Category: Flooring & Stairs


The Smarter Way to Mop Your Floors

Say goodbye to floors that seem dirty even after you've cleaned them by following these tips that will ensure squeaky-clean results every time you mop.

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How to Mop a Floor

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You’ve just grabbed the mop to clear up a spill or wipe away the day-to-day dirt, but will you actually make your floors dirtier by using this cleaning tool? If you’re left with dingy flooring no matter how much you clean, you may be breaking the first rule of mopping: Vacuum first, mop second. Without a clean sweep or vacuum job, mopping a floor covered in dust, dirt, and hair simply spreads the debris around. If you’ve been making this mistake all your life, there may be a couple of other areas for improvement in your cleaning routine. So, once you’ve successfully incorporated this first step, try implementing the equally crucial components that follow, and your floor will be so clean you could practically eat off of it.

The Right Cleaner for the Job
It’s a common misconception that more soap equals cleaner floors. In reality, using too many suds leaves behind a sticky residue—and that sticky residue can trap more grime. Whether you opt for a homemade or commercial cleaner, choose the one that’s best for your floor type, and use it sparingly.

How to Mop a  Floor - Mopping Wood Floors

Photo: fotosearch.com

Hardwood: Check if your floors are finished with polyurethane or wax. If your floors are sealed with polyurethane, use a mild or pH-neutral soap with water. Avoid cleaning products (natural or commercial) with acidic additives, which can damage wood over time. If your floors are waxed, use a damp (almost dry) mop once a week at most—even a small amount of water may cause warping.
Laminate: As is the case with hardwoods, less is more when it comes to water; you want to keep it from seeping underneath the laminate planks. Try damp mopping and spot cleaning, but never use a commercial floor cleaner with polish.
Vinyl: One of the best cleansers for this floor surface is a solution of apple cider vinegar and water. Due to its acidity, vinegar helps remove dirt without leaving behind a buildup, and it disinfects at the same time.
Linoleum: Not as resilient as vinyl, this floor surface requires a milder cleaner. Mix a few drops of dish soap with hot water in a spray bottle, and then spritz the surface section by section. Finish up by going over the floor with clean water from a dampened mop.
Stone tile: Mop with a pH-neutral, non-chelating cleaner that won’t react with the minerals in the stone. Skip bleach, ammonia, and vinegar, as even small amounts could damage the seal on stone tile floors.
Ceramic tile: White vinegar and water create an effective, odor-eliminating, nontoxic cleanser for this floor surface—great for households with pets and children.

 

Put It Through the Wringer
A string mop, or “yacht mop,” is what most people think of when they think “mop.” A sponge mop, however, is worth considering, depending on your flooring type. When choosing between the two, keep in mind that string mops absorb large amounts of water, so they require several rounds of wringing, while a sponge mop holds much less water, making it ideal for hardwoods and laminate flooring.

Once you choose your mop type, dip the mop in your cleaning solution so it’s immersed up to the top of the head. Let the mop absorb the cleaner, and then wring out as much moisture as possible. Remember, you want the mop damp, not wet. In some cases, as with hardwood floors, laminates, and linoleum, the mop needs to be wrung out numerous times until it’s almost dry.

 

Two Buckets Are Better Than One
Here’s a hygienic idea: Use one bucket for rinsing and one for the cleaner. By dipping the dirty mop into a separate rinse bucket, you can wring out the water without contaminating the detergent bucket with whatever debris was picked up. When the water in either bucket gets too dirty, replace it, but don’t just dump the old batch down your kitchen sink. Mop water is full of germs and dirt, so dispose of it down the toilet—not in the same vessel you’ll use to rinse off your chicken and vegetables during tonight’s meal prep.

 

Wipe in the Right Direction
As you would if you were painting a floor, begin mopping in one corner of the room and work your way back toward an exit to avoid stepping in the area you just cleaned. Just as important, pay attention to the pattern in which you push your mop, For hardwood floors, swipe in the direction of the wood grain; for floors with a more textured surface, wipe in small figure eights. If you come across some stubborn spots that just won’t get clean, go back over them with some cleaner and a cloth after you’ve completed a full pass on the floor.

