By James Allen

Mary of Marysville OH:
We added on 520 sf to our house. After putting the plywood floor down it rained...a lot...and now our floor is uneven at the joints. We are our own contractors and are not sure what to do now. Should we sand the floor and seal it with something or do another layer of flooring? Or something else?

That depends on what the floor finish is going to be.

Do not seal the wood, particularly if you are going to install a second layer of plywood, as for tile. The sealer will act as a bond breaker and construction adhesive will not adhere well. Ive always been a fan of two layers of plywood, anyway, with lots of adhesive and screws. Dry and refasten the subfloor first, to try to pull down any swelling. Good luck.

Steve of Greensboro NC:
I had a bathrrom remodeled and the slope of the new shower floor was not done properly. Can a new tile floor be laid over the old one? If not, what are the chances of the old floor being removed without damaging the rubber pan?

Problem. Problem.

Do not lay a new floor over the old one, you will be taking a bad gamble. Removing the existing tile and mortar must be done very carefully read slooowly. Hand tools only.

Once all is removed, and addressing only the liner: plug the drain and fill the pan with water to see if it leaks. If it does the holes must be patched. If the pan is a PVC liner, no problem. Just use PVC cleaner and cement and a piece of liner, to patch. If the liner is CPE you must get a solvent glue specific to that product.

My experience has been that CPE pan liner is very hard to solvent weld. Use a large patch, a foot in radius if there is room. Follow the solvent instructions and after placing the patch weight it evenly. Let it dry for 24 hours. I will also (this may be overkill, but you never know) run a bead of polyurethane caulk around the patch, when dry. Good luck.

Karen of Saratoga Springs NY:
Hey Jim! I would like to put some type of wood flooring in my kitchen. A friend who owns a flooring business suggested pre-finished hardwood as opposed to a laminate as the cost for installation plus pad would be approximately the same.

My concern/question is this: My stove is now flush with my countertop and the wood floor is significantly thicker than the vinyl that is there now. The laminate would be somewhere in between the two other materials in thickness. Do you have any suggestions as to keep my countertops and stove flush and have the wood flooring installed. I don't want to see my stove an inch higher than my countertops. Help!!!

Id go with the wood. Ive been very pleased with factory finished hardwood, and I prefer it to site-finished hardwood. I dont like laminate flooring ... looks like wall paneling on the floor. But some people love it, including a couple of my friends. They used it in bedrooms, though.

Ive heard, but have no personal experience, that if chipped (likely in the kitchen) the repairs can be picked out. Our prefinished hardwood kitchen floor, 11 years old, has plenty of dents, but looks great because its still shiny.

The height issue is a problem. If there isnt enough clearance to stop the wood at the stoves feet, then raising the stove slightly with thin plywood may serve the purpose.

You can always get another stove

Tom of Olathe, KS:
I have a vinyl floor I am trying to remove from an upstairs bathroom. It seems that the entire floor was heavily glued down and the under layment of the old floor is stuck to the wood subflooring like concrete. Any suggesstions on how to loosen and get this old floor and underlayment of the old floor removed?

Elbow grease. Sharp chisels (I use wood chisels). Time. Dont forget a dust mask and gloves. Forget about solvents.

Jennifer of Washington DC:
Planning to build custom 1,700 sq. ft. English Tudor house. Plan to use beige or brown stone. Have 4 pugs, two of which can not go up the stairs. What type of stone do you think I should use? Looking for easy care and cleaning, because of the pugs. Or do you think I should go with some other type of flooring>

No response from Jim as yet.

Leesa of San Pedro CA:
I purchased beautiful, high-end designer "through-body" porcelain tile (Portobello in Brazil) from Expo. Then hired my own flooring guy to install it in a high-traffic bedroom. After the room was done I realized that these tiles are not through-body at all. The top I see is what I ordered -- but when chipped (which is inevitable) the inside of the tile is white. Which sticks out terribly against the actual rest of the floor.

The Expo is insisting that I got the tile I wanted and there is nothing they can do now that it is installed. I did not get the tile I wanted -- the tile I wanted was through-body. I do not want to go through any more remodeling nor would I trust Expo to install the right tiles so asking them to replace this floor at their cost is out of the question. Is it reasonable for me to expect Expo to refund the entire tile order AND somehow compensate me for the cost of the install because now I have tiles on my floor that I would have never paid to have?

Only if you got it in writing. Also, the nomenclature used in the industry can be a little, ahhh, loose? Ive seen glazed porcelain tiles, but most of the porcelain out there is what Id call through-body. That may not legally mean anything. You can check the A.N.S.I. standards to see if there are references to through-body. But you may be wasting your time if it isnt written down somewhere.

Anyway, true porcelain tile that is properly installed is very chip resistant because of its density/hardness.

Julie of San Francisco:
I am putting together a wood shed on a concrete area in my backyard. I have finished the floor (made of 2x4's and plywood), but the floor is not level. It appears as though all the corners need to be at different heights to be level (one corner needs to be lifted several inches). How do I do this and make sure that the entire floor is supported and not just the corners?

