What I'm Seeing Now


Jay's Floor 3 - I'm A Real Square

The entry to the living room abuts the hallway hardwood floor, which was installed when the house was built 10 1/2 years ago.  That being true, the first course has to be very squarely laid against what is there.  If it is not square, the new does not abut properly to the old, AND, very importantly, when I get to the far wall of the dining room the last piece of flooring will have to be ripped at an odd angle to fit.  That will not look good.  If the quarter round at the bottom of the floor molding is not parallel to the new floor the job looks unprofessional.

There are two advantages to starting square to the entry:

1.  The flooring will draw the eye into the living room.

2.  The planks will be perpendicular to the floor joists below.  If I select the wood carefully, each plank will have at least one brad into a joist.  That will make for a stronger, and probably quieter, floor.

At 3.25" wide, I figure there will be 133 planks, or courses, between the living room wall and the far dining room wall.  So, if the first course is not square at the beginning, it will be way out of square at the end.

How to you start with a very square edge?

I checked the yellow pages, under "Square," and called the number.  Someone named Pythagoras showed up.  A nice fellow, but oddly he only speaks Greek.

He was very likable, despite the thick glasses and pillow under his shirt.

After much arm flailing and hard to understand words, I got him a pencil and paper.

He loved the pencil! But he drew a box, then another, and then another.

I labeled them and he didn't like that.  He understood the A and the B, but not the C.  So how did I know there was no C in Greek?  Anyway, he was showing me that I can square the first plank with a careful measurement.  This is exactly how decks are squared against the house.  Carpenter's use this technique all the time.

After he left, I began to square the first piece.  You have to play with it for a while.  But, sooner than you think, you will get something that looks as good as mine does! 

There!! Nailed it!

Well, you can see that nothing is nailed yet, but obviously this will be one square floor!

I worked at it for a while and was proud with the final result.

A few courses later and veeeoola! 

I think it worked out.

So, the moral of the story is:  When you are feeling pressure and hype over a project, remember to --




When I wrote that out for Pythagoras he didn't like it either.  It seems there is no x or y in Greek.

That's OK.  I didn't understand much of what he said either. 


That, my friends, is the old and the VERY SQUARE new.

And Pythagoras?  I let him keep the pencil.


Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 5 commentsJay Markanich • June 22 2009 08:22PM


I'm trying to follow this remodel but I'm tellin' you it's getting harder than Korean algebra!

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

Jay, me thinks you need to lay off the beer until AFTER you are all done:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 11 years ago

Sorry Barbara!  There are other ways to find a square, but I like that old tried and true technique I learned from carpentry!  Wow, I bet Korean algebra IS hard...!

Charlie - no time.  Did you know that the pilgrim group that landed at Plymouth Rock was on its way to Virginia but ran out of beer and had to stop looking for fresh water?  True story...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 11 years ago

Jay, That method is waaaaaay to complicated. I just use my fingers and eye ball it.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 11 years ago

Wow, James, you have square fingers?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 11 years ago

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