Category: Flooring & Stairs


Bob Vila Radio: Safer Basement Stairs Prevent Mishaps

This isn't anyone's favorite part of the house, but trips to and from the basement are a day-to-day inevitability. Use these tips to make those journeys as safe as can be.

If you’re aiming to reduce the risk of accidents in your home, one good place to start is your basement stairs. Here are a few ways to make all those trips up and down safer.

Safer Basement Stairs

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SAFER BASEMENT STAIRS or read the text below:

First, ensure you have well-placed lighting that fully illuminates the stairs, without casting glare into your eyes.

When deciding on paint, choose contrasting colors for the treads and risers to increase visibility. The higher the contrast in color the better. You can also add a little granulated texture to the treads, installing non-skid glue-down strips at their leading edges.

Check that the screws holding the handrail are tight. And if you have room—and especially if someone in the household has trouble walking—consider adding a second railing on the opposite side of the stairs. Be sure to check local building codes before undertaking the job.

One other option: You can install thin, lighted LEDs under the nose of the stair treads. That way you’ll have the safest, and snazziest, basement stairs on the block.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day. 


How To: Remove Vinyl Flooring

Have you had it with that dated, dirty, and dilapidated vinyl floor? Here's how to remove it, so you never have to look at it again.

How to Remove Vinyl Flooring

Photo: shutterstock.com

Let’s be clear: It’s no fun to remove vinyl flooring. Peeling up the material itself is no picnic, but the real trial is to get rid of the glue that had been securing the vinyl to the subfloor. The only silver lining here is that while tedious and time-consuming, it’s certainly not complicated to remove vinyl flooring. No special tools or advanced skills are required. It’s really only a matter of elbow grease. Follow the steps below to get the job done with a minimum of frustration.

How to Remove Vinyl Flooring - Process

Photo: shutterstock.com

The first step is to take all furniture out of the room so you can have unimpeded access to the floor. You’ll also need to carefully remove all baseboards and any other trim that meets the floor.

Next, locate a section of the floor with no glue underneath. Start here, using a utility knife to cut the vinyl flooring into 12-inch strips. Pull up each one gently. Where you encounter resistance from the glue, use a scraper tool (or even a kitchen spatula) to get the strip loose. In places where the glue is especially tenacious, you can use a hammer-and-chisel combination to chip at the hardened adhesive.

If you’re stuck with an area where the vinyl has been removed but the glue remains lodged on the subfloor, try this: Combine warm water and soap in a bucket, then apply it liberally to the glue, allowing time for the mixture to soak in. When you return, the glue will have softened and become easier to remove.

No dice? OK, it’s time to bring some heat into the equation. Buy or rent a heat gun—or in a pinch, use your hair dryer—and hold it directly over the stubborn adhesive long enough to soften the glue (but not long enough to cause any damage to the subfloor). Then go at the glue with your trusty scraper.

Finish with some cleanup: Use a broom or shop vac to pick up all the debris that now litters the room.

If the above seems like way too much work, there’s always the option of renting a power scraper from your local home center. There’s a cost attached to bringing in such a tool, but it will certainly make much quicker work of things. If you opt for the power scraper, be sure to test it first in an inconspicuous area; you will need to adjust its angle so that it removes only the vinyl-and-glue layer, not the underlying subfloor. Score the vinyl into 10-inch sections with the utility knife, then turn on the scraper and get busy.

Safety Precautions
Until the mid-1980s, asbestos often served as an ingredient in vinyl flooring products. If you know that the installation you’re dealing with has been around that long—or if you’re not certain how long the vinyl floor has been there—it’s only common sense to have the material tested before proceeding. I believe in hiring pros when it’s appropriate, and in the case of asbestos-laced vinyl flooring, it’s eminently appropriate to pay people who know what they are doing.


How To: Install Click Flooring

Thanks to click-together flooring, it's easier than ever for homeowners to put engineered hardwood underfoot. As with so many other do-it-yourself jobs, careful planning is the key to pro-quality results.

