My fingers are numb and my hands hurt whenever I breathe. Also, the rest of my body hurts. I’m typing this with the end of a ballpoint pen I have duct-taped to my wrist.
You see, we are having new floors installed in our house next week, partially because my wife has wanted new floors since the day we moved in, but mostly because our Labrador retriever retrieved a bottle of blue food coloring from the counter one afternoon and ate it on the carpet.
It looks like someone murdered a Smurf in our living room.
Half of our downstairs is carpet, and the other half is hardwood. It’s the hardwood part that has crippled me.
You see, along with the rather large sum of money our flooring guy quoted us for the actual installation of the new flooring, came a slightly smaller, but still substantial amount of money quoted for removing our existing hardwood.
He explained that we were more than welcome to remove the old hardwood floors ourselves, but the $1600 quoted to remove them was such a big amount in order to cover the possibility that the floors were installed with the Devil Glue.
He explained that when you try to remove the first board from the concrete floor, you will see one of two colors of glue underneath. If the glue is dark brown and hard, the old boards will pop right off the concrete like they just can’t wait to get out of the house. And if the glue is light tan and spongy, your best bet is to sell the house and move somewhere with dark brown glue.
I laughed. “Ha, ha,” I said, “it can’t be that bad.”
On Monday I popped up a four-inch section of the first board, after fighting with it for about twenty minutes, to reveal the dreaded spongy tan Devil Glue.
That wasn’t so bad, I thought to myself. And $1600 is a lot of money. I can do this.
I cannot do this. Our hardwood floors are apparently installed to withstand a category five tornado, and a category one thousand hurricane, combined.
If all the major and minor earthquake faults in California triggered at once, and the entire state was ground into a fine dust by a three bazillion magnitude quake, the only recognizable thing floating out into the Pacific Ocean would be our entryway and kitchen floors, still joined by a short hallway, completely unscathed by something so trivial.
Our floor guy’s advice was to use a Skil saw and actually cut the floor into six-inch strips, perpendicular to the length of the planks. I did that. We now have sawdust on every single square inch of the house, including the ceiling. We have sawdust in the pockets of jackets that were hanging in the back-bedroom closets upstairs.
Besides having six months of dusting ahead of us, and some seriously impressive boogers, I’m not sure the sawing effort helped greatly in any other way.
I have purchased every single prying, scraping, and chiseling tool offered at both Home Depot and Lowe’s, and in the past day and a half I have managed to remove about six square feet of flooring – an area roughly the size of two kitchen chairs.
When I was able to stand mostly upright again, I even suggested the idea to my wife of buying a Bosch handheld planer I saw at Lowe’s, and grinding the boards off, one by one. Plus, I thought it was a great excuse to own my own handheld planer. She politely pointed out that that was probably my worst idea ever, since we would need to back a dump truck up to the front door and load the resulting sawdust out of the house with snow shovels.
I told her politely that it was certainly not my worst idea ever, since about three square feet in I was seriously considering whether I could open some windows and adequately contain a gasoline fire that could burn the floors off. And also grenades.
She agreed those ideas were worse.
I’ll tell you what is starting to sound more and more like a good idea: paying our flooring guy $1600 to handle the Devil Glue. When you think about it, that’s pretty cheap compared to the cost of the full body cast I’m going to end up in to get the next six square feet.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen
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