Flooring Solutions for Your Home

By: Danny Lipford
Danny Lipford and Joe Truini examining  flooring installation tools.

Danny Lipford and Joe Truini examine flooring installation tools.

Watch Full Episode

From carpet to tile to wood, there’s a wide variety of flooring to choose from for your home. Find out what you need to know about installing, repairing, and caring for all the floors in your home.

How to Remove Floor Adhesive

      Floor scraper                    Spyder Scraper                 Power scraper

There are several techniques for removing old, hardened adhesive from a subfloor including:

  • Floor Scraper: Consists of a 6”-14” wide blade mounted on a handle, requires lots of elbow grease.
  • Reciprocating Saw Attachment: The Spyder Scraper from Simple Man Products is a 3” wide blade that attaches to a reciprocating saw to turn it into a high-speed scraper.
  • Power Floor Scraper: Motorized, walk behind machine makes fast work of scraping floors.

How to Level Floors

Level subfloors with floor patching compound.

When installing flooring, one of the most important considerations is making sure the surface beneath it is flat and smooth. Whether your subfloor is plywood or concrete, there are usually low spots that need filling with floor patching compound. Once the compound has set, the subfloor is sanded smooth before the new flooring is installed.

How to Repair Vinyl Floors

Remove damaged area       Apply adhesive                   Seal seams

To patch a damaged spot on a vinyl floor:

  1. Cut along the lines of the pattern using a straight edge and utility knife.
  2. Remove the damaged section of vinyl flooring.
  3. Scrape any dried adhesive off the floor.
  4. Cut a patch to fit the opening.
  5. Glue the patch in place.
  6. Seal the seams with vinyl seam sealer.

How to Cut Door Casings

Door jambs can be cut with a handsaw or a motorized jamb saw

When installing flooring, the bottom of the door casings needs to be cut so the flooring can slip under it. Options include:

  • Handsaw: Lay saw flat on a scrap of flooring and cut through casing.
  • Jamb saw: Portable motorized jamb saw has an adjustable height to make quick work of cutting jambs.

How to Install Carpet

Pull carpet tight using a power stretcher or knee kick stretcher

There are several unusual tools that are used for laying carpet:

  • Power Stretcher: Extendable handle pushes against an opposing wall to pull carpet tight.
  • Knee Kicker Stretcher: Uses knee action to stretch carpet in small spaces.
  • Heat Bond Iron: Seams in carpet are jointed together using a special iron and heat-activated tape.

How to Lay Tile

There are two main types of floor tile:

  • Ceramic Tile: Made from fired clay with a glaze coating. Usually costs less than porcelain, but not as durable.
  • Porcelain Tile: Made from sand that is fired at high temperature and pressure. More water resistant and harder than ceramic, but more difficult to cut.

Tile is usually laid on top of cement backer board, but you can also use a thin, waterproof underlayment membrane like Ditra from Schluter Systems. Made of lightweight polyethylene, the membrane is only 1/8” thick and can be cut easily with a utility knife. To use the membrane:

Underlayment membrane

  1. Cut membrane to size.
  2. Apply a layer of thin-set adhesive fortified with latex to subfloor.
  3. Roll membrane out on top of it and position in place.
  4. Lay tiles on membrane in a bed of thin-set without latex additive.

Tiles can be cut using:

  • Hand operated “score and snap” cutter.
  • Motorized wet saw.

After the tiles have set, apply grout to the joints using a rubber float. Grout is available in a variety of colors, but darker grout stains less. Stainproof grout is also available.

Once the grout has set, apply a grout sealer to the joints to prevent stains from occurring. If grout has already become stained, a grout stain pen can be used to stain the grout a uniform color.

