Tag Archives: Ron Call

Thinking About Doing Your Own Ceramic Tile Demo?

Thinking About Doing Your Own Ceramic Tile Demo?
by Ron Call

As we continue in the series of do-it-yourself demo, today I will cover ceramic tile and stone removal from a concrete slab.  This is a quite a bit more involved and difficult compared to carpet removal.  Depending on the method of installation (whether installed over slip sheet or direct to concrete) and the materials used in bonding the tile, removal may be fairly easy or one of the most difficult jobs you will ever tackle.  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) will save you money.  The cost to remove an existing ceramic tile or stone floor could be as much as the labor to install a new floor!  Here is how you can do it yourself.  For this project we will assume that we will be installing a new wood floor.

If you have an existing ceramic tile floor that is on a concrete slab here is what you will need.

  1. Hammer
  2. Pry bar
  3. Floor scrapper
  4. Work gloves
  5. Dust mask
  6. Safety glasses
  7. Five gallon bucket
  8. Flat head shovel
  9. Red rosin paper
  10. Blue painters tape
  11. Plastic sheeting
  12. Rotary hammer
  13. Commercial ceramic tile stripper (optional)
  14. Concrete grinder (optional)

Start your demo project by first protecting all the areas you are not demoing from flying debris.  Use your red rosin paper and blue tape to protect any cabinets or walls that you don’t want to repaint.  Hang your plastic in doorways or openings to adjacent rooms to keep the dust contained.  Always wear your safety glasses, gloves and dust mask.  If the area to be removed is not that big such as an entry way or small bathroom or kitchen hand tools may be all you need.  Doing larger rooms you will do yourself a big favor by renting a ceramic tile demo machine from your local tool rental outlet.  Your rotary hammer with a chisel bit will work as well but will take much more time.  Here is a youtube video of the ceramic tile machine you may want to rent.

You will need to start your tear out at an exposed edge, possibly a door way or where the edge of the tile meets carpeting.  If the carpet is staying pull it back away from the tile far enough to start your demo without causing damage to the carpet.  If the carpet is being replaced as well, remove this first (See last week’s blog).  If the room is totally tile with no exposed edges use your hammer to breakout a few tiles in the middle of the room.  Once you have enough area exposed use your rotary hammer or your machine to start your demo.  As you proceed through the demo use your shovel and five gallon bucket to carry the broken tile out to your truck or dumpster.  Tile is very heavy and the broken edges can be as sharp as a razor so wear your gloves.

I do not recommend trying to fill your trash cans with the removed tile as it will become so heavy your trash man will most likely not pick it up for you.  Transport it to the dump in a truck.  Be sure to remove any residual mortar from the floor using your floor scrapper, rotary hammer or concrete grinder as needed to achieve a clean smooth surface for your new floor.  Once all your old floor is removed your ready to call your installer…

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..

Ron Call’s Tip of the Week #010- Asbestos Safety When Installing Your Hardwood Floors

Tip of the Week
Saturday, May 26, 2012
by Ron Call, your Urbanfloor guy

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

DYI tip of the week.  If you’re planning on installing your own floor either gluing direct, nailing or using the floating method one thing you might not have considered especially if you have an older home built before the late 1980′s is asbestos.

A lot of these homes were originally built using base grade VAT (Vinyl Asbestos Tile) as a floor covering.  You may still be walking on it today, or it may be hidden under the carpet or vinyl flooring you are thinking about replacing.  In any case if the tiles on your floor are 9″ x 9″ or are secured by an adhesive that looks like black tar, there is a real good chance that it contains asbestos. Both the tiles and the adhesive may contain asbestos.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen that can cause cancer.  You should NOT attempt to remove or alter this tile or adhesive in any way.  It is against Federal Law and you may possibly contaminate your home.  The problem is not that it is in your home, as long as it remains undisturbed it will not cause any health concerns.  The problems can come from the improper removal and disposal.

If you were planning a glued direct method, you will need to find a certified asbestos abatement contractor to properly remove and dispose of the tile and the adhesive residue.  Even disposing of the tile in a regular land fill is against the law, so do not attempt to do this yourself.  You are risking your families health and major fines if you are caught.  Now if you find that you have this in your home you can still install your new floor without removal if you use the floating method.

If your floor is flat with in a tolerance (see the specs that came with your floor) just install right over the tiles. You can use a good self-leveling concrete patch to fill any low spots (just go right over the tiles).  If you have any high spots that need grinding, STOP and contact your certified asbestos abatement contractor.

