We show up to the job and surprise, surprise, the floor is a wreck. It's an old Victorian-type house down in the city. The third floor attic was remodeled and turned into a master bedroom suite. New walls, new master bath, built in fireplace, the place was beautiful, except the floor. There were low boards, the floor sagged, and there were gaps between the baseboards and the floor. There were also gaps between the floor and the bottom of the new built-in bookcases and fireplace hearth. The baseboards, hearth, and bookcases were installed level, and of course the floor was not level.

The carpet is a low (just barely over a 1/4-inch thick) wool level loop Berber type carpet.

No way is it going to cover the gaps between the floor and baseboards, hearth, bookcases, etc. Some of the gaps are 3/4 of an inch (Photo 1).

Time was of the essence, of course, because, (and I know this comes as a big shock to you) the project was way behind and the customer was insisting it be done yesterday or preferably the day before yesterday.

So, down to the truck to see what we have to work with: about 3/4 of a box of covebase and a half of a sheet of 1/4-inch plywood.

We keep old covebase in the truck if we need to shim up tackstrip 1/8-inch or so. It's great; cut off the toe and you have a 1/8-inch shim (Photo 1A). The plywood was used to level the low boards in the floor (Photos 2 and 3).

The gaps between the floor, hearth, bookcase and baseboards were not even, but bowed, higher in some spots, lower in others.

This meant the base under the strip had to be layered in some areas to bring the strip up to the bottom of the walls (Photos 4, 5, and 6). The pad used was a 40-oz. Felt about 7/16-inch thick, which made for a good transition to the raised tackstrip. The end result was a great looking edge (Photos 7 and 8).

In closing, I would like to touch on what I feel is a very important and often overlooked part of floor prep. Clean the floor! Before we even put down strip, the floor is swept. Why? I don't like working in filth. We use two brooms, one for the edges and a push broom for the rest of the room (Photo 9).

For those of you who are not familiar with this tool, (you know who you are) it's that long stick with what looks like hair on one end (see Photo 9).

Then for the finish, we will vacuum the floor before putting down the pad or spreading glue (Photo 10).

Now before I start hearing, "What? Is he crazy? Too much time, too much expense! I don't get paid to do all that!"

The shop vac cost about $50, and works great for vacuuming the carpet after it's installed. And it doesn't take that much more time, maybe 15 minutes for 100 yards.

As for not getting paid "to do all that," I didn't get paid to do it before I started doing it either.

It adds another level of professionalism to your work and professionalism is something people will pay more for.