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5 Natural Stone Shower Cleaning Tips

When it comes to renovating your shower, few options are more popular than natural stone. For one, it can last a lifetime and for two, it instantly transforms any bathroom into an elegant yet completely unique space (not to mention it’s incredibly easy to clean!), and of course it immediately adds value to your home.

Caring for natural stone in your shower is simple once you know the basic maintenance steps to take. Keep reading to learn how to keep your beautiful natural stone shower in prime condition.

1. Clean the stone regularly

When cleaning your shower, use a stone-safe cleaning product like MARBLELIFE® Marble & Travertine Cleaner to remove oils and daily grime deposits.  Make sure the product you’re using is designed for natural stone and more importantly is non-acidic. Never use common bathroom or household cleaning products on natural stone as these products may use acidic ingredients that are safe for use on more common bathroom tile surfaces such as ceramic and porcelain but will dissolve marble creating white etch marks which require a professional to rehone and polish the surface to remove.   (We know we get these calls after every CLR commercial.) You do not want that $15 dollar bottle of cleaner creating a $1000 repair bill.  Use a non-acidic stone safe cleaner such as MARBLELIFE Marble & Travertine Cleaner.

2. Remove excess water after shower use

If water spots, mildew, and dulling of the stone are your primary concerns, take care to remove excess water on the walls with a squeegee after you shower. Regardless of your shower tile type, when water evaporates it will leave behind any calcium that was dissolved in it creating a hard water stain or spot.  This is an annoyance whenever it occurs as it will generally take more than a common cleaner to remove.  These are avoidable with a quick post-shower squeegee of the glass door and walls.  Once allowed to form they generally require an acid to remove, which means that lemon juice can work for your ceramic or porcelain tile, but cannot be done with your acid sensitive marble without creating an etch as the same acid that dissolves calcium deposits dissolves the calcium making up your marble.  These acidics will also damage the seal on your grout regardless of the type of tile.  The other option is to install a water softener, but a squeegee is the less expensive solution.  

Remove the excess water and you also slow the appearance of mold and mildew which require a moist environment.  The simply step of removing the water droplets with a squeegee is often enough to hold these nasties at bay.  Using a squeegee allows the stone to dry faster.

3. Kill mildew with mold and mildew cleaner

If you notice mold or mildew stains on your stone tile, don’t panic. You can easily and safely remove it by using our MARBLELIFE® Mold & Mildew Stain Remover for Tile Showers. Spray onto the tile and rub with a non-abrasive pad or bristled brush. Let the solution sit for about 15 minutes after scrubbing, then rinse away with water.  Often described as magic.  MARBLELIFE Mold and Mildew Cleaner provides an instant improvement.

4. Mind the grout

It can be easy to focus your cleaning efforts solely on your stone, but the grout between the tiles also need some TLC every now and again. No one wants to clean grout with a toothbrush once it has stained, so as always its best to stay ahead of the game.  Use a non-abrasive non-acidic stone-safe grout cleaner like MARBLELIFE® MaxOut Tile & Grout Deep Cleaner to agitate and lift grime and debris. If you have black grout, you will literally see the cleaner lifting out the dirt as it changes color as it works.  Rinse with water after cleaning and dry the grout with a clean, dry towel.  Often we are cleaning OUT the grout as much as cleaning OFF the grout.  If an acidic cleaner has been used in the past we may have damaged the seal on the grout, allowing the naturally occurring pores to be opened once again to trap dirt and providing the stained appearance we hate to see.  As such, sealing is as much about maintaining a clean appearance as cleaning is.  We recommend sealing grout regularly to maintain optimum protection.

5. Seal. Seal. Seal.

It’s always important to seal natural stone and grout to create a barrier that keeps dirt and grime on top where it is easier to remove.  Once it penetrates into the pores of the stone and grout a gentle wipe is no longer enough to get them clean.  Sealing today will maintain an easier-to-clean surface in the future. When you have stone in the shower, sealing is even more important because the stone is constantly being exposed to water, shampoo, soap, and beauty care products. Sealing also keeps bacteria out of the stone and keeps the shower sanitary. Apply MARBLELIFE® Stone Sealer to the surface using a dry microfiber towel and allow to set for 2 to 5 minutes then immediately buff into the stone with a clean cloth. You want to remove the excess from the surface, as our goal is to get the sealer into the pores only.  We want the pores filled, and the surface wiped free of sealer.  Buff until the sealer is absorbed and dry to prevent haziness on the stone caused by leaving excess sealer on the surface.  This is a very easy application.  This is why you want to use a penetrating sealer versus a topical sealer which is designed to alter or cover the surface appearance.  