How to Install Click Flooring

Photo: onflooring.com

Over the last decade, engineered wood flooring has developed by leaps and bounds, making it more affordable than ever before for homeowners to put hardwood underfoot. That’s partly due to the fact that engineered floorboards are so friendly to do-it-yourself installation. Click-together flooring products are the simplest of all, requiring neither glue nor nails. The tongue-and-groove design allows boards simply to click together and float, so to speak, over the subfloor. Even a relatively experienced DIYer can install click flooring using basic tools and a handful of inexpensive, readily available supplies. Read on to learn how it’s done.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Click flooring
- Tape measure
- Pencil
- Moisture meter
- Moisture barrier and/or underlayment pad
- Table saw (or circular saw)
- Wood glue
- Jigsaw (for cutting around pipes)

STEP 1
Like solid wood flooring, engineered wood products are sensitive to moisture, alternately shrinking and expanding as temperatures and humidity levels fluctuate. Therefore, the first step in installing click flooring is to bring in the boards, remove any packaging, and give your purchased flooring time to acclimate to the conditions of your space. A period between one and five days normally suffices. It may be somewhat of a drag, but exercising patience here is the best thing you can do to ensure that the floorboards do not separate or cup over time.

How to Install Click Flooring - Engineered Detail

Photo: lumberliquidators.com

STEP 2
No matter the material of the subfloor, test its moisture content by means of a moisture meter to confirm that it’s not above 12 percent. Next, use a level to make sure the subfloor lies, if not perfectly flat, then within a 1/8-inch incline over any given six-foot radius. Make any adjustments necessary before moving on to lay down the moisture barrier and/or underlayment recommended by the manufacturer.

STEP 3
Now is the time to plan your installation strategy. Best practice is to install floorboards so that they run parallel to the longest dimension in the room. You may wish to dry-fit at least some of the material as a way of proving not only that your strategy is going to work, but also that you have enough flooring to get the job done. Before you proceed any further, inspect all planks for damage and defects.

STEP 4
As you prepare to install the first course of floorboards, remove some planks from at least three different boxes (typically, engineered products are boxed by length). Lay out a line of boards in random sequence, then grab the first board and place it in the corner, with the grooved side facing away from the wall. Place expansion spacers between the wall and the board edges that meet the wall. Repeat the process with additional floorboards, running them along the wall and locking together the short ends of any boards that meet (although a full lock isn’t possible until you put down the second row). It’s very likely that you’ll need to cut the last plank to size. Measure the distance from the wall to the leading edge of the penultimate plank, then cut the final floorboard to that length, leaving a little room for the spacer.

STEP 5
Now install the second row. To keep the joints between the rows from lining up, start this second run with a board whose end hits at least six inches away from the nearest joint in the initial row. Remember to place a spacer between that first board and the wall. Then slip the long tongue of this first board into the groove on the first row of flooring. To guarantee a secure connection between boards, be careful to keep dirt and debris out of the grooves.

STEP 7
Continue installing floorboards over the surface area of the room until you come to the last row. Here, you may find that the space remaining is not wide enough to accommodate a full board. In that case, measure what space is available, then rip as many boards as necessary down to the appropriate width. If you encounter a clearance issue that prevents you from locking any of these last boards against the groove of the adjacent second-to-last row, simply do this: Using a utility knife, plane the tongue off the edge of the boards that would not fit otherwise, then affix them in position by means of wood glue.

STEP 8
Remove the spacers from the perimeter of the room, and in the gap those spacers were occupying, install transition moldings directly to the subfloor. Quarter-round or baseboard moldings, installed against the wall, are also recommended (but not strictly necessary). Finally, clean the floor per the manufacturer’s guidelines and replace all furniture in the room. And you might want to put felt protectors on the legs of any chairs to protect your beautiful new floor!

It depends on the size of the room, of course, but in most cases it’s eminently possible to install a click floor within a single weekend. With proper planning, you can begin the project on Saturday and be done in time to host friends for a get-together on Sunday evening. They would never guess that you did it all yourself!