 

Air It Out
To ensure a germ-free mop the next time you clean, after its hard day’s work, soak your mop head in a mixture of bleach and water to disinfect it. Wait 10 minutes, then rinse and wring out the excess water. Never leave your mop sitting in the bucket to dry, or you’ll risk the formation of bacteria and mold in the leftover moisture. The simple preventive step of squeezing out every last drop should make your cleaning routine easier and cleaner the next time you pull out the mop.


Genius! Speed-Sweep with a Remote Control Car

Chores can be a real drag. But what if we lived in a world where housework was fun and we raced home to get it done? Well, the future is now—and this surprisingly simple DIY will clean your floors while you sit back and watch from the couch!

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Remote Control Mop - DIY with a Car and a Swiffer

Photo: evilmadscientist.com

Who says you can’t still be a kid if you’re paying down a mortgage? Whether you’re just starting out on your own, or settled in a two-story house, you can enjoy much of the same stuff you did when you were young—sports games, cool toys, and fistfuls of candy—as long as you can afford it. But part of growing up means accepting at least a few responsibilities, like housework. Keeping everyone’s inner child in mind, Windell Oskay, former physicist and co-founder of the electronics blog Evil Mad Scientist, set out to make everyday cleaning less of a chore. With little more than a remote control car from the toy store and a Swiffer mop head, Oskay designed a fun alternative to the broom: a battery-operated floor sweeper.

He outfitted a scaled-down Lamborghini for the job just by taking the body apart with a screwdriver and attaching a mount for the duster directly to the car frame at the front bumper. If you’re as lucky as Oskay, there may even already be screw holes in the car’s frame for easy attachment.

Remote Control Mop - How to Make It

Photo: evilmadscientist.com

For a stiff plank, Oskay repurposed a circuit board on its way into the garbage, but you can use almost any material as the connecting board—scrap wood, metal, or plastic—as long as it’s sturdy enough to support the mop. Then he aligned it with the existing screw holes and reassembled the car using screws to secure the board to the frame. Adding the final piece—the mop head—was as simple as binding its handle to the board with a few cable or zip ties.

If you’re trying to recreate the magic at home, know that every remote control car will require a slightly different strategy to attach the board. When your car mop starts picking up dust, you’re on the right track. Need to make an adjustment? Drill additional holes for screws, super-glue your heart out, or use workshop scraps to help hold the mop’s handle steady. Don’t be afraid to be flexible, either—remember, we’re not talking about an 11 o’clock curfew here!

FOR MORE: Evil Mad Scientist 

Remote Control Mop - From a Kid's Toy

Photo: evilmadscientist.com


Bob Vila Radio: Use a Hairdryer to Fix Torn Vinyl Flooring

Resilient though it may be, vinyl flooring isn't invincible. Fortunately, you don't always need to replace the installation if it gets damaged. Plenty of homeowners have fixed unsightly, trip-triggering tears with this clever, inexpensive trick.

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If your vinyl flooring (or linoleum) has developed a tear, don’t despair! There’s an easy—and yes, rather unexpected fix—virtually anyone can perform. Here’s how it all works.

How to Repair Torn Vinyl Flooring

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REPAIRING TORN VINYL FLOORING or read the text below:

Plug in a hair dryer and switch it to the medium setting. Using a steady back-and-forth motion, warm the damaged area until the flooring feels pliable. Next, gently stretch both sides of the tear inward to close the gap. After that, apply acrylic cement beneath both sections of the torn flooring. For the best adhesion, apply the cement directly to the wood subfloor, if it’s possible to do so. Once you’ve put down the glue—and before the stretched flooring gets the chance to cool and contract—place a heavy object (e.g., a cinder block) over the repair.

