Coping Baseboard Joints

What Is Coping and Why Should You Do It?

Baseboard inside corner

Want your DIY baseboard job to look professional? You need to start coping baseboard joints. Learn more about what this means and why you should do it here.

Coping Baseboard Joints: What Is It and Why Should You Do It?

Chances are you don't really notice your baseboards. That is—until there's an unsightly gap at the corners. Then you won't be able to stop noticing them! 

A baseboard corner with a big gap looks unprofessional and untidy. And even if a corner starts off looking well-joined, a gap can form at the joint if the wood shrinks or the wall shifts.

The solution is coping baseboards so this doesn't happen. Read on to learn how to cope a baseboard corner and why you'd want to.

Read more

How to Choose a Great Floor Installer

Chooseing a Great Flooring Installer, One Who Knows What They Are Doing

Finding a Floor Installer Who Knows How to Get the Job Done Right

DIYing a floor can be a hard task and sometimes it is helpful to hire a contractor to do it for you.

In 2017 19.736 billion square feet of flooring was laid down. That amounted to $21.990 billion in sales, partly due to an increase in waterproof flooring products.

While there are different types of flooring such as hardwood, laminate, vinyl, and tiles, all of them require installation. While some types are easier to install, most people prefer to hire a professional installer rather than attempt a DIY job. 

But it's not always easy to find the right type of professional floor installer. Not all of them are adept at handling each type of flooring.

We want to help ensure you find the right person for the job. Keep reading to learn how to choose a floor installer. 

flooring installer

Read more

7 Important Tips for Installing New Floors

Installing New Floors: 7 Tips

Important Tips for Floor Installation

Laminate Floor: Southbury

Floor installation can be time consuming and difficult if not done properly. These are some important strategies and tips for installing flawless floors.

The demand for new flooring has increased throughout the United States, and it's only going to continue to grow in the coming years.

If you've been considering installing a new floor in your home, now is the time to take action. 

What's holding you back from installing a new floor? Are you worried about how time-consuming or complicated the process will be?

If this is the case for you, keep reading. Listed below are some helpful tips that will make floor installation go a bit smoother.

Read more

DIY Laminate Flooring Installation

How-To: Installing Your Own Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is one of the best recent developments in DIY home improvement. This low-cost project requires few tools, little technical knowledge, and can be completed by a mildly experienced DIYer. Follow this step-by-step guide and learn how to choose and install laminate flooring yourself


Laminate Floor

Image courtesy of Armstrong Flooring

Necessary Tools

Renting vs. Buying Tools

Most of the tools on this list are probably already on your tool bench in the garage. The best part is, all of the necessary tools for this DIY project are pretty cheap. The major pieces of equipment you need are the electric saws.

An oscillating saw to undercut your doorjambs and casings can help make this DIY job look professional. An oscillating tool will come in handy for many future DIY home improvement projects, so it’s a great investment!

A miter saw can also work for this project. A sliding miter saw is preferable for its ease of use, you may need a bigger saw if you have wider planks and/or have diagonal cuts. Although an inexpensive jigsaw can get the job done, a sliding miter saw is a far superior piece of equipment. 

Another saw that can make the job easier that is not really necessary is a table saw, great for your rip, or long, cuts. A jig saw can also accomplish this task for a lot less money.

These are tools that you'll use over and over again if you DIY, and will be worth the investment in most cases. Considering the money that you'll save by doing the flooring yourself, skip the hassle of renting and buy these tools for yourself.

Locking System Flooring Product Options

Laminate flooring locking systems are glueless and are known for being universally easy to install. You have several high quality flooring products to choose from.

The neat thing about this style of flooring is that any product that uses a locking system basically installs the same way. That means that floating wood floors and floating water-proof vinyl floors that have locking systems can all use these same instructions! One minor difference is that vinyl flooring won’t require a miter saw, because it’s thinner it can simply be scored with a razor knife and then snapped to make most of your cuts!

Choosing the Right Product for You

For the best DIY flooring results, you need to shop trusted retail brands. These high quality products are simple to install and are professional grade, with warranties available.

Mohawk

  • RevWood is Mohawk's laminate flooring line. Designed to withstand the demands of real life, it is scratch and stain resistant, but with the beautiful realistic look of hardwood floors.
  • RevWood Plus is a step up in their product line, which includes a waterproof top coat, All Pet Plus protection, and a waterproof warranty if the edges are sealed. RevWood Select has the same warranty, but just for 10 years.
  • Mohawk’s locking system is called Uniclic by Unilin, used on all their floating laminate floor products. In more difficult areas to install, such as under your door casings, Mohawk’s Uniclic system will quickly and easily tap together with a pull bar, without needing to be shaved and or glued. Ideal for the DIYer with little flooring experience.

