Flooring & Stairs - Bob Vila

Category: Flooring & Stairs

All You Need to Know About Terrazzo Floors

Consider this stunning surface to give you place a palatial touch!

Samples of Glass Terrazzo Floors

Photo: flickr.com via John Lambert Pearson

If you’re in the market for durable, low-maintenance flooring in a basement, on a patio, or anywhere else you have a concrete substrate, but you refuse to sacrifice style, take a closer look at terrazzo floors. A base of cement flecked with bits of aggregate, terrazzo is similar in appearance to polished marble or granite while allowing enormous versatility when it comes to incorporating design elements into the surface itself. Though common in schools, government buildings, and hospitals, terrazzo is gaining popularity for residential applications, so read on to learn the pros and cons to decide if it’s right for your home.

Old World Technique Meets Modern-Day Design

Originating in the Mediterranean region several hundred years ago, terrazzo—which means “terrace” in Italian—was made by pressing stone chips into the surface of natural clay and then sealing it with goat’s milk for mosaic-like appeal. Eventually, cement replaced clay, and bits of glass and painted tile found their way into the surface of this ornate flooring.

Modern-day terrazzo includes polymers, resin, and epoxy that improve the texture, reducing cracking and increasing durability. And the goat’s milk? Gone! Today’s terrazzo is solid, dense, and impenetrable, requiring no surface sealant, though polishing and buffing will bring out and maintain its lustrous gleam.


Terrazzo Floors in a Basement or Kitchen

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Phoenix, AZ

Beautiful, Clean, and Tough

Terrazzo floors are nothing short of stunning, as bits of shiny aggregate catch the light and create a shimmering effect. Natural stone chips, such as marble, granite, and quartz, are top choices for a terrazzo finish, but other types of aggregate are also used, including glass pebbles, synthetic chips, and silica bits in an endless array of colors. Experienced installers can create intricate designs, turning ordinary walkways into works of art. Terrazzo is durable and resilient, and its non-porous nature discourages both staining and bacterial absorption, so it’s a top choice for high traffic areas.

Pricey, Slippery, and Hard (Ouch!)

Installing terrazzo floors is strictly a job for the pros, and it’s labor intensive, which means it’s one of the most expensive types of flooring around. A standard floor, with minimal geometric patterns, can run from $10 to $23 per square foot and the cost can go higher if you want intricately inlaid designs. Terrazzo also tends to be slippery when wet—or when dry, if you’re wearing stockings.

Taking a fall on terrazzo floors feels like going down on a concrete sidewalk, so homes with small children or elderly residents might be better off with a different flooring choice.


Terrazzo Floors in the Living Room

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Doylestown, PA

Must-Know Install Info

Custom terrazzo installs over a solid concrete base, making it suitable for slab-on-grade homes, and can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the size of the floor and the intricacy of the design. Here’s what’s involved:

• Existing flooring is removed and the concrete surface is roughed-up to ensure proper adherence of the terrazzo mixture. Cracks are filled, and if the substrate isn’t flat, a leveling compound will be applied.

Design and Color Options for Terrazzo Floors

Photo: flickr.com via Steve Snodgrass

• If you’ve chosen a design, the pattern will be transferred to the substrate using metal strips to separate and outline each section.

• A sandy cement base is applied next, and while it’s still wet, the terrazzo mixture is spread on top and leveled out, one section at a time. Extra bits of aggregate may be sprinkled on top and smoothed into the surface.

• As the mixture begins to harden, a heavy roller is used to compress and flatten the surface.

• Once all sections have been filled and the terrazzo mixture has completely cured (taking a minimum of 48 hours), a large grinder is used to smooth the top. It’s a dusty process involving stone and cement being ground into powder, so the rest of your home should be properly sealed to keep dust from seeping under doorways.

• A pigmented slurry is spread to fill tiny pinholes in the surface and then the excess is wiped away.

• The terrazzo surface is then brought to a gleaming shine with a powered polisher that uses very fine diamond-grit pads to give the floor a glass-smooth finish and bring out the full color and sparkle. When it’s done, you’ll be able to see your own reflection in the floor!

Maintaining Terrazzo’s Dazzle

Once the installation of terrazzo floors is finished, the surfaces are virtually maintenance-free. Following these few good cleaning practices, though, it’ll keep its like-new glossiness for years.

• Use a large dust mop to remove surface dust on a daily basis.

• Wipe up liquid spills promptly.

• Wet mop when necessary to remove tracked-in footprints, household germs, and grime buildup using a floor cleaning solution designed for stone floors.

• If maintaining a mirror finish is important, you can use a powered walk-behind buffer/polisher every few weeks or so, available from DIY stores, and online, starting around $150 and going up from there, depending brand and power. These buffers use spinning pads to polish the terrazzo surface to a high shine. Alternately, you can rent a heavy-duty buffer/polisher from some construction rental stores for around $35 to $55 per day.

• Avoid using solvent-based cleaners or sealers that can dull terrazzo’s polished surface. With care, your terrazzo flooring will last for generations, but over time, tracked-in abrasive sand can dull the surface in high-traffic areas. If it gets to the point where a buffing machine fails to completely restore the shine, you can have the floors refinished. This involves professional re-grinding and polishing at an estimated cost of between $3 to $7 per square foot. Refinished terrazzo floors will shine as brightly as they did when they were brand new!

How To: Dye Carpet

Give your plush a fresh, clean, stain-free reboot with the guidance here. But keep in mind, it will be permanent, so be sure you can commit before you proceed.

How to Dye Carpet

Photo: istockphoto.com

Carpet is a costly investment that should last at least 10 years, but discoloration—thanks to spills, pet mishaps, and lots of sun exposure—can make it look old before its time. Rather than replace that pricey plush, consider this crafty alternative: a dye job. Recoloring your flooring with professional quality carpet dye (not fabric dye) can affordably, effectively cover the sins of the past. And, lucky for handy homeowners everywhere, the color-fast and fade-deterrent DIY supply comes in virtually every color. The market offers some 70 colors, and, with powdered dyes, color depth can be adjusted by mixing with either more or less water. Shop for it at home centers, carpeting stores, or online (try the AmericaColor Dyes & Chemicals shop) and read on for how to dye carpet to achieve dream flooring.

