Posted by John on November 25th, 2014
In this post you’ll learn about
- Our favorite hardwood floor cleaner
- How you can save $3 on your next Bona product purchase
This is a sponsored post by Bona. You can read about our sponsored post policy here.
With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday fast approaching, Lisa and I will be in a near constant state of house cleaning. If you have hardwood floors, then you know what a challenge it is to keep them looking shiny and clean. We have two little kids that walk around all day spilling milk and snacks on our floors. Add to that a dog with frequently wet paws and you can pretty much guarantee our floors are usually pretty dirty.
Over the past few years, Lisa and I have tried a few floor cleaning products and while there are a couple we like, our favorite by far is Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner. We like Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner because it’s lightweight, environmentally friendly, dries without a residue and leaves our floor clean and shiny.
When we were asked to participate in a sponsored post opportunity with Bona, we jumped at the chance.
Here’s how we use it.
We start by giving the hardwood a quick vacuum. You can see our floor is usually covered with dried milk and subtle smudges. Even when we clean up large spills with paper towels and baby wipes, it almost always leaves a film.
Here’s the Bona hardwood floor products we own. There’s the Hardwood Floor Cleaner, which comes in a spray bottle. The mop comes with a washable pad that attaches to the mop with velcro. There’s also an upgraded mop with a built-in spray container available.
To use it, we just spray the floor with a light mist and then wipe it clean with the mop. We usually spray it in small sections and then work our way through the house. It’s become our go-to product before AND after we have company.
We love this product so much we actually started using Bona as a verb. “When you get home from work, would you Bona the floor?”
The After Photo. Additional Light Not Included
Now for the best part. This holiday season, Bona is giving away a $3 coupon good for your next Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner purchase.
Here’s how to get your coupon.
Goto this link and sign up for their email list. That’s it. Pretty easy. The offer is available until December 9th, 2014.
Posted in Flooring,Giveaways. Tagged in ,giveaway, hardwood floor
Posted by John on January 13th, 2014
So last weekend we ripped out some of the hardwood flooring in our vestibule and got started with adding in the new boards. Since we were super busy with work and our Free Built-In Plans, we haven’t had much opportunity to continue work on it. Even though the office floor is roughly half done, it’s probably still going to take me another 6-8 hours. Installing hardwood flooring takes hours and hours and hours. It’s some back breaking work. Doesn’t hurt to take a brake from it to recuperate.
While I was ripping out the old flooring, I took the opportunity to take some video of the process. Removing hardwood flooring without damaging any other boards than the ones you want to take out isn’t quite as hard as it looks. It can be done with a circular saw, a crow bar and a chisel.
Check out the video and let me know if you have any questions.
How to Remove Hardwood Flooring
Posted in DIY Projects,Flooring. Tagged in ,Flooring, hardwood
Posted by John on January 5th, 2014
Happy 2014!! We’re back. Cue the theme music.
A few weeks ago, I finished up my last grad school course and headed into the holidays ready to take some much needed time off. Consequently, we decided to take a blog vacation until the holidays were over. Hope you missed us.
This past week, we kicked-off our Home Office improvement project. We already discussed some of the layouts we’re considering in a previous post, but after New Years we put our plans in motion and started the job.
The first order of business was to remove everything from the room, rip out the carpet and install hardwood flooring. We considered building the furniture first and then doing the flooring, but some of our readers chimed in and suggested that getting the floors in first would be the smarter move. We concurred.
Here’s how the room looked before we started:
With all the stuff removed:
As far as the hardwood flooring goes, we had the option of just starting the install at the threshold where the carpet meets the vestibule OR we could rip out some of the vestibule flooring and tie it into the existing flooring. Going into the vestibule makes the floor look like it was always there. It’s significantly harder and much more time consuming. Guess what option we picked??
To be honest, the existing vestibule floor had some fading from sun damage and it never really matched the floor we added in the living room. What can I say, we’re picky. It wasn’t much more money to pop for the wood for the vestibule since we already bought a bunch for the office. BTW, you can stop sun damage on flooring by installing UV window film.
