LVT a real game-changer

Luxury vinyl tile is very durable and more importantly, it looks good. Postmedia Network

Game changer; an event, idea, or procedure that affects a significant shift in the current manner of doing or thinking about something.

Exhibit A, Otto Rohwedder’s 1928 invention of a machine that sliced bread. One, it eliminated the dreaded bread crumb situation faced every morning by toast and sandwich making mommies and daddies. And two, the procedural challenges of handling a serrated knife, with many a lopsided slice frustratingly jamming Charles Strite’s 1919 relative game changer, the pop-up toaster, became an immediate thing of the past. Otto’s bread slicing machine was so successful a tool, every invention since then is inevitable compared to it on the “greatness” scale. Now that’s a game changer.

The latest game changer in the flooring biz is a product known as LVT (luxury vinyl tile). The current manner of thinking has most executive home owners believing vinyl as a possible choice for the laundry room, second bathroom, or some area requiring the easy maintenance of a vinyl product. However, if we’re talking the kitchen, living room, front entrance, or any area to be seen by persons other than the hired help, how shameful would it have been to have your well educated and socially privileged guests walk on vinyl? That was before LVT.

What makes the LVT so desirable is its looks. Basically, it’s a really attractive looking product. And, not because it’s managed to copy hardwood or ceramic so effectively, but because it interprets the look and feel of these two natural products in its own, very attractive way. So, when you see LVT flooring, you’re not necessarily thinking, “hey, this really looks like hardwood”, but more, “hey, I really like the look of this floor”.

Now, what about hardwood flooring and ceramic tile, will LVT be forcing these two house staples into extinction? No. Hardwoods and ceramics will forever keep their appeal. The vinyl people have simply changed the game by having the likes of Sydney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, and Connor McDavid, show up to play for their keg league, Tuesday night hockey team.

Although the product would sell on looks alone, the big advantage to LVT flooring is that it’s of course made of vinyl. While hardwoods and ceramics have specific manners of pose, and limitations regarding where they can be installed in the home, along with the required substrates, the LVT’s versatility and areas of service is unlimited. So, whether weère talking above or below grade, over concrete or plywood, in the bathroom, sunroom, basement, or kitchen, there isn’t a room in the home that can’t be serviced by an LVT floor.

What about durability? Durability, or how well a floor handles the day to day activity in a home, is subjective to scrutiny. As an example, we’ve got hardwood flooring throughout the majority of our home, with ceramic tile in the entrance and bathroom areas. Sounds good, and that’s the way I would sell it. However, upon scrutiny, we actually have dented and scratched hardwood flooring throughout, with slightly discolored grout in the bathroom area as a result of twice having to replace several ceramic tiles due to cracking, while the porcelain tiles in the entrance have totally lost their sheen. That’s the reality, and what you would only find in the small print if we were selling the place.

Although varying LVT products differ, LVT floors generally carry a limited lifetime residential warranty (with limited referring to the warranty not being transferable to the next homeowner) and a 10-year commercial warranty. The fact that LVT floors carry any type of commercial warranty is huge, and attests to how scratch, dent, and water resistant this flooring really is.

Installation? LVTs don’t click together. The planks simply butt up against each other, and can be allowed to float, but are better glued down into position. So, if you’re in need of flooring, check out the LVTs, the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Goodbuilding

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

A crowning achievement

A necessity, no, but crown molding can really make a room. Postmedia Network

If you’re the type of do-it-yourselfer that is willing to try most any small renovation at least once, provided of course the potential for injury or loss of home due to fire or flood is kept to a minimum, then at some point in time you’re probably going to attempt to install a crown molding.

For the uninitiated, a crown molding is the decorative trim used to elegantly bridge the harsh corner between your interior walls and ceiling. Is the crown molding a necessary part of a home’s finishing? No. However, will a home be all the better for having crown moldings, providing an upscale setting, allowing you to host guests and dignitaries somewhat above your normal social status? Very likely. So, for the décor value, as well as the potential to expand your guest lists, thereby elevating the conversation of your gatherings beyond such subjects as to whether Mankind really deserved the win over The Undertaker in WrestleMania 13, we install crown moldings.

Basic tools for the job will include a 10 inch chop saw, and an air-compressor type of finishing gun. Because your crown molding will most likely be painted, and as a result made of MDF (medium density fiberboard), you’ll require the power and blade count (at least 60 carbide teeth) of a 10 inch blade, along with the superior performance of an air gun. Don’t attempt to pre-drill and install a crown molding with finishing nails. Finishing nails are fine for pine and real wood moldings because real wood, even when dry, maintains some of its elasticity. MDF material, on the other hand, is simply too hard, and offers no forgiveness, causing the amateur carpenter to make a mess of the molding’s surface when countersinking the finishing nail.

