Saturday, March 24, 2018

DIY Flooring Project

When we first moved into our house, my wife and I knew that our floors were not long for this world. Last summer, after going through the process of deciding what flooring to use, we settled on a floating laminate floor from Costco. While it was one of the lesser expensive floors that we tested, it was surprisingly also one of the more durable. And when I went to purchase it, it was on sale: score! It took two truckloads to load 90 cases of flooring in my garage (in 116 degree weather), but I was ready to go.

And with that first hammer swing to remove the first tile, my project was on. I told my wife, "I don't see why I couldn't be done with this by Fall Break." She lovingly accepted my confidence, but after 19 years of marriage, she knew to mentally add six months to my optimistic estimate. I chipped tile, pulled out carpet, hauled the wreckage to the dumpster, begged my friend Stan to help, cut my leg with broken tile, filled the house with tile dust, and sweated like there was no tomorrow. The first hour of the project was complete!

Throughout the following weeks, I worked methodically from room to room, removing the flooring in the area that I was working in, laying the moisture barrier, and installing the floor. My table saw, miter saw, and jig saw lived on the back patio, sawdust was a regular part of our lives, and I was making progress. The kids did not care for the installation part of the project, but they were with me for every stage of demolition.

Every day off, every weekend, and many an evening was devoted to this project. Days turned into weeks, which turned into months. I was like a machine:

- Move the furniture out.
-Tear the floor up.
- Install the new floor.
- Add felt pads to the bottom of the furniture.
-Move the furniture in.
- Repeat ad nauseam.

At work, people asked me what I was doing for the weekend. "Working on the flooring project," I'd say, to which they responded, "Still?"

By Fall Break I had finished the downstairs. Guests, travel plans, and holidays then put a two month hiatus on the flooring, so my saws were put back in the garage, the sawdust was cleaned up, and life was as normal as it ever can be in this house.

Then, the day after New Year's Day, I began again with renewed vigor. Of course when I started with my girls' room, we decided that while the flooring was pulled out we might as well paint. So we slowed things down just enough to give the girls a minor makeover.

Demo, install. Demo, install. On and on. Room after room. My Duluth leather gloves were starting to develop holes. My tap block was almost completely worn down. But on I went with the tenacity of Don Quixote battling a windmill.

And then something magical happened. In the beginning of March, I cut and installed the final piece. Nine months after starting, every square inch of flooring in our house had been replaced. I was done.

I barely had time to step back and enjoy the completion of the project before I was on to the next one, and I know that if I took the time to figure out what my time is worth versus what it would have cost to hire a professional I probably would come out in the red, but the fact of the matter is, I did it. My kids helped and watched and learned that we can do hard things. Hopefully they learned through this experience never to give up. To enjoy the fruits of your labor. That hard work pays off. And that even through the sweat and blood there is time to spend with your family.

And hopefully this flooring will last as long as I'm expecting so I don't have to spend another nine months replacing it.

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