You might expect us to write a long, detailed how-to post on hardwood floor installation, but we already did that a couple of years ago, so we’re skipping it this time. If you’re interested in that content, check out our posts on carpet removal and flooring installation, integrating new hardwood into old hardwood and our collection of lessons learned.
We are going to release a quick video on removing hardwood floor. Expect that in our next post.
Ripping out flooring is a dirty, dirty process. To ensure we didn’t have everything in the house covered with sawdust, we encapsulated the entire vestibule in plastic tarp.
Here’s before shot…
and here’s the same room with plastic tarp… looks like something out of ET.
So after a couple days of work, we finished the hardwood in the vestibule. We still have several more hours to go to wrap up the flooring in the office.
We’re getting there.
In an upcoming post, I’m going to breakdown the entire process we have planned for the office improvement. Resetting a room from scratch can be intimidating and I want to show our readers how to get from A to Z. As always, we want this room series to be a learning experience if you’re looking for it.
Posted in DIY Projects,Flooring. Tagged in ,carpet, Flooring, hardwood, home office
Posted by John on January 30th, 2012
How about that for a post title!
Well folks, it’s been seven weeks since we started on our Grand Plans! I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. We still have a few small projects left on our list, but here’s what we’ve accomplished to date…
Add chair rail molding to vestibule (how-to post here and odd angles post here)
Enhancing our crown molding
Caulking and filling nail holes
Painting, painting, painting (Vestibule, Family Room, Morning Room and Kitchen)
Adding hardwood floors to our living room (post 1 and post 2) and family room
we’ve since added to the list…
Paint the Dining Room
We realize that we should probably add some sort of home tour and maybe a layout so you can see where these rooms are with respect to the house. We promise to post one soon. As far as the dining room goes, we’ve decided to do some exciting work in here… that’s all I’m saying for now. You’ll see next month! We’re not starting any new projects until after our daughter’s birthday party. We added this room to the paint list because it looked too bare compared to the adjacent rooms.
We also finally got around to running a hose from our water supply to our fridge’s icemaker. Can’t believe we waited this long. Already. love. it.
This little water outlet thing was behind our fridge. We never actually ordered this, but our builder put it in anyway. We think they goofed. If they hadn’t put it in, we would’ve probably never added one ourselves. It’s not difficult to do, it’s just that… Lisa and I aren’t icemaker people. This is our second side by side fridge with the water and ice dispenser and up until now, we’ve never even thought about adding it. Frankly, we’re bottled water people. Not just plain bottled water, but bottled, purified water. We don’t go with that hippie, crunchy, spring water stuff. We prefer the taste. Consequently, we have about ten empty plastic bottles throughout the house at any given time. The water line changes everything. Now, that it’s there, we use it constantly. Major paradigm shift.
We actually hooked up the hose because we thought it would be convenient when we have company. We didn’t realize we’d use it for the tea kettle, the dog bowl, washing my hands, filling up water balloons… Ok, so I don’t wash my hands with it… but I could.
Making the connection was as simple as pulling out the fridge and attaching the line to the fridge and the wall valve. It’s also a great opportunity to clean the floor under the fridge. It’s pretty much a lost city of gold/dog treats for Finnie.
Once the hose was in, Finnie checked for leaks.
The only annoying thing about hooking up this line is the cleansing. We had to flush the system, by running about 4-5 gallons of water and then dumping it out. I also threw out the first two trays of ice. Still beats Brita.
Have you added something minor to your routine that changes everything?
Posted in Finnie,Flooring,Home Decor,Plumbing,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,Flooring, icemaker, paint
Posted by John on January 25th, 2012
Remember this old thing? That’s our old wall to wall carpet in our family room. We ripped it out when we installed our hardwood floors. This carpet has a seam in the middle that made removing it into two movable section fairly simple. Lisa and I initially thought about just scrapping these pieces, but we weren’t thrilled with the idea of throwing out two barely used sections of quality berber. That’s when a little light bulb went off above Lisa’s beautiful head. (I don’t actually remember whose idea it was, but I’m getting major husband points by assuming it was her idea.) Way to go Lisa!
