Repair & Care
Pull Bars (Last Board Puller)
Pull bars provide an invaluable tool when doing floating installations, but can be useful for nailed and glued floors as well. One word of advice when choosing what type of pull bar is needed. The cheaper thin metal types sold at the big box stores may work for laminate flooring, but using thicker engineered floors with long lengths requires a heavy duty pull bar (shown right). Kahrs makes the best one I've seen.
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More force is needed to tighten or tap boards into place with these floors. The cheaper pull bars will bend too easily and you may find yourself tossing it in the trash after finishing a few rows. Better quality pull bars are more rigid and can take the punishment of major blows with a hammer.
When Are Pull Bars Needed?
Pull bars are used for engaging boards as they run vertically across the installation. When a row end piece is cut to fit, the pull bar is used to tap it into place snug with the adjacent board. In some cases pry bars will work, but try doing it with a six foot long board and you're bound to damage the drywall or finished baseboard. Other times they are needed include pulling in that last row or board. Hence the name last board puller. Shown above we have the last board that was ripped to fit with a table saw. Glue was applied then drawn back against the previous board to ensure a tight fit. These tools are also invaluable when installing the last row under kitchen cabinet toe kicks.
Other Notes About Pull Bars
Make sure the bottom of the bar that rests on the finished floor has some protection. Many are sold with felt strip backing that will protect the finished floor when in use. Others without any protection can easily cause unsightly dings. When using the pull bar, place some weight on the handle when tapping. At times, given the right whack or two it can bounce out of the expansion area between board and baseboard/drywall, and land on the floor causing dings and dents.