Before you commit, keep in mind that this process cannot convert dark carpeting to a lighter shade, and the color on the package may not be quite the color you get, depending on your original carpet shade and type of any stains. To get an idea of the final result, test on a small, inconspicuous area, such as where a couch or other large piece of furniture will be replaced.

If you really love your carpet’s current color and would only dye it as a last resort to hide stains, consider having it cleaned by a pros with the knowledge and experience to banish years of unsightliness. And if you doubt that your first try at how to dye carpet will produce even results, there’s a professional you can hire to do that, too. However, if you’re feeling up to the DIY challenge and prepared to make a permanent change, dedicate at least half a day for the dying process—once you start spraying, you must finish the job!

– Scissors
– Ceramic plate
– Matches or lighter
– Fire extinguisher
– Claw hammer (optional)
– Pry bar (optional)
– Trim Puller (optional)
– Vacuum
– Steam cleaner for carpets
– Newspapers
– Masking tape
– pH stabilizer for carpets
– Work, latex, or rubber gloves
– 1-gallon bucket
– Carpet dye
– Funnel
– Paint or weed sprayer
– Stiff-bristled plastic or nylon cleaning brush

Determine if your carpet can take dye, because only nylon and wool are dye-friendly. If you don’t remember your carpet’s content, cut a small tuft of fiber and carefully set it alight atop a ceramic plate. (Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case plans go awry.) Ideally, one of two things will happen:

Wool is naturally fire-resistant, so it will burn slowly, smell vaguely like burning hair, and leave ashes.

• Nylon will melt under fire, creating a plastic-like bead as it curls up and solidifies.

If your test proves inconclusive, cut a one-inch square from an inconspicuous corner and take it to a carpet showroom for a professional opinion.

Prepare the room by clearing out every piece of furniture. Then, remove all baseboard molding using a claw hammer and either a prybar or a more specialized Trim Puller. Take care not to damage baseboards if you intend to reuse them (you may even wish to give them a fresh coat of paint). For a truly updated room, install new baseboards when the carpet is dyed.

While you don’t need to remove the baseboards, it’s recommended. Doing so will ensure the dye job extends all the way to the wall (as opposed to leaving the edges along the baseboards a slightly lighter shade of dye). Plus, re-installing baseboards after the job might cover any color bleeding along the bottom of the wall.

How to Dye Carpet

Photo: istockphoto.com

Empty your vacuum or replace the bag, because suction ability can be hindered when the unit is one-third full; then vacuum thoroughly. Follow with one of these deep-cleaning methods depending on your carpet material:

• If you’ve got nylon carpet, clean it with a professional/commercial steam cleaner, rentable for about $30 for 24 hours from home centers, supermarkets, and department stores. (You’ll need a deep cleaning, so skip those “domestic use” models.)

• For wool carpets, which are “washed” rather than steam-cleaned, engage a pro who’ll have the right chemicals and processes for the job. Tip: Tell the cleaners you intend to dye the carpet; they might be able to offer advice and even “stabilize” the carpet for you, allowing you to skip Step 5.

Let the carpet dry thoroughly overnight.

Protect walls from overspray. Use masking tape to attach newspaper all along the walls, and take particular care to tape the bottoms of the papers so that they won’t prevent any portion of the rug from receiving dye.

Correct any alkalinity and pH imbalance issues in your carpet, which might’ve occurred if you’ve steam-cleaned wool in the past or have stains from pet accidents. Since there’s no way to test for such imbalances, it’s best to assume they exist. If you skip this step, you could wind up with uneven results. Purchase a pH stabilizer from the same place you buy the dye, then follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully to prepare and apply it. Be sure to don work gloves and ventilate the room before using.

With the windows still open and your work gloves on, spread additional newspaper out beneath the 1-gallon bucket and mix the dye, following manufacturer’s directions carefully. Many carpet dyes are acidic and require mixing with hot water; if so, pour the dye into water that’s between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit and be ready to spray immediately after mixing. Depending on the manufacturer, 20 ounces of powder dye could cover up to 1,000 square feet of carpet.

Insert the funnel in the sprayer and carefully pour in the mixed dye. Close the sprayer up, shake it a bit and do a test on an area sure to be covered with furniture later. Try spraying from one to two feet away and gauge the coverage. Adjust position until you get the level of coverage you like. Then use the bristle brush to brush the dye in with a light, semi-circular movement. Once you’re happy with the results and know the best distance to spray from, proceed with the remainder of the room.

For the ideal exit route, start spraying in the corner opposite the door. Spray only as much as an arm’s length at a time, because you’ll need to crouch down and rub the dye in with the brush. Once you finish brushing each section, stand back and assess application; if uneven, adjust. Mix more dye as needed throughout the process.

Let dry per manufacturer’s suggested drying time, at least 24 hours. When carpet is dry, replace baseboards and furniture—perhaps rearranging the layout while you’re at it to complete the new look!


DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from BobVila.com
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on BobVila.com. Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.

How To: Mix and Use Homemade Wood Floor Cleaner

Pamper your gorgeous flooring the natural way—for pennies!

Homemade Wood Floor Cleaner

Photo: istockphoto.com

Wood floors add beauty and warmth to any home, but they do demand special care. Though there are plenty of commercial wood floor cleaners on the market, these can be pricey. Plus, if you have pets or kids, you may want to shy away from those with harsh chemicals. So why not mix up and use a homemade wood floor cleaner that will cost far less and skip toxins altogether? Whip some up and use these techniques as part of your regular cleaning routine, and your wood floors will look wonderful for years.

