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Epoxy Garage Floor Coating

I applied an epoxy-based coating to my garage floor, but it didn't last all that long and started chipping away. I am ready to do it again, and want to know if you have any tips or products to recommend.

Our Answer

Like many a finish project, proper preparation is key to a great-looking and long-lasting garage floor.  While many manufacturers make epoxy garage floor coating, I have had good experience with QUIKRETE's Epoxy Garage Floor Coating Kit
QUIKRETE makes it easy to prepare the garage floor with its Bond-Lok concentrate. After the floor surface is thoroughly swept, Bond-Lok is mixed with water and applied to the floor to degrease, clean and etch the surface.
 
After the Bond-Lok garage floor application and a thorough rinsing and drying, it's time to add the epoxy-based finish in two-by-six-foot sections. You can also add QUIKRETE color flakes for extra flair. Finally, make sure the garage floor is thoroughly dry before you move your cars back in. Temperate and humidity can impact drying times making them far longer than the garage floor epoxy manufacturer predicts.

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Oak hardwood floor in bright home.

Refinishing Hardwood Floor Tools and Finish: Tools to use for sanding and recoating hardwood floors

I'm going to refinish my hardwood floors; what grid sandpaper should I use and what type of coating should I put back on the hardwood floors?

Our Answer

Refinishing hardwood floors is a popular project that can really improve the look of your space. If the finish is just dull and there aren't deep gouges or any other kind of serious flaws in the floors, the simplest way to prep the surface for a fresh new coat is to rent a floor buffer with a sanding screen.   The screens gently rotate to take off only the top layer of finish and won't damage the surface underneath.

If the floor is badly damaged, you'll need to rent a floor sander. Typically, there are two types of floor sanders available.  A floor belt sander is the tool most pros use.  These tools are big, heavy, hard to maneuver and if you sneeze when you are using one, can damage your floor for life.  We don't recommend renting a belt sander for your floors. If they are that bad, hire a pro to do the sanding.  Nothing short of using one of these behemoths every day is going to give you the experience to use one without making the floor look worse than when you started.

A better option for the DIYer when refinishing hardwood floors is a machine known as a U-Sand.  A U-sand is a 4 disk random orbital sander that does a fabulous job sanding the floor and is goof-proof regardless of the skill level of the user.  It also does a good job of sucking up the dust it creates, making for a much neater job and smoother finish.
Even with these tools, you will most likely still need to do some sanding by hand in the areas tough to get to.  You can also rent a disk sander that is designed to get into the edges of the floor, but keep in mind that these machines typically leave swirl marks that may none the less need to be hand-sanded out.

Polyurethane is the finish of choice for floors.  The finish is available in both latex and oil based versions.  In our experience, the latex finish works well for cabinets, trim and furniture but just doesn't have the abrasion resistance to do a good job on the floors.  For refinishing hardwood floors, oil finish still delivers the best long term result.

When refinishing hardwood floors, the best way to apply oil-based polyurethane is to "mop" it on with a synthetic "lamb's wool" applicator.  This useful tool, available at any home center, looks like a sponge mop and lays down a silky smooth finish in a fraction of the time it would take to do it using a brush.  For best results, use several thin coats and try to avoid heavy traffic on the floor for a few days after the finish is applied so that it can fully harden on the newly refinished hardwood floor.

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Water Damage on Flooring

Water Damage in Flooring

We recently discovered our refrigerator water line had been leaking for some time. We have gotten the leak fixed and are now dealing with the damage. We discovered the leak after water began coming up from between the planks of bamboo flooring in the living room, which is on the other side of the wall that the fridge sits on. We have been in touch with our homeowners' insurance company and are working with restoration specialists they recommended. The large fans/dehumidifiers are drying things out, but we have learned there is water under the tile in our kitchen, too, and it may extend into the other tiled areas of the house.

My biggest concern is that we believe the previous owners laid the kitchen tile and the wood flooring on top of an original layer of tile. We have seen grout underneath the wood flooring when we replaced some trim a while back, and the seam between the tile and cabinets in the kitchen makes it clear that the cabinets do not sit on top of the top layer of tile. I am concerned that a lot of water may be trapped in the original layer of flooring and will not be dried up with the fans/dehumidifiers.

