Builder and Washington Post columnist Tim Carter receives many questions from readers about products and installation techniques, but few tend to be emergencies. Recently, he received an inquiry from a reader whose home had been flooded in Houston, and he needed advice about how to repair the floors. But what he didn't know was how many waterproof hardwood flooring options there are available to builders and consumers. Not only does Carter teach him about the options, but also offers tips for where builders can find resources when they run into a problem or need tips and tricks.

Carter writes: We discussed finished flooring, and he was unaware of realistic wood-look solid vinyl flooring. When I showed him photos of how it comes in narrow strips like real wood and is waterproof, he was dumbfounded. I thought he had died and gone to Heaven he was so happy!

At the end of the call, Roger the homeowner asked me a very unusual question. He was thinking of starting to dive into the remodeling and contracting business and wanted to know what the best resources were where he could bone up on tips and techniques. Roger also expressed that he was terrified of getting taken to the cleaners by contractors and subcontractors who didn’t know how to do jobs the right way.

My advice was somewhat simple. Roger and I both agreed that the Internet right now is like the Wild West. In other words, there’s lots of danger out there and vast amounts of misinformation. The first thing I did was mention to Roger the existence of countless associations in the building products industry such as the Portland Cement Association, the Brick Industry Association, the California Redwood Association and others. Many of these groups have curated thousands of pages of professional illustrations or photos about the proper way to install their products. I’ve relied on this information for more than four decades myself. You simply can’t believe how much great information can be found using these resources.

Read More