– Warm water
– Pure castile soap
– 16 oz. spray bottle
– Scented essential oil (optional)
– Microfiber mop
– Fringed mop pad
– Vacuum with baseboard attachment
– Towels
– Wet mop pad

Add two to three drops of pure castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) to a large spray bottle and fill it the rest of the way with warm water. A little castile soap goes a long way, so a 16-ounce bottle ensures that you’ll dilute it properly; plus, with a batch this size, you’ll have enough made to clean your floors several times. If you’d like your homemade wood floor cleaner to impart a fresh scent on the space, add three to five drops of such essential oil as orange, peppermint, lavender, or lemongrass. Then close the bottle and shake vigorously to mix the solution.

Homemade Wood Floor Cleaner

Photo: istockphoto.com

Before breaking out the homemade wood floor cleaner, remove surface dirt. Attach a fringed pad to a microfiber mop. The fringe will trap large debris and push it ahead of the mop, keeping particles from getting under the pad where they could scratch the floor, while microfiber pad traps dust. Run the mop around the baseboards of the room without lifting it up. Lifting the mop up could allow larger particles to get trapped underneath the pad—again, potentially scratching the wood. Then, go back and forth across the room, without lifting the mop, slightly overlapping each stroke.

Using the hose and baseboard attachment, vacuum the perimeter of the room to remove any dirt that remains trapped around the baseboards.

Carefully move any furniture necessary so that you can access the entire wood floor. For large pieces, like sofas, fold up some old towels and place them underneath the legs so you can slide them without scratching the floor.

Swap the fringed pad for a cleaning pad designated for wet use onto the mop and shake the cleaning mixture well. Starting at a corner of the room and moving towards the exit (so you don’t walk over areas you’ve already cleaned), lightly mist a small area of the floor with cleaning solution. Then, working in the direction of the wood grain, mop the area until dry. It crucial that no moisture remains on the floor—a wet wood floor left wet can easily cup, warp, and split. Continue working in small sections until the entire floor is done.

Don’t stop there! The formula for this homemade wood floor cleaner is also great for cleaning a host of other household surfaces. It isn’t strong enough to disinfect but will certainly spiff up countertops, enamel appliances, and tile surfaces on a daily basis.


Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

All of the Essential Cleaning Advice from BobVila.com
There’s no way around it: Keeping the house clean demands your time, your energy, and even some of your money. Fortunately, this arsenal of cleaning tips can help you finish the housekeeping more quickly—and with fewer commercially sold products.

All You Need to Know About Painting Tile Floors

Want the luxurious look of decorative tile at a fraction of the cost? We’re spilling the secret on an under-the-radar DIY tile treatment, and teaching you how to recreate it in your home from start to finish.

All You Need to Know About Painting Tile Floors

Photo: istockphoto.com

Decorative tile floors can add an element of elegance to a hum-drum living space, but often for a pretty penny. In order to avoid the hassle of ripping out existing floor and the high cost of commercial patterned tiles, some crafty homeowners choose to achieve a similar look by painting tile floors. This savvy DIY solution can create a variety of different finishes, from a matte monochrome to playful pattern. Are you ready to transform your existing tile floor on a dime? Put on your painter’s hat, roll up your sleeves, and get the scoop on all you need to know about painting tile floors.


Although paint can be applied to ceramic tile in any room of the house, it doesn’t hold up equally well under all conditions. Prolonged exposure to moisture, for example, will cause paint to peel away from the tile over time. For long-lasting results, only paint tiles in the drier areas of your house, such as the laundry room, mudroom, or kitchen. If you do opt to paint tile floors in high-moisture spaces, such as the bathroom, opt for a section of the floor far from the mildew-prone splash zone of the shower or bathtub and/or choose a paint labeled as specially made for bathrooms.


The key to achieving a pristine paint finish is starting with a canvas of smooth, undamaged tile. Sand and vacuum the tile you want to paint, then get rid of dirt, grime, and mold by scrubbing the tile and grout lines with a homemade solution of equal parts bleach and warm water. Alternatively, you could clean the tile with a commercial cleaner that removes mold. Then, donning protective gear and maintaining proper ventilation in the room, repair any visible chips or cracks in the tile with caulk or a two-part epoxy.

Once the floor is prepped, protect nearby baseboards from paint splatter by applying painter’s tape where the baseboards meet the tile floor. If you don’t want to paint the grout lines, cover them with acrylic masking tape.

All You Need to Know About Painting Tile Floors

Photo: istockphoto.com


When painting a tile floor, the following three types of paint work best:

Chalk paint can be applied without primer to lend a shabby-chic solid color to the tile, and it can also serve as a base coat for a patterned finish. If using chalk paint as a base coat, choose a shade that will visually contrast with the color of the pattern you intend to overlay.

• Latex paint works for both solid and patterned tile floors; select a semi- or high-gloss latex paint for solid tiles and a high-gloss latex paint for patterned tiles.

• Oil-based paint holds up better than latex paint since it’s less prone to chipping and damage. However, oil-based paint takes longer to dry, and it’s becoming increasingly harder to find because of environmental concerns. If using oil-based paint, choose a high-gloss or semi-gloss option.

Keep in mind that latex and oil-based paints adhere best to primed tile, so apply an epoxy or urethane bonding primer by brush or roller before painting tile with these options.


If you’re planning to paint an entire floor, use a brush or roller to apply paint over the exposed tile and grout in a continuous motion. But if you’re painting alternating or random tiles instead of the entire floor, start by cutting in with a brush along the edge of one tile with an angled brush. Then, either brush or roll paint over the rest of the tile in unidirectional strokes, repeating this painting process for every tile you intend to paint. Mix a little paint thinner with the paint if you have trouble spreading it.

If you want a solid-colored tile design, then you are completely finished painting. Give the paint at least two or three days to dry. Then seal the tile with two or three coats of a clear, water-based urethane sealer—not an oil-based sealer, which can yellow your colors—allowing the first coat to dry completely before applying the next. Remove any masking tape and spruce up the grout lines by painting over them with grout paint, if needed.

But wait! If you plan on painting tile floors with a pattern, don’t seal the tile just yet. Simply let the tile dry for two or three days before moving on, and seal after the pattern has dried.