This post has been brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: Drilling Through Tile

So long as you've got a power drill and the right assortments of bits, drilling through tile is a task every average homeowner can handle. Read on to learn how it's done.

Planning to install a new towel rack or grab bar in your bathroom? That may mean drilling through ceramic tile. It’s not a difficult job, but you do need to go about it the right way.

Drilling Through Tile

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SCREWS IN CERAMIC TILE, or read text below:

Start by using tape to make an X over the spot where you want to drill. The tape will protect the surrounding tile and also help keep your drill bit from wandering. Insert a carbide-tipped tile bit into the chuck of your drill and tighten it up. Dip the bit into cutting oil, then wipe off the excess. Position your bit on your mark and using light pressure, drill through the tape and into the tile (be careful not to push too hard; that could crack the tile). Once you feel the bit exit the inner side of the tile, remove it gently. If your tile’s mounted on drywall, switch to a drywall bit and finish the job, again withdrawing the bit carefully. Insert a screw anchor into the hole and mount your towel rack or grab bar.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Get the Job Done Quicker with Prefinished Flooring

Prefinished wood flooring gives you all the beauty and warmth of real hardwood in a fraction of the time.

Prefinished Wood Flooring - Brazilian Koa

Photo: Lumber Liquidators

Anyone shopping for a new hardwood floor quickly discovers that there’s no shortage of options on the market. Homeowners are confronted by a seemingly infinite variety of wood species and floorboard finishes. But before you can choose between, say, dark-stained oak or hand-scraped maple, you have to decide whether you want traditional or prefinished boards. Bear in mind that if you opt for the latter, you can complete a hardwood flooring job more quickly than you might have thought possible.

Understanding the Distinction
Installing traditional floorboards can be a tiring, time-consuming process. Even after the boards have been laid down, there’s still a fair amount of work to do. Before the floor can be finished, it must be sanded, and each coat of stain or sealant must be given sufficient time to dry thoroughly. Taking all these tasks into consideration, it might take a week, possibly more, before you’ll be able to walk on the completed floor. Also, because installation and finishing both require the kind of skill that only experience provides, many homeowners decide to hire a professional rather than risk an imperfect result. Prefinished floorboards are a whole different story. Here, the finishing process has already been done back at the factory, putting the do-it-yourselfer in a better position to achieve a professional-quality installation.

Prefinshed Wood Flooring - Pre Detail

Photo: istock.com

Get More for Your Time (and Your Money)
Opt for prefinished flooring if you want to avail yourself of the widest-possible range of floor finishes. A simple stain is one thing but with traditional floorboards, something like a hand-scraped finish would involve hours of additional labor (if it wasn’t off the table completely). Whereas you might have dismissed a highly involved finish as being too difficult to DIY or too expensive to hire out, ready-to-go prefinished flooring makes such options not only practical, but also affordable.

Access the Help You Need—Fast 
When you buy a prefinished floor at Lumber Liquidators—or any type of floor, for that matter—support is at your fingertips. Installation experts are ready to help, whether by phone or live Internet chat. With someone there to answer your questions, most jobs can be done within a day or two—a speed that’s basically impossible to match with the installation and finishing of traditional floorboards. If you prefer not to handle the installation yourself, then you can leave the installation of any floor from Lumber Liquidators in the hands of the company’s capable installers.

Prefinished hardwood flooring affords you the best of all worlds. Enjoy the warmth and beauty of real wood at a competitive price, be able to select from all the varieties offered in traditional hardwood, and benefit from installation (DIY or otherwise) that can be done quickly with a minimum of hassle. Seriously, what’s stopping you?

This post has been brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


What Would Bob Do? Filling Nail Holes

Before you set out to fill nail holes in a hardwood floor, make sure you're using the right product.

How to Fill Nail Holes

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I’ve removed some carpet and want to refinish the hardwood floors below. What should I use to fill the holes left by the carpet tack strip and the staples that held the carpet padding?