Our restoration specialist says the water can stay in the tile and it shouldn't cause damage other than grout discoloration over time. I'm not so sure. This seems like a big risk to me. Should we fight to have the top layer of flooring and the original tile both removed to ensure the water is all gone? I don't want to have problems later on or have mold start to grow.

Our Answer

You have a valid concern but my experience would dictate that there's little to worry about if the leak was fixed.  That water will dry out – and probably much quicker than you'd imagine.  The bigger concern is structural.  If the water leak went on for a long time, you may have rotted floor components and those should be fixed, even if it involves removing tile.

Try gently stepping on the floor in the are of the leak and note if it feels spongy or softer than adjoining areas.  If it is, further evaluation may be needed.  If a flooring replacement is needed, there have been many advances in waterproof flooring you can consider.

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squeaking floor, pet friendly floor

How to Fix a Squeaking Floor: Easy Repair Tips

What can I do to repair squeaky floors? My house is about 20 years old, and built over a crawl space, with squeaking sections of floor under hardwood and carpet. In fact, when I installed a new, heavier refrigerator in the kitchen I started to get a "groan" every time I step in front of the cabinets adjacent to the fridge.  Another area is around the bed in the master bedroom. The underside of the floors in the crawlspace is fully insulated. Any solutions for fixing my squeaky floors?

Our Answer

Floor squeaks are pretty common and can occur in homes that are brand new or very old. Of the hundreds of calls and emails we receive each week to our show, floors are the number one most asked about topic. Of those calls and emails, seeking the solution to a squeaking floor is a popular question.

Squeaks happen when loose floors move as you walk over them. While they are annoying, a squeak seldom means you have an underlying structural problem. The actual sound stems from one or a combination of two sources. Either loose floor boards are rubbing together, or the nails that hold down the floor are squeaking as they move in and out of their holes.

Fortunately, squeaks can be about as easy to fix as they are to find if you know what to do. The solution to either scenario is to re-secure the floor to the floor joists (the beams that floors are nailed to). Here's what to do:

Carpeted Floors
When it comes to fixing squeaks that are under carpet, the best solution is always to remove the carpet. Once the carpet is removed, use hardened drywall screws to hold the floor in place by driving one next to every nail in the floor. Screws never pull out so they are much better than nails.

If removing wall to wall carpet is too much of a hassle for you to tackle, there's a way that may allow you to fix the squeak from above. Using a stud finder, locate the floor joist beneath the carpet in the area of the squeak. Usually, joists run perpendicular to the front and back walls of a home so check in that direction first.

Once you've located the joist, drive a 10d or 12d galvanized finish nail through the carpet, through the sub-floor and into the floor joist. You'll probably need to do this in two or three places. Make sure to drive the nail in at a slight angle as this will help prevent the floor from getting loose again and squeaking again. Lastly, grab the carpet by the nap or pile and pull it up until the head of the finish nail passes through it. Hopefully, as the nails disappear through the carpet, so will the squeaks.

Hardwood Floors
Fixing squeaking hardwood floors is a little trickier than fixing a carpeted floor, but the principles remain the same. Locate the area of the squeak and then use a stud-finder to locate the joists. Note that since the joists will be 1 to 1 ½ under the hardwood floor, you'll need to use a stud finder than has a "deep scan"  feature to be sure you are in the right spot.

Once you've identified the location, you can either screw down the loose area or re-nail it as suggested above with the carpet. In either case, you'll need to pre-drill the floor. For screws, purchase a bit from your local home center or hardware store that includes a counter bore. This will leave a hole that is exactly three-eighths of an inch in diameter and the perfect size to fill with an easily available oak plug. If you are nailing the floor, use a drill bit that is slightly smaller in diameter than the finish nails you are using. This way, the nails will pass easily though the floor without bending or splitting floor boards.

Squeaking floors may be one of life's little annoyances, but they are easily kept under control. However, if squeaks ever really get under your skin, remember the technical term for them: charm!

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floor squeak

Floor Squeak Repair: Screws vs. Nails for Sub-flooring

We have squeaking sub-flooring in our hallway upstairs.  We have had the carpet pulled back and we are ready to make the floor squeak repair by putting screw nails through the sub-flooring into the floor joists.  How long should the screw nails be?

