M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, April 09, 2002  

As promised, today I have pictures of my home improvement efforts from this past weekend. We're talking before, after, and in some cases, during. Strap in, because here we go:

Here's what the light switches in the entryway looked like on Friday evening:

And here's what they looked like Monday morning:

Hey, at least I didn't electrocute myself.

And here's what the closet in the second bedroom looked like before I ripped down the inner wall and replaced it with sheetrock:

If you think it's sad that I destroyed something with character and history and replaced it with something modern and sterile, don't. Because I haven't yet. I haven't even emptied the closet out.

As for the kitchen floor, I actually got something done there. Feel free to hum the Trading Spaces theme to yourself as you scroll through the following pictures:

Here's what the kitchen looked like on Friday evening after I cleared all the stuff out of there to work on it. Sadly, this was the best the floor had looked in a while.

The countless gouges and nicks don't really show up in the photo, but trust me, they're there. Let me zoom in on one of them for you:

That's the worst one, right in front of our refrigerator. You just know that's a breeding ground for all sorts of varieties of nasty bacteria. Good thing I can't zoom in any closer.

Each gouge and nick has a low point and a high point. The high points are above the general level of the linoleum, and we can't have that. So I had to crawl around on the floor shaving off the sticky-uppy bits with a razor blade. I worked using the linoleum's grid pattern as a guide, doing one 6" x 6" square at a time. After I was done, I had a bowl full of tiny linoleum fragments which I set aside to sprinkle over my oatmeal the next morning.

No, I'm kidding. I don't eat oatmeal.

The next step was to spread embossing leveler all over the floor, to fill in the low spots in the linoleum so that the new tiles would be able to stick. This was a lot harder than I expected. For some reason, they make the stuff fairly quick-drying. You pour a little on the floor, and you have about three minutes to get it evened out before it gets about as easy to spread as cold butter. I wouldn't mind if they made it a little slower-drying if that meant I could just empty the container on the floor and walk away while it spread out evenly by itself, but nobody asked me. Which is why I was up until 3:00 Saturday morning.

After it was dry the next day, I had to go over every inch of it with a putty knife to make sure all the ridges were smoothed out. And as fast as that stuff dried, there were a lot of ridges. Hard ridges. Again, the floor's grid pattern came in handy. I think this was the first time I ever wished our kitchen was smaller. This part took me late into Saturday afternoon, when I took this picture:

Notice that by a bizarre coincidence, the embossing leveler is nearly the exact same color as our kitchen walls (you can't tell here, but you'll be able to later). By this point in the project, that fact was enough to sorely tempt me to leave the floor as it was. Hey, at least it was nice and smooth. And I had saved myself the effort of ripping up the old linoleum, which might have taken me as long as ten minutes.

What kept me going was my prediction that after all this, laying down the tiles would be a piece of cake. Famous last words. Here's what an hour or so of laying tiles accomplished:

Pretty sharp, huh? Trash picked out the tiles.

Notice I started in the middle, even though I didn't understand why at the time. All I knew is that everyone told me to start in the middle with an urgency usually reserved for matters of national security. This seemed like it would involve a lot more work than, say, starting in the corner, which would if nothing else save me from having to cut and trim around at least two edges. But now I understand. It's because some of the tiles vary by as much as two or three angstroms in size, which may cause them to get slightly out of alignment with one another. If you start in the middle, they only have have half the distance to get out of line. Not that I didn't do my best with the space I had.

That's after all the full tiles were down. Plus the edge under the refrigerator. I'm glad we have a new fridge that rolls nicely now, rather than our old one which used to slide back and forth on plow blades. Otherwise our new floor would have been ruined before I was even done with it. Thanks for talking me into getting a new fridge, Trash.

Cutting and trimming and shaping and laying the tiles around the edges took me quite a bit longer than the main part. Especially the door frames. Why do they have to be that shape? Would it kill people to make doorframe moldings that are, like, square? We're lucky enough to have three doors into our kitchen, which factored out to six individual tiles that took me about a half-hour each to get right. Grr. I much preferred the parts where I could fit the tiles against a nice, straight wall.

Trash got home when I was halfway around, and came to my rescue, proving to be a huge help. We were done by early evening.

I learned that I would suck on Trading Spaces. Sure, I was able to stay well under a thousand-dollar budget (actually, about a tenth of that), but the project took me a few more than forty-eight hours. Plus if someone on the show came back after two days and there was nothing but a new floor, they'd be pissed.

Also, my sitting-down-on-the-floor-and-then-getting-up-again muscles were totally shot, my right wrist wouldn't support my weight any more, and my hands looked like I'd spent the weekend taming lions. So there's that.

But now I know how to lay a floor. If you're thinking of doing it yourself, here's the most important thing to remember:

Hire someone.

posted by M. Giant 7:33 AM 0 comments


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