When you remove the weight, a thin gap may still appear in the material. If so, head to the local drug store and purchase some nail polish in a color that closely matches the flooring. You may need to brush on several layers of polish, but in the end, you’re likely to be the only one who knows about or notices the patch.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!


So, You Want to… Level a Concrete Floor

You don't have to live with an irregular or uneven concrete floor. In fact, if you're planning to install new flooring over the slab, then you shouldn't. To get the smooth, level surface you need, a leveling compound may be just the ticket—and we've got the basics for you right here.

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Leveling a Concrete Floor

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There’s no disagreement here: Concrete ranks among the most durable, longest-lasting of all building materials. That said, particularly in spaces where moisture accumulates—the basement, for example, or the laundry room—it’s not uncommon for depressions to form in even the most expertly poured concrete. There are at least a couple of reasons to repair these dips early and often. First of all, doing so works to prevent such surface imperfections from becoming deeper, structural problems. Second, if you’re planning to install flooring over the slab, the concrete needs to be level if it’s going to function properly as a subfloor. Because leveling a floor is a common homeowner undertaking, industry leaders provide a number of products designed to make the process as easy as possible for do-it-yourselfers.

If you’re tackling a concrete leveling job in the future, start getting to know Concrete Leveler. A user-friendly, self-leveling compound from CTS Cement | Rapid Set, the Concrete Leveler spreads across uneven slabs, filling in low spots as it goes along and creating a new, level surface in the process. Once it begins to set, the product cures with remarkable speed and strength. In fact, assuming ideal conditions, you can expect to be walking upon—or installing a new floor over—your now freshly flat concrete surface within a matter of hours. Suitable for outdoor as well as indoor use, Concrete Leveler dramatically simplifies what could otherwise be a tricky, demanding job, making it an easy weekend project even for those with no special skills or prior experience. Keep reading to discover just how easy it can be!

PLANNING
Rather than jump right into the process, start by assessing the condition of the concrete surface. Your goal is to determine not only the scope of the project, but also how much Concrete Leveler you’re going to need. A key question: Are you ultimately going to install flooring over the slab, and if so, what type? Carpeting, click-and-lock vinyl planks, and engineered wood flooring tend to be forgiving of minor variations in subfloor grade. But for a successful installation of solid wood or tile flooring (particularly larger-size tiles), the slab needs to be more or less perfectly level. Here, the difference between the lowest and highest point on the floor can be no greater than a quarter inch. So, if you intend to leave the concrete exposed, or if you’ve opted for one of the forgiving floor materials, the best solution is to address just the specific problem areas with a patching compound like Cement All. Meanwhile, if you would like to prepare the slab to make way for a flooring material that requires a uniformly level base, then be sure to equip yourself with enough Concrete Leveler to cover the full square footage. At half-inch thickness, a 50-pound bag of Concrete Leveler will sufficiently cover 12 to 15 square feet. For a quarter-inch-thick application, the same size bag would cover between 24 and 30 square feet.

PREP WORK
Having taken everything out of the room—including the baseboard moldings—clean the concrete surface as thoroughly as possible. Along the way, remove dirt and loose debris, including but not limited to flaking paint, peeling adhesive, and chipped concrete. Pay special attention to stains resulting from grease and oil spills, as their residue could compromise the bond between the existing concrete and the added leveling layer. For best results, lightly shotblast the surface to facilitate proper adhesion. CTS Cement | Rapid Set recommends shotblasting to a specific degree—Concrete Surface Preparation 3, as defined by the International Concrete Repair Institute. Note that local home centers typically rent out shotblasting equipment for reasonable half-day rates. Afterward, pin the locations of any control joints in the slab. Later, after applying the leveling layer, re-cut those control joints so as to protect the concrete from cracking due to shrinkage and temperature changes.