What’s the Best Carpet Cleaning Method?

There are many misconceptions about carpet cleaning. One of them has to do with carpet cleaning methods. What’s the best method? That depends. You have probably heard the terms “dry” or “steam”. These are general terms that hint at different methods, but both terms are incomplete and inaccurate terms. Neither are technical terms that properly describe carpet cleaning methods.

There are 4 methods of carpet cleaning approved by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC), the world’s most recognized body of certification for carpet and upholstery cleaners.

Method 1: Hot Water Extraction

Otherwise known as “steam cleaning,” hot water extraction is the process that most are probably familiar with. Hot water extraction is the correct technical term, not steam cleaning. Actual steam is not used at all. A hot water solution is produced and immediately recovered, creating a “flushing” action on the carpet. There are many variations of hot water extraction. From the most powerful truck-mounted machine down to the small portable machine rented from the grocery store. What’s the difference? Every machine has different capabilities. Mainly the pressure in which the water is produced and the recovery capability.

However, the biggest and most important difference is in the person cleaning the carpet. A trained technician will know what pressure to use, what cleaning products to use, and how to get maximum soil removal and maximum spot removal without over-wetting the carpet or leaving a sticky residue behind. The horror stories of carpet being wet for days is due to operator error, not because “steam” or “hot water extraction” caused it.

Hot water extraction done properly will remove more soil than any other method. Further, anything that has seeped into the backing such as urine, coffee, or something else can be “flushed out” with hot water extraction. it can also be used in lightly soiled and maintenance situations as it is very versatile.

Method #2: Absorbent Pad

Also known as bonnet cleaning, this method employs a round pad that spins across the surface of the carpet, absorbing the soil. A solution is applied to the carpet or the pad to aid in releasing soils. This is a method that some may classify as “dry cleaning” although water based products are used in almost all “dry cleaning” systems, therefore the term dry cleaning (cleaning with only a solvent based cleaner) is not technical and would not be desired. Absorbent pad cleaning is not a deep cleaning method. It should only be used in lightly soiled and maintenance situations.

Method #3: Dry Compound

This method uses a powder that has been treated with detergents, water, and solvents. The powder compound is sprinkled onto the carpet and a brush with cylindrical brushes is used to work the powder into the carpet pile. The solution that is in the powder releases the soil. The soil is then absorbed into the absorbent powder. This method should only be used in lightly soiled and maintenance situations.

Method # 4: Shampoo or Dry Foam

In this method, a shampoo or foam is generated and worked into the carpet with a rotary brush or cylindrical brush machine. The shampoo or foam releases the soil. The soil is then vacuumed with the machine or allowed to dry and removed with a conventional vacuum cleaner. This method should be used in only lightly soiled situations and maintenance cleaning. When using shampoo, great care should be taken to avoid leaving a sticky residue on the carpet.

Steps to Keep Your Backsplash Beautiful

Acid and oil are a 1-2 punch to your backsplash. Oil is like glue that adheres dirt and grime to your surface. This is why proper cleaning and sealing is so important. If oil comes in contact with your backsplash after acids break down your seal, it can soak deep into your tile and create a stain — which is worse than dirt that can simply be cleaned off.

Oil also has a nasty habit of being surface active, meaning it wants to spread out as far as possible. So once it’s allowed to soak into a surface, the oil creates a dirt-spreading reservoir. You can wipe the surface, but the reservoir will just send out more oil as it seeks to re-equilibrate across the entire surface. If you’re wondering why it feels like you constantly have to wipe your backsplash down, it’s because you do.

To help prevent this problem, we recommend resealing stone and tile backsplashes every two years; however, the recommended frequency goes up depending on how much acid contact is expected. If you frequently make salads with vinaigrettes, pasta with tomato sauce, homemade salsa, or use lemons and limes when cooking, you increase the frequency of acid contact and need to consider resealing more often.