Considered the most challenging finishing molding to install, due to the crowns two beveled edges needing to be placed squarely against the wall and ceiling, there are strategies to installing this molding correctly. As a precautionary measure, and before loading the car up with tens of moldings, be sure to purchase the two following items. One, an 8 ft. piece of the crown molding of your choice, and two, an “OGEE” cutting guide. Once at home, carefully remove the OGEE cutting guide from its box (because you may have to return it) and read the how-to instructions. Finishing carpenters each have their own type of wooden jigs or strategies when it comes to holding a crown molding in place as they cut it. The OGEE guide is simply a plastic version of one of these jigs, and safely sets the crown molding in position under the saw for the amateur finisher. The 8 ft. length of molding is basically a 10-12 dollar research and development expense into whether you’re capable of performing this task or not. Because the crown molding sits on an angle, has beveled edges, and must be further cut at 45 degrees, all while being positioned in an upside down manner for at least half of the required cuts, the directionally challenged person is going to find this experience frustrating.

So, read the OGEE guide’s instructions, take your 8 ft. molding, and try a few left and right hand, inside and outside corner, practice cuts. Then, using these short lengths of moldings, see how they fit up into the corners of where the wall meets the ceiling. Once you’ve established what an inside left corner cut is, as well as an inside right, and any right or left outside corner cuts, label these short pieces with a marker. These “pre-cuts” will be a great help in directionally guiding you when it comes to cutting the longer lengths. On the other hand, if after cutting an entire 8 ft. crown into bits and pieces you still can’t get the hang of it, don’t despair, some people can perform open heart surgery, then can’t figure their way out of a round-a-bout, it’s just what is.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

How to pick an interior door

There are plenty of choices, but if the budget allows, our handyman suggests getting solid core doors. Postmedia Network

Last week we discussed the advantages of choosing a pre-hung door unit, as opposed to buying the door slab, jamb, hinges and door stop, separately. So, with the “how to” of buying an interior door settled, what style of interior door should a homeowner be looking for?

First, let’s examine basic door composition. Interior doors are composed of two door skins, held together by a pine frame that follows the perimeter of the skin. From this point, the slab will either have a hollow core, whereby the space in between the two door skins is mostly air, along with a honeycomb type of cardboard grid, or the slab will have a solid core, with the core space filled with particle wood matter.

Most doors stocked at your local building supply dealer are of the hollow core variety, mainly because they’re less expensive than their solid core cousins.

Essentially, a pre-hung door costs about 100 bucks, while a pre-hung solid core door will set you back $150. So, you’re paying about 50 per cent more for a solid core slab that looks exactly like the hollow core version.

Still, if you can swing it budget wise, go solid core. In the same way opening the door of a Cadillac provides a better sense of security than that of a Russian Lada, the extra weight of a solid core door simply feels better when you handle it.

Furthermore, a solid core door is significantly more dent resistant, and a much easier repair. Solid core slabs also provide the homeowner with a reliable substrate in which to install a mirror, shoe-rack, or whatever type of racking that could prove handy in a bedroom, closet, or walk-in storage type of area.

However, the solid slabs biggest value, other than it being an effective fire block, is its ability to muffle sound. Basically, whether we’re talking an office or media room, bathroom, laundry room, or bedroom, there isn’t a room in the house that couldn’t benefit from a door that helps either keep the sound in, or sound out. So, for those reasons, consider the solid core option when ordering your interior pre-hung doors.

Next, what door style to pick? Choosing a style or panel design will be entirely in the hands of you or your decorator. The only advice I would give to new home builders and renovators, is to avoid choosing the standard wood grained colonial door. Nothing against the wood grained door, since it’s faithfully served the interior, residential door market for the last 30 years, but . . . it’s done its time, with the smooth finished door being the better choice.

Trending these days are the three and five paneled, embossed doors, which offer a touch of elegance that dates back to what was popular a century ago. Other than simply being an attractive door style, the smooth surface of these interior doors is easier to repair than its woodgrain counterpart, and provides a better match to both casings and baseboards, with its finish perfectly duplicating that of today’s MDF moldings.

Other than deciding on a door style, and whether the slab will have a hollow or solid core, you’ll need to specify four other things when ordering a pre-hung door.

These include door height and width, jamb depth, color of hinges, and door swing. The required door size can be acquired by measuring the existing door slab that you’re replacing, or measuring the rough opening (space into which the pre-hung will be inserted). Determining the jamb depth means measuring the thickness of the wall, while the color of the hinges should match your chosen door knobs. As for swing, it’s either opening to the right, or to the left. Sounds easy, but many an error has been committed when it comes to determining the swing. So, make sure what you perceive as a right or left hand swing, matches that of the salesperson ordering the door.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard