Category Archives: Flooring

Thinking About Doing Your Own Carpet Demo?

Thinking About Doing Your Own Carpet Demo?
by Ron Call

In this day and age of trying to save a buck or two on your home remodel you may want to consider doing your own demo.  If you’re planning on installing your new flooring project soon, doing your own demo (removal of existing floor covering) may save you a few bucks.  Here is how you can Do-It-Yourself.  For this project we will assume that we will be installing a new floating wood project.

If you have an existing old carpet to tear out here is what you will need.

  1. Hammer
  2. Pry bar
  3. Floor scrapper
  4. Sharp utility knife
  5. Work gloves
  6. Safety glasses

First start in one corner of the room and then pull up the carpet off the tack strip.  Once you pulled up the corner, pull along one wall raising the carpet only as high as to release it from the tack strip pins.  If the carpet is down so tight that you cannot grip it to pull it up, try cutting a slit down through the top of the carpet in the corner large enough to get your hand underneath then pull it up.  Now go around the perimeter of the room pulling it up along the wall from corner to corner.  Once the carpet is released from the tack strip it’s time to start cutting the rug.

First cut the carpet at any doorway seams to separate one room from another.  Carpet is very heavy so you will want to cut the carpet in manageable size strips maybe four to six feet wide.  Then roll it up in individual pieces light enough to carry without hurting yourself.

Once the carpet is gone take your floor scrapper and remove the padding, it may be glued or stapled.  Wear your gloves! Staples are sharp and trust me I have the scars to prove it.  Once you have released the pad roll it up and dispose of properly.  Depending on where you live you may be able to recycle the padding and the carpet both, which will save you dump fees and possible pay for your gas as well.  I’ve gotten as much as $40.00 for a whole house worth of old nasty padding.

Now it’s time to tackle the wood tack strip around the perimeter of the room.  Grab your pry bar and hammer, put on your gloves and safety glasses.  Take the curved edge of the pry bar place it on the floor up against the tack strip right next to one of the nails that secures it to the floor.  Start at either end of the tack strip, now hit the pry bar down low by the floor with your hammer to dislodge the nail and raise up the tack strip.  Once the first nail pops up move to the next nail.  Do this around the entire room until all the tack strip is removed.  Dispose of carefully as tack strip pins are very sharp and very painful.  Double check the perimeter of the room for any tack strip nails that may have been left behind and remove them with your pry bar.

You do not want these nails under your new floor.  Scrap any glue residue from the pad off the floor or remove any staples.  Sweep the floor and call your flooring company and tell them you’re ready for your install.  It’s hard dirty work doing demo but if you have the time and inclination, you can save a nice chunk of change.  Depending on the size of the job the savings could be hundreds of dollars.  And nothing makes your installer happier than a floor that is ready for install.  Installers love to install, not so much doing demo…

If you ever need advice, guidance or have questions you can always get in touch with me under the “Ask Ron” section of our blog HERE.

You Get What You Pay For

You Get What You Pay For
by Ron Call

So I’m driving down the road today with my wife in the car coming back to San Diego from a business trip in LA.  I admit after a long 5 hours in the car I was a little grumpy.  And this radio advertisement comes on and tells me they sell their flooring at 80% off cost.  After I calmed down ranting and raving things like “sure 80% off a 100% mark up, bunch of lying so and so’s”!  My wife says don’t get mad about it just blog about it.  So anyway I’m calm now and collecting my thoughts.

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

Everyone needs to make a profit.  That’s how we all pay the bills right?  If no one could make a profit we’d all be poor living on dirt floors.  But 80% off?  Come on, next they will be selling stuff at what?  100% off?  Remember you get what you pay for.

I did an installation for a customer last month that is a perfect example of you get what you pay for.  I’m a licensed flooring contractor that works out of a small shop.  I am typically hired by retailers, interior designers and general contractors to do installations of the flooring that they sell.  Occasionally I’ll have a customer usually a referral where I’m asked to provide both the flooring and the installation.

So I head over to her house to meet with her and go over all the details.  I find out what type of flooring she wants, I figure out how much material that will be needed and what type of sub-floor she has (very important).  Because she lives upstairs in a condo, I also need to make sure for any sound proofing requirements.  She also lived right on the ocean which can bring a whole set of challenges in itself.  So I submitted my bid for labor which detailed exact square footage required, moldings, base boards, demo of the old floor etc., everything but the floor that she would eventually choose. We planned on me returning in a few days with samples of all the different types of flooring she was interested in.  A couple days later she called to say that she was putting things off for a couple weeks as her mom was ill.

