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Cork backed vinyl planks and tiles

Cork backed vinyl plank - Synergy planks

When we received samples of the Synergy, a cork backed vinyl plank and tile collection, our reps were excited. When the team is so enthusiastic about a product, it’s worthy of a blog post.

Vinyl planks and tiles have exploded in popularity over the last few years. Our customers love having the wood or tile look without the drawbacks of each. As a relatively new product category, there are always many ways a good product can be improved to be made even better. The Synergy planks and tiles succeed at doing just that.

Cork backed vinyl tile - Synergy tiles

The Synergy planks and tiles combine beautiful visuals with a rating for heavy commercial use. The natural embossed finish adds tremendous realism to the wear layer. The vinyl planks and tiles are waterproof, easy-to-clean and stain resistant. But it’s the attached cork backing that makes Synergy a truly unique product. The cork provides added warmth and sound absorption once installed. No glue down installation is necessary either thanks to the click locking system.

With it’s heavy commercial rating, Synergy could be installed in residential or commercial applications. It would be especially great for areas in the home that traditionally have a lot of moisture – think kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms etc.

MIRA Wine Review: Fire up the BBQ

Summer sun has finally arrived in Vancouver! When the rays of sunshine peak out from behind the clouds, it’s time to take the cover off the BBQ. We picked a couple favourite BC wines to pair nicely with your grilled meat of choice. Our two picks are from Cedar Creek, an Okanagan based winery located just south of Kelowna. The winery was recently purchased by Anthony von Mandl, owner of the Mission Hill Family Estate. For those who love this winery as it is – don’t worry, winemaker Darryl Brooker is staying on board. We were so excited to try these two wines that we opened them before getting a photo – oops!

The contenders…

Wines for the BBQCedar Creek 2012 Chardonnay 

The Cedar Creek Chardonnay is not your typical oak bomb Chardonnay. To create a well-balanced oak flavour, the winemaker aged this wine in a 2250 litre foudre instead of the typical much smaller sized barrels. The resulting flavour on the palette is a fresh, citrus taste. As a Double Gold winner at the 2014 All Canadian Wine Championships, it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your next BBQ.  Pair it with a chicken or fish dish for the tastiest results.

Cedar Creek 2011 Cabernet Merlot

Blended wines like this Cabernet Merlot give winemakers an opportunity to experiment with different aromas and flavours that create a blend greater than it’s individual parts. This Cabernet Merlot is mostly Cabernet Franc grapes blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create a rich, full-bodied red wine. From the array of complex flavours, our team tasted fruity sweetness with a bit of spice, anise and oak. It’s best paired with a simply prepared cut of red meat straight off the grill.

The winner?

Our winner of this round was the Cabernet Merlot by 1 point on our ten point scale. Though the majority of our office typically prefers whites to red, this blend was a resounding favourite.

Do you have a great wine you think we should try for the fall tasting? Let us know in the comments.

Tile 101: Ceramic Tile vs. Porcelain Tile

Tile terminology can be confusing. When talking about tile, many homeowners refer to tiles as ceramic or porcelain as if the names were interchangeable. But it’s unclear for beginners what defines the difference – is it based on the texture? Glaze? Edges? (Hint: it’s none of these.) Most non-natural stone tiles fall within the larger category of “ceramic tiles.”  The ceramic tile category is split into two groups – non-porcelain and porcelain.

How do you tell the difference between non-porcelain and porcelain tiles? We recently had the tile experts from Ames Tile in for a tile product knowledge session and they broke the difference down in one simple sentence

“Porcelain tiles are stronger and less porous than non-porcelain, with a water absorption rate of 0.5% or better.”

Non-porcelain and porcelain ceramic tiles are similar in many ways – both can be glazed and the production method is identical. It’s the water absorption rate that differentiates the two types of tiles.

Let’s take a look at the other features and benefits of porcelain and non-porcelain ceramic tiles.

Ceramic Non-Porcelain tiles

Ceramic non-porcelain tiles (we’ll just refer to them as ceramic for simplicity) can be either glazed or unglazed. When ceramic tiles are glazed, the glaze is applied to the outside of the tile and the tile is fired in the kiln. The resulting glazed tile is hard, non-porous, stain resistant and easy to clean. Glazes can be high-gloss, matte, transparent or opaque, each creating many unique appearances. Since the glaze does not go all the way through the tile, if it is chipped a different inner colour will show through. Ceramic tiles are great for DIY’ers because they are easier to cut than porcelain tiles.

Porcelain tiles
Porcelain has a reputation for being versatile and long-lasting. Since porcelain tiles are produced using a dry-pressed or dust-pressed method, they are more dense and fine grained. They are highly resistant to moisture, staining, heavy loads and wear. The body of the tile is less porous, making it a suitable choice for high-moisture areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. Within the porcelain tile category there are a couple different types:

Unglazed porcelain tiles
Unglazed porcelain tiles are known for being very tough and dense. They are a through-coloured product, which means if they are chipped or start to wear due to heavy traffic they will keep their original colour. Unglazed porcelain tiles can have a variety of finishes from matte to high-gloss. Some unglazed tiles even have textured finishes designed to mimic natural stones. These textures come from the mould used to produce the tiles.

Glazed porcelain tiles
Glazed porcelain tiles combine many of the same benefits as unglazed porcelain tile with the wide variety of looks a glaze can provide. They can be glossy, matte, or even polished to a completely flat surface. Like glazed ceramic tiles, any chips will show the inner colour of the tile.

What are rectified edges?
Many porcelain tiles boast that they have rectified edges. A tile with rectified edges was cut after firing. Tiles shrink about 15% after they have been fired and they do not shrink evenly. Cutting tiles after they have been fired ensures that all tiles are exactly the same size.



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