Floorboards are rarely face-nailed, at least not in modern installations. So these days, the situation you describe—the condition of a floor after the removal of wall-to-wall carpeting—is one of the only times that a homeowner would encounter hardwood flooring riddled with small holes. What’s the best remedy? That depends on whether or not, as part of the refinishing process, you are planning to sand the floor down to bare wood. If yes, then I suggest using wood filler. But if not, I recommend a similar but different product: wood putty. The former hardens and can be sanded. The latter never dries completely and is not intended for sanding; it’s an after-the-fact fix.

How to Fill Nail Holes - Floor Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

Wood Filler for Bare Wood
Knead a small amount of stainable latex wood filler before pressing some of the product into each nail hole in turn, using a putty knife or a three-inch trowel. Clean any mislaid filler before it has the chance to harden, but don’t worry if you miss some. There’s no need to be meticulous. After all, you’re going to sand down the entire area. In the case of shallowly applied wood filler, you can begin sanding once the product has dried, somewhere between 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the depth of the repair. For deeper holes, wood filler takes longer to dry, sometimes as long as 8 or 10 hours. Be advised that the filler may shrink as it dries, making a second, supplemental application necessary. Also, filler doesn’t take stain the same way wood does, so a seamless look may be difficult to achieve.

Wood Putty for Finished Floors
Whereas it doesn’t so much matter which type of wood filler you end up using, when you’re working with wood putty it’s crucial to select the most appropriate product. Here, the goal is to identify a shade of putty that matches as closely as possible the color of your flooring. If you can’t find a putty that looks just like your floor finish, consider mixing two or more putty shades together; the blend may get you closer to the mark than any single shade could have. Simply knead the putties together until they become pliable, then press the product into each nail hole. Be careful to use a tool that won’t scratch the sanded floor—a plastic putty knife is ideal. Don’t worry when the putty doesn’t appear to be drying; it’s actually not supposed to dry. Wipe away the excess with a soft cloth and call it a day.

Tempting though it may be, don’t use plaster-like fillers, such as spackling or joint compound, whether you plan to sand the floor or not. These products dry to a brittle finish and are almost certain to loosen due to floor movement.


What Would Bob Do? Leveling a Concrete Floor

There are a number of options for leveling a concrete floor. Read on to learn which approach is best for your needs.

How to Level a Concrete Floor

Photo: shutterstock.com

I’d like some advice on how to level a concrete floor. We plan to finish the basement in my house, and there are going to be a couple of sump pumps, so we no longer need the old drain in the middle of the floor. Thanks!

There is no one way to level a concrete floor. Of all the methods available to do-it-yourselfers, which should you employ? That largely depends on how level you want to make the concrete. And that question, in turn, hinges on a related but different question: What type of flooring do you plan to install in your basement?

If you envision carpeting or another type of floor that forgives minor variations in subfloor grade, such as engineered wood or click-and-lock vinyl, then you can probably opt for the least labor-intensive method. Here, a concrete grinder would do the bulk of the work. (You can rent this tool from your local home center.) You’d use it to grind down the most prominent ridges in the floor. To finish the job, you would then mix up a small batch of concrete and use it to fill in any dips or depressions.

If you want to install tiles that glue down, things get a bit trickier. For a successful installation, the concrete floor beneath the tile needs to be more or less perfectly level and smooth. That’s true for compact tiles and even more critical for larger ones, including the popular 1-by-2-foot size. With small tiles, the maximum differential between the lowest and highest point on the floor is 1/4 inch per 10 feet; with larger tiles, the acceptable differential is a mere 1/8 inch per 10 feet. To achieve such flatness, use a self-leveling compound. These come in powdered form and are mixed with water and a fortifying agent. You end up with a thin liquid that when poured from a bucket flows across the existing uneven concrete. Gravity will bring the liquid to a level, but you can help the process along with a broom or trowel.