Painting Tile Floors with a Stencil

Photo: royaldesignstudio.com via Erica Brown


The easiest way to apply a pattern to painted tile is with a stencil. Whether you opt for a quilt-like pattern similar to what’s in the Remington Avenue powder room, a sharper geometric pattern like the one found in the Brown Acres kitchen, or something altogether more whimsically Moroccan, be sure to start by buying or DIYing a stencil that fits the dimensions of your existing tile. The outer tips of the graphic inside the stencil should reach the outer edges of the tile.

Secure the stencil to the floor with painter’s tape, making sure not to cover any parts of the graphic with tape. Then, using a roller with a foam roller cover, apply latex or chalk paint directly over the stencil. Rolling over one section of the stencil at a time instead of painting across the entire stencil can help avoid the roller marks that often plague home painters. Move the stencil to another tile and repeat this process across the entire floor, taking care not to mar any freshly painted tiles with the stencil.

If you run into partial tiles at the edge of the floor, you can paint over partial sections of the stencil. Use an artist’s paintbrush to make any necessary touch-ups to the pattern, and allow the paint to dry completely before finishing it with a clear water-based sealant.


All You Need to Know About Painting Tile

Photo: istockphoto.com


A high-quality sealant can protect your painted tile floor from grime, moisture, and mold, as well as scuff marks and scratches from foot traffic. Even so, regularly sweeping, vacuuming, and damp-mopping debris from the floor will help retain the sheen of your painted tile floor and keep the pattern (if applied) looking sharp and distinct. You can also provide your tile floor with an extra barrier of protection from everyday wear-and-tear by setting mats in high-traffic areas and floor pads directly below furnishings on the tile.

When you need to thoroughly clean painted tile, use neutral pH solvents and lightly rub them into the floor with a non-abrasive chamois mop. Steer clear of steel wool, scouring pads, or chemical cleaners, which can all discolor or erode the paint. Don’t let cleaners or plain water settle for too long on painted tile, as the excess moisture can make the paint more prone to peeling. A paste of baking soda and warm water makes for a gentle homemade cleaner that not only works wonders on grime-ridden tile, but can also render your grout lines pearly-white again. After using this homemade cleaner, wipe the clean tile dry with a lint-free cloth.

By mastering these tile maintenance dos and don’ts, you can maintain the unforgettable finish of your painted tile floor for many years.


All of the Expert Painting Advice from BobVila.com
Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.

How To: Fix a Squeaky Floor

Any handy homeowner can silence all squeaks and creaks that occur beneath the subfloor using one of these three easy techniques.

Fixing a Squeaky Floor

Photo: istockphoto.com

No matter how quietly you traipse through your home late at night, a squeaky floor will always trip you up and announce your presence. The creaky spots develop over time as the wooden subfloor dries out and shrinks or buckles, ultimately lifting away from supports. Then, even a slow or cautious step causes enough movement in this new gap between subfloor and joist—either the subfloor sinks, its boards rub one another at the seams, or the wood rubs against a nail—to create the irritating noise.

Fortunately, these squeaks don’t have to keep you up late at night. Just head to the basement or crawlspace beneath the squeaky floor, flashlight in hand, and send a friend upstairs to take slow, deliberate steps across the entire floor until you can shine a light on source of the squeak. (You’re looking for the area of subfloor that moves when you hear the sound, often around a joist or at subfloor seams.) Then, proceed with one of the three solutions here to fix nearly any size of gap.


Fixing a Squeaky Floor with Construction Adhesive

Photo: istockphoto.com

FOR NARROW GAPS: Fill With Construction Adhesion

Even a slight gap between the subfloor and joists—as narrow as ¼-inch or less—can be enough to cause a big annoyance. Fortunately, these easily be sealed with construction adhesive. Likewise, this flexible filler can effectively close up gaps longer than 2 feet and/or vary in depth.

– Flashlight
– Pencil or marker
– Painter’s tape (optional)
– Respirator with organic vapor cartridge
– Construction adhesive
– Caulk and adhesive gun

Have someone walk over the troublesome patches above while you’re monitoring the floorboards from below. Once you hear the creak, look for a gap in that approximate area and mark the spot in pencil, marker, or a tear of painter’s tape.

Pull on a respirator mask and, if possible, open basement windows to air out the space while you work. While construction adhesive is highly useful, it can also very noxious when inhaled in closed quarters. Then, load a cartridge of construction adhesive into a caulk and adhesive gun to begin your subfloor repair.

Rather than run the adhesive along the edge of the joists in a bead, concentrate on forcing it deep into the gap. To do so, position the spout of the adhesive tube against the gap, and slowly press the trigger on the caulk gun to push adhesive from the cartridge into the crack. You want to move just slow enough that the tube fills the gap completely and begins to bulge out along the joists. When this bead begins to form, continue moving along the gap to fill the next section, until you have covered the length of the creak zone.

Repeat this adhesive-forcing method on both sides of the joists to ensure the gap is completely filled. While you’re at it, inspect nearby joists, too, just to ensure the whole area has been reinforced.

Again, do not walk across the floor above the adhesive for at least one day. The construction adhesive takes 24 hours to fully cure and harden; after that, you should have solid footing.


Fixing a Squeaky Floor with Shims

Photo: istockphoto.com

FOR HALF-INCH GAPS: Slide in Shims

When the gaps are less than ½-inch deep and roughly a foot or so long, fitting shims—thin wedges of wood available at various lengths in your local hardware store—between the joists and the floorboards could stop the movement and squash a squeak.

– Flashlight
– Pencil or marker
– Painter’s tape (optional)
– Ruler
– Table saw
– Wood shims
– Wood glue

After you locate the creak with the help of your friend upstairs, mark its location with your marker, pencil, or a bit of painter’s tape so as not to lose sight of it while you grab your shims.

Spread wood glue along one flat side of the shim, and slide it into position glue-side up. Take care not to force it, or else you could inadvertently widen the gap and worsen the problem. If it’s not quite snug, you may need more than one shim to push in.

