Adventures in Linoleum
Be prepared to time travel right here right now. This post is half overview of our floor restoration and half mid century directed
sentimentality eye rolling. Your remember our floors right? In the front rooms we had exposed, but rough fir planks. In the middle some laminate "wood", and at the back there was carpet and mystery.
Well over the course of two weeks Ansel and I tore all that to shreds. SHREDS, I say!
Step one was to have the floors assessed by our floor re finisher. We decided to do all the removal ourselves but let the pros sand and apply the poly, and I am so so grateful we did. Anywho, he pulled up the carpet next to the vents and said he could see fir boards under there. Which was exciting, but we braced ourselves for what it would take to get there.
Step two was to dig in and rip it out. We started with our bedroom tentatively slicing the carpet but then that quickly amped up to a manic glee once we realized how darn easy it was. Seeing the tiny square tiles underneath was what we had expected and for the most part the popped off nicely with a combination of a scrapper, rubber mallet and mini crow bars. But then our progress sloooooowed way down when large islands of the tiles just wouldn't budge. Well we realized that's because they were under the main traffic patterns of the room, a few feet in from the door and a path to the closet. I guess they had just been cemented in by so many daily walks on them.
So that was a bummer. Luckily we could see the majority of the fir floor uncovered in there and it was so gratifying and motivating. (By the way, is it sad that I sound the most positive,optimistic and least sarcastic when talking about a home reno project than about any other subject, say my education or life in general? yeah, probably sad)
Step three was to research and try out some tactics to get the tiles to lift up. We tried mineral spirits, wood stripper, ironing it, various scrappers... but nothing really worked. Until I tried out one of my dremel tool heads that I hadn't yet had a use for. This thing was magic! Sure, my hands continued to vibrate long after I turned the tool off, but I say that's a feature! Basically it was a jet fueled power scrapper tool and it came to my rescue big time. Highly recommend getting a dremel and this attachment head if you ever run into sticky linoleum, it saved me so much heart ache.
Step four, meant moving on the the office. And what treasures there were to behold. Not one, but two layers of linoleum. And each layer just kept getting better. Blended beige and avocado with gold glitter? Check! Mint camo with vague southwestern motif? Check! And then sort of a fleshy brown paint straight on top of the wood to finish it off. You gotta see it to believe it.
But eventually we got to an acceptable place with those rooms. We were feeling pretty good. Cue rain cloud of doom, aka the hall and kitchen.
Step five was to just power through it. The hall and kitchen had thicker, more flexible linoleum and it was a terror. With the other rooms, generally getting the tile up meant we could see wood in its absence or there was some tar left. Well, with this tile deep sticky tar molasses and then a hard crust of middle aged glue. Just nonsense, I tell you. Our flooring guy even indulged me in a follow up visit to check up on the patient. I was concerned he wouldn't be able to get through the mess to the floor below. There was a lot of "oh god", head shaking and tutting going on but he said he could do it. So we carried on.
It was at this point I was contemplating breaking up with the floors. Certainly we needed some space. I had never sweated so much in my entire life, and I resented the floor for that. Cause I like to try to be clean and cute for at least 30 minutes a day, and floor was really holding me back from that. As I was driving to pick up Ansel after a long hard day, I drove past a little look out park a few blocks away from our house with a fantastic sunset that drew me in. I quick parked the car and took a moment to be wowed.
Step six, was to take a breather and discover how special this house and neighborhood is, and why it is all, probably :) , worth it.
Luckily, I didn't have time to get too sappy, cause pro sanding started in step 7. In case you haven't stood in a hardware store and contemplated sand paper deeply as I have, you probably didn't notice that sand paper grits are typically 80-220 for your standard project. Higher meaning a finer grit. Guess what grit they had to use with the belt sander for our floors.... 20! It was like sanding with dragon teeth. Worth it though! Just a few hours after they began I came back to this! Wood! Everywhere! Yay!
Some patching had to be done, but you would never know it now. The floors are amaaaaaaahzing. Or maybe we just think so because they are our child. But let's be scientific. Even if you don't love the look of our restored original 1920's fir floors because you are a crazy person, the cheapest flooring and cheapest installation from lumber liquidators for hardwood would have been $4400 minimum. Plus we would still have had to remove the carpet and laminate and mismatch with the fir in the front rooms. Our total was $2,800. So decent saving right? Especially since doing it ourselves was exactly what we wanted. It is ceremonial and powerful to create your own home I think.
Ok, ok, I know this has been a long one so I will shut up now and we can just enjoy the results together. Step 8 Shhhhh....