When it comes to mixing and applying the self-leveling compound, closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions, because every product differs slightly. Generally speaking, though, no matter what compound you choose, you’ll need to take similar steps to prepare the basement beforehand. For one thing, it’s important to remove any flaking paint or loose adhesive from the floor to ensure that the compound can get a good grip on the concrete. Also, so you don’t need an excessive quantity of compound, it’s not a bad idea to grind down any spots on the floor that are especially high. And of course, if there’s a drain—and you mentioned that there is one—it must be capped and sealed around the seams of its cap. Word to the wise: Wear cleats in case you need to walk across the compound while it’s still wet.

Once the self-leveling compound has set, you can proceed to install your chosen flooring. Alternatively, if you’ve had enough DIY for now, remember that you can eschew a finished floor, opting instead to stain, paint, or polish the compound that now forms the top layer of your concrete basement floor slab.


5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wood Floor

With the variety of woods, colors and finishes available today, shopping for a wood floor can be a bit overwhelming. Here are five things to know and consider when choosing the perfect wood floor for your home.

Bellawood Cumaru Hardwood Flooring

Bellawood Cumaru Solid Hardwood Flooring at Lumber Liquidators.

Homeowners evaluating new flooring owe it to themselves to consider the benefits and beauty of wood. Wood floors are comfortable, durable and surprisingly affordable, and nothing quite compares to the character and warmth they bring to every room in the house. While there are a myriad of choices available, not every type of wood flooring is suitable for every application. If you are shopping for a wood floor, here are five things to keep in mind.

Type of Wood Flooring
There are primarily two types of wood flooring products—solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. Solid wood flooring is milled from solid wood logs, and is joined with a traditional tongue and groove along both the long and short edges. Solid wood is available prefinished or unfinished, in strips and planks ranging in thickness from 5/16″ to 3/4″. Strips are 1-1/2″ to 2-1/4″ wide and planks are 3″ to 8″ wide.

Engineered wood flooring is comprised of multiple layers of plywood and composite material, and topped with a layer of solid hardwood. Engineered wood flooring comes in thicknesses ranging from 3/8″ to 3/4″ and from 3″ up to 10″ wide; the hardwood layer on top ranges in thickness from .6 millimeters to 4 millimeters.

While both types offer the same beauty of real hardwood, the primary difference between solid hardwood and engineered flooring is in the floor’s composition. “Since solid wood flooring is subject to expand and contract relative to a home’s humidity it needs to be installed on the ground floor or above grade,” explains Bill Schlegel, Chief Merchandising Officer for Lumber Liquidators. “Engineered flooring, which is more stable due to its multi-ply construction, can be installed on all levels of the home,” adds Schlegel, “making it perfect for basements and bathrooms where dampness and moisture can be issues.”

Select Red Oak Solid Wood Flooring

Select Red Oak Solid Wood Flooring at Lumber Liquidators

Choice of Wood Species
There are many different woods used in flooring, but some are harder and therefore more durable than others. “Day to day wear and tear is what concerns most people when shopping for a wood floor,” says Schlegel, “and the benchmark for hardness in the U.S. is Red Oak.” While Red and White Oak are the most common domestic wood floors, Hickory and Maple (harder than oak) and Walnut (softer) are also popular choices. Top selling exotic woods such as Brazilian Cherry, Brazilian Koa and Cumaru are among the hardest species available. “Naturally, the harder the wood, the better it will be for wear and installation in high-traffic areas of the home,” Schlegel notes.

Grain, Color and Appearance
Because wood flooring comes in so many different species, styles and finishes, it is fairly easy to select a floor to match any room décor. If you have a country-style interior, wide plank floors with highly defined wood grains and a distressed appearance will be a good fit.  For Colonial homes, consider wide, random plank width flooring in Oak and Maple.  For traditional interiors, hardwood flooring in widths of 2-1/4″ to 3-1/4″ in Oak, Maple or Walnut, or parquet flooring, will be smart choices. Virtually any type of wood can be used in a contemporary setting, depending on what stain or finish is used—for example pewter, dark charcoal or whitewash finishes can transform any wood species into a modern masterpiece.

