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Dry Area Before Installing Wood Floor


QUESTION: I would like to install a strip oak tongue-and-groove floor on top of an above-grade concrete slab. However, I've heard horror stories of costly wood floors buckling from moisture. How can I avoid problems caused by moisture that might accumulate in the area under the slab?

ANSWER: A hardwood floor can be installed on a concrete slab at or above grade. The Oak Flooring Institute recommends against below-grade installations.

Moisture is the chief culprit in hardwood floor buckling, so test the slab for dryness. Tape one square foot of clear polyethylene sheet to the slab, and seal its edges with plastic tape. If after 24 hours no clouding or moisture droplets have formed under it, the slab is dry enough to install a wood floor.

To prevent moisture from reaching the underside of the hardwood floor, place a vapor barrier of either building felt or polyethylene plastic over the slab before installation.

Remedies for Water Stains on Furniture

Q: Our new credenza was marred by a ring when someone carelessly placed a wet glass on it. We tried to get it out with furniture polish, but no luck. Do you have any suggestions short of stripping and refinishing our furniture?

A: If the damage has completely penetrated the finish, you'll have to strip and refinish. If it hasn't, try these simpler methods.

Place a blotter over the ring and hold a warm clothing iron against the blotter for a few seconds. Set the iron at its lowest heat position. If it doesn't lift the ring after a few tries, attempt to rub out the ring. Apply a very mild abrasive, such as pumice, or use the finest grade of steel wool with a lubricant, such as boiled linseed oil or lemon oil. This can remove some rings left by water staining.

Applying a poultice of olive oil and salt and leaving it for several hours may also remove stains. For stains left by alcohol, try using a few drops of household ammonia on a dampened cloth.


To submit a question, write to Popular Mechanics, Reader Service Bureau, 224 W. 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019. The most interesting questions will be answered in a future column.

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