clearly. Stainless Steel can be a great look for many projects. That being said, there is a small amount of maintenance for your Stainless Steel appliances.

stainless steel wipesAlways use a cleaner that is labeled specifically for Stainless Steel. There are a great number of these available. Village sells products by “Affresh” that are manufactured and approved by Whirlpool for use on their appliances. Many Stainless Steel cleaners come in spray and wipe form. While wipes can be convenient for quick touch up, they can dry up easily if the container isn’t closed properly after use.  If you have a busy kitchen you may prefer the wipes because they are a one-step process and are perfect for touch-ups and frequent use.

affresh for stainlessSpray or lotion-form cleaners require an extra step but can give a great result of you are cleaning your appliances less frequently and want the best results. Use spray-on products about every other month or as you see they are needed. In the showroom we are constantly using Affresh to keep things looking great. Follow the directions on the label. In most cases you apply with one cloth, let the product set, then return with a clean cloth and buff. The best tool you can keep handy for daily cleaning is just a clean, dry microfiber cloth. This can be used to wipe smudges and prints quickly.

We do want to mention a few things to avoid when cleaning your Stainless Steel appliances. You want to be sure to protect your investment and not let certain things come in contact with the Stainless so your appliances look great for years to come!

magnets on stainless steel

  • You want to be sure to avoid using Magnets on your Stainless panels. The reason for this is the reaction that happens over time where the metals make contact. These marks can be difficult to remedy once they happen. Magnets also can become a cause of scratches to appear on your appliance.
  • Abrasive Cleaners, Pads and Clothes can be damaging to the surface of Stainless Steel.
  • Bleach or any kind of Hydrochloric Acids need to be avoided. These materials can cause a harmful reaction to your Stainless Steel.
  • Lysol cleaners contain ingredients that fall into the category listed above and should be avoided.
  • Long exposure to Table Salt or Salt & Vinegar Mixes can be damaging as well to Stainless Steel.

alternative cleaners for stainless steelBut what alternatives can be used? We do recommend using the Affresh products or others approved for use on Stainless Steel. If needed, there are some alternative methods you can try as well. WD-40 can be used on stainless and is said to be helpful in repelling prints and smudges from happening. The smell however is not to appetizing so you may want to stick to another method. Baby Oil can also be applied to Stainless and certainly smells more pleasant than WD-40.

Village-Home-Stores-AppliancesJust because you see Stainless appliances on magazine covers at the grocery check out or all over Pinterest does not mean the look is your taste. White and Black kitchen appliances remain very popular and even the now-discontinued “Bisque” finish is very sought-after in our region. Both Whirlpool and Maytag have recently introduced combination finishes that offer a Black or White appliance with Stainless hardware and accents.  These can be an excellent option for a customer who may not want full panels of Stainless Steel in their space.

There are some “matte finish” or “fingerprint-proof” appliances available in the market but they can be very limited in features and models as the finish is not universally available on all products. It can also be difficult to put together a full kitchen of models in these specialty finishes. The look is slightly discolored from true Stainless so be aware of that when selecting models and locations. These “fingerprint-proof” finishes can be a fantastic choice if, for instance, your refrigerator is separated from the other appliances and won’t be near another appliance. The combination Black-with-Stainless and White-with-Stainless finishes have become very popular and are now available in many many models. That list of combination models continues to grow as the false-stainless look is becoming less popular in purchases.

Talk to your salesperson about what appliance finish is right for your lifestyle. Don’t have a salesperson yet? Call or contact us today to get started. You can always shop appliances online anytime here. but seeing these models in person is the best way for us to show you all of your options. See you soon!  (309) 944-1344 

Selecting Your Material at Epic Stone LLC

 

You have decided to invest in beautiful stone countertops… now what?

Epic Stone in DavenportThe good news is that selecting your stone can be a fun part of the process. Village Home Stores is not going to send you on an epic journey to Chicago or Des Moines to select your stone, instead we will send you to Epic Stone in Davenport, IA. We are so very lucky to have such a large selection of materials without a long drive to see them. Epic Stone, LLC is the warehouse that our countertop fabricators purchase the material from for your project. They open their warehouse to our customers so that you are able to select the exact slabs of stone your tops are made from.

Shopping for granite in the Quad CitiesWhat should you have with you when you visit Epic Stone? It is best to come prepared with whatever you have available for your project. Backsplash and flooring samples, cabinet stains, or other important finishes that may help you select your stone. Epic will ask  your designer’s information so that material amounts and fabricator information can be included on a tag once you have selected your stone. Your designer will be able to tell you how many slabs of material your project requires. You do not need to have your kitchen or bathroom layout with you.

Keeping an open mind as you walk the aisles is most important. Bring a camera or have you smartphone or tablet ready to take pictures of favorites and labels during your visit. There are so many stones to choose from. You are able to browse a gallery on their website and following them on Facebook gets you immediate news of new materials coming in.

what do granite price categories mean

As you make your way around the warehouse at Epic you will notice each stack of slabs are labeled. There are three important elements to these labels to make note of:

  • The Name of the stone is important to note as some colors have many variations of the same name and this may change the price and color if the wrong name is given. The label shown above indicated that we were looking at a slab of “Super White Brushed” “Brushed” is important to note in this case because these slabs of “Super White” are not a polished, glossy stone and are priced a full category higher because of the “Brushed” finish.
  • A price category is indicated in the bottom right hand corner of the label. Categories range from 1 on up to the high teens. The lower the number, the lower the cost. Your salesperson at Village will get the full estimate together for you, they just need to know what category you have selected.
  • Another element to the material labels is the origin of your stone. This is what makes natural stone so amazing and unique. The stone slabs you see at Epic are mined throughout the world. How wonderful will it be when someone visiting your home asks what the name of your stone is and you can reply with a name and location from where it came?

granite warehouse in davenport, iaEpic Stone, LLC is located at the bottom of North Division Street, in the former Franks Foundries complex. The warehouse is a gigantic warehouse of stone slabs, so it is cold in the winter months and can get very hot in the summer. Dress prepared for the current temperature. While they have open hours, it is always best to call ahead to make an appointment. This makes your time spent at Epic more focused. Materials change so frequently so making an appointment also gives you the opportunity to ask if colors you are considering are there.

Epic Stone QC hoursIf you are just starting the process of shopping for granite or marble countertops for your home, your first step is to contact a designer at Village Home Stores. You can do this via our website or call us at (309) 944-1344. Your designer will walk you through the process from estimating to installation. We have selected the best fabricators in the area who are experts in their field of manufacturing, installing, and seaming your tops. Maintenance of natural stone tops is minimal and we wrote a short post about it here for your reference.

Natural stone is a fantastic choice and a material that is timeless and rich in history. With Village Home Stores and Epic Stone, LLC your stone countertops will look great for years to come.

Marble Institute of America