Two weeks later she called me very excited that she had found the perfect bamboo floor at that large national discount chain.  (I won’t mention their name) but they constantly advertise on T.V. and have their signs hanging in baseball parks all over America.  I was a little disappointed that I didn’t sell her the floor myself but I was happy she was happy, and work is work.

So we scheduled the installation for two weeks later.  She scheduled her vacation time so she could be home during construction.  The plan was I would pick up the bamboo and deliver it, start the demo and prep which was extensive, then on day 4 after proper acclimation we would start putting down some wood.

Here’s where its starts getting a little sticky.  We pick up the bamboo and deliver it to the house up two flights of stairs and stack it in the dining room.  I open one of the boxes to verify the color and quality and to my shock and dismay it’s solid bamboo not engineered.  Which basically means it needs 10 -14 days acclimation not the standard 3 days for engineered products.  This customer’s home was one block from the ocean which means acclimation is hyper critical even for engineered products let alone a solid one.

I tell my customer the situation and I explain that we cannot start the install for two weeks.  She was beside herself telling me that she could not change her vacation time and what could I do.  I explained that without proper acclimation her floor would have no warrantee from the manufacturer.  And that from my experience, installing a solid floating floor without proper acclimation would almost surely fail and that I, in all good conscience could not install it.  So the job was rescheduled for 2 weeks later as the discount store did not have a similar engineered product in stock so we could not exchange it.  My customer thought she was getting a good deal saving what she thought was a few cents per square foot.

In the end she took 2 more weeks off work unpaid and I lost 2 weeks of work myself.  Between the both of us it cost us thousands of dollars.  I went to the see the store manager at the discount warehouse and he was no help at all.  I asked him if he qualified his customer’s to make sure that what he’s selling people is actually suitable for the application involved (he should have known she lived by the ocean and sold her engineered flooring).  He basically told me when a customer comes in and buys a floor that his sub-contractors don’t install he just sells the customer what they want.  Cash and carry, all he cared about was that he made the sale.

The purchase of new flooring in your home can be one of the most expensive purchases that you will ever make.  You need to make sure that you shop at a good retailer with experience and one who only utilizes good licensed contractors.

Some retailers don’t use sub contractors they use their own employees, which is fine as long as the retailer is themselves an experienced contractor.  There are many factors to consider when choosing new flooring and there are many things that need to be considered to ensure your flooring purchase is a good experience such as type of floor, environment, location of the home, sub floor, type of home (ie: single family, condo, apartment, mobile home or a high traffic business location), method of installation, type of floor, warrantee and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes when you’re trying to cut corners and save a few pennies it ends up costing you more in the end.  Remember you get what you pay for!

To Base or Not to Base

To Base or Not to Base
by Ron Call

Often when people are looking to upgrade their homes with new hardwood or laminate flooring they often overlook the details like base boards and trims.  They will spend many hours shopping and comparing prices on the net or drive from store to store.  But they seldom give much consideration to the moldings.  You can purchase an inexpensive floor and install new base boards and the job will look awesome.  You can also install a high-end beautiful floor and remove and replace your existing base boards and if they don’t look good or they’re not wide enough to cover the required expansion gap you will be disappointed.

If your existing base board is in good shape and you want to keep it you have two choices:  1) You can remove it and replace it after the flooring is installed, or 2) You can leave it on the wall then leave the proper expansion gap between the floor and the base and cover it with quarter round or base shoe molding.  Either method works fine.  It’s all a matter of the final look you want.

Here are a couple photos of an install with just base and one with base board and quarter round.  It’s really up to you as to which method you choose.  Just be sure to figure the extra cost into your budget.  If you try and remove and replace the existing base board and a piece or two should break be sure that style is still available so you can purchase replacements.

Base Board Only

 

Base Board with Base Shoe Molding

 

Fear of Frying!

Fear of Frying!
by Ron Call

Many times through the years as I’m measuring a customer’s home for new flooring the same question arises time after time.  I think I might want hardwood in my kitchen but I’m afraid of it getting wet.  There are many factors to consider when choosing new flooring such as cost, appearance, wear etc.  Each type of flooring whether choosing wood, laminate, tile, sheet vinyl or vinyl composite tile (VCT) all have advantages as well as drawbacks.

