Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: The Floors

ready to come inside? are you sure you’re ready? are you positively sure you’re sure? because there is something in here that will rival the ridiculousness of the speaker that’s implanted into the ceiling.

it’s not a mirage: the floor in the living room really is ceramic tile. and that thing in the center really is a medallion.

star of Chuy: Mo and i have created a character named Uncle Chuy whom we blame for all the ugly in the house. he’s the evil mastermind behind the pepto pink paint, the shit-smeared room, the speaker in the ceiling and medallion in the living room. although this isn’t saying much, the medallion is actually one of the few things in the house that Chuy must have executed when he wasn’t totally drunk. it was clearly his passion project.

check the wheelbarrow! Mo’s painstaking project was pulling the tile up, which he did, one tile at a time.

the ripper stripper: that piece of machine couldn’t cut water. we rented it for the day, hoping it would speed up the floor demo like the guys at the rental shop said it would. sadly, it did nothing but make a lot of noise, and was returned the shop two hours later with regrets. i almost ripped a new one into the store guy for suggesting that i should pay for the rental. (clearly, i was not at Micky Mouse Hardware.)

meanwhile: i was pulling up the laminate flooring in the bedrooms and throwing the boards out the window.

damn you, Chuy! underneath the laminate were hardwood floors. hardwood floors!! who the hell covers up perfectly good hardwood flooring with laminate flooring, huh?

nevermind: a consultation with my contractor revealed that the hardwood floors were in pretty bad shape and not worth salvaging. the wood was douglas fir, which is one of the softest wood species around. contractor said he could refinish the floors, but that they would look wrecked again in three months.

still plugging away: Mo spent a few days working on the floors, saving the demo of the medallion until the very end.

ghost of Chuy: the tile was cemented to big sheets of wonderboard, which Mo pulled up after the tile was done. it was actually a little sad to see the medallion go. it served as the target of so much good-natured ridicule that i began to imagine Chuy as a real uncle to me — the type of uncle who would have sold me this old house. i imagined inviting him over for dinner once the house was done and him noticing all of his handiwork destroyed. he would ask me why i found his beloved medallion so offensive and i would look down in embarrassment and not really know what to say. then i would offer him a drink and we’d get drunk together and laugh it off, making jokes about that one time he tried to touch me inappropriately when i was a teenage girl.

heart of Chuy: Mo made sure to pull up the center of the medallion in one solid piece. we didn’t have the heart to throw it out with the rest of the broken tile, so we stored it in the garage for safekeeping, with the promise that we’ll find some way to incorporate it into the house’s ultimate decor.

more hardwood: pulling up the wonderboard revealed red oak floors in the living room, also too busted to restore. when it was done, we noticed that the floors had some soft spots that would give a bit too much when stepped on. there were some lumps and dips, too, with the floor in the hallway noticeably sloped (a sad harbinger of things to come).

at this point, Mo and i stepped away from the house, our muscles sore and faces covered with muck. with the demo done, the time had come to bring in the contractor and his crew, whose work would involve putting down new bamboo flooring, among other things like priming, painting and moving the plumbing in the kitchen around.

sounds simple enough, but there have already been a slew of unexpected delays and surprise expenses, with move-in now pushed back to mid-may instead of may 1. i have noted this as my first lesson in homeownership: it takes twice as long and costs twice as much as they said it would.

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