We decided to take the sections over to a local carpet store to have them cut down to a smaller size and edge bound, essentially turning them into two large area rugs! Despite the fact that we are in love with the look of our new floor, we knew we needed to have something down on a day to day basis for the baby.
That play area is necessary for a few reasons. First, it allows us to put her down when we’re in the middle of something to keep her from getting hurt. Second, we often hang out with her in there when we don’t feel up to chasing her around the house. Lastly, it gives us a place to hide from the dog!
Currently, the play-yard is resting on a comforter so as not to scuff the floors and make it more comfortable for the baby.
The very same day we started on the floors, Lisa and I ran them over to the carpet store. The two sections were so long I had to bend them in half and to fit in my Jeep and they still stuck out the tailgate. It looked like a giant enchilada folded in half.
Picking them up when they were completed was much easier. They had been cut down to size.
Before I heaved this massive carpet upon my shoulder like Atlas (haha), we threw down an area rug pad. The pad is a foam like net that has a rubbery feel to it. Totally grips the floors. One concern we had with this rug was the underside. Most area rugs have a soft backing. However, wall to wall carpet, which OUR area rugs started out as, has a stiff nylon grid on the back that may not play nice with our floors. Thus, the pad should eliminate any scuffing by keeping it still.
Another issue we had to deal with was impressions left by the end tables and couches. We googled methods for dealing with these and most responses mentioned applying steam from a hot iron and using a stiff bristle brush to work the compressed fabric free.
Lisa used the next best thing, her Haan. She made a few passes with this steaming vacuum and held it over the spot for a few seconds. After she moved it, I just worked the spot with my fingers being careful not to burn my hands. It worked pretty good, although the carpet now looks a little disturbed in that area. I’m sure it will settle down over the next few weeks or so.
Overall, we like it. Kind of weird to spend all the time putting in the hardwood only to throw back down the same carpet, I will admit. We’re planning on removing it for company, so it’ll be in and out quite often.
How much did this cost us? The carpet was free… well, we paid for it during the build, so I guess it isn’t really free. The edge banding cost $2 a linear foot (total perimeter) for a total of about $80 per rug. The floor pad cost about $45 per rug. So, that’s $125 for a huge, quality Berber area rug. Best part is, we know where it came from! No weird surprises or mystery stains!
Have you ever re-purposed anything you initially thought about throwing away?
Posted in Flooring,Home Decor. Tagged in ,carpet, decor, Flooring
Posted by John on January 11th, 2012
Lisa and I are still basking in the awesomeness that is our new hardwood floors. They’re so shiny and clean that I almost don’t want to walk on them… almost. Lots of sliding in socks going on around here. On Monday morning, I took a brake from basking and sliding and I started installing the shoe molding, aka the quarter rounds. Bruce makes a matching shoe molding, so we just picked up a couple boxes of those when we ordered our floors. Now, I’ve already done a post on molding installation, but I thought this post would make a nice little tutorial on how to make your molding installations faster. Having trouble figuring out which angle your wall is at? Read this tutorial.
Obviously, speed isn’t the name of the game when it comes to home projects. Quality and safety are number one. However, it doesn’t hurt to learn a few tricks now and then to reduce your work time AND get a more accurate result with fewer errors. Our family room is around 400 square feet or so and I managed to install all the shoe molding in under 30 minutes using this trick.
First thing’s first. You generally don’t need to use a tape measure to make accurate measurements. I just use the piece of molding I’m going to install and I mark that piece. In the photo above, you can see that I’ve already got a section of shoe molding installed to the left. I cut the end of that piece at a 45 degree angle (the pieces are only 6′ long so I need a few of them in a row to cover the wall). My next piece will start with a matching 45 degree angle. In this example, I need to determine how long this last piece will be in order for it to meet the end of the wall.
To get that measurement, there’s two ways.
1. Use a measuring tape and try to get the distance from the end of the last shoe molding to the corner of the wall. The only problem with that method is that it’s more prone to errors because you’re resting your tape measure on a piece of molding that’s been cut to an angle. So which part of the slice do you measure?
2. Use the molding itself. I cut the next piece of molding to match the one already installed and I lay it on the floor like I’m going to install it. That way the 45 degree cuts lap together nicely. Then I mark the piece where it meets the corner with a pen or a pencil.
