Bamboo flooring in a summer cottage

Q: I want to put bamboo flooring in a 4 season room at my summer home. We don’t run the heat in the winter except once a month for a weekend. The floor is insulated and we will be putting down three quarter inch plywood. Will this be a good choice?

A: If you like bamboo this should be fine.

The issues arise in homes not often used in winter. It may be cold inside but as the sun rises and moves across the sky, shining through windows it will warm up inside. Warm air holds more moisture. But then it cools down at night and you can end up with condensation issues. It doesn’t always happen. But it can happen.

Can wall to wall carpet be installed over a Pergo floor?

Q: Can wall to wall carpet be installed over a Pergo floor or does the Pergo have to be taken up before installing carpet?

A: Just a guess, but I would think the smooth edge can be nailed through the pergo around the perimeter.

Don’t know if the staples would penetrate the surface for the underpad though. Maybe that could be taped in place with double sided tape.

Can I install laminate over an epoxy painted garage floor?

Q: Can I install laminate floor over an epoxy painted garage floor? What can I used as flooring? Can I install the pre-pasted vinyl instead?

A: You can install laminate over epoxy paint on concrete provided the moisture coming out the concrete won’t cause buckling of the laminate.

I did a job for one home owner who turned his garage into a Harley-Davidson man cave and installed these plastic tiles on the floor which worked quite well. I think Poloplaz might sell them.

Can prefinished hardwood be used on bathroom floors?

Q: Can hand-scraped prefinished hardwood be used on bathroom floors?

A: Wood flooring is not the best choice for an environment subject to high levels of moisture. I would not recommend pre finished hardwood especially for such an area, because you don’t have finish over the entire floor surface. Each board is finished, but the potential for moisture invasion between boards is significant.

Floating floor over radiant heat?

Q: A friend has 2000 sq. ft. of hardwood to be installed over radiant heat. The contractor laid down 2×4’s every 2 feet and poured the the floor over the tubing in between these boards. The waste factor first comes to mind, but gluing and nailing is not recommended. A floating floor has been recommended. What are your thoughts?

A: A floating floor would work. I would recommend either Torlys or Quick Step. They not only have some decent laminates but nice looking engineered also. Once installed you wouldn’t know it was not solid wood. I would contact them for their recommendations with installing over radiant heat.

Wood flooring vs. tile in kitchen

Q: I am on the fence about wood flooring vs. tile in my kitchen. Is there a type you would recommend? We live in South Texas, it gets crazy hot; solid foundation for the house. I worry about spills with kids.

A: I’m rather partial to quarter sawn white oak for durability and stability. I would not install factory finish in a kitchen setting because all the board edges are exposed to liquid seepage between boards. Square edged, site finish is the better way to go in a kitchen setting. No flooring type is perfect. Tiles are better in a wet environment, which hopefully your kitchen isn’t. But they can chip if something heavy is dropped on them. Wood will dent. But over long periods of time with constant pounding, wood floors can be re-finished. Tile would have to be replaced.

Penny floor

Q: What kind of polyurethane would you recommend for covering a floor made from pennies? 10’x12′ Room. Also grouted with non-sanded grout. We would like a hard, clear, thick surface. Thanks!

Penny Floor

A: A floor made from pennies? Now that is unique. I hope this doesn’t represent your life savings. It would be difficult to take with you!

I don’t think a urethane coating is what you should be looking at, either water borne or solvent type. Aside from likely not getting a bond, these coatings are best not applied thick. Generally they have a spread rate of 500 sq. feet per gallon which provides a very thin film on a wood floor. I would suggest you explore epoxy coatings.

Follow-up Q: Thanks so much for your quick response. Not quite my life savings, but about $350 or 35,000 pennies none the less.

My initial research when I started this penny floor project was to go with the self-levelling epoxy, but after talking with a few people I was concerned with putting heavy furniture on top of it (I use this room as a home office and it has desks, file cabinets, etc.). Some said it might be too soft and put indents into the epoxy. Plus, the stuff is rather expensive (I’m guessing about $800 for my 10×12 room!) and it has a very short pot life. You have to pour quick and and I’m concerned with doing a good job by myself. I don’t want to mess this up since I’ve put a lot of time into it.

So, a few other people recommended polyurethane. But after reading your email, I’m having second thoughts about that too. I would like a thick layer (the epoxy goes on 1/8″ and you can pour more than one coat). If you can think of any other solution or offer any more advice, I’m all ears.

Attached some pictures for you.

