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New flooring is expensive, and we are all looking for ways to get the most for our money. Don’t scrimp on the flooring material if you can avoid it. Instead, do some of the prep work yourself. It won’t be easy in most cases, but you can save a bundle.

Wear protective gear like gloves, safety glasses and a dust mask.

If you have carpeting, start by using a carpet knife to slide down the length every 3 feet across the floor. Use pliers to grab the carpet at the edge and pull it off the tack strip. Then start rolling it up. The 3-foot sections will make it easier to carry to the trash pile. You can do the same thing with the padding as well. To remove the tack strip, you will need to use a pry bar to pry it up. Use pliers to pull out any nails.

If you have vinyl flooring, it is possible to lay new flooring right over the old IF the old is firmly in place. If you plan to remove it, you will need to chip it off, then grind off the leftover adhesive. You can rent a powered floor scraper and grinder to save a lot of time. If your floor is older than 40 years, it may contain asbestos. If so, then removal will be much more costly and difficult, not to mention dangerous.

If you have tile, then that powered floor scraper will be a smart choice here too. The tiles need to be broken and then scraped off, including the grout and adhesive.

Vacuum and sweep up everything so you have a clean floor.

Depending upon what type of flooring you plan to put down, you can spread a thin layer of floor leveling compound on the surface. This will fill in holes, chips, gouges and low spots left behind after you have had your fun time. Good luck, and good job!

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Q: We have exhaust fans in several rooms in our home, mostly bathrooms. I have noticed that the one in our bathroom seems to let a lot of noise from the outside into the room. The fan seems to work OK, but I am concerned that something might be wrong with it. What should I check? – N.V.

A: The first thing we would suggest is to locate the damper for this fan. Look at your home’s exterior and see if you can determine where the vents are located in the house. Check them all to see if each has a working damper flap. If you find some that don’t swing freely or are missing, replace them. This will keep them in good working order and will prevent critters and rain from getting in.

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Q: I would like to see if there is a way to clean the plastic panel in my storm door. Our dog scratches on it and has just ruined it. What can I use to really get the scratches off the surface? – M.D.

A: Use the finest abrasive paste you can use. Ask for jeweler’s rouge. It won’t be as clear as glass, but this will help it look a little cleaner. Once you get it clean, add a metal grill over it to keep off the dog!

Shoptalk

BrickWeb is the fastest and easiest way to add a brick facade to a wall in your home. The real clay bricks are thin – so much lighter in weight than the real thing – and are attached to a mesh that can be hung in one piece over your adhesive base. Once set up, all you have to do is mortar the joints. It’s available in 12 color blends and in flat sheets as well as corner sheets. Just fit them together and do a whole wall in just a weekend. To find out more about how they are installed and where you can get some, go to www.installbrickweb.com.