flooring: the before

Our lovely little house was built in 1979. The older couple who owned the house previously were apparently fans of thin white berber carpet. You may not be surprised to learn that Mr. Phish and I are not so much fans of thin white berber carpet. Or the original 1970s brown linoleum in the kitchen. Check it out–righteous, man!
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To be fair, it totally matches the poop-brown countertops, the headache-inducing yellow paint, the floral curtains and the rooster in the dining room. Egad. This photo reminds me of how far we have come.

Soooo…the biggest project we wanted to tackle with the house was to replace the flooring.

The white berber was abso-freaking-lutely everywhere–the bathrooms, the dining room, the basement. So we did some research and decided on a fantastic oh-so-soft carpet for the bedrooms, vinyl for the bathrooms (which is just good sense, people), and hardwood for the main living area. The carpet and vinyl went quickly–we went to our favorite big-box store, picked them out, and they were installed. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

The hardwood was more complicated. At one point, there was tile in the entryway, and the previous owners just pulled up the tile and laid that crisp white berber right over the raised subfloor. And the original 1970s linoleum had its own raised subfloor awesomeness. Big-box guy told us we should just lay the wood directly over the subfloors, no problemo. I felt skeptical about this, as the height difference was nearly an inch. But I quelled my doubts and we ordered the flooring. First it was backordered. Then it was unavailable, never to be back in stock. Then somehow a bunch of it appeared in a distribution center in Georgia. Then it was spoken for. Then it was not spoken for and on its way to us. At some point in this process, I became exasperated with big-box store and canceled the order. A month and a half into the process, we started over.

I ended up going with a local place, and their detail guy said the subfloors would need to come up. And we ordered new wood from a mill in Maine. It was pricier but I felt good about buying American and it seemed to be a much better product than we had found at big-box. But then there wasn’t enough to fulfill our order, so they had to make an entirely new batch, just for us. Which took time. Weeks and weeks.

At some point during these endless weeks, we had to actually move in to the house. We had delayed our move-in date as long as we could and had used the time to accomplish much painting and wallpaper-stripping. But moving day arrived, floor or no floor. Mr. Phish had already ripped up the nasty berber, and we couldn’t really live on greasy, gritty subfloors. So I did the only logical thing: I built a cardboard floor. I hear you asking, what’s a cardboard floor? Well, feast your eyes on this:
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It’s a floor, made entirely of cardboard and blue painter’s tape. It wasn’t glamorous but it lasted far longer than I ever thought it would need to–I was anticipating it would be a stop-gap kind of thing, just to get us moved in and through a week or two until the floors were in. Wrong.
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We rocked those cardboard floors for two. full. months. Some interesting factoids about cardboard floors: you can vacuum them. They instantly absorb liquids of all types and hide stains remarkably well. They do not retain heat. I would not recommend cardboard floors under your dining room table. Just trust me.

The boogies loved them. Genevieve quickly figured out that the floors were made of her favorite scratching material, so she started just scratching wherever she wanted. They would get a corner peeled up and then jump and bat at it like there were bugs underneath the cardboard. And they tore down the hall 100 miles an hour and slid halfway across the room. Cardboard floors are big-time fun for boogies.
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But then we got the magic phone call! Our wood had arrived. After two more weeks, just to really test my patience, here’s what was delivered to our house last night:
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That, my friends, is 40 glorious boxes of natural hickory hardwood flooring. Words cannot adequately convey the rapture with which I gaze upon these boxes. There were times I was certain this day would never come. But it did. It did!
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With the flooring in my basement, the anxiety set in. What if they couldn’t get the subfloor up? What if it was the wrong wood? What if they put it in crooked? It was so much money–the biggest house expense by far–and after four months of drama, I just wanted it to be okay.

Tomorrow: flooring: the during.

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3 thoughts on “flooring: the before

  1. Pingback: flooring: the during | this clever camera

  2. Pingback: flooring: the after | this clever camera

  3. Pingback: our year in review: 2013 | this clever camera

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