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 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.

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.

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.

Floors and wheelchairs

Q: My son is in a power wheelchair. To get to his room he needs to cross the den and I would like to replace it with wood. I’m understanding that the laminating would be easier to keep from getting damaged. Please let me know if a laminated one would work better than a hardwood one. It will get a lot of wear and tear.

A: What is your sub floor made of? Are you in a house or condominium/apartment with concrete? If it is concrete, a good quality laminate would be ideal. I just installed one for a man in the same situation. Laminates are not a floor that would last a lifetime. However, in a condominium setting, they should give you years of trouble free service.

In a private home, where you can nail a floor down, but where the sub floors are often not dead flat and level (a must for a laminate installation), a floor 3/4 thick, and properly finished with 3 coats of polyurethane and no cheap sealers used as a base coat will also take a lot of abuse. With real hardwood, if it suffers surface scratches and scuffs, it can later be lightly buffed and a fresh coat of finish applied. With laminate, there really is no fix.

Flooring and wheelchairs

Q: My mother is in a wheelchair. What would be the best flooring for them to use in their home?

A: I would think something smooth and fairly hard….such as wood flooring or laminate. However, with laminate, the sub floor has to be about dead level and is not expected to have a life time stay in a home.

Hardwood too slick

Q: Is hardwood too slick for a large dog with bad hips?

A: I don’t think so. There are finishes that offer non slip such as from Basic Coatings. Also, some gloss finishes tend to be less slippery than semi or satin. You could put down a runner in the main areas where the dog walks. I think dogs adjust to what they are walking on, and it sounds like your dog is not a puppy so is not extremely active. He probably would like laying down on it on hot days rather than carpet.

Installing hardwood in kitchen

Q: We are building a new house. I love the look of hardwood and would love to have it in the kitchen. The problem is we have three children and I’m afraid it won’t hold up in the kitchen area. I’m also concerned about water damage. At this point I have requested ceramic tile in the kitchen but really want hardwood. The hang ups I have are durability and water damage???….. Help! What’s your opinion?

A: If you install a solid wood, 3/4 thick floor in your kitchen, and if it is finished well on site there should be no problem. Of course, if your dish washer floods the kitchen, the floor would be lost. Provided you wipe up spills in reasonable time, I don’t see an issue. For example, if a little child spilled over a drink, it is easy enough to wipe up. Hardwood will dent if you drop heavy objects on it. Ceramic may chip. If you are a wet mop type of person, ceramic is possibly your choice. With reasonable (not frantic) care, hardwood will work well too.