For outside corners like the one above, I can even mark the backside of the molding by running my pen along the baseboard molding, creating a perfect line on the back that marks the edge of the wall exactly.
For inside corners, I usually make my cut for the inside angle ahead of time on the molding and jam the molding into the inside corner of the wall first and try to mark the other side of the piece. This method essentially makes all your inside corners into outside corners. You’re just working in the other direction. Get it? If this verbiage is confusing, let me know and I’ll add some additional pictures to clarify. Maybe I’ll make another video to show how to do this throughout an entire room.
The speed of this method is best realized by allowing the molding to lay past whatever you’re measuring it against. For the examples above, this is done against an outside corner, but it could easily be against another piece of molding.
Hope that helps. If employed properly, you could really move through a molding job. I started using this a while back when I kept mis-measuring my cuts with a tape measure. I’d be off by about 1/8″ and it was driving me nuts!!
Have any additional tips for making molding fly besides throwing it?
Posted by John on January 10th, 2012
Well this has been one of the toughest weekends ever, but it was worth it. Lisa and I installed hardwood floors in our family room. We are extremely happy (and sore) with how it came out. For this post, since we already did a How-To on hardwood floor installation last week, I thought we’d just share with you some photos of our progress.
We started this job on Friday night. We spent a good hour or so and sealed off the room with plastic from floor to ceiling. Just like the floor removal in our vestibule, we were going to make a TON of sawdust and we wanted to prevent it from going all over the house. We even covered our fireplace. We’re not interested in having small combustible particles of oak getting in there. Just not a good idea.
On Saturday we really got going. Starting at 9 am, the carpet got yanked. That removal was pretty straight forward. Luckily, I was able to enlist Lisa to help me through this whole project. Things that took awhile in the living room went quick in the family room due to her help!
We followed the same basic procedure that we used in the living room with no surprises. When you work a room of this size, it’s helpful to have two people. While I was working the staple gun, Lisa was picking out boards and placing them in rows. Plus, we had our neighbors stop by and give us a hand for a little while. Under the guise that we were showing them how to install flooring, we managed to trick them into installing a couple rows AND they helped us clean up some of our debris. Jackpot. AND, they let us borrow a sweet work light. High five!
At the end of the first day we had about half of the room done. Stopping around midnight, we were beat!! On Sunday, we got another early start and were able to finish up by 8pm. That left us a few hours to vacuum, wet swiffer and pull down tarps.
At around 10pm Sunday night, after the house had been thoroughly cleaned, we settled in for our victory beer!
On Monday, I did some quarter round molding and started to paint the walls in the family room. We’ll be posting on those projects later this week! We wanted to post for Monday, but we were so dead tired by the time we had finished the floors that it was hopeless!!
This project was exhausting! Have you ever worked a DIY project that you thought would kill you? Please share!
Posted in Flooring,Home Decor. Tagged in ,bruce, floors, hardwood
Posted by John on January 4th, 2012
This is the second part of our hardwood floor installation. This project was started on the Monday after Christmas and I left it as seen in yesterday’s post for a few days until I was able to get back to it last Friday. There’s a LOT of hardwood flooring posts coming your way as we still have to start the family room floors and I’m planning on a “Lessons Learned” post at the very end to lay out all the little necessary tactics for making these type of jobs easier.
So here’s why we stopped for a couple days where we did (aside from the fact that it was nearly 10pm). At this point I hit a major fork in the road on how to proceed. The dining room floors have tongues that run toward the front of the house and the vestibule has tongues that run toward the back of the house. Now remember, this is relevant because I’m not leaving in the threshold, I’m removing it. If I left it in, this wouldn’t be an issue. IMHO, I think it will look better though if it looks like it was all installed during the build.
So after giving it some thought, I realized I had two basic strategies to mesh these floors together. The first option was to continue in from the dining room and modify each board as they intersect with the vestibule. OR I could bring the vestibule towards the dining room and only modify the very last board. The problem with the latter plan is it’s more risky. If I get down to the last board and it’s in the middle of these two floors, there’s the chance it will be majorly wider or thinner than one board. That would be horrible. If this were a floor with varying widths, great, but it’s not. The problem with the first option is it’s a lot more work as nearly every board against the vestibule will need to be sawed. Yikes.