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

Tile is hard under the foot when standing and cooking and is cold on your feet when you’re making your morning coffee at 6 am.  If the rest of your home and adjacent areas like your dining room or breakfast nook have beautiful hardwood, using sheet vinyl or VCT will probably detract from the overall look of your home.  Have no fear; I’ve installed hundreds of kitchens with great success.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when your floor is being installed. Make sure your contractor fills the entire perimeter (expansion gap) at cabinets behind the refrigerator and around islands with flexible clear silicone.  This will prevent spilled water from getting underneath your floating floor or you’re glued down floor.  Even a major spill can be mopped up before you can do much damage.  Also never use inexpensive water based adhesive to glue down your hardwood floor in possible wet areas.  Use a good urethane adhesive like Urban Four.  I’ve seen glued down engineered floors completely flooded that once dried sustained no visible damage.  Also if you’re a do-it-yourselfer and you’re planning on using one of the new glue less fold and lock floating floors in your home just use a little waterproof Titebond wood adhesive in the tongue and groove when you’re installing in the kitchen.  This will prevent topical spills from seeping between the planks giving you time to mop up the spill.  Lastly make sure you have a couple left over boxes of the original wood stored away in your home in case a few planks need replacing.  Bon appetit..

Xolcation Series

Xolcation

“XOLCATION” is an original web series executive produced and created by Eduardo Xol (pronounced soul), who is best known for his work as a member of the design team for the two-time Emmy award-winning international hit, “Extreme Makeover Home Edition.”  Eduardo continues to work in television, currently serving as a lifestyle expert on Utilisima, a Fox International Network reaching more than 21 million homes in 34 territories across the Americas and throughout the Balkans.

“XOLCATION” documents the renovation of a California weekend beach house belonging to celebrity couple Jennifer Finnigan and Jonathan Silverman. Eduardo assembled a special team of close friends and talented individuals for this project. The goal? To create a brand and product integrated web series that brings the “vacation at home” experience to an outdated living space, which is in much need of a facelift to truly become a home away from home to relax and enjoy as if on vacation.

The series begins with a special focus on the bathrooms and kitchen that quickly evolves into a much larger project. Eduardo’s inspiration for the renovation came from his first visit to Kohler, Wisconsin. When Eduardo began working with his clients, he decided to pitch the documentation of the project to KOHLER and “XOLCATION” was born.

This is the first complete renovation that Eduardo is fully in charge of since leaving “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”.  It gives the viewer a rare and intimate look at Eduardo’s life while getting valuable information about planning and executing a home renovation project of this magnitude.  “XOLCATION” is a hybrid of documented reality and produced entertainment. Kohler will be the main presenter of this web series and is co-producing the project with Eduardo’s production team at Eduardo Xol, Inc.

Eduardo’s cast for the web series includes his clients, Jennifer Finnigan and Jonathan Silverman. Finnigan is a three-time Emmy Award-winning actress, who next stars in the new David E. Kelly series “Monday Mornings” set to air on TNT.  While Silverman is best known for his film role in “Weekend at Bernie’s, he recently wrapped the movie “Self Storage” and stars in and directed National Lampoon’s “Another Dirty Movie”.

Eduardo’s on-camera cast also includes Dinah Leffert (Project Manager), Richard Morales (Communications Director), Trey Payment (Personal Assistant), K.C. Morgan (Design and Build Associate), Bryan Cooper (Lead Carpenter) and Daniel Lopez (General Contractor). Alexander Jeffrey, who is not seen on camera, serves as the Director of the web series.

View the official promo trailer here:

8 Environmental Facts of Hardwood Floors

Because trees are a renewable resource that can be replaced time and time again wood flooring is the most abundantly renewable flooring material available. Sustainable forest management makes it possible to harvest wood without any serious impact on the environment.  Here at Urbanfloor we only use products from ecologically managed forests and suppliers.

 

 

 

 

8 Environmental Facts of Hardwood Floors:

  1. Average annual net growth for hardwoods is greater than average annual removals (Source: US Department of Agriculture Forest Service)
  2. Trees absorb CO2 from the air and store it (Source: Wood for Good)
  3. Indoor air quality is better with wood floors (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency)
  4. Wood is a carbon neutral product that produces oxygen during its growth cycle and stores carbon during its service life (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
  5. Wood floors use less water and energy to produce than other flooring options (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
  6. At the end of its service life, wood flooring can be burned as fuel or recycled (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
  7. Wood floors last hundreds of years, so they won’t need to be replaced as often as other flooring options (Source: National Association of Home Builders)
  8. While it takes most hardwood trees 40-60 years to mature, the inventory planted today won’t be needed for 100-plus years (Source: National Wood Flooring Association)

You can learn more about the environmental benefits of wood floors by downloading a copy of the University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis or by visiting the NWFA website.

