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Easy DIY Floor Installation for Your HomeBy: Danny Lipford
When it comes to flooring your home, there are a number of options available, including:
- Hardwood: Durable flooring but installation of most types is not very DIY-friendly.
- Carpet: Hard to keep clean and can be difficult to install yourself.
- Tile: Durable and can be installed yourself, if you take the time to learn how.
- Vinyl: Fairly durable but glued down version can be tricky to install.
- Laminate: Very DIY-friendly to install and fairly durable.
Watch this video to find out about the different types of subfloor needed when installing flooring, and how to install no glue vinyl and tile flooring that are easy to install.
Read episode article to find out more.
- Pros and Cons of Different Types of Flooring (video)
- How to Lay a Tile Floor (article)
- How to Choose and Install Wood Floors (video)
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Danny Lipford: New flooring is a solid choice if you’re looking to make a big difference in your home. So this week on Today’s Homeowner we’re rolling out some great do-it-yourself options and sharing some installation tips you don’t want to miss.
Almost any flooring project that you may take on around your home will start with a visit to a flooring showroom. And at some point during that visit you’ll probably say to yourself, “I had no idea how many choices are available in flooring these days.” Well, it is an important decision because flooring makes up such a large part of your home that it can really influence how it looks and how it feels. So, if you’re ready to make a big change, it might be a good place to start.
Now, a lot of people want to take on this type of project themselves, but not all flooring is so do-it-yourself friendly. Carpet was once the way to go, but carpet is one of the least do-it-yourself friendly options. Plus, it’s difficult to keep clean, and the fibers hold dust and other allergens which make life miserable for people with respiratory problems. And if you have pets, well, let’s just say everyone will know you have pets before they see them.
Hardwood flooring is a great alternative to address the issues of cleaning and allergens but isn’t necessarily DIY friendly. Traditional hardwood is nailed down to the subfloor and sanded, stained, and finished in place. That requires a lot of work, a lot of time, and some very specialized tools.
Some hardwoods can be glued down, which makes installation on concrete subfloors easier. And in many cases, these products are pre-finished, which reduces some of the time and tools required. But these installations still demand skills and tools that not all homeowners have.
Laminate floating floors offer a similar look, but are much more friendly to the do-it-yourselfer because they require no adhesives and very few tools. The fact that they are inexpensive makes them an easy choice.
Ceramic tile can also be inexpensive, and even though installation is a little time consuming, it’s very popular with do-it-yourselfers because it can deliver a high-end look on a modest budget.
Hey, we love getting questions from viewers. And lately it’s all about flooring. And can you put a certain type of floor over an existing floor? And if you’ve got concrete like this, and you’re wanting to install some ceramic, all you need to do is make sure the slab is nice and clean. And if you have any little holes here and there, fill them with a floor patch compound and you’re ready to go.
One question we’ve gotten, “What if I have vinyl on the floor, and it’s in pretty good shape, can I then install ceramic over vinyl?” Absolutely. No problem at all. As long as the vinyl is glued securely to the slab.
Now, here’s another scenario – a wood subfloor. If you have a wood subfloor, “Can I install ceramic directly to it?” Absolutely not. You’ll have some flooring guys out there saying that it’s okay, but I guarantee you’ll end up with some cracks.
Much better to do exactly this. First, this is half-inch cement backer board. You’ll want to put down an adhesive below it, then you’ll want to screw it with coated screws. Then, any seam that you have, you’ll want to put fiberglass mesh tape over it, and then use a thin-set adhesive to kind of smooth everything out. Then when you work hard and install all of your ceramic, it’ll be there for a long, long time.
Hey, another option. We talked earlier about wood and wood’s beautiful. If you have a wood subfloor, you can nail it straight down there. But so many people are finding out about laminate floors and still being able to get that great wood look.
So, you have either concrete or wood, what you’ll want to do first is use an underlayment. Now, this is a really good underlayment. There’s a lot of different types of underlayments – some will be very, very thin. It’s a lot better, in my opinion, to step up to a better underlayment, because it’ll make for a much quieter floor, and you’ll get all of the vapor barrier that you need.
After that’s down then you can take various types of laminate floor, these things are great now, they don’t even require any glue, just click ’em together like this. Follow your instructions, make sure you don’t get it too close to the wall, because it does need to expand and contract a little bit. And in most cases, in less than one day you can have a nice looking laminate floor.