Casa de Colour Select Pewter Maple Hardwood Flooring

Casa de Colour Select Pewter Maple Hardwood Flooring at Lumber Liquidators.

Type of Finish
The finish is the real determining factor in the overall appearance of a wood floor. The same wood species will look completely different finished in a clear gloss, versus a distressed, hand-scraped or wire-brush finish. “There are different gloss levels and finishing techniques that change the overall look of the wood floor,” Schlegel notes. “Our Bellawood solid and engineered wood flooring in a mid to high gloss looks completely different in a low gloss matte finish,” explains Schlegel; the latter imitating the look of an oil-rubbed European finish, but without the constant care and maintenance.  Distressed, hand-scraped or wire-brush finishes will also be something to consider when shopping for a wood floor.

Flooring is sold either “unfinished” or “pre-finished.” Unfinished floors are sanded and finished on-site, which provides for a consistent seal and prevents dirt and moisture from penetrating the seams between boards (floors typically receive one to three coats of sealant). Pre-finished flooring is factory-applied in a controlled setting, and typically receives seven to eight coats of sealant. “I definitely recommend pre-finished flooring, because it ensures a superior and consistent finish, and comes with a warranty,” Schlegel asserts. “All Bellawood pre-finished flooring comes with a 100-year, transferable warranty, which can be a selling point to future buyers—since the warranty transfers to the new owner.”

Cost and Installation
The cost of wood flooring depends on the type, the wood species and the finish. Typically, solid prefinished wood flooring runs from $2.49 to $12.69 per square foot. Prices on engineered prefinished wood flooring range from $1.69 to $8.79. The average cost of installation usually runs about half as much as the flooring but depends on the type of flooring and installation for your home.

Both solid wood and engineered wood flooring are installed by nailing, stapling or gluing planks to a subfloor. There are, however, a variety of new “click” engineered products available that can be installed easily and “floated” above the subfloor.

“Installation can definitely be an expensive proposition, especially with unfinished flooring,” says Schlegel, “but competent DIYers can save money by doing the job themselves and purchasing prefinished flooring.” Lumber Liquidators offers all of the tools and materials that a homeowner would need to install a wood floor.  He adds, “I recommend saving money on installation and buying a better floor.”

 

This article is sponsored on behalf of Lumber Liquidators.  Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Regain Your Footing: Top Tips for Common Wood Floor Repairs

Wood floors are durable and easy to maintain, but they're still subject to accidental gouges, scratches, and heavy wear. Before you call in a refinisher, consider trying some of the easy fixes outlined here.

Brazilian Pecan Flooring

Bellawood's Matte Brazilian Pecan Solid Hardwood Flooring at Lumber Liquidators

Few things can add as much warmth, character, and charm to a room as hardwood floors. From the amber glow of heart pine to the deep dark polish of walnut, hardwood brings a bit of nature into your home and sets an inviting mood from the living room to the kitchen. Generally, hardwood floors are durable and easy to maintain (not to mention better for allergies), but they do get the occasional gouge, scratch, or area of wear. Fortunately, you can usually fix these blemishes quickly and easily yourself with no need for expensive replacement boards.

DOWNLOAD BOB VILA’S WOOD FLOORING GUIDE HERE

Wear Spots
In high-traffic areas, the finish and stain can wear away from your hardwood floors, leaving the wood exposed and creating a visually unattractive patch. In such cases, you’ll want to sand the affected area, extending beyond the damaged section of the floor by about an inch. Try to sand to the edges of boards so that when the repair is done, it will look more natural. Use a fine-grained sandpaper for this job and make sure when you’re done that the floor is as smooth as glass. While you’re still in sanding mode, find a different, less-visible area of the floor—like in a closet or under the bed—and sand away a very small patch of finish and stain. This patch will be the test area you’ll use for a bit of detective work.