Let the shims dry beneath those floor board undisturbed for 24 hours. Have your upstairs partner station a chair, plant, basket, or other temporary roadblock exactly over the boards that squeaked to redirect folks in your home around the repaired spot. In a day, the source of the squeak should be fixed.


Fixing a Squeaky Floor with a 2x4 Brace

Photo: istockphoto.com

FOR LARGE GAPS: Brace Joists with a 2×4

While the most involved of the three methods here, bracing an existing joist with a 2×4 is the most effective solution for subfloor that squeaks due to poor support—be it damaged joists, long gaps wider than ¼-inch between the joists and subfloor, or areas where the edge of the subfloor doesn’t sit squarely on the joist below.

– Flashlight
– Measuring tape
– Table saw
– 2×4 lumber
– Pencil or marker
– Respirator mask with organic vapor cartridge
– Construction adhesive
– Electric drill with a 3/16” bit and screwdriver head for 2-½-inch wood screws
– 2-½-inch wood screws

As your friend upstairs walks the path on the squeaky floor that makes noise, measure the length of the subfloor in need of extra support. Then, cut your 2×4 to be at least 2 feet longer than the area that creaks.

Mark one of the 2×4’s narrow edges with a pencil or marker with the word “subfloor” to indicate which side will face up and be glued to the subfloor above.

Now, look to your framework and identify which side of the joist shows a larger separation from the subfloor it supports. Here, you’ll fit and fasten the 2×4 in the corner where they should meet. The top edge will press against the subfloor above while one of the 4-inch sides butts up along the joist; write “joist” on the 4-inch side that will meet it.

On the opposite 4-inch side of the 2×4, make a mark every 12 inches, each about 1-½ inches down from the top. Pre-drill holes using a 3/16” bit at each of mark, angling the drill up toward the designated top of the board (where it will meet with the subfloor).

Now, open any windows to prepare for the noxious solvents of the construction adhesive you’ll put to task, and don a respirator mask. Apply two substantial zig-zagging beads of adhesive to the 2×4: one along the 4-inch joist side and another along the 2-inch subfloor side.

Position the 2×4 into the corner where the subfloor and joist should meet, allowing 1 foot of lumber to hang past either end of the gap responsible for your squeaky floor. Make sure it’s as flush with the subfloor as it can get.

Swap in the electric drill‘s screwdriver bit. Then, insert a 2-½-inch wood screw in the first pre-drilled hole at an angle. As you start to drill the screw into the 2×4, you should see adhesive oozing out of the joints between the joists, subfloor, and 2×4. Repeat until you’ve filled all pre-drilled holes.

Allow the adhesive on your reinforced joists 24 hours to fully dry, after which your floor should be squeak-free for years to come.

How To: Get Mold Out of Carpet

Take the right approach to getting rid of this unhealthy, unsightly organism—for good.

How to Get Mold Out Of Carpet With Dehumidifier

Photo: istockphoto.com

Untreated dampness on carpet—whether caused by a persistent leak, overzealously watered plants, or a not-quite-housetrained puppy—can create mold growth in a matter of days. And mold, which can appear as green, gray, or white patches on carpet and add a strong musty odor to a room, can lead to chronic allergies, asthma, even bronchitis. While you may be able to mitigate smaller spots of mold yourself, sections greater than 5 feet in width require treatment by professionals, because it’s likely the mold has invaded the underlay or flooring, which is much harder to remove. In cases both small and large, it’s critical to act fast; mold is a living, growing organism, and spores spread rapidly. Keep in mind that you must determine how to get mold out of carpet as well as address its root cause—groundwater seepage or other external factors must be resolved at the same time.

There are various means for how to get mold out of carpet, some more effective than others. Natural anti-fungal remedies, such as vinegar and tea tree oil, are known to “inhibit,” not kill, mold. Bleach can banish mold, but it can also discolor carpet. So an anti-fungal spray designed to kill mold, available in retail stores and home centers, maybe be your best bet.

– Facemask
– Rubber gloves
– Eye protection
– Stiff bristle brush
– Dustpan
– Trash bag
– Anti-fungal spray that is safe for carpets
– Disposable rags
– Dehumidifier

Step 1
Ventilate the space by opening windows or, if possible to remove the rug, take it outside to treat it. While not all molds are a health hazard, it’s best to proceed cautiously by donning a facemask, eye protection, and rubber gloves before you get to work.

Step 2
If you cannot remove or lift the carpet, proceed by treating the visible surface mold. If its is possible to lift the carpet, do so until you reach the the area with mold and examine the backing. Backing with substantial mold growth of more than a few feet in width should not be merely cleaned—you’ll need to replace the carpet. If that’s a price you’re not prepared to pay, you can opt to cut off the mold-covered area with a 12-inch border past the damage and insert new carpet, instead of replacing the entire room. Be sure to remove and replace the portion of underlay or carpet pad as well to thwart mold’s return.

How to Get Mold Out of Carpet with a Stiff Brush

Photo: istockphoto.com

Step 3
Scrub the surface of the carpet with a dry, stiff bristle brush to remove the visible mold spores. Brush these into a dustpan and discard it in a trash bag. (Vacuuming is not recommended, as spores on your vacuum can be spread to other areas in your home.) If you can brush-scrub the back of the rug as well, do so.

Step 4
Thoroughly saturate the moldy area, and at least 6 inches around it, with anti-fungal spray that specifies it’s safe for carpets (it should also boast a “mold barrier” or mold-prevention). If able to lift or remove the carpet, spray both the front and the back. Also spray the area of the floor the moldy portion was in contact with. Let the anti-fungal spray sit for an hour.

Step 5
Blot the anti-fungal spray with a dry, clean, disposable rag to soak up excess. Do not rinse the area with water or any other treatment. The anti-fungal agent will continue to work until it has fully dried. Resist using a fan to accelerate drying; that can blow mold spores elsewhere and create new problems. Instead, close your windows, turn the heat up in the room, and use a dehumidifier to let the carpet dry naturally for at least 24 hours. Don’t walk on the area or allow pets to interfere with it while it’s drying as the mold is still “alive” and can potentially be spread.