If you improperly try to grind the high spots you WILL contaminate your home and put your family at risk.  If you are not sure if your flooring contains asbestos, for safety sake just assume that it does.  You can have it tested for about $50.00 depending on the area of the country you live in.  It is almost always impossible to tell the difference between VAT (Vinyl Asbestos Tile) and VCT (Vinyl Composite Tile).  If you have your certified abatement contractor remove the tiles and adhesive residue for you, be sure he gives you a Clean Air Certificate upon completion.  This will certify that your home is safe to occupy and the air safe to breath.  Once this is done install away…

Have questions about a project you’re working on?  Need advice?  For answers post a comment below or visit the Ask Ron page HERE

Ron Call’s Tip of the Week #009- Keep Your Furniture from Sliding Across the Floor

Tip of the Week
Friday, May 18, 2012
by Ron Call, your Urbanfloor guy

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

Last week I talked about how to protect your hardwood floors from being scratched by your furniture by using felt pads under the legs of chairs and tables.  As a follow up to that, do you have young kids in your home that like to use your couches as a trampoline?

Kids love to play and jump on furniture.  The problem is that when they jump from couch to couch they tend to slide around on the slick surface of the wood floor.  To prevent your furniture from sliding around after you place your felt pads under the feet, head out to your local hardware store.

There you will find rubber mesh material typically used to line cabinet drawers and shelves.  Cut them to fit under the legs of your furniture with a pair of scissors and place them under the legs of your couches or any other piece of furniture that you don’t want to easily be moved.  Now your kids can pretend to be the next Olympic champion or the next super avenger and furniture will stay in place.

Have flooring questions?  Need expert help?  Need expert advice?  Just Ask Ron HERE

Ron Call’s Tip of the Week #008- Protecting Your Hardwood Floors From Your Furniture

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

Tip of the Week #008
Friday, May 11, 2012
by Ron Call, have flooring questions or need advice?  Ask Ron HERE

Protect your new wood floor from your furniture.  Place felt pads under the legs of all your chairs and furniture that you will be sliding around or moving for cleaning and dusting.  You can purchase them at your Urbanfloor dealer or your local hardware store.  Watch my video and see just how simple it is to protect your floors.  This is something you should do immediately after your floor is installed before replacing your furniture.

Ron Call’s Tip of the Week #007- Do It Yourself Molding Installation

Tip of the Week #007
May 3, 2012
by Ron Call, your Urbanfloor guy

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

If you have decided to tackle your own flooring installation be sure and read up on the subject and watch my videos.  An otherwise perfect installation of the floor can be overshadowed by sloppy trim installation.  Transition moldings and base boards will make or break the final look of any job.

Transitions can be tricky especially when working with a concrete sub floor where nailing them down is not an option.  Most installers will use a good construction adhesive and blue painters tape to secure them in place while the adhesive cures.  When installing multiple pieces for example at a tile or stone transition where there are angles, like a fireplace or tile entry way the installer often finds the next day after the adhesive has cured that the pieces have shifted and have become misaligned or there are now gaps.

This often necessitates buying new moldings and starting over as removal at this point almost always results in breakage.  This is often caused by some one stepping on them before the adhesive has had time to fully cure or the trim piece was slightly bowed and lifted up off the floor and the tape could not hold it.

A simple method to prevent this is to purchase a $20.00 hot melt glue gun from your local hardware store.  When applying your construction adhesive leave a small area on both ends of each piece and a small spot in the middle of the channel where the glue is to be applied.  This is where you will place dollops of thermal plastic glue.

Apply the construction adhesive first, making sure your molding is cut properly. (Dry fit first) Then quickly place the hot melt glue in the three spots where there is no construction adhesive.  Quickly place the molding in place and hold in securely for about three minutes while the thermal plastic glue sets up.

The thermal plastic glue will hold the molding in place until the construction adhesive has had time to cure.  No need for blue tape and your job is complete and your molding look like they where done by a pro.  Now go enjoy your new floor.

Ron Call’s Tip of the Week #006- A Squeaky Hardwood Floor and Baby Powder?

Tip of the Week #006
April 27, 2012
by Ron Call, your Urbanfloor guy

Does your floor squeak when you walk on it?  Older nail down type installations are notorious for squeaking.  But floating floors and glued down installations can make noise as well.  Seasonal changes will make your floor expand and contract and certain times of year the squeaking may be worse.  Squeaks are caused by loose boards rubbing against one another or a nail or staple used to install your floor to the sub-floor may be rubbing against a joist as you walk.  If your squeaking is throughout your home you may want to contact your floor covering professional as face nailing or crawling under the floor in your crawl space may be required.

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

But if the noise is localized to just a couple areas and you can see the culprit boards rubbing against one another as you walk, try using a little baby powder.  That’s right, just a little sprinkle between the noisy boards may be all you need to eliminate the squeak.  What happens is the powder works its way down between the boards and acts like a lubricant thereby eliminating the squeak.  Only use a very small amount, just sprinkle the effected area and try and work the boards up and down.  This will allow the powder to work it’s way down between the planks.  Clean up any excess powder immediately with a vacuum and a damp cloth moistened with just enough water to remove any powder residue but not enough to allow moisture to get between the boards (Damp.  Water should not drip from cloth).  Then dry with a clean cloth.  Baby powder on your floor is very slippery and any left on your floor may cause you to lose your footing and fall.  If this does not work contact your floor covering professional.
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