Backsplashes around ovens are particularly susceptible to attack based on the hot oils that splatter from frying pans. This can be even worse if the oil contains an acidic ingredient such as lemon or vinegar because now the sealer is being attacked not just with acid, but hot acid. Chemical reactions tend to double in speed for every additional 10°F of temperature. For example, if you’re cooking at 200°F, you are now 130°F above room temperature or 13 groups of 10°F. This is an enormous acid attack accelerant. It makes splatters on backsplashes more damaging to their seals and more likely to oil stain once the seal is compromised.

Mosaic backsplashes present a unique challenge because there’s a greater grout-to-tile percentage in mosaics. Consider that a 1 sq./ft tile with 4 sides will have 4 linear feet of grout, but if we factor in how it shares that surface with neighboring tiles, we can assume on average 2 linear feet of grout per 1 sq./ft of tile. Meanwhile, if in the same area we are working with 1-inch tile, we are adding another 22 linear feet of grout lines. This mosaic will require more than 10 times the grout, making your grout the hidden area that really needs to be addressed in order for the surface to look good.

Call us today so we can take a look at your backsplash for FREE! 

How to Avoid 3 Carpet Cleaning Rip-Offs

Rip-Off #1: Unbelievably low price. To some degree, all of us are attracted by low price because we want to work within a budget. But some carpet cleaners use price as the bait for their false and misleading advertising. They offer a cheap price – usually between $3.95 and $9.95 per room – and then, once they’re in your home or office, they pressure you into buying “add-ons.” It’s as if you were buying a car and found that the dealer was charging you extra for the tires and steering wheel. Carpet cleaning is not as cheap as some unethical cleaners would like you to believe.

Rip-Off #2: Bait and Switch. Dual process carpet cleaning describes the process of shampooing or heavy preconditioning, followed with hot water extraction cleaning. Unfortunately, unethical carpet cleaners often use dual process as a bait and switch technique. Here’s how it’s done: First they “bait” you with a basic cleaning (single process) at an unbelievably low price. Then, when you call, they try to “switch” you to the more expensive dual-process cleaning. If you don’t fall for their switch and choose their basic service, you’ll likely receive poor workmanship and they will not guarantee their work.

Rip-Off #3: Unsupported claims, “THIS CLEANING METHOD IS THE BEST.” You’ll read this in almost every ad and hear this from virtually every carpet cleaner. But remember this, the method that’s best for you is the method that achieves your goal. If you want a method that dries quickly, then a method that takes a long time to dry isn’t for you. So before you choose a carpet cleaner, identify your objectives. Then select the method that best reaches those objectives.

Avoid those uneducated, uninformed, and sometimes downright unscrupulous carpet cleaners out there, and get the most outstanding service experience EVER with Hansen Steam Way.

Three Steps for Proper Carpet Care

Carpet Cleaning is Just Like Exercise

​If you get into a routine and keep it up, you will see great results and feel better for it. And understanding the right way to clean carpet will help you save time by doing it correctly the first time with products that do the job right from the start. Not only will Seal of Approval cleaning products help keep your carpet looking great, they can also help meet the warranty requirements of the carpet manufacturer. Below are three simple steps to keeping your carpet clean and looking great:

Vacuum at the right frequency with a CRI-approved vacuum.
Clean spots and spills quickly with products that do not damage the carpet or cause it to re-soil more quickly.
Professionally deep clean your carpets every 12 to 18 months to remove embedded dirt and grime.

Stop Dirt at the Door

Preventing dirt and grime from getting on the carpet in the first place is a great way to start keeping it clean. The following helpful hints can stop dirt in its tracks.

  • Use mats — Outdoor and indoor mats or runners can reduce the amount of dirt that enters the house.
  • Take off your shoes — You can save wear and tear on carpet by asking everyone to take their shoes off before entering your home.
  • Change your air filters — Change air filters in your heating and air-conditioning systems as recommended by the manufacturer’s directions. The more dust and particles removed by the filter, the fewer that fall onto the carpet.

Spot Removal Steps

Act Quickly! Most carpet available today has been treated with a stain-resist treatment, so many spills can be removed if immediate action is taken. The longer the delay, the higher the probability of a spill becoming a permanent stain. Remember, staining is influenced by many factors, and no carpet is completely stain proof.

