Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford
How to Install and Repair Flooring in Your Home
By: Danny Lipford
Watch this video on flooring installation and repair tips for your home, including:
- Removing glued down flooring and adhesive.
- Using floor patching compound to level a subfloor.
- How to repair damaged vinyl flooring.
- Trimming the bottom of door jambs for new flooring.
- Tools used to install carpeting.
- Difference between ceramic and porcelain tile.
- Tips on how to lay a tile floor with an underlayment membrane.
- Types of wood and laminate flooring.
- Tools used to sand a hardwood floors.
- How to keep floors clean.
Read episode article to find out more.
Danny Lipford: Homeowners love flooring projects because they can refine the look of a home so quickly. But they aren’t without challenges, so this week we are serving up some flooring solutions.
This week we’re digging in to the world of flooring. You know it’s one of the largest surfaces you have in your home, and there’s no quicker way to date or update your home than with flooring. Now we get a ton of e-mails on our website about flooring, and some of the challenges you have, whether doing it yourself or hiring a pro, such as can you put a particular type of floor over another type of floor. And would a certain type of floor be okay in a kitchen or a bathroom. Well, we’re going to address a lot of those questions in this weeks show.
But, you know no matter whatever type of flooring that you may be installing or having installed in your home, it’s probably going to need a little preparation. The biggest hurdle in preparing for a flooring project is making sure that the surface where the new floor will be installed is smooth and flat. Whether that’s a wood subfloor or a concrete slab, both can have a few valleys and humps that will leave the new floor uneven and may cause some problems installing it.
The solution is a material called floor patch that is spread out over the floor to fill it in any of the low spots and to level out the surface. After the patch dries, the surface is sanded smooth but if you overdo it, you’ll have a lot of sanding to do, so this job may be best left to the pros. But there are some prep chores that almost any homeowner can handle.
Joe Truini: The first step in installing a new floor is often removing the old flooring. So here’s where you can really save some money, especially when you’re dealing with wall to wall carpeting. Rather than paying a contractor to take it out of a room, you can do it yourself.
Now, the trick is rather than rolling it up and trying to carry it out of the room, what I suggest is cutting it into three or four foot squares, and then you can carry those out very easily. But rather than cutting the carpeting from the front, which makes it really difficult because you have to cut through the pile. Plus, you also might damage the floor, or in this case we’re trying to save the hardwood floor below.
What you do is just flop the carpeting over, maybe three or four foot wide, then use the utility knife to cut it from the back. The back of the carpet has this really nice rigid fiber and the knife cuts right through it. Once you get it started, cut like I said, maybe three or four foot square. You see how easily it cuts from the back? You just continue that all the way down the whole strip. And you end up with these pieces that you can just sort of pile up so you continue down. And then when you’re done with this strip, flop it over, again, another three or four feet, make a slice, and cut it up.
What you end up with is a bunch of nice size squares that you can either leave at the curb for the trash man to pick up or take to a local landfill. Now another thing is before you discard the carpeting, check with the local refuse company, because you might be able to recycle it.
Danny Lipford: Scraps are also an unfortunate byproduct of new floor installation. But in that case, you will want to hold onto those extra pieces of flooring, they might get you out of a jam later. When rolled flooring like carpet or vinyl is damaged the only way to repair it without completely replacing it, is to patch it. But because this stuff is made in batches where lots, it’s nearly impossible to match the color and texture.
With most vinyl, there is a repeating pattern in the print, so that’s the point where you want to do your cutting to remove the damage piece. Use a flat straight edge to help you cut a nice straight line. When you remove the damaged piece, you’ll also need to clean up any glue that might be left behind.
The patch piece can be cut from the scrap in much the same way so that it fits perfectly in the hole. A little bit of vinyl glue on the subfloor will hold the patch in place, but you’ll need to clean up any excess glue with mineral spirits. To ensure the patch becomes truly a part of the repaired floor, seal the seams with vinyl seam stealer. If you did this right, the patch will never be noticed.
When you’re installing a vinyl floor, or any flooring that really has to have a smooth surface, you’re probably going to have to deal with the task of removing whatever type of flooring is there now. Now, that may be vinyl or it may be a glued down carpet. Boy, that adhesive is really hard to remove. So it’s great when we find a tool that makes it a little easier to kind of take care of that type of task.