Because I had faith in the quality of the installation by the builder, I decided to bring the vestibule towards the dining room. Here’s how I integrated these floors.
Part 3: Removing the Vestibule Floor Boards
First and most importantly, I prepped the area with a solid wall of plastic tarps taped securely enough to prevent nearly all my dust from getting to the rest of the house. A normal floor installation isn’t too dusty even with some cuts. The dusty part is the removal of the floor boards. That will create a TON of saw dust, so buckle up.
Board popped. This is where i learned which way the tongues were running. You can’t tell until you see the board from the side.
Now I need to remove the last board from each row. I start by marking each board with a piece of painter’s tape near the edge. When I get to cutting, there’s going to be a soooo much saw dust on the floor that the blue tape makes it easier to keep track of what gets yanked. AND to make it easier on myself, I picked the longest board and left it in place. That’s a short cut that I can live with. The only reason we’re removing these boards is because they are all cut to the same length and we need to vary that so it doesn’t look like we added it.
To remove the boards, I used a circular saw with a new, sharp blade. I set the blade depth to 3/4″, which is the thickness of the floors and I make two passes through the board I’m removing being careful not to cut into the following board. Once those cuts are made, the center section can be cracked out with a pry bar or a hammer. If the center section pulls out OK, the un-nailed edge of the board will pull out with ease. To get the remaining section out, I used a thin chisel and hammered it down through the tongue, splitting it. If it splits, it pulls out easy.
After all the boards are out, you’ll need to vacuum! The rest of the way is easy going. I just added boards like I did in yesterday’s post until I had one board section left. The last board space was 1/16″ too short and had two tongues. Thus, my last boards needed to be cut to drop into that space. I used my table saw and it was fairly simple. If anyone wants to see what that looks like, let me know and I’ll modify a board and take some more photos. That last row of boards needs to be nailed in from the top because you don’t have access to the side of it. Oh and the 1/16″ is so small a difference that you can’t tell. I will need to go back with a stain pen to color up the edge I cut, but I’ll get to that later.
Plus, I have to add the quarter round piece, but I’ll get to that when we add it to the family room.
Overall, we’re very happy with them!
If anyone if considering this project and you have ANY questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Posted in Flooring,Home Decor. Tagged in ,bruce, floors, hardwood
Posted by John on January 3rd, 2012
Ahhhhh. Feels good to finally write that title. This project has been on my wish list for this house since we moved in. It’s been apart of our Grand Plans for several weeks now and I can put a check in the box. As I write this though, I still have to add the quarter rounds on the perimeter of the room and do a couple stain pen touch ups before I can REALLY call it done, but otherwise I’m happy as a clam. Oh and Lisa and I will be replacing our family room carpet with hardwood this coming weekend, so I still have to get my hands dirty again with hardwood floors very soon. I’m already excited!
*** I’m going to break this flooring install up into a couple posts, because there’s a lot to write about, so check back later for more info and tips.****
Before I get into the nitty gritty, I’ll give you the why’s and what’s. The reason we’re pulling up the carpet is really due to the fact that we both love the look of it over carpet and it adds a lot of value. Moreover, we have a small dog that does shed a wee little bit and occasionally barfs, so keeping hardwood clean is a little bit easier. It may help with some of our allergies as well, although they’ve been minor to begin with.
The floor is a Bruce hardwood called Manchester and it is a 3 1/4″ wide oak floor stained cherry in color. It’s the very same floor that we have in the rest of our house. We bought it from an online distributor called QualityFlooring4Less and picked it up at a local receiving warehouse in PA. Here’s the kicker… the challenge to this project begins before you even lay down one board. The boxes weigh around 70 lbs a piece. I needed 600 square feet plus 5-10% extra, which totaled 28 boxed. That’s nearly 1 ton! This isn’t going to fit in the back of my grand cherokee!! We had to rent a Uhaul to get all that wood home. Plus try carrying that all in. Not. fun. I was exhausted before I even began this project!! We threw the boxes in our first floor office to get them out of the way.