Blot liquids with a dry, white, absorbent cloth or or white paper toweling (no printing).

Do not scrub the area! Scrubbing may cause pile distortion in the affected area. Continue to use a dry cloth or paper towels until the area is completely dry. For semi-solids, gently scrape up with a rounded spoon. Solids should be broken up and vacuumed until completely removed. If the spot can be identified, locate the substance in the spot removal computer and follow the directions carefully.

Pretest any spot removal agent in an inconspicuous area to be certain the solution will not damage the fiber or the dye. After applying several drops to the testing area, hold a white cloth on the wet area for 10 seconds. Examine the carpet and cloth for color transfer, color change, or damage to the carpet. If a change occurs, another cleaning solution should be selected.

Apply a small amount of the selected cleaning solution to a white cloth and work in gently.

Work from the edges of the spill to the center to prevent the spill from spreading. Do not scrub! Blot in order to absorb as much as possible, and repeat if necessary.

Continue using the first cleaning solution as long as there is a transfer of the spill to the cloth. It is not necessary to use all of the cleaning solutions if the first solution removes the spill.

Be patient! Complete removal of the spill may require repeating the same step several times. After the spill has been completely removed, rinse the affected area thoroughly with cold water, and blot with a dry cloth until all of the solution has been removed. Some cleaning solutions will cause rapid soiling if the solution is not completely removed. Apply a one-half inch layer of white paper towels to the affected area, and weigh down with a flat, heavy object. Continue to change paper towels as needed.

A dry, absorbent, cleaning compound may be used as a substitute to accelerate drying time. For more detailed information on a specific spill, please search on the pull-down menu at right. Many fiber manufacturers provide a toll-free cleaning assistance and advice (consult your warranty).

Wool Wisdom

​One of the most crucial areas of carpet maintenance is removal of spots and spills. Acting quickly when anything is dropped or spilled, and always having the necessary cleaning materials at hand are of the utmost importance. We recommend a “WoolClean Spot Removal Kit,” which can be purchased from a Wools of New Zealand Partner Retailer. Call 800-367-0462 or check the Wools website at www.woolsnz.com for the Partner Retailer nearest you.

Frequent vacuuming is a wool carpet’s best friend.

  • An upright vacuum with a beater bar/brush is the best type for cut pile carpet. A suction-only vacuum may be required for loop pile Berber carpets to prevent excessive fuzzing.
    Vacuum cleaner dust bag should be emptied when half full.
  • Exercise prevention maintenance by placing absorbent mats at the most frequently used entrances to your home. Change or launder when these mats become dirty. Filters in your heating and air conditioning systems should be changed regularly.
  • Periodically clean traffic lanes and the areas in front of frequently used chairs with an absorbent powder (such as Host®, Dri-Matic® or Capture®).
  • Keep absorbent cloth or paper towels and cleaning solutions on hand for quick response to spills and accidents.
  • DO NOT apply stain-repellent treatments that contain any silicone as they tend to accelerate carpet soiling. (Some carpet manufacturers do not accept responsibility for complaints where such treatments have been used.) When having your wool carpet professionally cleaned, use a “WoolCare Specialist” certified by Restoration Industry Association.

Don’t Take Life for Granite

Natural stone is a dynamic material exhibiting tremendous variation. From the palette of colors to the diversity of textures. We’ve talked a lot in the past about how to care for and protect these elegant surfaces. However, we haven’t discussed what these surfaces actually are. As with anything a little understanding can provide insight into best care practices, for a long lasting clean appearance.

Natural stone is as old as the earth itself and because of this, there’s a certain quality – a certain magic – about stone that simply can’t be reproduced by other materials. The composition of natural stone is complex on both a chemical and physical basis. With variations in density, absorption, and resilience, these factors all have an impact on the maintenance required to protect and preserve your stone, and the evidence of its unique history. The last thing we want to do is to add a new chapter based on our care methods. 

In the last 20 – 30 years, there has been a revolution in the stone industry worldwide. Natural and composite stone products have become the material of choice when constructing or renovating homes, office buildings, commercial spaces, and more. 

Natural stone comes from locations all over the world including: Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, the United States, France, Brazil, Mexico, and China. There are more than twenty-thousand different stone types. It would take a book to list every type of stone available but there are some common characteristics we can identify, that are useful to our story. There are three basic geological types: 

1. Igneous Rocks (Granite) 

Mainly formed by molten magma. As magma cools and condenses, it crystallizes forming a variety of colors and patterns. 