Now, usually you’ll have to use a floor scraper to remove all of the adhesive, but we found something at the International Builders’ Show that seemed to work really well. This is a Spyder Scraper, and Allen decided in the aisles of the International Builders’ Show to give it a try right up against another type of scraper.
He came back pretty impressed with a lot of rave reviews over this little simple tool, it only cost about $12. And all you have to do is put it right in your reciprocating saw, and you’re ready to remove all of that adhesive and everything needed before you install that new flooring.
Now Joe has another tip for us that he says will really solve another very common household problem on this week’s Simple Solution.
Joe Truini: If you live with pets that shed a lot of hair like my friend Blackie here, you’re probably familiar with the challenge of vacuuming up or sweeping up dust and hair, especially from rugs or upholstered furniture. The hair seems to just stick in and no matter how many times you vacuum you can’t pick it up. So, I’ve come up with a really clever idea, I think, which is an industrial strength lint roller.
And all this is is a paint roller, a standard paint roller that I put onto a broom handle as an extension, so that I can reach down and do the whole rug without having to bend over. And I took duct tape, and I just wrapped it around sticky side out all the way around in a spiral fashion around the entire roll. Now, all you need to do is just roll it across the rug.
Now here you’ll see, after just a few seconds of going back and forth, how much hair, pet hair, that it actually picks up. You can see that but look at that, not only pet hair but also some dust and cookie crumbs and everything else.
Now for a robust size, you can probably do the entire thing with just one strip of tape. But after a while, it’ll lose its stickiness and so you have to peel it off, and put another one on, and do another rug, or even upholstered furniture.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of solutions to some very common flooring problems. And Joe, I’ll tell you when you’re out on a job site and the flooring guys are out there, man they have some strange tools.
Joe Truini: Very strange looking tools. But if you’re going to be putting down your own floor, you’re going to need these tools. Fortunately, they’re all available at a tool rental dealer.
Danny Lipford: Now this one, really odd looking. It looks like something from the medieval torture chamber. It’s called a power stretcher.
Joe Truini: Yes, they use it in wall to wall carpeting to stretch carpet really tight. If you’ve ever noticed carpet that has wrinkles in it, it’s because someone didn’t use this tool properly.
Danny Lipford: And they’re usually, this is used on larger areas, so that you can put one end of it against the baseboard, then you can really stretch it out in order to tighten it up.
Now on smaller areas, you use one of these oddball looking things, you can see the spikes here that hook into the carpet. And then you have this pad that you actually kick with your knee. And it’s called a knee kicker.
Joe Truini: And then for a seeming large pieces of carpet, where you have two pieces that come together, there is a heat activated tape, and they an iron to go along the seam. And it fuses the tape to the under side, so it becomes basically one big piece of carpet.
Danny Lipford: Man, that smell. You can smell it all over the job.
Joe Truini: Nothing smells like that, it’s not good either.
Danny Lipford: Of course when you’re doing any other type of flooring like tile, or vinyl, you’re normally having to remove some existing flooring. And Joe did you see this thing that I showed a little bit earlier.
Joe Truini: I did. That is great, not only for tile or carpeting that’s glued down, but you can probably get some wood flooring up as well. I like the fact that it’s in a cordless reciprocal saw.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, it makes it a lot easier. But when the pros are out there, a lot of times they’re dealing with larger areas, and they use one of these. It is basically a flooring scraper. But, man, you can get some blisters on your hands like you wouldn’t believe.
Joe Truini: A really big job, especially the floor that’s fully glued down or a big ceramic tile floor, you might want to consider getting or renting one of these, this is a pro tool, an electric scraper. It makes a lot of noise this is about as loud a tool as you can find, but it will work really well. I understand they used to use this on roofs, in fact, to pull up roof shingles, imagine that.
Danny Lipford: Those roofers got tired of dragging this heavy thing up and down the ladder, but it does do a pretty good job for a lot of different floors, I’ve had to use that a number of times. Now, if you’re doing any type of ceramic you have to make sure that you’re putting the ceramic down on the right type of surface. Allen has some great tips for us.
Allen Lyle: I’m sitting here with April who has a very common flooring project. What are we doing today?
April Smith: We’re putting down some porcelain tile today to try to update the bathroom.
Allen Lyle: April and I have already removed the toilet, scraped the old floor, and measured the space. But, instead of cutting cement backer board to cover it, we’re using a polyethylene membrane underlayment from Schluter called Ditra. The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s a lot easier to cut than backer board. No power tools, just a utility knife.