The floor system (2x4 grid) should be assembled first, before the plywood is attached. Then you can shim the 2x4 joists level. Avoid using wood to shim. Pressure treated wood shims will likely shrink. Cement, plastic, metal will work.

Hi Jim,
Thanks for the reply. I am not sure if I explained my problem in full.

My (2x4) grid and plywood, which measures 8 feet by 12 feet, is already complete and laying on a concrete area in my backyard. The cement foundation is not completely level and is higher in some corners and lower in others most likely to make sure that water will run down off the concrete. I just don't know how to make it level and supported completely underneath. I started to put shims in the corners of the floor, but then realized that the middle won't be supported?? I am stuck at this point and need to know how to proceed so I can finish the much needed shed.

Unless you have reeeally long, thin fingers you will have to unscrew the plywood, or use a catspaw tool to pull the nails. Lift off the plywood, shim as required, then reattach the plywood.

Lori of Cleveland:
I currently have sheet linoleum flooring in my kitchen that is cracked and peeling up in the center seam. I will be replacing it with either tile or hardwood. The problem is, my kitchen transitions down a couple stairs to a landing at the back door. This is all currently linoleum. Which material will make the transition smoother, or are there other options? I am partial to neither.

Before you do tile you must have the contractors (I presume you are calling several for estimates) assess the floor joist and deck system. Size of the joists, their span and spacing, coupled with the thickness of plywood deck, how many layers, and how they are attached to the joists and each other all have a bearing on the type and size of tile to be selected. It does matter. Not every system is suitable for tile. In my home, for instance, I determined that the floor system was such that, while it could probably hold a tank (lots of weight), the flex would eventually doom a tile job, so we installed oak instead.

Another consideration is the finished thickness of the new floor at th stairs, and how it affects the riser height of the steps. The main floor will end at the top step, and will have some sort of finished edge, be it tile or a metal-type transition. The remaining stairs can have their riser heights adjusted wood thicknesses, spreading the additional thickness out over all the steps to keep the riser height of each step 1) equal, and 2) within code allowances (for comfort). Any competent contractor can do this.

FYI: we have been very pleased with the factory-finished oak flooring, now ten years old and looking great. However, if you have dogs that run through the kitchen, oak may wear unevenly, even factory finished products.

Brenda of Nelson BC:
Boy did I screw up! I accidentally spilled what I believe was nail polish remover on my high quality linoleum (Mannington gold). It ate a small indentation into the linoleum and has spoiled the look of the lion with its pattern of grey bands crossing on a white backgrouond. Is there anything at all I can do?

I think nail polish remover has acetone in it. Anyway, yours has a solvent that sounds like it melted part of the flooring. The only repair Im aware of is to cut out a square of the damaged area and replace it with a new, matching piece. Matching the new piece to the cut-out area is the trick.

If the linoleum is soft enough, one lays a piece of new on top of the area to be replaced, and cuts through both layers at the same time. Ive seen repairs that are essentially invisible. A lot will have to do with the skill of the mechanic doing the work, as well as the relative condition of the existing and repaired flooring. If the flooring has been in use for a while, it may take some time for the repair to season, that is, experience enough wear to blend visually with the area around it. A good mechanic that is familiar with your flooring product may have some tips on that.

Call the original installer or some other local soft flooring contractors and get some opinions on what to do.

Hal of Myrtle Beach:
We had Armstrong Imagine laminated flooring (free-floating) installed in our kitchen 5 years ago. Now the edges are starting to curl up. Would it be okay to install sheet vinyl over top of this?

Not with me. Someone would like to take your money, though.

If the laminated flooring is curling then the sheet goods will ride up with it. There is a real possibility that any imperfections in the existing flooring will telegraph up through the sheet goods.

It might be better to install a shoe mold around the perimeter to keep the edges down tight. Use carpet or wood transitions at the doorways. Doesnt the flooring manufacturer make something for these situations? Why dont you call their technical department and ask?

Betty of New York, NY:
My mother is a nursing home. The linoleum in her vacant house is a disaster. I have a bid to dig up the linoleum and the crumbling cork beneath it and install plywood and new linoleum for $2,100; and, a bid to merely cover with lauan (luon?)and put new linoleum for $1,600. Lowe's will do the second job above for $1,030. Which is the best deal?

IMHO, the best bet for longevity is to remove the bad old stuff, and install new underlayment and new linoleum. Covering the old stuff with 5mm or 1/4" underlayment is risky.

Tim of Charleston, SC:
My house is on a concrete slab and we would like to replace the carpet with hardwood flooring. Can the wood flooring be glued to the concrete or will some type of sub-flooring be needed?

Call several flooring contractors to get opinions and estimates. Any details about the house construction you possess would be helpful to the contractor. Tell the contractors about any issues youve had (if any) with moisture, mold, or odor.

There are several ways to install hardwood over concrete. Myself, Im most leery of glueing the wood down onto concrete. Ive seen even epoxy pull away from concrete (eventually). Aside from the actual materials, a lot will have to with the skill and care with which it is installed. The finest material in the world isnt worth much if it is improperly used.

If the concrete undulates there may be a problem installing directly to concrete. I prefer sleepers: leveling and mechanically fastening wood strips to the concrete, then installing the hardwood to the strips.