Our Answer

Squeaking floors can be super annoying.  Floor squeaks happen for a number of reasons but most commonly because the sub-floor gets loose. That flooring is often put down with a rosin coated nail called a "cooler".  The idea is that when the nail is driven the friction melts the glue coating making it less likely to pull out.  But in reality, the nails do move and because they are coated by rosin, create floor squeaks that can drive you nuts!

In your question you refer to "screw nails."  There's really no such thing.  You should be buying case-hardened drywall screws, that are at least 2 1/2 inches thick for the floor squeak repair. Once that carpet is pulled up, I'd screw down each and every sheet of plywood, using 4-5 nails for each floor joist running under each sheet of plywood.  If the subfloor is installed on 16" centers, that means you'll need at least 28 screws per sheet! The good news is that they can be easily installed with a drill-driver.  Be sure to screw down every single sheet that you can get to because I can guarantee that as soon as you fix one squeak and put the carpet back - another one will immediately pop up!

 

 

 

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cleaning, washer

High-Efficiency Washer: Reinforcing Floor

The manual for my high-efficiency washer says I may need to reinforce the floor. What does this mean? New subfloor? How big a job is this? What can I expect to pay?

Our Answer

Generally speaking, if your floor is supporting its current use (a laundry area) and isn't otherwise rotting or in disrepair structurally, there is no reason why it needs to be reinforced.  However, high-efficiency washers can vibrate.  That is because the drum rotates much faster than a regular washing machine during the spin cycle. 

It's very important that both the floor and the washer are level to minimize the vibration.  To remedy it further, you can get an anti-vibration pad to place under the washer.  There is a company called KE Shake-Away that makes a very good one. 

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Man blowing insulation in an attic

What’s the Best Way to Add Attic Insulation to a Floored Attic?

Hi Money Pit!  I have a pine board floor in my attic.  The attic has a walk-up staircase and 2x10 joists, so it's meant to store lots of stuff.  The old attic insulation is minimal, probably wool, but in fair condition.  I would like to add more insulation, either batts or blown-in.  I'm considering removing the flooring and adding 2x4s across, but I think that would mean I have to do blown-in insulation.  I prefer batts because it would allow me to do the attic in stages without having to rent a machine several times. The flooring will of course be put back after.  What do you recommend?

Our Answer

You're wise to tackle this home improvement project. Attics offer the greatest potential for home energy savings, and also happen to be the easiest area to improve.

Whichever insulation material you choose for this space, make sure to maintain proper attic ventilation. It'll protect insulation from the dampness of wintertime condensation, which can cut insulating power by one third and introduce a host of structure-threatening moisture problems.

Now, in terms of your specific project, you have the right idea: You have to resist the urge to overstuff those 2x10 bays with insulation.  Insulation works on the principle of trapped air, so if a space is too compressed or overstuffed, the insulation benefits are reduced or even eliminated. You asked about batts versus blown-in insulation, but I recommend a third option: spray foam insulation.  

I insulated my own (older) home with spray-foam insulation recently, and it drastically decreased my monthly utility costs.  Specifically, I used Icynene Spray Foam Insulation, which you can install in one step.  Icynene is formed through mixture of two components—ISO and resin—which react and expand to create tiny bubbles in the plastic matrix that fill and insulate the space.  Check out our Money Pit Guide to Insulation for my complete Icynene story. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

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vinyl stain, floor, linoleum

Remove Stains from Vinyl and Linoleum Floor

There are blueish stains on the linoleum floor in my bathroom, possibly caused by the rubber mat backing on an area rug. How can I remove these rubber mat stains on my  floor?

Our Answer

Though they provide warmth and comfort in baths and kitchens, rubber-backed area rugs can also leave permanent stains behind on vinyl and linoleum floors. Here's why:

Antioxidants, added to the rubber mats during the manufacturing process to prevent the rubber from drying out, react chemically with the sheet flooring. This chemical reaction results in a permanent color change. So, unfortunately, what you are seeing is not a stain that can be removed, but rather a physical change in the color of the flooring that cannot be reversed. Vinyl and linoleum flooring manufacturers often warn of this condition in their usage guides.