Hey, I know I’ve thrown a lot of information at you, but you can go to our website and find out more about do-it-yourself flooring. Right now, Joe’s got a great tip for you if you’re doing a floor project on this week’s Simple Solutions.
Joe Truini: After installing a new floor, there’s one more important step you have to make, and that is to trim the bottom of the doors so that they clear the new flooring. In this case we have a new tile floor put down, including this threshold. So I need to trim the door so it goes over that.
And I’m going to start with is a small block of half-inch plywood. I like using half-inch because that represents the clearance space beneath the door. So you just set the block in place, then measure from the wooden block up to the bottom edge of this hinge plate, and that is about nine and a half inches.
Now, we just transfer that measurement to the door itself. And again, using that same reference point, the bottom edge of the hinge, just mark it at nine and a half inches. Here we go.
Now I’ll just square that line along. Now, if you cut right on that line you’ll end up with a door with exactly half inch clearance space beneath it.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of flooring options for your home, particularly those that are very do-it-yourself friendly. Now, vinyl floor is a fairly inexpensive type of floor, but generally it’s installed by a professional, because if you’ve ever tried to use that notched trowel, and spread all that adhesive out, then put the vinyl down and have to roll it out to get all the air bubbles; it really does require some skill and some practice.
But what if you could install a vinyl floor on the same principle that you have here on a laminate floor, where it basically just floats in place without any adhesive? That would be great and that’s exactly what we did recently in helping a friend of mine install a brand new product.
The product is called AirStep Evolution from Congoleum. And it’s a flexible sheet flooring with a fiberglass backing that’s much thicker than traditional sheet vinyl so that it can be installed either with or without adhesive.
Well, this material ought to go down pretty well. Let’s just get a rough measurement. And if you’ll hold that right over there, against the wall actually. Let’s go to the wall.
We’ll add a few inches to our measurements for doorways, but otherwise this is pretty straightforward, since the room is almost square. And now we got a few places here we’ll have to patch.
John Richards: Yeah, we had a water heater incident which flooded this room.
Danny Lipford: We’ll have to just take a putty knife and get the most of that out and we can just floor-patch that and go right over all of this.
The floor patch will fill in the low places, so that we don’t feel any depressions under the new vinyl. While it dries, we remove the shoe molding around the perimeter of the room. We want to reuse the shoe mold so we’re being very careful not to break it.
Outside, we roll the flooring out facedown on the drive, so that we can make our rough cuts. At about $2.75 cents a square foot, this stuff is pretty affordable, especially if you’re installing it yourself. And almost anyone can do this project. We roll it back up in the opposite direction so that we can roll it out face up back in the room.
One side of this tape sticks to the floors, really aggressive. It’ll stick very well. But the other side supposedly has the ability, if you mess up a little bit you can peel it. We’ll see how all that works out. Let’s go ahead, and we’ll put this down without peeling the backing off of it. So half-inch off the wall. The tape goes around all the walls to avoid any shifting while we’re working. Finally, we’re ready for the flooring.
Yeah, perfect, perfect. And then, here we go. Hey, all right? All right, it’s all yours.
John Richards: Okay.
Danny Lipford: Okay, when I say “three” jump up in the air. One, two, three. One, two, three. One more time. Come on, we’re having fun, man.
With two walls set, we can peel off the backing on the tape and hold the flooring in position on those walls. Then it’s a matter of cutting the sheet to fit the two remaining walls by folding it at the baseboard and cutting it in the fold. Cutting around the doorways takes a little more time, but is still pretty easy if you have a nice, sharp utility knife.
All right, I’m ready for shoe molding. All right, that will definitely cover everything all the way around. Give you an idea of the finished look.
John Richards: What I’d like to do, Danny, that is if I could, paint this before we put it back down. It might be a little bit easier than trying to paint it in place.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, it’s pretty cool that all of this came up as one piece. We didn’t break a single bit of it.
John Richards: Yeah.
Danny Lipford: It’s just the skill in these hands that did that.
John Richards: Exactly.
Danny Lipford: So the final step is the threshold. John’s planning to replace the floors in the adjacent rooms soon, so we’re just gluing these in place to avoid putting any nail holes in the flooring where it will be seen. A few cinder blocks will hold them in place until they dry.
Well, John, one of the things, a big advantage of this, you don’t have to wait for any of the glue to dry before you can get in here with your drop cloth and go ahead and paint this room out.
John Richards: Right. Went down a lot easier than I ever imagined putting a floor down.