2. Metamorphic Rock (Marble) 

Formed of calcium carbonate based material common in shells. Over time, with the pressure based on depth of stone, and movement, it is compressed until it fuses or crystallizes. The different mineral concentration lend it its variation in color, variety and texture. 

3. Sedimentary Rocks (Limestone) 

A collection of bottom rocks, fossils, sand and silt. They were laid down in layers, and banded together through time while under the heavy pressure of the stone above to form a multi-layered designs. Very different looks can be achieved by cutting across the vein of with the vein, as you can imagine. 

MARBLE 

At its core, marble is really a form of compressed limestone that is dense enough to take a polish. Limestones and therefore marbles are composed of primarily made of calcite or dolomite, with the color in the marble being the result of other mineral impurities in the composition. So iron contributes to a red, and sulfur a black. 

No matter what the color, marble usually has veining running through it. Usually different in color than the main color of the stone. There are, however, exceptions to the rule. Marble is relatively soft when compared to other stones and will scratch easily as a result. Its CaCO3 make-up lends it to suffer from acidic sensitivity, etching on contact. Want to understand this better? Place a lemon slice or a drop of vinegar on a raw marble surface and you will leave a permanent etch mark burned into the surface. So fast you can write your name in as little time as it takes to drink the glass of water that came along with that lemon wedge.

GRANITE 

Granite is chiefly composed of 30 percent quartz and 60 percent feldspar. These minerals are much harder than the calcite of marbles and for this reason granite will not scratch as easily as marble. This stone is resistant to most acids and will not etch nor leave a dull spot on the surface, as marble does. Hydrofluoric acids, an exceptionally strong acid, found in products such as rust removers, can damage even this normally acid resistant surface. Granite contains crystals, which lend it a very distinct, appearance, almost as if small to medium stones were fused together. Despite its inherent resilience, regular sealing is still recommended to keep granite looking its best, as all stones retain some level of porosity.

TRAVERTINE 

Travertine is a type of limestone forms in the presence of hot springs. The water movement erodes the travertine creating holes in the stone. “Closed” travertine usually has these holes filled with a tan colored cement. These fillers typically do not polish as well as the natural stone giving the travertine a blotchy appearance. Unfilled travertine will still exhibit holes and are commonly found on walls, floors, and building exteriors. This stone is commonly found in tans and beige colors but can also be found in silver and reds. However, like marble, when damaged it turns white.

Enjoy the Holidays and Reduce Stress

In the U.S., many states are heading into or already in another lockdown. It’s been a rollercoaster year, and researchers have already found that COVID-19 has threatened mental and emotional wellbeing at alarming rates.

With so much uncertainty in the world, feeling stressed or anxious is normal. We are hardwired to respond to threats this way. If we didn’t have this response built in, our ancestors would all have been eaten by saber tooth tigers. Today, however, that fight or flight response is not as useful when what we perceive as a threat is not as immediate as a predator emerging from the brush.

COVID-19 is a real threat, to be sure, but it’s a very different kind of threat. Your stress response won’t help you run and hide, and you can’t wave your caveman club until it decides to move on. You’re at home. You might be alone. And you have to wait—all while your emotions run rampant, affecting your sleep, your eating habits, and your relationships.

In these moments, you can make the choice to respond to stress and anxiety in a healthy way. It’s not always easy. It takes practice. And you may need to ask for help sometimes, but you do have a choice.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Practice mindfulness. Learning to master your thoughts and emotions is key. Slow your breaths, focus on the feeling of the air moving in and out, acknowledge thoughts as they come but always return to your breathing. This small step can have a big impact.

2. Stay active, even if you are at home. Depending on where you live, keeping up with your steps may not be possible during lockdown, but you can still stay active. There are a bunch of free programs for bodyweight exercises, yoga, and aerobics. Don’t forget to talk to your physician if any of these programs are different from your usual routine.

3. Connect with community. You are never truly alone, even if you feel physically isolated. If you have an internet connection or a phone line, reach out to family, friends, church, helplines.