Leveling a Concrete Floor - Rapid Set Primer

Photo: ctscement.com

Next, with a piece of chalk, mark any obvious depressions in the surface. After that, follow up with a carpenter’s level and, working section by section, let the tool reveal any low points your naked eye may have missed. Be on the lookout for mounds as well as dips. After all, leveling out a slab with especially pronounced mounds would force you to employ an excessive quantity of leveling compound. For that reason, think about using a concrete grinder to grind down the most extreme ridges. Like shotblasting equipment, a concrete grinder can likely be rented at your local home center.

PRIMER APPLICATION
After you’ve planned your approach and prepped the surface, move on to coating the concrete with an application of Concrete Leveler Primer. Specially formulated by CTS | Rapid Set to work in tandem with the Concrete Leveler, the priming agent performs one critically important function: It seals the surface of the existing concrete, preventing water loss and making it so that neither pinholes nor bubbles end up jeopardizing the leveling layer. The primer also enhances the adhesion capabilities of the leveling compound, helping it grip and hold on to the existing concrete.

Apply Concrete Leveler Primer with a soft-bristle push broom, being careful to spread the liquid evenly across the surface without creating puddles. As you go along, make sure the primer reaches and gets down into the so-called pores of the concrete. Depending on the condition of the surface, one quart of primer can cover anywhere between 50 and 100 square feet. The gallon-size container would be the appropriate choice for larger areas up to 400 square feet. Upon application, allow the primer to dry for at least three hours, but no longer than a full day.

Leveling a Concrete Floor - Rapid Set

Photo: ctscement.com

CONCRETE LEVELING
When the primer has dried, it’s time to apply the Concrete Leveler. To do so, of course, you must first prepare the compound. In a bucket or mixing bin, combine the contents of one 50-pound bag of Leveler with four and a half or five quarts of water. Mix the two with a drill-mounted paddle-type mixer. For convenience, assuming a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, Concrete Leveler boasts a 15-minute “flow life” and remains workable for virtually twice as long.

Using a long-handled squeegee, push and pull the Concrete Leveler compound across the concrete surface, getting all the way into the corners and along the edges. Though the process can be helped along with a squeegee, broom, or trowel, you can expect gravity to do most of the work in bringing the liquid to a level. Soon, a smooth wear surface will have formed. Within four hours, the material will have set up enough to be walked upon. And within 24 hours, it can accept rubber wheel traffic.

If you are planning to install a new floor over the now-level surface, you can do so in remarkably short order. For hard-surface flooring materials, such as tile, you can begin installation within four to six hours. For carpeting and other resilient, moisture-sensitive flooring materials, wait 16 hours before starting work. Alternatively, finish the floor with another CTS | Rapid Set offering—NewCrete Concrete Resurfacer—which provides a beautiful concrete floor surface that will last for years.

CTS | Rapid Set products are available at The Home Depot.

Photo: ctscement.com

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


Bob Vila Radio: Is Softwood Flooring Right for Your Remodel?

Everyone knows that hardwood flooring comes with a hefty price tag attached. If you're on a budget, don't forget to consider lower-cost softwoods; in some rooms, species like pine or spruce make perfectly suitable substitutes for their denser cousins.

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Think wood flooring has to strain your remodeling budget? Think again! Though hardwood flooring typically costs a pretty penny, softwood flooring—such as pine, cedar, or spruce—can be had for a lot less.

Softwood Flooring

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SOFTWOOD FLOORING or read the text below:

There’s a tradeoff, of course. The main drawback of softwood floors is that they are, well, soft. That means they’re more susceptible to scratches from foot traffic and dents from stuff you drop. However, much of that sort of damage can be minimized with a few layers of polyurethane. And besides, a lot of folks like for a floor to show signs of wear, feeling that it adds a dose of rustic charm to the home.

One other plus of opting for softwood floors: They’re generally more environmentally friendly than hardwoods. That’s because softwood trees tend to grow more quickly and thus can be sustainably farmed.

If that sounds appealing—and you don’t think you’ll mind a bit of natural “antiquing” over the years—then softwood flooring may be a good choice.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.