Shaw

  • Angle/Tap and LocNPlace (also referred to as Valinge) are Shaw's two glueless floating laminate flooring systems, mostly made in the USA. They securely install laminate flooring panels on all four sides, without an adhesive.
  • They feature wood grain designs as well as wide tile formats, and require no curing time meaning they can be walked on right away.
  • Shaw laminate offers 15-year, 20-year, 25-year and 30 year warranties for their laminate products. Warranty covers stains, wear, fading as a result of natural or artificial light, and manufacturing defects.
  • Shaw’s systems are known to install faster in big open areas, but in certain spots (such as under door casings) their locking system needs to be shaved off and the planks glued, which can slow down the project.

Step-by-Step DIY Installation Process

Pre-Installation Steps

It is important to remember that for your warranty to be valid you must follow the product instructions with fidelity! No cutting corners, or skipping steps. Quality is in the details, so follow the instructions carefully to achieve the best possible DIY results. Note: these pre-installation steps are recommended by Mohawk and Shaw Flooring.

Preparation: Laminate flooring, of any brand, is a floor covering but is not supposed to serve as a structural material itself. Begin by clearing away carpet, padding, or wood flooring that is currently installed on your subfloor. Be aware that laminate flooring materials are not designed to be used in rooms with sump pumps or floor drains.

Acclimation: Do not store unopened boxes of laminate flooring in the sun or nearing cooling vents. Laminate flooring materials need to set unopened for 48 hours in the space in which they will be used so that they can acclimate to the correct temperature and moisture of the space. Some flooring brands do not require acclimation, but we suggest you do so regardless for a more trouble free installation.

Subfloor preparation: Laminate flooring installation requires a clean and dry subfloor surface that is up to code. Sweep away and clean any debris from the subfloor. Next, fill in any holes or cracks depressions in subfloor and level any peaks with floor leveling compound. Some high spots may need to be sanded or grinded down which is a dusty process. This is when using your straight edge comes in handy! Mohawk suggests no more than 3/16” unevenness per 10-foot span, to achieve best results with their RevWood products.

Concrete subfloors require installation of a vapor barrier to prevent unwanted moisture underneath the laminate flooring. Most of the time, the recommended 6 mil polyethylene film comes with the underlayment pad as a combo. No vapor barrier is required for a wood subfloor.

Subfloor moisture testing: Mohawk flooring recommends the following for moisture testing your subfloor, "When using a calcium chloride moisture test for concrete subfloors, values must be ≤ 5 lbs/1000ft2/24-hr or <80% RH with an insitu probe. Moisture readings of wood subfloors must be ≤ 12%. Acceptable job site conditions, including relative humidity and subfloor moisture conditions, must be maintained throughout the lifetime of the flooring." On a wood subfloor, the moisture content must not be greater than 12% when checked using a pin-type wood moisture meter.

Remove baseboards and undercut door frames and casings: Undercutting provides a professional look for your DIY flooring project. You should plan to slide the flooring at least 1/4” underneath the door frame and wallbase, and leave a concealed 3/8” minimum expansion space under each. Use 3/8” spacers to maintain the proper expansion gap around the entire perimeter of the floor.

Start by removing any floor molding, some people choose to leave baseboards on and install a shoe molding or quarter round to cover the expansion gap to finish their install. When removing your baseboards, be sure to cut the tops with a utility knife to prevent the caulking from tearing your drywall paper up the wall.

Next, lay a loose plank upside down against the door frame and on top of the underlayment. This measurement will be your guide for the right height to allow laminate planks to float under the door frame.

Using your oscillating tool, cut the bottom of the doorjamb and case molding back to the wall studs so that 3/8” expansion gap is maintained when laminate is fitted under doorjamb case molding. For Shaw and Mohawk flooring products, T-molding is required for doorways less than 36" wide. Don’t cheat here, skipping this step could cause flooring to come loose or exposed over time. Fine, you can cheat here, however doing so may cause extra work later should a problem arise. Many professionals will run the flooring through the doorway which will sometimes result in a call back to cut a t-molding into place, if expansion problems should come in the future.

Installing underlayments: An underlayment padding needs to be installed between the vapor barrier and laminate flooring. Note: if the pad is already attached to the vapor barrier, there is no need for additional underlayment. Rather than cover the entire space at once, roll out just enough underlayment for the next several rows of planking you will install. After laying the planks, repeat with another section of underlayment.