If your floor is natural unstained wood, then try a few types of floor urethane on your test patch. Water-based urethane will dry clear, while oil-based formulations will impart a slight golden tinge to the floor. See which matches best. Be sure to get the sheen right, whether it be gloss, semi-gloss, or satin.

Wood Floor Repair

Photo: examiner.com

If you have stain on your floor, try a few different types on the test patch to get the best match. Know that the color you’ll wind up with after you’ve applied urethane over the stain will be most similar to the color you see when the stain is first applied and is still wet.

Now that you’ve nailed down the stain and urethane, make sure the worn part of your floor has been sanded completely smooth. Vacuum up the dust several times before you proceed. Once the area’s scrupulously clean, apply stain (if needed), and then apply multiple coats of urethane according to the manufacturer’s directions, letting each coat dry between applications.

Scratches
Grit on shoes, overly enthusiastic pets, and heavy items that have been dropped or moved can all leave scratches on our precious hardwood floors. If you have light surface scratches on the floors, all that might be required to make them fade is application of a solution such as Lumber Liquidators’ Scratch Away, which cleans and polishes floors while reducing the appearance of scratches. If the scratches are deeper, then you’ll want to follow the instructions above, sanding the floor down to the bottom of the scratch before restaining and/or refinishing.

Gouges
If the damage to your hardwood floor goes beyond a simple scratch and moves into the category of a gouge, then you’ll need some type of filler to repair the nick before sanding, staining, and finishing, because it would simply be impractical to sand to the bottom of the blemish. A blend stick or finishing putty works well on these types of repairs.

Bellawood Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Bellawood Hardwood Floor Cleaner at Lumber Liquidators

For the sticks, you’ll have to mix the different colors together to get the right match to your floor. Then press the material into the gouge and wait for it to dry. Putties are applied the same way and can usually be sanded and stained to blend in once they have dried, although you’ll want to start with the color that most closely matches your floor and apply stain from there.

Prevention
Of course, the best way to treat your hardwood floors is to try to keep them from getting scratched in the first place. That’s why it’s critical to keep them clean using a product specifically formulated for hardwood floors, such as the Bellawood Hardwood Floor Cleaner. (Supermarket floor detergents can damage your floor’s finish and are best avoided.) Remember that dirt and grit on your floors can act like sandpaper, scratching the finish. Keeping your floors clean removes this potential hazard and will help them look their best for years to come. And, when you’re shopping for wood floors, be sure to look for quality products that offer an extended warranty—anywhere from 30 to 100 years—on finishes.

 

This article is sponsored on behalf of Lumber Liquidators. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: Fire Escape Ladders

Protect yourself and your family by taking the precaution of putting a fire escape ladder in every upper-story room in which you spend time. Here's what you need to know.

Here’s a dismal statistic: According to the Home Safety Council, just 6 percent of U.S. homes have a fire escape ladder. Apparently, a lot of us have some shopping to do!

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Listen to BOB VILA ON FIRE ESCAPE LADDERS or read the text below:

Fire Escape Ladders

Photo: hammacher.com

You really should have a ladder in every occupied upper-story room. Measure each room’s windowsill to make sure you purchase a ladder that fits. Ladders come in two standard lengths—15 feet (for second-story windows) and 25 feet (for third-story). Look for a ladder with lots of standoffs. These protrusions hold the ladder away from the house, keeping it steady. Your ladder should hold at least 1,000 pounds and have been tested by an independent certifying authority.

Next, decide whether you want a portable or permanent ladder. In an emergency, a portable ladder is carried to the window, hooked over the sill, and deployed. It must fit the window opening and be light enough to handle and easy to open.

Permanent ladders are mounted either inside the room or outside, near the window. While they are typically more stable and easier to deploy than portables, they’re also more expensive and require installation.

Finally, have your family practice using the ladder; young children can practice on a first-floor window. An escape ladder will do no good if your family can’t use it when they need to.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.