How To: Remove Tile

Get rid of the dreary, dated tile that stands between you and the ideal space you envision. Here's how to tackle the tough job ahead.

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How to Remove Tile

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Though it’s not easy, removing tile is an early and necessary step in some of the most common, albeit ambitious, home remodeling projects. If you’re lucky, the tile was originally installed over a subfloor that can simply be removed, taking the tile along with it. Otherwise, you need to remove the tile in the painstaking, brute-force way. No special skills are needed, and you probably have all the right tools. The hard part is keeping at it until the job’s done. Follow these steps to do it right.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Hammer
- Chisel
- Floor scraper
- Broom
- Protective gear (glasses, gloves, dust mask)
- Wheelbarrow
- Heavy-duty vacuum cleaner

STEP 1 
Make no mistake: This is going to be messy. So before you begin to remove tile, go the extra mile to prevent dust and debris from blanketing the rest of your house. If your HVAC system involves air-circulating ductwork, turn it off for the time being and, if possible, close the vents in the work area. Open any windows in the tiled space and most important, seal off the doorways with plastic sheeting; that way, dust and debris will not escape. Of course, in such a situation, it’s only prudent to wear a dust mask. And because demolishing tile entails shrapnel-like slivers and shards, it’s also a good idea to wear gloves and protective eyewear.

How to Remove Tile - Hammer and Chisel

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
To get started, examine the area for a missing or broken tile, and begin the removal at this weak spot. If all tiles are intact, begin along a grout line. Set your chisel into the spot you’ve targeted and strike it, firmly and decisively, with your hammer. What happened? If the tile broke apart in large pieces, that suggests the tile was set with mastic—a malleable adhesive that’s going to make your life a little easier. If you put hammer to chisel and nothing much happened, that probably means the tile was set with mortar. Translation: You’ve got your work cut out for you!

STEP 3
With mastic-set tile, the job now becomes a matter of scraping horizontally, using as much force as you can muster, with the goal of separating the tile from the underlying surface. If you get stuck, go ahead and chisel again. Work from one end of the room to the other, scraping and gradually peeling up succeeding courses of tile. With mastic, the removed tiles actually ought to remain unbroken, which means you may able to salvage at least some of them, if desired. Pile the tiles into your wheelbarrow, then cart the load outside (in multiple trips, perhaps, depending on the size of the installation). Finish things off by using a brawny shop vac to clean up the residual dust and tile fragments.

STEP 4
With mortar-set tile, expect less scraping and more chiseling—a lot more chiseling! In fact, in order to generate enough force to break each individual tile, you may need to hammer the chisel onto it repeatedly. It’s laborious, and it’s even messier than the process described in Step 3. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that almost anyone can do it. The sole qualification for success is sheer determination.

To keep your spirits up as you progress, remember this: You’re saving money that you can now put toward new tile, or new fixtures, or a celebratory drink (or two) at the local pub when it’s all over.


Bob Vila Radio: Keeping Concrete Floors Clean

It's official: Concrete flooring has moved out of the garage and into the home. Though it's undoubtedly a durable material, cleaning its finish requires finesse. Here's what to know.

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Concrete floors are no longer found only in garages and basements. With elegant finishes now available—like stenciling, staining, and texturing—they’re also showing up in kitchens, bathrooms, and even living rooms.

How to Clean Concrete Floors

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CLEANING YOUR CONCRETE FLOORS or read the text below:

Even though concrete itself is durable, its finish may not be so tough. So when you set out to clean a concrete floor, you need to take care. For routine upkeep, a soft dust mop or vacuum is usually fine. To get at more stubborn messes, try using a sponge saturated with water and dish detergent.

When you’ve cleared the mess, rinse with plain water and dry the floor immediately to avoid any discoloration. Cotton cloths are best for drying, as synthetics might scratch the finish.