How Were Engineered Hardwood Floors Invented?

Prior to the second world war most homes in America had solid hardwood flooring.  Homes were built on raised wooden sub-floors which allowed for solid wood to be installed by nailing the planks into the sub-floor.

When World War II ended in 1945 all the young vets were coming back home.  They were getting married and starting families and so the building industry saw a spike in the demand for new homes.  New homes needed to be built quickly and inexpensively.  So as a result tract housing neighborhoods were developed and concrete slab foundations were developed as a new technology replacing raised wood sub-floors.

This created a problem for the hardwood flooring industry because you could not put solid wood directly on concrete.  So the need for new types of flooring grew in demand.  More homes were installing linoleum (today known as vinyl) and wall-to-wall carpet.

So the wood flooring industry which lost a tremendous amount of market share basically had to get together and come up with a hardwood floor that could be glued or floated directly on a concrete slab and be resistant to moisture… the Engineered Hardwood Floor was born.

Every Urbanfloor™ hardwood floor is constructed with 8-Ply cross grain construction for optimum strength and durability.

What Does Greater Stability Mean?

By: Urbanfloor Dan

Urbanfloor Uses 8-Ply Cross Grain Construction With All Our Wood Planks

Engineered wood floors are real wood floors that are manufactured using three to nine layers of different wood veneers.  The sub layers can be of the same species, or of different species.  The grain of each layer runs in different directions, which makes it very stable.  This means that the wood will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring during fluctuations in humidity and temperature.  The top layer of engineered wood flooring consists of high-quality wood. While this type of flooring can be sanded and finished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring.  Engineered wood flooring can be installed above, on or below grade.

The instability of solid hardwood is usually moisture or heat related.  Under adverse conditions, solid hardwood floors can warp, cup, swell or split apart.  Engineered hardwood flooring overcomes these problems by constructing a multiple-ply plank which counteracts twisting and remains flat and intact.  This makes engineered hardwood flooring a better choice for installation over radiant heat sources, over concrete whether it’s below grade or above, and in rainy climates.

Eliminating the Confusion of Engineered Hardwood and Laminate Flooring

By: UrbanfloorDan

Soooooo yeah… it’s 10:27pm PST according to the bottom right corner of my laptop on a Monday night as I type this up.  I gotta admit I’m a a lil bit agitated.  You see I just spent the last 15 minutes or so using Google with the key words “Tomato Tomatoe Potato Patatoe” and quite frankly got some of the most annoying sites and answers on the planet that didn’t answer the question.  Why am I even asking that question when I’m writing a blog about a hardwood flooring topic you ask?  The answer is simple.  I’m an absolute crazy person and God bless Urbanfloor for giving me some creative freedom when I write so I can attempt to make this at the very least a bit interesting for you to read.

So after a bit of research tomato and potato are singular and tomatoes and potatoes are plural.  Although the confusion tends to take place on the plural spelling.  Dun, dun, dun!!!!  Surprise!

You see how confusion so easily can happen with a simple yet common fruit and vegetable spelling?  Proper communication is important isn’t it?  Such a common error in the English language.  I felt compelled to share the proper after my rather annoying internet research adventure.  Bare with me for a few seconds as we achieve enlightenment together.  Now we can all get a better sleep at night. ;)

Proper singular spelling: potato
Proper plural spelling: potatoes

Proper singular spelling: tomato
Proper plural spelling: tomatoes

In other words stop spelling tomato “tomatoe” and potato “potatoe.”  Get it?  Got it?  Good!  See all the trouble I go through for you guys?! ;)

So how does this fruit we love in our salads and this vegetable that makes the greatest tasting french fry at your favorite fast food joint relate to hardwood flooring you ask?  Many confuse “Laminate Wood” with “Laminate Floor.”  There’s a difference you ask?  Yep, you betcha!   If it hasn’t been made clear in the conversation already with your local flooring dealer which floors you’re looking at and “laminate” is in the discussion just ask “Is this Engineered Hardwood or Synthetic Laminate?”  Here’s the skinny on the two:

Laminate Floor (A.K.A. Floating Wood Tile)

Laminate

“A laminate floor may satisfy your needs when a solid hardwood floor has been eliminated as a feasible option. Laminate flooring is durable, scratch-resistant, and designed for high traffic areas. It is also very easy to maintain, with an attractive quality that separates it from other flooring options. But here is where it parts ways with both solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring; laminate flooring is an imitation of real wood. Actually, it’s literally a photo of real wood, constructed with a top photographic layer laminated with an aluminum oxide finish. This finish gives laminate floors their rugged resistance to abrasion. Beneath the photograph or “décor” layer is layer of dense fiber board which is strong and serves as a good core. A bottom layer or “backing” will act as a stabilizer as well as providing moisture protection. So in very clear ways, laminate flooring is quite different from both solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring. A solid hardwood floor is, of course, made completely of a natural hardwood species; an engineered hardwood floor has a single top layer of natural hardwood. So while both solid hardwood and engineered hardwood contain real hardwood species, a laminate floor contains no hardwood species at all. Technically then, if you have a laminate floor, you don’t have a hardwood floor.