For example, the following paragraph appears on the website for Armstrong Floors: "Place a walk-off mat at outside entrances to reduce the amount of dirt brought into your home. We do not recommend the use of rubber- or latex-backed mats because the chemical (antioxidant) used to keep the backing from becoming brittle can permanently stain your floor. We suggest a non-staining vinyl-backed mat or a woven rug that is colorfast. Most of these products are identified "colorfast" by the manufacturer. All Armstrong floor care products have been specifically developed to care for Armstrong floors. You may purchase Armstrong floor care products at your local flooring retailer."

So, after vinyl and linoleum floor rubber mat stains have set in, your only options are to completely replace the flooring or just buy a bigger (and non-staining) area rug!

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Laminate Floor Separating at Joints

I recently renovated my basement. The concrete floor slants toward a drain in the floor. We installed laminate flooring, and in order to have the laminate flooring leveled - we had to place several sheets of underlayment around the drain so that it would "build" the concrete up so that it was level. I then installed the laminate flooring on top. Unfortunately in that area, laminate floor separating has happened as the boards have come apart. I had two questions:

  1. Is it okay that I covered the drain with the laminate flooring?
  2. What's an easy way to reattach laminate flooring that has become disconnected without having to remove the trim and disassemble the laminate flooring and connect it again.

thank you!

Our Answer

The problem you've described is not likely to have been caused by having built up the basement floor and covered the drain.  It more likely the result of exceeding the laminate floor manufactures specifications for moisture levels in that space.  

The solution is two-fold. First, its critical you take steps to reduce basement moisture.  Even without seeing visible water, high humidity can be just a damaging to a laminate floor installation and result in the separating of the boards you describe.  We're talking about things like cleaning gutters, extending downspouts, improving the grade at the foundation perimeter so it  that slopes away from the house and a good quality dehumidifier.

To repair the separated boards, you'll need to replace them with new flooring pieces.  Since most modern laminate flooring is glueless, I'll assume this is what you have. Here are the steps you'll need to repair laminate floor separating boards that are near a wall, as well as those that may be separated in the middle of a room.  

To replace boards that are situated close to walls or moldings, follow these steps:

1. Start by removing the baseboard or molding. Do this carefully so as not to damage the molding.

2. Remove the boards starting from the molding until the damaged board is accessible.

3. Replace the damaged board and then the rest of the boards you removed, by clicking them back in place.

4. Replace the molding.

The process of repairing a laminate floorboard closer to the center of the room is more detailed and time consuming. The process involves removing the damaged board utilizing a saw or router, then replacing the board utilizing a sufficient water resistant adhesive. Contact a professional installer or follow these steps.

1) Mark the damaged board 1-1/2″ from ends and side. Drill 3/16″ holes at corners of marked area.

2) Cut along lines between the drilled holes and remove the center section. Then cut remaining piece in the center on both sides and remove.

Repair 1

3) Prepare a replacement board by cutting and removing the factory tongue along the long and short end of the board. The figure below represents the two common types of locking systems available.

Repair 2
4) Apply a resinous (PVA) adhesive to the cut edges and replace the board by aligning the groove on the replacement board with the tongue of the abutting board, and snap back into place.

5) Make sure all edges are even on either side of the joints. Utilize a heavy object to apply pressure for at least 24 hours. Make sure the weight is evenly distributed across the new piece.

Prevention is better than cure.  So be sure to keep the basement space as dry as possible to prevent a reoccurrence.

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Wet Concrete Floor

I am having a problem with the concrete floor in one of the rooms of the house we moved in to. Every time it rains the floor is wet. I don't know if there is any kind of sealant on it or not. The rest of the house has linoleum. But this room is just concrete. What can I do to fix this problem? Will the new flex seal work? or do I need to try something else?

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Laminate Flooring Is Loose and Won’t Stay Locked

I have high quality 8mm laminate floor throughout my living room and kitchen.  I've installed it twice, yet it won't stay locked.  I had it inspected by the manufacturer and was told the problem's due to the room being to cold (I keep the temperature in the high 60's) and too humid (I live on the coast, so yes, it is humid here - 50 to 60 percent).  They told me there's nothing they can do.  What's my next step?