A: I’ve got to say that floor is stunning! You must possess unbridled tenacity and patience. I’m curious as to what type of adhesive you used to secure them. Whatever approach you take, you definitely won’t want to muck this up. Even if polyurethane would stick, it would take I don’t know how many dozens of coats to get it that thick. 2 options I can think of at the moment: contact someone who works with these types of coatings (epoxy). I wouldn’t have thought of it as being a soft adhesive, but I can certainly appreciate it may really require a professional to work with. Or, perhaps you can get some sheets of clear plexi-glass to sit on the floor. As they get beaten up they can be removed and replaced.

I’ve also forwarded your email to my contact at Poloplaz. They have chemists on site. I want to see if they have any suggestions. Personally, I like my idea of rigid sheet of plexi-glass. You’d have to come up with some type of clip that isn’t intrusive but can link each sheet together.

Follow-up: I don’t know about tenacity and patience, but I do have a bad case of insomnia. Always looking for things to do when I’m up at 2:00 in the morning and gluing pennies to a floor seemed like as much fun as anything. Used Loctite by the way, just spread out a thin layer over a couple square feet and slipped the pennies in place. Only took a couple months.

I have talked to every contractor, floor, tile, paint, etc. people I can find locally to see if anyone has ever done this and got zilch, nada back. I found one friend of a friend who poured a small bar top, but that was it. I think I’ll just have to grow a pair and dive in.

Here’s the place I was planning to order from unless you think you might have a better source:

Thanks again for your response Craig!

Penny floor DIY project pins:
How to Make a Penny Floor/Renovate a Bathroom for Under $400
How To Make Copper Penny Flooring In 9 Easy Steps

No glue floor

Q: We are going to replace carpet that is over concrete, that is in our living room and dining room. We do not want to glue down a floor and we are running into problems about selection of a good product. We are trying to install the wood up to the Mexican Saltillo tile in the kitchen. What do you suggest for a no glue floor?

A: I would be looking at Torly’s or Quick Step engineered/laminate floating floors which comes in quite a wide range of offerings. Some have an actual wood veneer. Their products are about the best I’ve seen when the home owner requires a click joint, non adhesive solution. No glue. You won’t be able to buy this from a big box store but will have to go to one of their dealers.

Floating (glueless) engineered hardwood

Q: What do you think of floating (glueless) engineered hardwood?

A: It depends who the manufacturer is. Torly’s and uniclick appear to make the best, while for a glue down, Mirage engineered is the best I’ve used. The advantage of the floater, of course, is you don’t have the expense of the adhesive.

Follow-up Q: I have heard of Torly’s so I will look into it a little more now that you recommend that product. As you say, the advantage of a floating floor is that I don’t have to buy the adhesive (and I’m sure I wouldn’t like the fumes either).

I was wondering whether the installation cost is lower with floating floors since the whole step of applying the adhesive is removed. Or did you mean that $3 per sq. ft. is what you charge for floating floors?

A: The installation may be about the same, but you would still save a few hundred on the adhesive.

Design rules for x types of flooring?

Q: My bottom floor plan is open (dining and family room together, living room separated by half wall and no wall to kitchen.) The kitchen and walk way are tiled, while the rest is carpet. We are about to replace the carpet and I am thinking wood (on a concrete slab so I am leaning toward laminate.) The stairs will remain carpet. Is this an uncommon design… wood and tile on one floor with carpeted stairs? Are there any design rules, such as only 2 types of flooring per level? Or am I just paranoid?

A: I think you are just being paranoid.:) It is very common to have hardwood match up to both carpet and tile, and special reducers exist to help accommodate both. For a floor to be installed on a concrete slab, I would recommend either Mirage engineered, any Torly’s or Uniclick product.

Note from webmaster: Tone is more important… if you have red hardwood, blue tiles, and peach carpet it may be a little weird;) Stick to neutrals along the same tone, imo. The different textures will actually add some richness to the whole level.

Choosing a floating floor

Q: We have to put a floating wood floor on the 1st floor in our 1890 brick city house in Philadelphia. Upstairs we have beautiful cherry stained yellow pine floors with a polyurethane coat that has tons of character. Could you suggest a species of wood offered in floating floors that might work well with the character of our floor upstairs? And, I’m confused about the 1-3 strip choices when choosing a floating floor. Which do you think might work best for us? And lastly, for floating floors would you recommend Khars? Any others?