Installing it’s pretty easy, too. We just mix up some thin-set, and in this case it is fortified with a polymer like latex. And we spread this out all over the subfloor in the bath. This adhesive will form a bond with the anchoring fleece that’s on the back side of the membrane. And this stuff is also easier to trim tightly around the edges. And since it’s waterproof, it’s going to be ideal for this bathroom application.
From here, the process is much like any other tile project. You lay out the center of the room and just start laying tile. This time we’re using thin-set without latex to bond the tile to the Ditra. As the cavities in the membrane fill up, they form dozens of tiny little columns that support the tiles. The membrane will absorb any movement in the subfloor, without creating cracks in the tile or the grout. All in all, it’s a pretty cool system.
Okay, we’ve still got to grout it, and clean it. What do you think so far?
April Smith: Excellent. But we really shouldn’t be in here right now, huh?
Allen Lyle: No. We just that the tile down, they’ll shifts a lot, so we need to get it out of here.
April Smith: Well, let’s head to the kitchen.
Allen Lyle: Food?
April Smith: Oh, no. I didn’t tell you? We’re going to do the kitchen floor, too.
Joe Truini: This is a kind of tile cutter Allen was using earlier. It’s called a score and snap tile cutter. And it’s great for smaller projects.
Danny Lipford: Now, if you’re dealing with some larger projects, or you’re laying down a natural stone like marble or granite tile, it’s well worth $50-$60 a day to rent one of these. It’s a wet tile saw. And basically you have water that feeds over the blade to keep it nice and cool. Then this tray that slides right under there with the tile. And you have these little stops that will keep the tile right where you want it. And you can cut a lot of tile in a short amount of time.
Hey, let’s check in on our Best New Product of the week with Jodi Marks.
Jodi Marks: Cordless screwdrivers have been around for a long time. So seeing one here is no surprise. What is surprising is the amount of power this little driver packs. This is the new four-volt lithium-ion screwdriver from Ryobi. I know what you’re thinking, four volts doesn’t sound like much. But this thing can drive four times more screws than the competition on a single charge. And one charge will last up to 24 months. So even if you leave it in the kitchen drawer and forget to charge it, you’ll still have power.
This power makes it useful for a lot of jobs pros do. But it’s small size and lightweight also makes it ideal for everyday projects around the house, from assembling furniture to hanging pictures to installing blinds. The SpeedLoad plus chuck makes changing bits quick and easy. And a built-in LED light comes on with the motor to help out when you’re working in dimly lit areas.
The kit comes with a bag and six extra SpeedLoad bits, so for about 30 bucks it’s a great value for the homeowner or the pro.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of different flooring options and solutions to some common flooring problems. We just looked at a few things you need to think about when you’re laying a tile floor.
Joe Truini: First, it’s great that floor tile comes in a wide variety of sizes so you’re sure to find tile that will fit your space. Now, floor tile is typically laid in a square pattern, but you might want to also consider laying it diagonally. Now if you do so, take into account that you’re going to have a lot of cutting, and it might take a little longer. And usually you have to add about 10 or 15% for cutoff waste.
Danny Lipford: And you also have to remember that not all tile is made from the same material. Cindy Hilyer: The two main tiles are the ceramic tile and porcelain tile. The ceramic tile is made of a red clay fired in a kiln, and the porcelain tiles are a little more expensive but they’re a little more durable. The porcelain tiles do not absorb water as the ceramic tiles do. So they are a little stronger, a little more durable for maybe kitchen applications and definitely for the outdoors. Either tile is fine, depending upon your application or tastes and your budget.
Danny Lipford: One thing ceramic and porcelain do have in common, is that you need to finish them both off with grout. Grout comes in a variety of colors so you can contrast or match it to the tile as you like. I always suggest that people lean a little bit toward the darker shades, which are less likely to show stains.
That’s the main downside to a tile floor—stains in the grout lines. You’ll eventually get them, unless you do something to prevent it. After the grout dries, you can seal it with a clear sealer. But people often forget this step, so they’re left trying to clean up dirty grout, which, truthfully, is rarely very successful. In these cases it’s easier just to cover it up with the grout stain sealer combination. This stuff coats and seals the grout protecting it and making it all one uniform color.
