Must Floor Be Taken Up?


QUESTION: We are considering laying a new vinyl floor in our kitchen. Our home was built in the 1930s, and there are some dips and sags here and there--nothing serious, though. Should we take up our existing vinyl flooring and add a layer of underlayment before installing the new floor?

ANSWER: Your new floor will have a more uniform look if you do this, but laying underlayment involves quite a bit of work. Not only will you have to scribe all the sheets to fit, you may also need to cut off the bottom of any doors to allow clearance above the now-thicker floor. The cracks between the underlayment panels must be filled, and depressions caused by nails required to install the panels must also be filled.

Many resilient flooring and flooring adhesives installed before the early 1980s contained asbestos. This asbestos is safe when left in place, but tearing it up will send some of it into the air unless precise EPA abatement procedures are followed. All and all, a vinyl-over-vinyl installation is better.

What Are Guidelines for Ceiling Height?

Q: The ceiling in our living room is in bad shape. Rather than fixing it, we plan to install a lowered ceiling. Are there any guidelines as to ceiling height?

A: The height of a new ceiling should be no less than 7 feet 6 inches. In some cases 6 feet 6 inches is acceptable under beams or bay windows. You can construct a slightly lower ceiling in a kitchen, provided at least half of it is at least 7 feet 6 inches.

The ceiling height should be a minimum of 7 feet 6 inches for at least half the area of the room. However, this area might not represent the whole floor. Mark all the sloping ceilings to the desirable minimum height above the floor, then use a plumb line to mark the floor directly below. The area of the floor within the marked lines represents the area used to calculate the ceiling height.


Submit questions to Popular Mechanics, Reader Service Bureau, 224 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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