Subfloor Stress Saving Tools.

In my previous post I talked about my summer adventure ripping out and replacing the subflooring in my house.  In this post I will list and briefly discuss ten tools that I feel are absolute necessities to accomplish any subflooring repair or replacement job on the planet.    Though some tools on the list are probably more useful than others on the list, they are not listed in any particular order of importance.  This list is primarily discussing the tools that were most important in the removal of old subflooring, however I did use/need each one of these tools in the installation of the new subflooring as well.  Each tool listed in this post can be bought or researched by following the link provided below each picture.

#1 – The oscillating multi-tool

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I did not own this tool when I started the job, but I do not think that I could have done/finished the job without it.  Oscillating multi-tools have many different functions and are compatible with many different attachments from sanding to cutting wood and metals.  These tools allow you to cut subflooring flush with walls and thresholds.  Demolition blades that cut both wood and metal allow you to move nail infested boards with relative ease.  This is the exact tool that I used for my project and although it was one of the cheapest oscillating multi-tools that I could find, it was worth its weight in gold.

 

#2 – Reciprocating Saw

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Reciprocating saws perform similarly to oscillating multi-tools with the exception of having considerably more power and not being able to cut flush with walls or thresholds due to the blade not being offset like that of the multi-tool.  Like the multi-tool, demolition blades made for cutting through wood and metal can be purchased for this tool which make cutting through nailed and screwed lumber a much easier task.  When cutting along walls and thresholds I would typically cut as close as I could to the threshold with the more powerful, quicker cutting reciprocating saw and then come back with the multi-tool for a flush, more precise result.

 

#3 – Circular Saw

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A circular saw is the way to go to remove subflooring when working in an open area away from walls, thresholds, and other tight areas.  They cut faster than a reciprocating saw and more accurately than a multi-tool.  Typically circular saws have guide plates that adjust for different depths of cut.  This is a very handy feature when you know the thickness of your subflooring.  For example, if you know that your subfloor is 3/4″ thick, you can set the depth of cut on your circular saw to 3/4″ and cut our a lot of material quickly without having to waste time being cautious not to cut through any of your floor joists.

 

#4 – Pry Bars

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When both removing and replacing subflooring it is often required to remove any baseboards and floor trim in the area in order to cut the old subflooring flush with the wall.  You will likely need more than one pry bar in order to do this without ruining your trim and baseboards.  Pry bars are also needed to pry up old subflooring, move new subflooring into place, and removing protruding nails that will not allow new subflooring to lay flush.

 

#5 – Tape MeasureDSCF5843

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I like to think that this one is pretty obvious, so I will not insult anyone’s intelligence with an explanation.

 

#6 – Hammers/Maul

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In some areas of my house the subfloor was so rotted that I just knocked it off with a hammer.  Hammers also come into play in positioning new subflooring into place, removing nails, and believe it or not hammering nails in.

 

#7 – Chisel

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This chisel came in very handy when working in tight corners and places where the subfloor terminated under a wall where I could not get to it with the reciprocating saw or the multi-tool.  When that was the case I would just cut flush with the wall then use a hammer and chisel to remove the remainder of the board that lay between the wall and the floor joists.

 

#8 – Impact Driver

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Impact drivers are great because they eliminate the need for predrilling a pilot hole before you screw into wood in most situations, which speeds up the building process greatly.  For subfloor removal purposes any type of drill (not specifically an impact drill/driver) will likely be needed in order to remove wood that is screwed to the floor joists.  Prying screws up with a pry bar can damage and split the joists, compromising their integrity.  I would specifically recommend an impact drill/driver for the installation of subflooring due to the fact that it will save you tons of time on drilling pilot holes and will not split your wood without them.

 

#9 – Headlight

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This may seem a little off of the wall, but my house is not the best lit place in the world and although I did use a work light, I was often working in several rooms at a time and climbing up and down from below the house to back inside the house and the light refused to follow.  It is not practical to carry a flashlight around and I often found myself praying to grow a second, third, fourth, ad fifth arm out of necessity for holding boards and other tools anyway.  A headlight was invaluable to me on this project due to the amount of hands-free portable light that it provided.

