M. Giant's
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Sunday, October 10, 2010  

Going Down

I think our downstairs bathroom is the one we've done the most work on in the whole house. We've replaced pretty much everything in there since we moved in except for the bathtub, the sink, and the medicine cabinet, although years ago I repainted the last one and cleaned the other two.

Which reminds me, I realized that after spending half of last summer updating you on my ceiling replacement project, I never posted a photo of the finished product. I still don't have one, but I can tell you that it's a smooth, flawless expanse of white, like so:

Anyway, the new ceiling, new wallpaper section, and the new shower surround just made our old bathroom floor look even worse. Well, those improvements and our own shame. Years of M. Edium's careless bathing had sent splashes over the edge of the tub and under the yellow linoleum, through which a spreading layer of black…uh, material…was increasingly visible. Trash and I agreed that it needed to go; we only disagreed on when. I thought I should rip it out as soon as possible; she thought I should do it sooner.

On the week scheduled for the renovations, I thought I'd spend an hour peeling up the linoleum right before the new floor went in, in order to minimize the bathroom's downtime. Trash talked me out of that, and two mornings before, I headed in there with a hammer and a screwdriver and a crowbar, expecting to be done in time for breakfast. Even though I'd already eaten it.

An hour later, I was glad I'd listened to Trash. Sure, the linoleum had come up easily where was stained, and so did the section of particle board under that, but the rest of the floor appeared to have been nailed, stapled, bolted, epoxied, and incanted into place. Soon Trash was in there with me, attacking the linoleum with putty knives, utility knives, kitchen knives, machetes, and ice axes. And once we got the linoleum up, then it got ugly.

Because then there was the rest of the particle board to deal with. And believe it or not, Dr. Jellyfinger, whose shoddy workmanship I've been living with for almost half my life, decided to make the damn bathroom floor the place where he went the extra mile. As in an extra mile of staples, nails, screws, and baling wire holding the wood down. Dude never heard of gravity?

So that was a whole other project, pulling up staples and nail heads with pliers whose jaws often couldn't even fit between them, they were so close together.

The challenge, as Trash and I learned while M. Edium was dispatched to spend most of the rest of the day with our friends up the street, was that while some areas were loose and came up effortlessly (which coincided with the edge of the tub and where the sink turned out to have been leaking for an unknown period of time), others seemed to have layers that were super-glued together. By the afternoon, I was wanting to take a power saw to the whole floor. But tearing out an old floor is like an archaeological dig; no matter how long you spend scraping away, you never know when you're going to hit something you want to keep. The last thing I wanted to do was damage something that would have been otherwise salvageable, leaving nothing to attach the tiles to but the basement rafters.

Finally, after removing the toilet and the vanity, we were able to figure out that under the linoleum, the particle board, the vinyl tile, more particle board, and several layers of plywood glue together, was the original subfloor, which was undamaged either by M. Edium's baths or the previous occupant's incompetence. By then it was just a matter of prying up the bottom layer of old plywood with brute force. After completing this task, I was prepared to take on the whole world -- as long as that world was in the Matrix and I could take it on with my mind, because my body barely had enough energy for a nap.

Two days later, the guy came to install the tile for us. Did a fantastic job.

Even better news: I'd been toying with the idea of tearing out the old kitchen floor -- that's right, the same one whose replacement I recounted in this space eight and a half years ago -- and replacing it with something a little more durable. After this project, we've decided that we can live with it the way it is for a while longer. Indefinitely, perhaps.

posted by M. Giant 12:42 PM 0 comments


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