A: First, I like your attitude regarding your pine floors, that there is beauty in being imperfect. People who feel their floors must look like a French Provincial table top, even when they will be walking on them, can make life stressful for themselves and people like myself who try to give them what they want.

I haven’t seen a Khar’s floor in ages, though I know they are a top line product. There is another company that handles floaters and laminates. They actually are the front end and have their products made to their specifications in either Germany or Belgium. Torly’s is the product, or Quick Step. or

They have both laminate and engineered floaters. Excellent core with minimal swell rate. Quickstep line does have an offering of a wide plank laminate that has the “distressed” look, if that is what you may be after. torly’s has some nice looking engineered plank that clicks together. I would check them out. I do have confidence in their products. I am not sure why you must float a floor in this scenario. If you wanted a solid wood, distressed or character floor, you might want to look at Homerwood.

Keeping with character in an older house

Q: I have carpeting in my house now, but I want hardwood or laminate. I don’t know what color. My house is over 100 years old. My living room furniture is cherry and my dining room is walnut (was my parents). Can you give me some suggestions?

A: Given the age of your house, I would think you should go with something in character with your house. That won’t be laminate. Go with a 3/4 thick solid wood floor. Oak is one of the most prominent in NA.

Hardwood in a half bath

Q: I am redoing the floors in my foyer area with solid hardwood. I have a half bath off of my foyer that I was going to put hardwood in as well since it would flow very nicely. I know hardwood is not recommended for bathrooms, but would it be okay for a half bath?

A: You are talking sink and toilet? Should be fine if it is well finished and cared for.

Carpet underpad vs. foam

Q: I removed my old carpet. There is a thin padding underneath. It is in pretty good condition so I was wondering if I can install the engineered hardwood flooring over that instead of removing and putting the foam (as suggested by manufacturers.) Is this something not to do?

A: I would say it is something “not to do”. With some products, including some Torly’s products, they insist their pad must be used. If you don’t and something goes wrong, they will not support the product because you did not follow their instructions. so, make the carpet pad disappear and used the correct pad, which also has a film which serves as a vapour barrier.

Finishing basement

Q: We are finishing our basement. It is cement and we are considering putting in a sub-floor, in-floor heating, and then installing cork flooring or tile. Which is the better option? We’re leaning towards the cork; however, will the cork flooring be durable enough in the event of a septic tank backing up?

A: I think if there is any realistic possibility of a flood, you are better to go with tile.

Hardwood flooring in front entrance?

Q: Is it wise to put good quality oak hardwood flooring in a front entrance ( 9′ x 7.5′) and up the 7 stairs to the main level? We have very expensive tile on the floors now and carpeting on the stairs and main floor. We were trying to keep some semblance of continuity by putting it all in hardwood. We use this entrance 95% of the time.

A: The main issue in my view is how much water (snow and rain) will be walked into this entrance? If that is not an issue then you should be fine if the floor is well finished.

Hardwood floors installed over zipcrete

Q: I live in a condo and recently had hardwood floors installed in my kitchen and living room. The contractor used nails versus glue. The original floor in my kitchen was vinyl and under the vinyl is zipcrete. I was told by another contractor that my floors should have been installed with glue and not nails and that my hardwood floors will not stay secure. Is this true? If so, what should I do to correct the problem?

A: It is my understanding that zipcrete is a self levelling type cement. Being a condo, I have to assume under that is a concrete slab. I would think it impossible to nail to this floor. Gluing may or may not work either, depending how well the zipcrete has bonded to the floor beneath it. A few pieces of flooring would need to be glued to it and left to dry to test the strength of the compound. Best, safest way is to float a floor over it. If you really like a wood look rather than laminate, I would suggest a Torlys product. They do have long strip with a real wood veneer. This product is not like a typical laminate that consists of joining panels. Once the Torly’s strip is installed, it would be difficult to know if it was or was not solid wood.

Floating hardwood floor

Q: Is there such a thing as a floating hardwood floor? I have seen hardwood flooring that has a “uniclic” design which looks like it can be floating. If so, what types of things should I consider for installing it in my new (less than 5 year old) condo? Would there be a sub floor over the concrete?

A: Yes there are floating laminates with a solid wood surface or veneer. Most, if not all use a click joint these days. Torlys makes nice stuff and their web site also provides installation instructions. You will need foam padding. These floors are not quite as easy to install as some may have you believe. Especially in condominiums that may have metal door casings, it becomes difficult to deal with. The side and end board puller bar and tapping block are indispensable when installing these floors.