Another very important requirement when installing hardwood floors is to let the material adjust in your home for a few days before you start the job. The wood must adjust to the temperature and humidity properly. If you just install them right away, they’re liable to expand or contract after you’ve installed them, possibly ruining your work and the wood. We let ours rest around 4-5 days. Kinda annoying, but you deal.
So, let’s get to it. How to replace your wall to wall carpet with hardwood.
Part 1: Carpet Removal
Here’s what our living room looked liked before we started. This was taken even before we painted.
Once we removed the furniture and the pictures, we were ready to rip up the carpet. Well, really I’ve been ready to rip it up since we moved in, but that’s another story.
Removing the carpet is pretty easy. Just pull up on the corners and the carpet will come right out. I used a box cutter to cut the backside of the carpet and I cut it into two large sections that can then be bound with duct tape and discarded. We’re going to try to donate ours.
The carpet is adhered to the subfloor with a thin nail strips that runs the entire perimeter of the carpet area. Also underneath the carpet is the carpet pad. The pad can just be ripped right up from the floor. It’s held down by staples. We’ll remove those later.
The nail strips can be taken up with a small pry bar. Be careful though, as the nail strips are sharp!
I put all the removed strips into the center of the floor and then threw them into a cardboard box for disposal. You don’t want to accidentally step on one of these!
Now for those pesky staples. Little bits of the carpet pad get stuck under the staples that keep it tied down to the floor. I removed as much of the pad from the staple as I could with my bare hands and then I turned to a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the rest. Wear gloves if you’re going to remove the staples. I didn’t and got a blister!!
Once the floor has been prepped by removing the carpet, the pad, the nail strips, staples and any other debris or garbage, it’s a good idea to sweep and vacuum the subfloor clean. After it’s been cleaned, it’s time to lay down the rosin paper. There are a couple different types of hardwood underlayment paper that you can use, but I like the regular red rosin paper because it’s cheap AND I had some left over from our first home.
Just roll it out and overlap the seams by a few inches. It’s necessary to use because it acts a buffer between the hardwood floor and the plywood subfloor, which eliminates creeks and squeeks and makes for an easier floor installation. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be in place.
Part 2: Installing the Floors
Now to start the flooring. Since I’m directly tying my new floor into my old, I’m going to continue my planks in from the dining room. Eventually, the floor will have to be integrated into the floor in the vestibule, but I’ll save that info for my next post. You can see in the photo below, that the old floor had a small quarter round that will need to be removed. I popped mine off with a pry bar. Came right off. Guess it wasn’t glued. Thank God for short cuts. Also, my last dining room floor board doesn’t have an obvious tongue or groove, so it won’t be able to intersect MY first board. It has to go. I also removed it with a pry bar. Be careful when you remove boards. If you don’t do it right, you can damage the board behind it!! Then it never ends, so be careful!
Let’s throw down the first board. I pick my boards soley based on length. I don’t want any of my boards to have an end seam within 2″-3″ of an end seam on an adjacent board. You can see that my first board is well clear of that on the dining room floor board. For the first board, it get’s butted up against the wall on the left and then pulled away about 3/8″. Wood generally doesn’t expand in the lengthwise direction, but a little gap won’t hurt.
I’ll bang the board into place with a rubber mallet that came with my nail gun and nail it into place with my nail gun.
Like that action shot? After the first board is in, you just lay down the next board and continue down the line. If you weren’t installing hardwood against an existing hardwood floor, then the first row will need to be face nailed and not angle nailed.
When you get to the end of a row, you can either measure the gap to the wall with a tape measure to determine the length of your last board OR you can use this little trick.
Pick out your floor board and lay it next to your row.
Now flip it over lengthwise and pull it away from the wall by around 3/8″. Mark the backside of the board where the end of the previous board meets it and cut on that line.
Now you can install it. Quick and easy!
After several hours of continuing this I was able to get the floor to a good stopping point.
Later this week, I’ll show you how to integrate the floor into boards that run the other way!! Trust me, it’s much harder than it looks!!
Have you ever installed hardwood floors or are you planning it?