To prevent this issue altogether, I have had some success with the stainproof grouts. I used one recently that came premixed in a plastic tub. That saves some work. But I found that it was a bit stiffer than the stuff you mix yourself. That made it a little more difficult to apply, and it costs a little more, too. But so far it’s blocking those stains, and that makes the effort and expense worthwhile.
Another very popular type of flooring is wood, or one that looks like wood.
Joe Truini: Here we’ve got some traditional oak flooring, it’s three-quarter-inch thick solid oak. It’s a great floor. This one is prefinished, sometimes you find it unfinished. The problem with this in a remodeling situation, is that because it’s so thick it can create trouble when you’re transitioning from one room to another. Another option is an engineered wood floor. This is all wood, made up of layers glued together. It’s about five-sixteenths-inch thick, prefinished. And this is great in remodeling situation because it’s so thin.
Danny Lipford: Now, this is one that looks like wood, but actually is a laminate flooring. A lot of people call it a floating floor, because you don’t attach this by gluing it or nailing it to the floor, it actually floats on a layer of foam underlayment. And it has this nice little snap-lock that snaps right together, and very do-it-yourself friendly.
Now, no matter what type of flooring that you are installing in your house when you get up next to the door jambs you’re going to have a challenge there in figuring out just how to get that flooring right up against the wall like the pros do it. Well, this is what the pros use to solve that problem. It’s called a jam saw, it’s a pretty aggressive saw so you have to be fairly careful when you use it. Now, you can slip that right out, and that goes right under there, nice and tight.
Joe Truini: Now, another option to the electric jam saw is a hand jam saw. Or you can use an electric vibrating tool as well. I prefer the handsaw, because it’s nice and simple, nice and quiet, doesn’t create as much dust. What you need is a piece of flooring to use as a guide, and flip it upside down so you don’t scratch it up, and then simply make the cut. And what you’re going to do is remove that little piece of wood and slide the flooring right underneath. And you can use this not only for the casing, but also for the jamb on the side. And it fits right in there perfectly.
Danny Lipford: Now, mines a lot quicker than yours there, Joe.
Joe Truini: Yeah mine looks a little different, and mine doesn’t smoke up the room either.
Danny Lipford: Now, if you already have wood floors, and they’re looking a little dingy and old, you may want to refinish them. And if that’s the case, this is one of the tools you may want to rent. This is a drum sander, very similar to a really big belt sander. Very aggressive, but it will take that top layer right off the finish on your hardwood floors.
Joe Truini: Now, the drum sander is great for the middle of the floor, but in order to get along the edge of the room right close to the baseboard, you’ll need an edge sander like this, which has a round disk. Now, if you decide to refinish your own floors and rent these tools, keep in mind they’re very aggressive. And if you’re not careful, you can damage your floor. In fact in my home, I had the floors refinished recently and I decided to call in a pro.
Danny Lipford: Ahh, you slacker.
If your heating and cooling system gets clogged with excessive dirt inside your home, it’ll have to run longer to heat or cool the same amount of space. It will cost you more money to use and contribute more greenhouse gas emissions. Your best defense against this is a good quality air filter.
But before you buy one of these ninety-nine-cent disposable fiberglass filters, watch how much of this dirt falls right through it. These things will only remove about 10-15% of the dirt, dust, pollen, and other airborne pollutants that are in your home. When you consider that the average person breathes in about two gallons of air every minute, just think what else might be going into your lungs.
Spend a little extra money for a quality filter like carbon, HEPA, or one with electrostatically charged fibers. These types can remove up to 99% of pollutants, which is truly a breath of fresh air.
This week we’ve been looking at solutions for some of those common issues that arise in flooring projects around your home. Some of these solutions may require the tools and skills of a pro, while others you can handle yourself with just a few simple tools and a little effort. In either case realizing that there is a solution to the challenge at hand is the first and biggest step toward overcoming it. We’ve had fun clearing the path today, and we hope you’ve had fun walking down it.
Now, once your flooring project is complete, the challenges aren’t over, they may be just beginning, to keep it nice and clean. It is very important for the longevity of your floor and just to keep it looking good for a long, long time. Make sure you spend a little time in cleaning.
Now, I would check with the manufacturer of the flooring you’ve installed to see what they recommend, or you can find some very good quality cleaners out there that can clean a multitude of different types of floors. A little bit of cleaning goes a long, long way.
And we have more information on cleaning, and flooring, and anything to do with your home on our website at dannylipford.com. Hey, thanks for being with us, we’ll see you next week here on Today’s Homeowner.
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