 

#10 – Wet/Dry Vac

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Installing a subfloor on a new construction home would likely eliminate the need for this tool to be on the list of necessities.  I was not installing a subfloor on a new construction home.  I was sawing, cutting, throwing, flinging, hammering, nailing, and screwing all in my one and only home, the place where I live, the place where my wife lives, and the place where my three kids live.  Needless to say if I worked in a dirt and dust production factory I would have been employee of the month.  This wet/dry vac made life a lot easier than it would have been without it.  I still used the old faithful broom and dust pan quite a bit, but the vac not only eliminated the need for them often, it did the job much quicker and more efficiently.

 

I would not attempt to tackle any subfloor replacement job without any one of these tools listed above.  The job could be done without them, but the time and effort that they will save you make it highly impractical.  Should you find yourself facing the task of replacing subflooring I hope that you do not find the need for these tools the hard way as I did.  If you found this post useful or simply liked the read I would appreciate it if you would like, comment, and subscribe below.  Should you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.  Thank you!

 

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Summer of the subfloor.

jakes subfloorless hall

As a middle school teacher and coach I find myself at a loss for leisure time during the months of August through May.  As May 2017 was rapidly running out of days I was beginning to get more and more excited about the relaxing summer break that would soon be upon me.  June was spent mostly catching up on rest and time missed with the family during the busy school and sports year, as well as putting off the replacement of some recently buckled flooring in the pier and beam house that my wife and I bought in November 2015 .  With the arrival of July also came the reality of only having a few weeks left of summer to start and complete my flooring project.  Though planning is not really my strength, I decided to turn over a new leaf.  I researched flooring and installation online, spoke to professional flooring installers, priced and compared materials, and even made a price list.  Once I was satisfied with the data I accumulated I took my $500 end of the year bonus down to the nearest home improvement store and bought some nice premium engineered vinyl plank flooring along with underlayment and a few tools to help the job go as smooth as possible.

 

Just as I had reached the me loving some well-prepared me peak, I began to pull up the old vinyl tile flooring in the utility room.   Now I have heard the quote that “everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face” numerous times throughout my life, but as it turns out plans also go out of the window when you are punched in the gut as well.  With every tile that I pulled up I discovered another section of spongy, rotten subfloor underneath.  I frantically removed tile after tile until I found myself no longer in the utility room, but halfway down the hallway still searching for solid subflooring.  I was in denial for about 2 days before I eventually came back to reality and realized that our entire home was resting on a rotten subfloor.  Uh-oh.

 

rotten subfloor

 

The rest of July and the first two weeks of August I did nothing but demolish and replace subflooring as well as address some water issues that were occurring under my house.  It was a lot of hard work, and I am not nearly finished with the entire house, but it was a great learning experience for me.  I am pretty handy, and even more determined, but it was definitely a challenging job.  Our house was built in the 1950’s when it was very common in our area to use tongue-and-groove 1×6’s run diagonally for a house’s subfloor.  Though this technique makes for a nice, thick subfloor, it also becomes a nightmare to replace when the wood rots.  With a plywood subfloor you can simply cut out the bad sections of the wood, block underneath, and cut a piece of plywood equivalent in thickness and replace.  The 1×6’s on the other hand have each board spanning at least half of the house.  Even if there is one solid board in a rotten area it must be cut out to replace the other rotten boards.  These 1×6 boards also make replacing subflooring one room at a time nearly impossible due to the fact that the board may be very rotten its entire span, so as you try to cut it even with the wall or entrance of one room, it may be crumbling under the adjoining wall or entrance of the next room, making it necessary to begin replacement in that room as well.

 

subfloor by return

 

 

I cannot honestly say that I enjoy the discovery of my rotten subfloor or the money that I had to spend on materials to replace what I pulled out, but I can say that I enjoyed the construction process overall.  I am nowhere near finished with the job, as the majority of our house will still have to have its flooring ripped up and subfloor replaced, but at least I am not completely oblivious to the problem that exist.  I plan on tackling the areas that are in the worst shape this coming summer which will be the master bathroom and living room.  May 2018 may not be filled with daydreams of a lazy, relaxing summer the way its 2017 counterpart was, but at least July 2018 will not hold the same nasty surprise its 2017 did.

 

subfloor butt

Please disregard my butt in the background.  I will have a post about a few tools that made this job infinitely easier than going at it without them shortly.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me via the email address on my contact page.  Thanks for reading!