If you need to pre-treat a particularly tough stain, use a pet stain-and-odor remover; these products contain organic compounds that will dissolve the stain without harming the finish). Before applying your chosen solution, remember to test it first in an inconspicuous spot.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.


The Pros and Cons of Softwood Flooring

If you're in the market for a wood floor in a low-traffic room, don't ignore the rustic charm and extremely low cost of softwoods like pine.

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Softwood Flooring - Kitchen Installation

Photo: kaplanthompson.com

Trees are classified as either hardwood or softwood according to the structure of their seeds. And while almost all hardwoods are, in fact, hard, softwoods are not really soft; they’re simply more susceptible to dents and dings. Impervious to such incidental damage, durable hardwoods have become virtually synonymous with wood flooring. And it’s undeniable that for high-traffic rooms, particularly in homes with children or pets, hardwood makes the superior floor choice. But due to their low cost and rustic look, there are certain situations in which softwoods—pine, spruce, and fir, for example—might be used effectively as flooring.

Take Your Pick
While the many varieties of hardwoods spoil homeowners with choice, softwoods encompass a category unto themselves. Pine is probably the softwood most frequently used in flooring, but it’s not the only one. Fir, cypress, cedar, spruce, and hemlock are other commonly available softwoods, and you will find additional options that are unique to your geographical region. Best of all, no matter which softwood you choose, it’s bound to cost less than any hardwood. For example, you can typically get pine for half the cost of oak, perhaps the most ubiquitous hardwood flooring material. And many cases, pine costs even less than vinyl flooring!

Besides affordability, another reason to like softwoods is that they’re more environmentally friendly than slower-growing hardwoods. Because many types of softwood grow quite quickly, they lend themselves to sustainable farming and harvesting. Like bamboo, softwoods can be considered a renewable resource.

Softwood Flooring - Hallway Installation

Photo: frankshirleyarchitects.com

The Cons
There are degrees of resiliency among softwoods, but it can be generally stated that in comparison with hardwoods, softwoods are more vulnerable to dents, dings, and scratches. In a kitchen where canned goods might fall from a countertop, or in a living room where the floor might be subject to a guest’s high heels, softwoods would inevitably—and sooner rather than later—begin to show wear.

That said, the durability of a floor depends not only the species of wood from which it’s made, but also on its finish. If you stain a softwood floor and then seal it properly with a few applications of polyurethane, chances are it’s going to stand up fairly well. In a room with only a modest amount of activity—a finished attic, for example—softwood flooring could be expected to last for many years.

Some folks don’t even see dents and dings as imperfections, but rather as valuable contributions to the character of a floor. Such homeowners might even purposely distress or antique a new floor, wanting it to look older than it really is. Those whose style preferences run to the rough and rugged may very well find pine more desirable than a highly resilient hardwood like hickory.

Know Your Knots
If you walk into the flooring section of your local home center, you might not actually find any softwood floors for sale. Except for certain types of pine, softwoods are rarely marketed as flooring products.

For the best deals, inquire at a nearby sawmill or lumberyard. Know that for any softwood species, there are different grades of quality. Grades 1 and 2 are most suitable for flooring, though you can save even more money by choosing a lower-grade wood, if you can live with, and love, the knottier material. If you want to conceal the nails that secure the floor, purchase boards with tongue-and-groove edges.

Finishing
Whereas hardwood floors often come prefinished, softwood hardly ever does. That can be a good thing, though, since it affords you the opportunity to finish the wood exactly as you’d like.

There are lots of options when it comes to finishing, including stains, varnish, and tung oil. Or, if you like the natural look, you can always leave the wood unfinished—after all, that’s how people did it for hundreds of years. To avoid problems with moisture, however, it’s recommended that you apply multiple coats of polyurethane, lightly sanding between each coat. After all, even though you’re paying considerably less for a softwood floor, you’re not going to save any money if you need to replace it right away!


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.

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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.

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How to Remove Vinyl Flooring

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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.