Danny Lipford: Yeah. Have you tried any, have you installed any floors at all before?
John Richards: I have not, but I have the confidence to get some of these other rooms done.
Danny Lipford: It’s pretty easy, because without that glue process, installing vinyl like this is a heck of a lot easier. Because, like I said earlier, that notched trowel, and the glue just gets all over you. But, hey, you don’t have any glue on you, none on me.
John Richards: Right.
Danny Lipford: A good day’s work.
John Richards: Yeah.
Jodi Marks: You know, I love installing laminate flooring, because it’s actually a very easy project. I think the hardest part about it is making your cuts, because you’ve got to go outside, where you’ve either set up your table saw and your miter saw, and then bring everything back in. Because it’s time consuming when you do that. But wouldn’t it be great if you had one saw that can make all of those cuts, and you could keep it in the same room you’re working in all at the same time?
Well, Ryobi has come out with a great five-inch laminate saw, and it’s perfect for doing everything you need when you’re putting down laminate flooring. Now, I’ve got a piece right here, so let me show you how it works.
It’s got a fence that I can just slide and pop into place. And then once I get it where I want it, I then lock down the blade here. And using the fence as my guide, I can push my plank lengthwise along the blade and it will make my rip. Then, if I need to make a crosscut, all I would have to do is relocate the fence to this side.
Once that gets locked into place, I then release the blade, and then what I could do is slide my plank underneath here. It actually slides like a radial arm saw, so it doesn’t matter the width of plank that I use. But I simply push the blade crossways across it and I can get my crosscut every time. And with this advanced dust collection system that it incorporates, you will not pick up a lot of dust. It’ll actually collect twice as much dust in here.
So, you can set this up in the same room you’re working in, so you can get your cuts perfect every time. You don’t have to waste your time going outside. And you’ll get your laminate floor down in no time.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of different flooring options for your home. We’ve already looked at quite a few, but here’s another one. Now, the floating floor like this laminate floor, is a real popular concept – very do-it-yourself friendly. And you can get a floor like this that kind of looks like ceramic or porcelain.
But now you can get a locking floor that floats that’s actually porcelain. This is a product that we saw at the International Builders’ Show last year. And it just clicks right together like this and has some great things that they say about this product. But you always wonder will it really work as well as they say in a real-life situation. Allen found out this week.
Allen demoed the product on a table at the trade show. So, for his real-world test he’s chosen a vintage ’50s bathroom in need of a flooring update. And its owner, Melanie Petithory, is helping with the installation and product evaluation.
Allen Lyle: The toilet definitely has to come up.
Danny Lipford: Removing the toilet is a must for new bathroom flooring if you want a nice, clean look. But getting all of the water out so that it doesn’t make a mess, well, that’s a bit of a trick.
Allen Lyle: This is one of those things I saw in a trade show like three years ago, and I never got to use it yet.
Melanie Petithory: Oh, well, good. I’m the first.
Allen Lyle: This is, yeah, you’re the first one. Okay, I’ve got it open here. And all you’re going to do is take this little powder, pour this powder into the water.
Melanie Petithory: I’m going to get to do that?
Allen Lyle: Yep.
Melanie Petithory: Okay. Straight into the water.
Allen Lyle: All the way down.
Melanie Petithory: Look at that.
Allen Lyle: Ain’t that something? Look at that. It’s already gelled up.
Melanie Petithory: So it won’t splash and slosh.
Allen Lyle: So it won’t slosh, but here’s the fun part. When we actually put the toilet back on and hook it up and turn the water back on, it will become liquid again.
Melanie Petithory: Whoa!
Allen Lyle: So we don’t have to do anything. We don’t have to touch any of that. We’re done. All right, walk. Getting down and dirty.
Melanie Petithory: I’m glad I did the part I did.
Allen Lyle: Yeah. And this is the nasty part. And actually, it’s just wax.
Melanie Petithory: Yeah, but it’s gooey.
Allen Lyle: But it’s gooey.
Melanie Petithory: Okay, now we can finally get to it.
Allen Lyle: Oh, yes.
Melanie Petithory: Hop to the tile!
Allen Lyle: Yeah. I would start at the tub because I would hate to start in this corner, and then get over here and only have a piece of tile.
Melanie Petithory: Right. And over here, if that’s over here it’s going to be hidden. Because you’ve got the toilet and the lavatory.
