Regular readers of this site will know that I promised to post about certain topics this year in a somewhat vain attempt to keep myself on track with New Years Resolutions. So, here’s one installment of that plan, and certainly the most difficult of the bunch. Here’s how I converted my family’s carpeted family room into a formal living and dining room, with a some help from my wife, father, and father-in-law. Oh, and Home Depot. There’s a guy over there named Scott who probably deserves a plaque somewhere in the room.
Step 1: Go to Home Depot, drop to your knees in awe, then make your selections
Seriously. The variety of options that modern home stores can present in any number of areas is staggering. There were seemingly endless color options, wood and laminate types, and installation methods available. We, after much debate, settled on a hand scraped bamboo, installed as a floating floor (no nails or glue), in a color called “walnut.”
I then spent the next 14 hours asking questions to the orange aproned flooring guy who was wishing that he had taken the day off. I left there with about 250 square feet of bamboo flooring, 450 square feet of underlayment, a hardwood flooring installation kit, a double sided carpet knife, a set of kneepads, and a receipt declaring that I had ordered another 200 square feet of bamboo to be delivered to the store later.
Step 2: Sit in the room and stare catatonically
This step is to be repeated at random, unpredictable times throughout. Usually mid-afternoon. Always after asking yourself this question: what the hell am I doing?
Step 3: Pull up the carpet
This, I found is not as easy as I had expected. For some reason, I thought that I would cut lines in the carpet, give it a tug, and throw it on the curb for the trash guys to deal with.
Instead, I spent days scoring and rescoring carpet, yanking, pulling, tugging, cajoling, cursing, and realizing that getting up the carpet wasn’t so terrible, but getting up the carpet padding and the staples holding it all down actually was so terrible.
I should have known that it wasn’t going to be easy. My first clue: I thought that it would be easy. That should have be hint number one. My second clue: I opened up my brand new double-sided carpet knife, got the blade into place, sat down on the floor, started cutting, and promptly sliced my finger so badly that I called my in-laws to come by with some first-aid equipment and worried that I might need stitches.
Helpful hint: be really, really careful using double-sided knives.
Regardless, the carpet and padding and staples eventually came up and made it out on the curb.
Step 4: Realize that this is the perfect time to do other projects in the room.
Our trim looked old. Why not replace it? Our paint never met my wife’s tastes. Repaint it. So I removed the trim, and headed back to Home Depot for two gallons of paint and the brushes to go along with it.
Step 5: Regret major decision
This is when I first wished that I had followed my own freakin’ advice. Instead of taking all of the furniture out of the room, I just shoved it all together in the middle. Now, I had to paint two coats in a room filled with all of our nice furniture in it. What advice should I have followed? I work for a freakin’ self-storage company. I write about self-storage. So, what did I do? Clearly, I spent the entire project just shoving furniture out of my way. Too bad I didn’t go with the obvious solution. Remember step 2? The catatonic thing? Yep… it was back.
Step 6: Paint like crazy
This only required one extra trip to Home Depot, so that was nice. Unfortunately, it was to buy new paint because the first color really didn’t look right. Half a day lost. Other than that, though, the painting went smoothly and quickly, and with a minimum of mistakes. My dad and my wife each helped and we all had a nice bonding experience while inhaling the fumes from the paint. I don’t know that it was good for us physically, but we had a nice time.
Step 7: Lay down two rows of underlayment
This was basically just laying a big sheet of plastic down on the floor, and it was almost as simple. It had a sticky layer along one side, so all I had to do was stick the first piece to the floor, and the second piece stuck to the first, and so on. This is what keeps the flooring from knocking on the subfloor, and offers some thermal and moisture protection.
Step 8: Start laying the floor
Finally, I thought. For righties, you’re supposed to start on the left side of the room and work to the right. I, of course, did not do that, and it was a real pain. Luckily, I choose a tongue-and-groove type installation, so it was ok. In theory, it was a simple process: place plastic spacer next to the wall, set down floorboard, repeat. In reality, the first three rows were incredibly difficult. There were two air registers and a large sliding door, which meant lots and lots of precision measurements and cuts. Once I got past those rows, it was smooth sailing, until I got to the point where the room widened out. Then it got really smooth. First, I was able to move from left to right, like I was supposed it, and second, there were no precision cuts to worry about.
Then, disaster struck.
The story is only about halfway done, but this column is long enough as it is! Part 2 will be posted soon. Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!