Measuring planks: You need to strategically measure at the beginning of your project, because you want the first row of planking to be the same width as the last row (most people do not actually do this with wood look flooring). A good approach is to measure the width of your room in inches and divide by the width of a plank. This allows you to find out how many full width planks can be used and what size width you'll need for the last row. Note: the last row cannot measure less than 2" in width! This means you might need to cut the first row of planking shorter, to allow for a nice even looking match will the last row.

Inspect boards for damage: This simple step will save you a big headache down the road. Carefully inspect each plank of flooring for damage prior to installing it. Look carefully for chips, cracks, etc. It would be a serious pain if, later on, you realized a board in the middle of the floor was compromised!

Installation Steps

Flooring install, locking system

Image courtesy of Unique Wood Floors

Note: these installation steps are for floating, glueless laminate flooring products.

1. Whenever possible, start by laying planks under the doorjamb and finish installing planks on a wall without a doorjamb. Planks should be installed parallel to the main light source of the room. If there is no natural exterior light source, planks need to be installed parallel to the longest wall. Remember, the first row of planks should be approximately the same width as the last row! Make your necessary cuts.

2. For a natural look avoid using a repeating pattern. Alternate pulling planks from several different cartons at a time to achieve a random appearance. Tile look laminate floors are installed in a 33% or 50% offset in a pattern, but a wood look laminate floor is meant to be placed at random. This is a common DIY mistake! Always use cut pieces from the end of each row for starting planks on the next row, and stagger end joints a minimum of 12” (narrower planks can be less).

3. Using a saw, you may need to remove the tongue on the planks that abut the walls. This will allow room for spacers and prevent problems from spills. Note: Mohawk recommends cutting pattern side-down when using a jigsaw, sabre saw or circular saw. Cut pattern side-up when using a laminate cutter, handsaw, table saw or crosscut saw.

4. The smallest usable piece will be 12-inch in length, and you should allow for 5/16-inch min to 3/8-inch max expansion around fixed objects such as pipes, etc.

5. Working from left to right, install planks lengthwise in rows while facing the starting wall. Once lengthwise connection is set, lower plank into place and simply apply pressure by pressing end down to lock into place. Note: no hammer needed!

6. To measure and cut the last piece in a row, rotate your plank 180°, butt one end against the wall, mark it where the row ends (remember to account for expansion), cut, rotate back 180° and slot into space.

7. Continue with this method of assembly to add additional rows, once enough flooring is down, you should work on top of the newly installed laminate. Working on top of your original start rows, pull the planks toward you to position them before locking them into place. As you do so, you now are working right to left.  It is important that all joints are a tight fit, you don't want any gaps. If a joint is loose or if all edges are not even with adjacent planks you need to stop and reconnect. Tip: it helps to set a full carton of laminate on top of the first planks in a row, it helps prevent them from unlocking as you work down the rest of the row.

8. When the length or width of the planks measures 40-feet, an expansion gap T-strip is required. Transition strips must be placed in all doorways measuring 36 inches or less. Most installers ignore these rules, however issues may occur, and you would need to add the t-moldings later. Also, if you ever have a warranty claim, the inspector could report the floor as being installed incorrectly.

9. You've made it to the last row! Cut the last row to size, if the cut isn't straight, you can scribe it. To easily scribe, set full boards directly on top of the most recently installed row, then take a scrap that has it's full width still, but maybe just 3-4 inches long and remove the tongue. Then slide that scrap along the wall with a pencil on the other side marking the plank sitting on top of the last installed row. It couldnt hurt to number these planks so you don't forget which order to install them after they are cut to size, you would then cut these planks with your jig or table saw. Depending on their size, you may need to install them with your pull bar or crowbar.

10. Time to put on the finishing touches. Remove all spacers and install your moldings. This way the floor can expand and contract under the molding. Do not attach the molding to the floor! For a perfectly edged finish around pipes, use flexible silicone sealant. If there are spots where moldings cannot be placed, simply fill expansion gaps with flexible silicone sealant. Most professionals will use a high-grade construction adhesive to install any transition strips instead of using the supplied tract system. Note: Do not caulk the bottoms of your baseboards, as your floor will move and the caulking will pull away.

Installing in Limited Clearance Area

When working with Shaw flooring products, sometimes you might encounter a space that just won't allow for 20 degree angle clearance, such as under a radiator, cabinet, or door frame. When this is the case with long edge joints, you'll have to remove the top part of the groove profile and use quality wood glue to make the connection. You'll slide the plank into space horizontally and slot into profile, rather than snapping and locking it into place at an angle. Use your blue painter’s tape to hold these planks together while the glue dries.

Protect Your Work: Floor Care & Maintenance

Routine Care & Cleaning

When you put a lot of time and effort into a DIY flooring project, you want to make sure it looks great for years to come, follow these recommendations!