Danny Lipford: Like all floating floors. Cliks tile requires expansion gaps around the perimeter. So Allen is using some homemade spacers along the walls and tub. The manufacturer makes an installation kit that includes spacers and is sold separately.
Allen Lyle: So, boom! That’s our first tile. We’ve just laid one tile.
Melanie Petithory: Ta-da!
Allen Lyle: That easy.
Melanie Petithory: Hey, aren’t we good.
Allen Lyle: So we’re going to keep going.
Allen Lyle: So we’re going to keep going. Now, this, what makes this product so nice, Melanie, is the fact that we’re not going to put mastic down.
Melanie Petithory: Okay.
Allen Lyle: We’re not putting, say if this were a wood subfloor, we’re not having to put a backer board down. Because this, it has that polyurethane base with these little nodules on it. It becomes these little miniature I-beams everywhere.
Melanie Petithory: Okay, so that’ll keep it level and won’t wiggle and waggle.
Danny Lipford: As each new piece is added, it’s simply clicked into place and tapped with a block to lock the joint tight. The marking of cuts is very similar to what you would do with ordinary ceramic, except the allowance for spacers.
Cutting is exactly the same as traditional ceramic. You need a wet saw to cut through the porcelain and the polyurethane backing. Standing or kneeling on the tiles that are already laid seem to be the best way to tap in additional tiles. And in the middle of the room this part goes really quickly.
Where it begins to get tricky is as you near the opposite wall, there’s less room to swing the rubber mallet. So it’s a little more difficult to tap the pieces together. And each piece is a bit of a challenge.
That installation kit we mentioned earlier is supposed to solve that problem, but since Allen doesn’t have that, he has to do a little improvising. Now, what’s interesting to see here is how quickly Melanie is picking this up.
Allen Lyle: Score it down the line.
Melanie Petithory: Score it in a straight line.
Allen Lyle: No tilting. Straight down there, and that’s what I need to keep.
Danny Lipford: As someone who’s never laid tile before, she’s really taking to it. Even handling the cuts on the wet saw.
Melanie Petithory: Am I good, or am I good?
Danny Lipford: She’s also putting in the rubber cove molding that’ll cover the expansion joint around the edges. Finally, Allen can set the toilet and vanity back in place and finish up the project. But what do they think of it?
Melanie Petithory: Well, you know, the clicking is very good if you’re in a nice, open space. But when you get into an awkward corner or in an awkward situation, there’s no flexibility in the ceramic.
Allen Lyle: You’re telling me this?
Melanie Petithory: Well?
Allen Lyle: I know it.
Melanie Petithory: Yeah, you found that out.
Allen Lyle: I found that out. You know, on the up side I got to tell you though, I love the product. It works well, it looks good.
Melanie Petithory: It looks grand!
Allen Lyle: But there were challenges.
Melanie Petithory: Yes.
Allen Lyle: I’m tired.
Melanie Petithory: I know you are.
Allen Lyle: I want water.
Melanie Petithory: You met those challenges.
Allen Lyle: I want a lot of water.
Melanie Petithory: Well?
Allen Lyle: No, I’ve had enough of this water. I want some water!
Ralph asks: We have some beautiful oak flooring beneath the old carpet in our house, but there are a few stains. Is there a way to remove those without sanding the whole floor?
Danny Lipford: Unfortunately, if you have some really deep stains in your hardwood floor, it will have to be sanded and refinished in order to get rid of those stains. Even then, some of the real deep stains are really hard to get rid of. Here’s a little trick that’ll help you a lot on that.
Basically, take a cotton rag, take hydrogen peroxide, soak it down well, put it over the stain, and allow the hydrogen peroxide to pull a lot of that stain out. Another thing you want to try before you go through the expense of the sanding and refinishing of your hardwood floor, try some of the new cleaners that are available now that are called rejuvenators. That’ll thoroughly clean the surface of your hardwood and actually dissolves a little of the finish to give it a nice, consistent look. You may be able to save money instead of having to completely refinish the floor.
Danny Lipford: The new twists that simplify flooring installation shouldn’t be any surprise when you consider how popular these projects are with do-it-yourselfers. Whether you try one of these new products or stick with the tried and true, the fact is it’s never been easier to tackle your own flooring project. And that means there’s no reason to put off improving your home one step at a time. As you can see, there are a lot of do-it-yourself options for flooring out there.
I know we’ve thrown a lot of information at you this week; but, of course, you can find out more about what we talked about today and other flooring options.