4. Talk to a professional.  If your body is sick, talk to your health care provider. If you start to feel overwhelmed by your emotions and aren’t finding a healthy way to address those feelings, reach out to a professional for help.

Beware of Bait and Switch Textile Cleaners this Holiday Season!

They bait you with a low price, then switch you to their dual scrub or deep cleaning system. They proceed to soak your carpet and leave a soapy residue behind. Good luck getting them back again! Does this scenario ring a bell?

Beware of low priced carpet cleaning. If their price is truly low, you should be concerned about their quality. how can you pay technicians a decent wage and have the best products and equipment at the lowest price? you can’t.

Some companies advertise a low price, then charge you more when they get there. Be clear about what is included and what is not. Their fine print says we recommend our dual scrub method for all heavily soiled carpet. How many carpets are heavily soiled? All of them! Even if you held them to the low $, you would get a very poor cleaning. There are some questions you need to be asking these cleaners,

Here are some questions to ask every carpet cleaner about their cleaning:

  • What method do you use?
  • Do you vacuum the carpet?
  • Do you pre-spot urine and other spots?
  • Do you pre-spray the carpet?
  • Do you neutralize the carpet?
  • Do you post-groom the carpet?
  • Is all spot cleaning included in the price?
  • Is pet odor treatment included in the price?
  • Do you give a free bottle of spot remover?
  • Do you give a free pair of booties? 

Questions to ask about their company:  

  • Do you have recent references?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Are you certified by the IICRC?
  • Do you offer a 100% money-back guarantee?
  • Do you have an on-time guarantee?
  • Do you use sub-contractors or employees?
  • Do you do background checks on your sub-contractors or employees?
  • Do you have liability insurance?
  • Do you have a re-soiling guarantee? 

How to Care for Your Upholstery

Rotate all loose cushions frequently to assure even wear. Vacuum dust and dirt from all fabric, cracks, and crevasses. By far, fabric protection is the best possible way to extend the life of the upholstery. 

-Vacuum often to reduce grit that can cause abrasion.

-Reverse loose cushions weekly for even wear.

-Protect from the sun. Ultraviolet light can cause deterioration

-Keep pets off furniture.  Pets body oils rub off and are very difficult to remove.

-Use caution with clothing such as blue jeans. Fabric dyes can transfer onto upholstered furniture.


 All upholstered furniture will become soiled through use. Most spills and soil on fabric protection treated upholstery will clean easily and quickly provided that the proper cleaning procedures are followed: 

1. Blot don’t rub!

2. Identify the cleaning code for your type of fabric. This is very important to determine the type of cleaner to use.

3. Always read and follow the instructions on the cleaning agent.

4. Use distilled water with the cleaning agent if the water is called for.

5. Pretest any cleaner on any fabric in a hidden area. Check for colorfastness and fabric compatibility.

6. Keep a small spill small. Work lightly, blotting from the center to the edges. “Feather” the edges by dampening edges irregularly and blotting quickly to avoid rings.

7. Quickly dry a cleaned spot using a small fan or blow dryer on low.

Basic Rug Care Tips

Rugs deserve the same care as wall-to-wall carpet and, in some cases, require special attention. Here are some basic rug tips for you:

  • Washing rugs — If your rug is small and the label says “machine washable,” shake the rug outside first and then put it in the washing machine at the recommended temperature. Use warm water (90 to 105 degrees) and a mild detergent. Tumble your rug dry at the lowest heat setting.
  • Beating larger rugs — If your larger rug is easy to pick up, shake it outside first; then put it over a clothesline and beat it. Next, take the rug inside and vacuum it. If the label says dry clean only, then roll it up and call us for a cleaning.
  • Vacuuming area rugs — Area rugs with fringe require special technique. Use gentle suction and start from the center of the carpet, vacuuming toward the fringe and being careful not to catch the strands in the beater bar. Lift the carpet edge to vacuum beneath the fringe.
  • Caring for Oriental, Turkish, Persian or heirloom-type rugs — Have us clean your imported and heirloom rugs so that we can make sure we are abiding by the carpet manufacturer’s specifications. Be gentle with fringe.

Having your rug cleaned in our plant allows us to give it several treatments for a more thorough cleaning, controlled drying, and the use of various tools that are not available on location. If you would like for us to give you a free consultation for one of your rugs, give us a call.