Much like engineered hardwood floors, you can typically float laminate floors. But, you can’t glue laminates to a sub-floor, nor can you nail them down. A laminate floor requires an underlayment. Many lines of laminate floors have incorporated a tongue-and-groove design which makes it very easy to install, particularly if you’re not a professional.” (Source: BuildDirect University)

Engineered Hardwood

Urban Lifestyle Collect (Chiseled Edge Series) “Birch Shadow”

“If you were to ask which of the two options was closer to solid hardwood, the answer would be engineered hardwood flooring, simply because engineered hardwood contains a top layer of real hardwood. This top hardwood layer lends the floor an air of authenticity without the additional expense. The look and feel of solid hardwood is reflected in your flooring, but with an additional layer of either high density fiber or multiple layers of plywood underneath. This additional layer is what is called a core. The core in the engineered hardwood flooring gives you a considerable advantage in certain areas where solid hardwood would not be as suitable; for example, it is designed to reinforce the hardwood when it is exposed to humidity or other environmental factors which can damage solid hardwood.

You can float an engineered hardwood floor as well, unlike solid hardwood, with locking systems designed for an easier installation. There are some varieties of engineered hardwood flooring that can be glued down to a concrete sub-floor. The glue acts similarly to an underlayment to protect the flooring from temperature changes and moisture. Many types of engineered hardwood feature a locking system with a great deal of flexibility: you can put it down, and take it up when it’s time to move. Don’t try that with solid hardwood!”  (Source: BuildDirect University)

Hardwood Flooring Layout and Positioning

By: UrbanfloorDan

Ever see the reality T.V. show Top Chef on the Bravo Network?  Contestants are chefs from all over the country all competing until one of them is chosen as “Top Chef.”  One of the things they are judged on is the presentation of their prepared dish.  The appearance of a meal can make it look appetizing or not, right?  The way we wear our clothes also presents an appearance.  For example with me let’s just say I’m not exactly in the best shape in the tummy area so I like to wear black shirts to give a slimmer appearance.  For women you might wear heels to appear taller and make your legs look longer.

I remember when I was a kid back in the 80′s my mother was a real estate agent.  There was a number of techniques she would use to get a home sold.  Sometimes the homeowner kept a cluttered house.  She would have it cleaned up and organized for showing.  Sometimes my mother used prop companies and interior decorators to refurnish and decorate a home making it look like a model home.  On open houses on colder days sometimes she would bake fresh warm bread in the oven so the aroma spread throughout every room in the house giving a warm and cozy feel.  If you watch any of the real estate reality shows today these very techniques are still used today because appearance and presentation give the spaces a special look and feel which leads to the end result… getting the home sold in the quickest amount of time and at the highest asking price.

When you watch movies camera angles, set decoration and special effects aren’t always what they appear even though when we watch on the silver screen it can look so real.

That said your hardwood floors can create special effects, appearance, feeling and presentation by the position of the wood planks and layout when installed in your home.  There are a few ways this can be done.  Let’s take a look.

Length
If you want a room in your home to appear longer you may want to consider having your hardwood floor installed lengthwise.  Installation will be dependent on the house joist system.  Always consult with your licensed contractor prior to install.

Length

Parquet
This non-linear style can installed in various directions which can create a geometric design in your room.  There are a wide range of patterns that can be done.  Installation will be dependent on the house joist system.  Always consult with your licensed contractor prior to install.

Parquet

Diagonal
Installing the flooring at a diagonal angle can  offer you a room with a more stylish character and much less boxy feel.  Installation will be dependent on the house joist system.  Always consult with your licensed contractor prior to install.

Diagonal

Random Width Planks
By using 2 or 3 different sized wood plank strips you can break up the monotony rather than using all same size planks and give a little more variance and character in a room.  Installation will be dependent on the house joist system.  Always consult with your licensed contractor prior to install.

Random Width

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