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Measuring for flooring

To calculate the amount of material you’ll need for a rectangular room: Multiply the length by the width, and add 10 percent. For example, a 10-foot-wide by 15-foot-long room will need 150 square feet of flooring material. Add 10 percent for waste to ensure you have enough material for the job. Some stores will take back unused material, but you may want to keep some extra for later repairs.

If the room has counters, protruding closets, or other obstructions, subtract the square footage they occupy from the overall footage of the room. Begin by taking the overall dimensions: Multiply the longest dimension of the room by the widest dimension. Then measure the length of each obstruction, and multiply it by its width. Subtract these amounts from the overall square footage of the room, add 10 percent for waste, and head for the store.

Note that adding a tile floor could add 3/4 inch to 1 inch to the overall height of the floor. This may make it impossible to remove objects like dishwashers when the time comes. And whether you’re putting in carpet, tile, wood, or vinyl, plan on having to trim the bottom of closet and room doors once the job is done.

IN A SQUARE OR RECTANGULAR ROOM, multiply the length by the width to get the total square footage. Add 10 percent for waste when you purchase the flooring.

MAKE A FLOOR PLAN. Draw the walls of the room as accurately as you can on a sheet of grid paper. Include doorways and floor obstructions such as cabinets and fixtures. Graph paper is available in 1/8-inch, 1/4-inch, and 1/2-inch grid spacing.

Removing Existing Flooring

TOOLS: Pry bar, handsaw, utility knife, wide-blade putty knife, safety glasses, hammer, cold chisel, long-handled floor scraper, floor sander, circular saw, drill, bits, screwdriver

Before you install a new floor, you’ll have to deal with the old I one. In some cases, it’s simple. Sheet vinyl can be installed right over old sheet vinyl unless the old vinyl is loose, more than one layer thick, or cushioned. New ceramic floors can go right on top of old ones. Products like laminated or engineered flooring often can go over the existing floor, no matter what material it is.

Old resilient floor coverings that are either cushioned or damaged are also straightforward: You must either remove them or cover them with a new layer of plywood underlayment. If the old flooring is embossed vinyl, you can either remove it or trowel on an embossing leveler, which fills the low spots in the surface. Ceramic floor tile that is damaged or loose must be completely removed. It is easiest to break the tiles with a hammer and then pry up the pieces with a cold chisel and hammer. If the tile was set in mortar, you’ll also have to replace the subfloor. Cut the old subfloor into small sections with a circular saw. (You can count on ruining the blade and, depending on the size of the room, you may need several.) Remove the sections with a pry bar.

Sometimes it is easier to install new underlayment than it is to remove the existing flooring. Keep in mind that each layer of flooring and underlayment on a floor increases the height of the floor. Consequently, you’ll have to undercut doorjambs and door stops to make them fit properly. Also the kickboard on the cabinets will be shorter if the flooring and underlayment is installed around the cabinets. Your biggest problem may come in later years when you try to remove a built-in dishwasher. To remove the machine you’ll have to lift the front edge, perhaps higher than the counter will allow, because of the now-higher floor. Sturdy pry bars make removing old flooring easier and quicker.

Preparing for removal

REMOVE THRESHOLDS BY PRYING THEM UP FROM THE FLOOR WITH A METAL PRY BAR. If the floor jambs were undercut to house the threshold, saw the threshold into two pieces and remove each piece separately. Since you’re removing the old flooring you don’t have to worry about the saw scarring the wood when you cut the threshold.

BASEBOARD OFTEN SITS ON TOP OF WOOD OR SHEET-VINYL FLOORS. If you need to remove the baseboard, pry it gently away from the wall with a flat pry bar. Protect the wall by putting a piece of wood between the bar and the wall.

GIVE YOURSELF EXTRA TIME - My friend was jazzed to put down his new tile floor. "I’ve got pretty much the whole weekend to chip the old tile off the slab and lay the new ones," he said. "Might take a little longer than that,” I warned him. He just laughed and said he was a fast worker. He started in with a hammer and cold chisel, then brought in his wife and two kids. After a weekend of the whole family chipping away by hand, he surrendered and rented a jackhammer to remove the remaining tiles. I reassured him that installing the new floor would be a breeze compared to removing the old flooring. In the end they loved their new floor but they’ll budget a little more time for the next project.

TO REMOVE COVE BASE FROM THE WALL, first run along the top with a utility knife to cut through any paint that may be holding it to the wall. Then loosen the cove base with a wide-blade putty knife and strip it away. Scrape the wall with the putty knife to remove any remaining adhesive.

CUT ALONG THE TOP OF WALL TILES WITH A UTILITY KNIFE. Pop each tile loose from the wall with a metal pry bar. If you are concerned about scratching or damaging your wall, place a scrap piece of wood behind the pry bar. Scrape the wall free of any remaining grout or adhesive.

REMOVE VINYL FLOORING AROUND CABINETS BY CUTTING WITH A SHARP UTILITY KNIFE along the base of the cabinets. If you have ceramic or hardwood flooring underneath the cabinets, you will probably have to remove the cabinets in order to pry up the flooring.

Removing carpet

1 TO REMOVE CARPET INSTALLED ON A TACKLESS STRIP, FIRST REMOVE ALL METAL EDGINGS, and the quarter round, if any, along the baseboard. Pry up the carpet corner and, working around the room, remove carpet from the strips along the walls. Then roll the carpet up and carry it out.

2 THE PAD UNDER THE CARPET IS USUALLY STAPLED IN PLACE. To remove it, grab one end of the pad and pull on it as you cross the room. Roll up the padding and remove it. Check the floor for staples that didn't come up with the padding and remove them. If the padding is glued down, remove it with a long-handled floor scraper. Sand the floor smooth with a floor sander if necessary.

Prying up carpet tacks - To remove carpet installed with carpet tacks, slide a flat pry bar under one edge of the carpet and pry up several tacks. Proceed until all tacks are removed.