Step 6
Clean the bristle brush and dustpan of any mold spores by scrubbing with hot soapy water, then spraying with anti-fungal treatment and allowing to dry completely. Dispose of the rag and the rubber gloves.

Step 7
Once the carpet has dried thoroughly, re-apply the anti-fungal treatment as in Step 4, then follow with Steps 5 and 6, using a clean, fresh, disposable rag to blot. Discard the rag after blotting.

Allow the dehumidifiers to run for a few more days to remove mold spores from the air too.

After the carpeting has dried fully, you should be mold-free. Don’t take this for granted, though. Continue checking the spot every day or so for a few weeks to ensure that mold growth hasn’t returned. It can be a slow recurrence, especially if you were unable to remove or lift the carpet, so give it a month before you completely rest easy.

Mold Prevention Tips

• Don’t set potted plants directly onto carpet, not even with a water tray underneath. Use only glazed pots, not terracotta, on carpeting and use a moisture barrier, such as a rubber tray or mat.

• Never pile firewood onto carpet; always have a moisture barrier between the wood and carpet.

• If your pet has relieved itself in an area more than once, speak to your local pet store about deterrent sprays that can make the spot less appealing for Fido or Chairman Meow.

• With humid areas or a humid home, invest in quality dehumidifiers to keep moisture at a constant minimum. This will protect hardwood flooring and artwork as well as carpeting.

How To: Clean Bamboo Flooring

Keep beautiful bamboo looking its best for years to come with the right cleaning method.

How to Clean Bamboo Flooring

Photo: istockphoto.com

Thanks to a harvest time of as little as five years, bamboo is an environmentally sustainable, increasingly popular flooring choice. Its durability varies, depending on species and manufacturing processes: Natural solid bamboo is one tough customer, considered to be twice as hard as red oak, while carbonized or engineered bamboo can be as much as 30 percent weaker than natural, and more susceptible to wear and tear. Whichever type you choose, your floors will look great far longer if you learn how to clean bamboo flooring properly and care for it consistently. So protect your investment with these tips and techniques.

– Soft-fiber or bristle broom
– Dustpan
– Soft cloth mop
– Wood cleaner (recommended by manufacturer)
– Bucket
– Soft, clean rags

How to Clean Bamboo Flooring in the Bedroom

Photo: istockphoto.com

General Cleaning

Have a soft-bristle or fine-fiber broom accessible to keep bamboo in like-new condition. Without regular sweeping, ideally once a day, gritty dirt and dust can scratch the floor’s surface.

Mop weekly, using a hardwood-rated cleaner or wood soap to maintain shine and protect the surface—never ammonia-, vinegar-, or other acidic-based cleaning agents, which can discolor bamboo floors or harm the finish, making them more susceptible to other damage. If dilution with water is required, do not over-dilute. Thoroughly wring your mop to ensure that it’s just slightly damp and avoid any pooling liquids on the floor. Excessive moisture from either  extra watery cleanser or sopping wet mop may get trapped in cracks between planks, where it can cause expansion, cupping, or buckling.

Finally, do not apply wax or any finishes that are not recommended by your floor manufacturer.

Spills, Stains, and Scuffs

Stave off damage from ordinary accidents by sopping up any spills immediately with a soft, dry cloth, then clean bamboo flooring with a fresh rag, lightly dampened with water, and dry if any water remains. If you’ve laid bamboo in a kitchen or bathroom, it’s highly recommended to place a rug around the sink and counters, where spills are likeliest to occur. Just be sure it’s a breathable material, without a latex or rubber backing, which can discolor or damage bamboo.

Should you not be able to save the bamboo from stains, removal must be approached on a case-by-case basis, depending on the source of the stain, the variety of bamboo, and whether the stain has affected the finish or has sunk into the wood. Using the wrong removal agent could worsen the problem; fortunately, many bamboo floors can be refinished, so a stain can be properly treated at that stage.

Some water stains or discolorations can be successfully treated with a dollop of real mayonnaise. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then wipe off and polishing with a soft, clean rag. If the oil-rich mayo doesn’t do the trick, it shouldn’t make matters worse; however, various other “remedies” you might see online have potential to harm bamboo flooring, so proceed cautiously.

For scuff marks from heels, simply apply some wood floor cleaner to a rag (diluted as required) and gently rub it out. Spot-dry when finished and it should look as good as new.

Maintenance Musts

Once you’ve done all you could to clean bamboo flooring, these preventative measures will keep your bamboo looking beautiful for years to come!


• Trim pets’ nails fairly short.
• Make bamboo floors a barefoot or stocking feet zone. The soles of street shoes can trap fine pebbles that can scratch floors.
• Put colorfast felt or other soft pads under all chairs and other furniture. No scraping means no scratching.
• Maintain a relative humidity of 30 to 50 percent in your home. Excessive humidity for a prolonged period can cause swelling, whereas too little humidity can lead bamboo to dry or crack.


• Never use rubber- or latex-backed mats, which can trap moisture against the flooring and cause damage or discoloration.
• Stiletto heels and sport cleats can wreak havoc on bamboo floors by leaving indentations. This is especially true of carbonized bamboo, which is 30 percent softer than natural bamboo.
• Avoid keeping furniture and rugs in the same spot for years, as sunlight can fade bamboo over time. Instead, change your floorplan now and then, or better yet, use curtains or blinds to filter or angle sunbeams.
• Never, ever steam-clean your bamboo floor.


Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

All of the Essential Cleaning Advice from BobVila.com
There’s no way around it: Keeping the house clean demands your time, your energy, and even some of your money. Fortunately, this arsenal of cleaning tips can help you finish the housekeeping more quickly—and with fewer commercially sold products.

All You Need to Know About Plywood Floors

Get the facts and then go on to gorgeous DIY results with this inexpensive alternative to hardwood.

Plywood Floors

Photo: istockphoto.com

Once reserved for subfloors and sheathing, construction-grade plywood is now making a splash as affordable residential finish flooring. There are two basic ways to go: Remove the existing flooring, such as carpet or vinyl, and then refinish the plywood subfloor beneath, or install new plywood, cut into planks, squares, or even small shapes to form a medallion design, atop an existing subfloor. Whichever route you choose, if you take your time, pay attention to detail, and apply a tough topcoat such as polyurethane to stand up to everyday foot traffic, you can create a stunning, one-of-a-kind floor.


Here are some must-know plywood basics:

• While hardwood is solid all the way through, plywood consists of multiple thicknesses of thin wood veneer, layered at angles, and then glued and compressed under heat to form a strong laminated sheet. The layering process makes the end result resistant to expansion—giving it an edge over hardwood. But plywood’s softer surface has a tendency to chip and dent, making the final application of a hard top coating vital to the success of your floor.

• Plywood floors are suitable for any room where you’d otherwise install hardwood, though kitchens and bathrooms are less desirable since frequent water spills are likely. Basements are not recommended for plywood flooring because they’re typically a bit damp, and a concrete floor can transfer moisture from the soil to the plywood, which could cause it to delaminate and swell over time.

• A 1½-in thick, 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of CDX plywood (the kind used in subflooring) sells for around $15. Higher grades of plywood are available, but they’re more expensive and intended for finish cabinetry. If you have your heart set on using high-end plywood with an oak veneer face, expect to pay between $50 and $100, or more, per sheet, depending on the quality of the veneer facing.

Plywood Floors - Staining

Photo: istockphoto.com


Consider these various ways to create incredible plywood floors.

Paper bagging: This finish involves applying irregular-shaped pieces of brown kraft paper to existing plywood for a marble-like appeal. It can be a great fix after you’ve torn out old carpet and are wondering how to treat the plywood subfloor. You’ll fill and smooth gaps between plywood panels with fast-setting drywall compound and a trowel. Then, torn pieces of brown kraft paper—soaked in a mixture of watered down glue—is applied. After the paper layer dries, add a stain followed by a protective finish. Check out our complete guide on how to create a beautiful paper bag floor finish.

Wallpaper as floor paper: For this stunning DIY finish, fill and smooth gaps in the plywood subfloor with fast-setting drywall compound and a trowel. Then put down wallpaper in your pattern of choice, followed by three or four coats of polyurethane or other clear hard floor finish. You could cover the entire surface as you would a wall, or cut wallpaper strips to imitate the look of an area rug, complete with a border around its perimeter.

Perfectly painted plywood: Create a classic checkerboard pattern, go for stripes or circles, or mimic cobblestones or bricks. The sky’s the limit when it comes to design and, since your painted plywood floor will be covered with a few coats of polyurethane, you can use virtually any paint, even artist-type paints for special details. The key is to prep the plywood floors as discussed above, plus a coat of primer prior to painting. Primer ensures the paint will adhere and also help seal down any loose plywood chips.

Planks, squares, and other shapes: Hardwood planks are expensive, but you can achieve that natural woodsy appeal by cutting sheets of plywood into planks, squares, or other shapes, then gluing and/or nailing the pieces to the subfloor. If you buy CDX plywood to finish a 10-foot by 10-foot room, you’d need four ½-in. four-by-eight sheets, at a cost of approximately $65. Add $10 for 1½-in finish nails, $15 for the subfloor glue used in installation, $10 for stain, and $15 for a gallon of polyurethane, your grand total would be about $115. The cost for hardwood, tile, or carpet for the same size room could run from $500 to well over $1,000.


Plywood Floors - Full Room

Photo: istockphoto.com

Convinced? Cool! Just keep these two points in mind:

• Outsmart plywood’s tendency to splinter by cutting planks on a table saw, with the desired side facing upward. If you prefer to cut the planks with a circular saw, however, pop chalk lines on the back of the plywood and cut from the back to reduce the risk of splintering along the edges. Both saws should be fitted with good finish-grade blades

• You can treat planks with wood bleach for a sun-kissed, weathered look, or stain them to match furniture or trim. If you choose to stain plywood floors, however, apply a sanding sealer to the surface of the planks first, which will help the stain penetrate evenly. Skip the sealer, and you’ll almost certainly end up with blotchy planks.

Creating finished plywood floors isn’t an overnight project. You’ll save money, but you’ll need plenty of time to complete the project. When you’re done, you’ll have a durable, uniquely designed floor you can take pride in.

How To: Shampoo Carpeting

Pristine, dirt-free carpets are just a few easy steps away.

How to Shampoo Carpets

Photo: istockphoto.com

Our carpets suffer the collateral damage of our busy, active lives. The daily foot traffic and those inevitable spills and stains guarantee they will need regular cleaning. The good news: The hot water extractor, a machine specially designed for deep restorative carpet cleaning, can attack deeply embedded dirt and grime to keep carpets as pristine as the rest of the décor. Of all of the machines available to homeowners for cleaning carpets with commercial shampoo—including shampooing machines and buffers with solution-moistened pads attached—the hot water extractor models are today’s gold standard for a deeper, long-lasting cleaning. When used once or twice a year on stained and heavily soiled synthetic carpets, heated water mixed with an appropriate shampooing chemical can remove even stubborn substances like ketchup, coffee, wine, pet urine, and ink.

– Hot water extractor
– CRI-approved carpet shampoo
– Can of spot remover
– Clean cloth
– Vacuum cleaner

It’s important to note that, though the industry tends to juxtapose hot water extraction with steam cleaning, they are in reality two completely different cleaning methods. A steam cleaner uses—surprise!—steam along with shampoo. Critics claim can steam cleaning can actually worsen stains and damage carpet fibers, so it is more widely recommended for hard surfaces. Hot water extraction, on the other hand, forces a mixture of hot water (though not quite steaming) and carpet shampoo deep into the carpet. The solution and dirt are then extracted from the carpet, leaving the fibers and carpet base clean. Now, read on for how to shampoo carpets with this deep-cleaning machine.