Our Answer

I find the response you got from the manufacturer troubling.  A room in 60s is hardly "cold."  It seems more likely that this product isn't performing as intended.  If you did put it down twice in efforts to fix it, you may have worn out or loosened up the locking seams.  Try reinstalling it one more time, but this time instead of simply locking it, put some glue into the seams.  When laminate is being installed in damp areas, glue is often recommended.  Use a yellow carpenters glue, insert it into the locking groove, lock the flooring together and let it dry.  You want to apply enough glue that a little bit squeezes out when you lock the plank.  Wipe it away with damp cloth when it's still wet.  If you have trouble getting the boards together - if there's a gap between them - use a strap clamp.  Strap clamps are similar to what you see on backpacks, with a racheting mechanism.  Put it around the flooring and pull those pieces together as needed.  

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Do I Need to Pull Up My Attic Floor to Insulate?

I want to add insulation beneath my attic floor, but I'd have to pull the attic floor up to do it.  How will this effect my second floor ceiling? I am worried that the ceiling beneath it is protected by the attic floor.

Our Answer

Certainly your attic floor protects people from stepping through the ceiling beneath it, since that ceiling is not designed to hold weight much heavier than the weight of insulation.  But you probably don't need to remove your attic floor to insulate the space.  You could simply lay insulation above the attic floor - unfaced fiberglass batts, specifically, laid over the floor in the areas you wish to insulate.  If you use your attic for storage, consider consolidating those stored items and keeping them in one area of the floor that you leave exposed.  

Now, if you presently have no insulation whatsoever between the attic floor and the second floor ceiling, take that floor up and insulate it - and restrict the workzone to responsible adults who know where they can and can't place weight.  But if you simply need more insulation in your attic, the easiest bet is to put it over the attic floor.

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Care for Vinyl Floor Seams

We have  a sheet vinyl floor in our kitchen that has been down about 15 years. Due to settlement, we have a small separation in one of the seams. What product should we use to re-seal the seam?

Thanks!

Our Answer

Fifteen years is a long time for vinyl to last, so your floor might be due for replacement.  You can attempt to reseal it, though - assuming no fragments have broken off or gone missing.  
Start by pressing down the loose edges to make sure they'll match up if resealed.  If they do, thoroughly vacuum out any dirt or debris that's gotten under it. Scrape away any loose, old adhesive, as well.  Next use a putty knife to apply a multipurpose vinyl adhesive beneath the elevated sections, pulling them back a bit and applying the adhesive as far beanth as you can get it without lifting off more of the vinyl. 

Rub down the seam and tape the seam, temporarily, to keep it in place while the glue adheres.   It never hurts to place something heavy on top of it, as well. The next day, after it's had time to dry, apply a seam sealant - it's available in gloss and satin, so make sure the type you buy matches your floor's sheen.  
Hopefully this fix gets you a few more years out of your vinyl.  Good luck - and if it works, post before and after pics on the Money Pit Facebook page! 

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What’s the Best Way to Clean Carpets?

What is the best method for cleaning carpets?  Chem-dry? Steam? Other?

Our Answer

Cleaning your carpets is a good idea for number of reasons.  It not only makes them smell fresh and eliminates odors, it actually preserves the carpet.  You see, the number one cause of wear and tear on carpets is dirt - specifically, the dirt that grinds in under your feet.  It breaks down carpet fibers from foot traffic, damaging the carpet and the floor beneath it. 
I've only had experience with steam cleaning, which has always been successful.  I'm always surprised by how much dirt it pulls out of the carpet.  I steam clean the carpets in the rental property I own, and many times I thought have to replace carpet - only to have them feel good as new once the steam cleaning was complete. 

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Pet Urine Odor Removal

I have used the enzyme and bacteria products, vinegar, oxygen based stuff....  I actually found this site through an ad for The1•2•3 ODOR FREE™Kit. What is the best, most effective product or method to completely remove pet urine odors and stains from carpet, including the one listed above?  They all claim the same results but I know they do not all work.

Thank you in advance!!!!

Kathleen

Our Answer

Kathleen, Obviously the quicker yo can get to the stain the better but that said both Leslie and I have had good success with
the 1-2-3 Odor Free product.  Suggest you give it a try and see for yourself.