Building Confidence

Volume 14 Issue 5
ISSN 1923-7162

Welcome to Dave's Shop Talk's Home Improvement Newsletter of questions from our members on their construction projects, a Tip of the Month and a home remodeling article, both from our website at

Tip of the Month

Before working on your kitchen or bathroom taps or the water supply to a dishwasher, turn off the water first. The shut-off for the dishwasher is usually under the sink.

And a Bonus Tip:

To get rid of moss or algae off your sidewalks or driveway, use TSP and bleach in warm water. Keep clear of grassy areas.


Welcome to Dave's Shop Talk and thank you for your support. We appreciate your business and will try to exceed your expectations.

Here is a little about ourselves and our site. If you are not a member we encourage you to become one. You can register right here! is owned and operated by two brothers. Dave Osborne is the construction expert and Dan is his webmaster. Dave, the older and wiser (he says) brother is over 70 with more than 50 years experience as a professional carpenter, 12 of those years under the excellent tutelage of our father whose expertise and integrity made him legendary. Our dad started as a ships carpenter and then foreman during World War II finishing a liberty ship every two weeks in the harbour at Vancouver, Canada. From there his career in construction just went up until he was Project Manager of multi-million dollar projects around the world. All with a grade 8 education and near painful modesty, but more than enough practical know-how to daunt the most outspoken engineer.

We welcome you to check out our website. We provided a construction dictionary that has links to it in each of the articles and plans, which you can see at: You will know it is a definition when you put your mouse over the link and the cursor changes to a question mark. Click on the highlighted link and you will be taken to the definition of that word in the dictionary.

You can search our site for keywords from every page of our website. You can print off the plans directly from the webpage; the printer friendly link removes all unneeded images and puts most of the page in plain black and white to save you ink. You can download the stair calculator directly to your laptop and use it without having to be connected to the internet.

Checkout our Newsletter archive at for answers to questions about projects from members. Sign up for a free subscription if you have not already. If you need to contact either of us, click on the Contact link on the bottom of any web page and go from there (or just reply to this email).

Remember your renewal is automatic unless you cancel your membership. Your membership fee will not increase as long as you don't cancel. We hope your stay will be a long and happy one. Register here.

Dave and Dan

Our Purpose

The purpose of is to provide numerous articles on how to do many projects in our construction industry. Included also is a dictionary of construction terms, tables of specifications, calculators, tips and jigs as well as plans. Members can email Dave questions on their construction projects. Dave usually answers within a day or so and sometimes within hours.

If the question is of general interest, I will add it to one of the following web pages:

If you have a question about upholstery, please feel free to ask Dave's wife, Frances, who has been a professional upholsterer for about 30 years. Her page of answers is called Upholstery: Answers to Questions at

You Are In Control

To cancel your membership and its recurring payment, simply click on the cancel link at the bottom of any of our web pages. This will take you to a web page where you can cancel your membership. You will still have full access to everything on the site (including email answers from Dave) for whatever time period still remains from your last payment.

Although we made it extremely easy for you to cancel, we hope you prefer to take full advantage of our site and service!

Best regards,
Dan Osborne
Webmaster of Dave's Shop Talk

(The following article is from our website:   Become a member today!)

NOTE: The full article on our site has 5 photos that show in detail what is being discussed.

Remodeling 8: How to Install a Laminate Floor

These days a laminate floor is a popular item. It is inexpensive, easily installed and does not need to be sanded or finished. My nephew, a hardwood floor installer, calls it a disposable floor. That is exactly what it is. When the floor is worn out and all scratched up, it is easily ripped up, discarded and replaced. Laminate refers to the material it is made from - plastic laminate. Yes, the same stuff, the plastic laminate of cabinet counter top fame, known as Arborite, Formica, etc.

The difference in the laminate floor and the laminate counter top is the HDF base. HDF is high density fiberboard. Most of us have heard or worked with MDF, medium density fiberboard, so are familiar with the terminology. With the HDF base, the flooring is less subjected to dents from falling objects. The finish is protected by many layers of polyurethane coatings. If you respect the flooring, wear socks instead of leather shoes, it will stand up a long time. You can even use this flooring in bathrooms, after applying additional coats of polyurethane, as advised by the manufacturer.

When laminate flooring first came out, the boards were glued together in their tongue and groove joints. Now, they are manufactured with click together tongue and groove joints. They are just as easily dismantled, no glue is needed, no fasteners are used to attach the flooring to the sub-floor. It remains a floating floor, usually laid on top of a thin Styrofoam blanket to add cushioning, fill in small hollows and prevent passage of moisture to the fiberboard and upper layer of laminate. Moisture and laminate do not get along well together. Whether the moisture is from below or above, so use only a slightly damp cloth for cleanup. Most times use a dry mop for best results. Okay, now we know the basics of the product, let's install it. Like any typical flooring job, a good layout is essential. Remove any baseboard and nails from the walls. Measure the width and length of the room, so you can see if the length of the room will give short ends or the width of the room will have a narrow strip on the far side. You can prevent this with a little planning by cutting the first board in half to allow a bigger piece to be left at the other end. Likewise, by ripping a piece off the starter board a larger piece is left at the other wall, when we are finished.

Notice if the first strip of laminate needs to be trimmed for a crooked wall or slight bow. By scribing the first starter strip, we avoid having air under the baseboard instead of a consistent piece of laminate against the starter wall. You need an even margin of 1/4" between the wall and the laminate all around. This stuff needs to expand and contract, so allow for that. The laminate should go under any door jambs, so cut these off, before getting too close to them. I usually, lay a scrap piece of laminate, upside down on the floor, against the jamb, rest my reciprocating saw blade on it and proceed to cut the bottom of the jamb and casing off. Allow 1/4" expansion, to the wall, under the jamb, as well.

Once the first strip is laid against the wall, things will go a bit faster. Prepare some 1/4" shims to use against the laminate and the wall, at the sides and the ends. Stagger the joints by at least 9" by using the cutoff piece from the end, at the start of the next row.

Some manufacturers suggest doing a complete row, from one wall to the other. Assemble the strips end to end, cutoff what you need to have 1/4" space from the wall on the last strip, tilt the entire row up enough to get the whole length started in the groove of the existing row and carefully bring the row down, with a slight pressure into the groove. Extra hands are helpful to do this. A block of 2x4 x 12" to 18" is handy to tap the strip into the existing one, by keeping the block flat on the floor and pivoting one end out and quickly slap the strip to tighten the joint completely. A small slap is all that is required to tighten the joint. Don't beat the tongue up by mushrooming the HDF material by hitting the strip, too much. Continue in this fashion across the room, ripping the remainder of the strip to allow a 1/4" space for expansion on the ends and the sides.

When finished the entire floor, replace the baseboard and enjoy what you have completed with your own hands.

Almost the End

Hope you enjoy the Newsletter this month.

Our motto is Building Confidence. If you need advice on Building or on your projects at work or home you can make a very small investment and subscribe to our website, then send me any questions or uncertainties you might have via email. There is no extra charge. That is all part of your membership to our site!

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(Ask Dave) (About Dave)

Your source for building tips, woodworking & furniture plans, house plans and building advice directly from Dave...

Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.


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