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How to Remove Hardwood Flooring

Posted by 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

Even if you don’t need to use this trick now, it’s a good one to keep in your back pocket.

Posted in DIY Projects,Flooring. Tagged in ,,

Hardwood Floor Installation

Posted by 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:

office before

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??


vestibule flooring

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.

plastic tarps

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.

vestibule new flooring

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 ,, , ,

Grand Plans Update and Our Icemaker-Paradigm Shift

Posted by 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…

1.  Add chair rail molding to vestibule (how-to post here and odd angles post here)
2.  Enhancing our crown molding
3.  Caulking and filling nail holes
4.  Painting, painting, painting (Vestibule, Family Room, Morning Room and Kitchen)
5.  Adding hardwood floors to our living room (post 1 and post 2) and family room

we’ve since added to the list…

6. 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 ,, ,

Our Quasi Free Area Rug

Posted by 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.

Here’s how we’ve been coping with her play area setup since the new floors went in…

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 ,, ,

Add Trim without the Tape Measure

Posted by 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 in Flooring,Home Decor,Trim. Tagged in ,, ,