To keep your laminate flooring in pristine condition: 

  • Always use felt pads on the bottom of your furniture.
  • Never use wax, polish, oils, soaps, detergents, shine enhancers/restorers, or varnish on the floor.
  • For dry maintenance, we recommend a dust mop or vacuum cleaner with soft bristle brush attachment only. No beater bars or spinning heads.
  • For slightly damp maintenance, we recommend an approved laminate cleaner which you spray directly and lightly on a duster.
  • Never put moisture directly on the floor. Always wipe dry immediately until no more moisture is visible on the floor. The use of other cleaning products might damage your floor
  • For bevel edge products, we strongly recommend dry cleaning only.
  • Do not use any type of cleaning machine such as steam cleaners, spray mops, power cleaners or buffers.
  • Wet maintenance will damage the floor. Remove any water immediately.
  • For tough stains such as oil, paint, markers, lipstick, or ink, use acetone/nail polish remover on a clean white cloth to wipe clean.

Follow this guide and you are good to go. With the right tools, products, and careful attention to detail during installation, you’ll be DIYing a new laminate floor in no time!

Undercutting

The Importance of Undercutting for Your Flooring Project

Lets Talk About Undercutting

Professional installers will already know what to do and will have the tools. Typically you would want to at least undercut your door casings and door jambs so you can tuck your flooring underneath, allowing enough room for proper expansion and contraction (I suggest allowing 1/4" each direction, so the goal would be a 1/2" or more to be cut out). Some installers may even undercut stone, metal, and/or mortar; all of which can prove to be quite diffucult for your average homeowner, do-it-yourselfer, and even a less experienced handiman.

Pictures of Undercutting for Waterproof Vinyl Flooring

Scrap flooring won't fit under door casing and jamb.


As you can see in the above photo, the flooring will not fit under the door casing and jamb, many homeowners and/or handymen will cut around the casings and it will look sloppy, for a more professional look:

Scrap flooring now will fit under door casing and jamb.
In the above photo the casing and jamb were both cut so the flooring can slide underneath. Here are a few more photos of cut door casings and jambs:


cut casing

The Tools Needed for Undercutting for a Professional Flooring Installation

Standard tools used to undercut (cutting objects not made of wood may require different blades), some may have more versatility allowing the homeowner to not feel they bought a tool for just one job, while others are quite specialized.


For a homeowner installing their own floor, I would suggest an oscillating multi-tool because they can likely find other uses for it around their home, in fact, they may already have one if they have done other home projects themselves.



Here is an inexpensive oscillating tool that might be ideal for someone who wont use it often:

Genesis Oscillator

Genesis GMT15A Multi-Purpose Oscillating Tool

Here is a more expensive oscillating tool that would be better if you planned on using it more often:

DEWALT Oscillating Multi-ToolDeWALT DCS355B 20V XR Oscillating Multi-Tool (Tool Only)

There are even inexpensive hand version of undercut saws. I grew up using these, they work pretty well, however if you have a lot of cutting to do it may take you a while:

Crain Hand Undercut Saw

Crain 336 Undercut Saw

This is a more specialized tool and it is more geared towards professionals who do a lot of undercutting, most professionals will carry the above saws with them as well, as some work better in certain situations than others:

Undercut Saw

Crain No. 835 Heavy-Duty Undercut Saw

Thanks guys for taking a look, if you guys have any questions about undercutting or installations in general please leave a comment or fill out our contact form, I love to talk flooring and emails are super easy to squeeze in. Also for more recommended tools, we have a few listed in this Installation 101 post.

DIY Flooring: Is It for You? A Brief Guide

DIY Flooring: Is It for You? A Brief Guide to the Basics

Is DIY Flooring For You?

Laminate Install

Installing Your Own Floor: A Brief Guide

Your home in need of new floors? Are you considering doing it yourself? Before you do, check out this guide to the basics of DIY flooring.

Did you know that installing new flooring can increase the value of your home?

Have you been wanting to re-do your floors but want to keep costs to a minimum? Are you hesitant to hire a professional?

Consider doing it yourself!

DIY flooring is more affordable and easier than ever. Even a novice with no prior experience can transform his or her floor and give the home a whole new look.

Whether you are thinking of selling your home or are still enjoying it, updating your floors can give your home increased aesthetic value. Something as seemingly small as a change in flooring can make an old house look brand new.

If you are thinking about doing it yourself, but aren't sure what you're doing, keep reading for our top tips and strategies. 

Do Your Research

It's important to go into the process knowing that it won't be easy.