How to Install Wood and Laminate Floors

          Solid wood                 Engineered wood                 Laminate

Wood and simulated wood are available as:

  • Solid Wood Flooring: 3/4″ thick, tongue and groove boards that are nailed in place. Available unfinished or prefinished.
  • Engineered Wood Flooring: 5/16” thick material composed of multiple wood plies glued together. Usually comes prefinished and can be glued or nailed in place.
  • Laminate Flooring: Made of plastic laminate material with a simulated wood grain pattern. Individual pieces lock together and are installed on a thin foam pad without nails or screws. Very DIY friendly.

How to Sand Wood Floors

                  Drum sander                                           Edge sander

When installing a new solid wood floor or refinishing an existing wood floor, heavy duty floor sanders are used to sand the surface smooth before the finish is applied:

  • Drum Sander: Walk behind machine used to sand main part of floor.
  • Edge Sander: Rotary sander used to sand small spaces and against walls.

Take care when using floor sanders, as they require a deft touch to keep from marring the floor.

How to Keep Floors Clean

Once your new floors have been installed, you want to do your best to keep them looking that way. Use doormats to keep dirt outside, and vacuum the floors regularly. For hard to remove dirt and grime, mop floors with an eco-friendly cleaning product such as Perfect Planet Squeeze & Clean Floor Cleaner from Weiman to keep your floors looking like new.

Many of the specialty tools shown are available to rent at tool rental stores, such as The Home Depot Tool Rental Centers.

Other Tips from This Episode

Removing Pet Hair

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
How to Remove Pet Hair

If you have a dog or cat around your house, you probably have a problem with pet hair on rugs, carpets, and furniture. A simple way to remove it is by applying duct tape—sticky side up—to a standard paint roller, then pass the roller over the surface to pick up any hair. Once the tape has lost its stickiness, peel it off, and replace it with a new piece.

Ryobi Cordless Screwdriver

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Ryobi Cordless Screwdriver

This lightweight 4-volt Cordless Screwdriver from Ryobi packs a big punch thanks to the lithium-ion battery that holds a charge up to two years. Weighing in at one pound, it features a 1/4″ SpeedLoad quick connect chuck, 12 position clutch, and LED work light. The Ryobi 4-volt Cordless Screwdriver is available at The Home Depot.

Air Filters for Your Home

Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Air Filters for Your Home

It’s important to install a high quality air filter on the heating and cooling system of your home, since inexpensive fiberglass air filters capture only 10% to 15% of airborne particles. Look for filters that contain carbon, are electrostatically charged, or have a HEPA rating which can remove up to 99% of airborne pollutants.



Please Leave a Comment

4 Comments on “Flooring Solutions for Your Home”

You can follow comments to this article by subscribing to the RSS news feed with your favorite feed reader.

  • dean Says:
    June 19th, 2011 at 11:54 am

    when laying porcelain tile in the bathroom. how do you get the tile and carpet lined up evenly.

  • Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    May 11th, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Hi Rob,
    In order for a floor to float, the individual boards need to be configured so they lock together when assembled. Unless the locking joints has failed or was not properly locked in the first place, there should not be gaps between the boards. If it is the former, you would be out of luck, but if it is the latter, you should be able to disassemble the floor (starting at one end) until you get to the gap and then snap the improperly installed pieces back together. As far as the gaps at the walls goes, the only solution there would be to add an additional piece to it, or to add a quarter round to cover the gap if the room doesn’t already have one. Keep in mind that floating floor can expand and contract some with changes in humidity, so a small gap should be left along the walls to accommodate it.

  • Rob Ogram Says:
    May 10th, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    My wife and I purchased a home that has “floating wood floors”, that were not installed properly. They have gaps between some of the pieces and large gaps along the wall. Can we save this floor?

  • Sara Tollefson Says:
    May 9th, 2009 at 10:15 am

    We have a natural pre finished 3/4 inch thick tongue and groove 2 1/4wide” floor what do you suggest to eliminate the scratches with?

We want to hear from you! In addition to posting comments on articles and videos, you can also send your comments and questions to us on our contact page or at (800) 946-4420. While we can't answer them all, we may use your question on our Today's Homeowner radio or TV show, or online at todayshomeowner.com.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.