First order of business: Acquiring the equipment. Deciding whether to rent or buy a hot water extractor rests on your projected usage. Prices to buy are all over the map—from under $200 up to $4,000 for bigger, more powerful models—depending on the bells and whistles included. For most consumers who devote one day to the task, the rental option is the more cost effective. Renting a machine from a big home improvement store will typically cost about $30 for the day, or $116 for the week.

Whether you rent or buy, be sure to select a machine that is approved by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). Representing carpet manufacturers nationwide, the CRI tests machines for effectiveness and those that qualify are labeled with a bronze, silver, or gold certification.

Once you’ve chosen your cleaning device, pay close attention to the directions. Use only a commercial carpet shampoo with a CRI seal of approval and make sure it is a brand compatible with your particular extractor. Do not add any other chemicals to the mix or under dilute the cleaning solution in an attempt to make it stronger.

How to Shampoo Carpets

Photo: istockphoto.com

Before you even press the start button on the extractor, clear the room to expose as much carpet as possible. Take a little time to notice and address smaller tough stains using a stain remover spray. The cleaner is sprayed directly on the stain and then either vacuumed up or dabbed with a clean cloth, depending on the product’s recommendations.

Run your trusty vacuum cleaner over the entire open space before you bring in the big guns. This will remove loose dirt as well as any gravel or sand that has been tracked into the house. At the same time, vacuuming will fluff the carpet fibers and loosen dirt trapped deep within, making your cleaning effort much more effective.

A good pre-shampoo vacuuming will also give you an opportunity to spot and pick up those little items—like rubber bands, hair accessories, and paper clips—that can jam the hot water extractor and wreak havoc on your cleaning parade.

Your basic hot water extractor is a self-contained, two-tank unit. One tank holds the clean water mixed with commercial carpet shampoo. The other becomes filled with dirty waste water as you shampoo carpets. Strictly adhering to measurement instructions, fill the clean water tank with the exact amount of water and carpet shampoo specified. Do not use more shampoo than stipulated, as this won’t dissolve well and will leave added residue on the carpet that will act as a dirt magnet.

Once you have set up your dispersal and collection buckets according to the machine’s instructions, you are ready to begin. Start in a far corner of the room and slowly walk forward, pressing the button on the handle to gently release the properly diluted carpet shampoo onto the rug. The vacuum runs as long as the machine is turned on and will suck up the residual dirty, sudsy water as you go.

Be careful:

  • Before you expose your entire carpet to any chemical solution, test the hot water extractor on an inconspicuous corner to make sure the carpet shampoo solution will not affect the color or damage the surface.
  • Do not use hot water to clean natural materials as it will shrink and destroy the fibers. For wool carpets, fill the machine with cold water instead of hot. Use hot water with synthetic carpet only.
  • For best results, do not hold the water release button down continuously but instead press intermittently to keep from flooding the carpet with excess water. Drowning the carpet will definitely increase drying time and could potentially cause subsequent mold issues.

Continue working from one wall to the other until the water being extracted appears clear. Empty the waste water tank and refill the clean water tank with solution as needed.

How long it takes carpets to dry after shampooing with the hot water extractor depends on the size of the room, type of carpet, thickness of the padding, amount of dirt addressed, and ventilation. Some experts predict 4 to 6 hours of drying time for an average sized room with good ventilation, but carpets may take anywhere from 8 to 12 to up to 24 hours to be fully dry. Beware of wood furniture coming into contact with wet carpeting; when wet, dyes from the wood stain can be released onto the carpet and create lasting marks.

If you’ve only rented the hot water extractor for one day, and you have a whole house of dirty carpets to tackle, time is of the essence. While one room is drying, empty out the waste water tank, refill the clean water tank with diluted carpet shampoo and move on to the next space.

Once you are sure the carpet pile is well and truly dry, you can run the vacuum cleaner to remove any traces of leftover cleaning residue (remember: dirt magnet). Now all that is left is to enjoy the clean fruits of your labors!


How to Shampoo Carpets

Photo: istockphoto.com

Bob Vila Radio: 4 Ways to Fix Scratched Wood Flooring

If unsightly surface scratches are driving you crazy, you may be wondering whether it's time to refinish your wood flooring. Certainly, there's no substitute for starting over, but if you're reluctant to go to extremes, try one of these quicker, easier repair methods first.

Hardwood flooring adds beauty to your home, and it’s durable enough to last a lifetime (or more). But that’s not to say the material isn’t prone to both wear-and-tear and incidental damage. Fortunately, there are a handful of ways for homeowners to fix wood floor scratches quickly and without too much trouble.

Hardwood Floor Scratch Repair

Photo: istockphoto.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WOOD FLOOR SCRATCHES or read below:

Option one: Treat the affected area with floor wax or acrylic floor polish. However, remember to use such options sparingly. Over time, they can dull or darken wood floors, and if that happens, removal—a process that involves mineral spirits, ammonia, and hard scrubbing—isn’t very enjoyable.

You can also address wood floor scratches with a wood “renewing” product like Bona Pro Series Hardwood Floor Refresher or Minwax’s Hardwood Floor Reviver. Before you apply a renewing finish, be sure to clean the floor thoroughly and afterwards, allow plenty of time for the coating to dry. The downside? It may be necessary to reapply the coating much more often than you would like.

If the damage to the floor has eroded the existing finish and exposed bare wood, you have two options—a stain marker or, in the case of a large area, traditional wood stain. In the latter case, choose your stain carefully, apply it with a small brush or swab, and don’t forget to wipe away the excess before the finish dries!

What do you do about deep gouge? Your best bet is to fill it with pre-colored latex wood filler. Apply the product with a plastic putty knife, let it dry completely, and finish the job by sanding the patch down to the surface level of the floor. Then, to coat the repair, use varnish thinned with 10% or 20% turpentine.

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!