Even if you use simple materials, you will need to calculate carefully and cut precisely. If you've never done any home renovation projects yourself, flooring isn't exactly the best place to start.

However, it can be done right if you are up for a challenge and are willing to do some research. Doing it yourself could save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Watch plenty of how-to videos before you get started. 

The most DIY friendly flooring types would be floating floors with a locking system, we have options in this category for hardwood, laminate, and vinyl flooring. 

Buy the Flooring

Before you go crazy at the store, you need to determine what type of flooring you want to use.

Watch YouTube videos about installing that type of flooring. When you visit the flooring store to make your purchase, talk to the supplier to find out some important information.

Ask about the different warranties and ask for advice on acclimation, how to treat it, and how to install it. 

Obtain the Right Tools

One of the most important ways to ensure your DIY flooring job will turn out like the pros is to make sure you are using the right tools.

Once you've decided on a type of flooring, research the types of tools you will need to install it or ask your supplier.

You can usually rent heavy-duty power tools that you might need from a local hardware store, so you don't have to worry about the cost of purchasing them. However if you tend to do other projects around your house, purchasing the tools could have a better long term value.

Have Realistic Expectations

Know that each type of flooring has a different method of installation.

Make sure you know what you are doing before you get started and be realistic about your expectations. Be prepared and know that your project may take longer than you think.

YouTube videos will give you a great idea of how to install your floor, but if you are a first-time floor installer, things might take some time. Depending on the size of your area and the type of flooring you choose, it can take several days to install your floor. 

Need More Help with DIY Flooring?

If you have decided to give DIY flooring a try and aren't sure of your next steps, reach out to us, we can probably point you in the right direction.

Contact us today for help getting started.

Floor Installation 101: What You Need to Know About Installing Floors

Floor Installation 101: What You Need to Know About Installing Floors

Installing Floors: What You Should Know

Hardwood Floor

Installing floors is a wonderful way to improve your living space. Follow this step-by-step guide to brand new beautiful floors you can do yourself.

Rising investment in residential construction has seen a high demand for flooring installers. In 2018, the flooring installers industry in the US grew by 5.8% reaching $26 billion. During the same period, the number of flooring installation companies grew by 1.8%.   

In the floor covering segment, revenue grew to $27,011 million in 2019. Experts forecast that the market will grow by 0.5% by 2023. When it comes to installing floors, you need to have skills, experience, and tools. 

Without them, it will be hard to avoid gaps, cracks, bumps, dips, and humps on your floors.  

In this post, we discuss some of what you need to know about installing floors. 

Learn the Basics About Flooring

In floor installation 101, the first step is to learn the basics. What types of floors are available in the market? What is the difference between laminate, hardwood, and vinyl flooring?    

What is the difference between engineered and solid hardwood flooring? Is laminate or hardwood better? Is a waterproof flooring needed? Which flooring is best for a basement? 

We understand that this means reading through lots of resources. By learning all these, it becomes easier for you to select the right flooring that fits your needs.   

When it comes to flooring types, you have hardwood, vinyl, laminate, and tile (natural stone or porcelain). Each flooring type has its own pros and cons. They also come in different styles, colors, and textures. 

Installing Floors – DIY vs Professional Contractor

There are over 1.688 billion websites on the internet. Of these, only 200 million are active. The internet is resourceful. You can find thousands of articles detailing how to install floors.  

For instance, you can find a guide on how to install laminate floors or how to install floors by yourself.   

These guides are useful and they can help you save money and install your new floor. You also have the option of hiring a professional contractor. As an expert, he is skilled and experienced.  

If you want to install your laminate, hardwood or vinyl plank flooring, it will help if you have the right tools. Will you be doing other DIY projects, or will this be your only one, how much you should invest in tools highly depends on how ofter you may use them:

To begin the floor installation, you must first prepare the room. This calls for the removal of furniture and hangings on the wall. For laminate flooring and some floating vinyl planks, you can install over old tile or stone as long as it is properly adhered and flat enough.   

You may have to make lots of calculations to come up with the perfect layout, measuring and cutting is part of the process. For hardwood floors, some may have to be sanded, although the vast majority are prefinished now days, mostly for superior durability.

When Installing most hardsurface flooring, you may need to undercut door casings, door jambs, and maybe some other fixed objects in order to properly run the flooring underneath for a professional look. We did make a blog post discussing this, click here to give it a read.

 

Protecting Yourself When Installing Floors

Like any other project, safety comes first. Before installing floors, protect your knees using knee pads

Don’t forget to put on your protective eye wear

Shopping for hardwood, vinyl, laminate or tile flooring? We at Znet Flooring can help. Contact us today! And don't forget to learn more about maintaining and protecting your new floor!