Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Beach Tale: Let's Get Physical!!!

Sorry, I couldn't find a G-rated version of Olivia Newton John's "Let's Get Physical" video, so you're going to have to sing the song to yourself, as it is the audio background to today's post.  Okay, all together now, "Let's get physical, physical.  I wanna get physical..."

A reminder of where we left things two weeks ago:

The questions everyone has been asking is, "How did you come to have a truckload of boxes and what did we plan to do with them?" 
          I have procrastinated about writing this particular episode in our “little” construction project, because it brings back painful memories.  I don’t mean mental pain or emotional pain or spiritual pain.  I mean physical pain!  The type that the mere thought of lifting your little pinky brings tears to your eyes.   
          Oh wait, there I go again getting ahead of myself. 
          We've decided to invest some “sweat equity” into the project.  Yes, you’d think the sweat we contributed during the painting phase would suffice, but we needed, to sweat some more. Well, maybe not so much sweat as save money.    
          We’d reached the point that our thoughts turned to flooring.  Our options were carpet, tile, linoleum (oops, my age is showing there…it’s now called laminate), or wood. 
          Finally, after much spreadsheet development and pie-chart analysis (I am an accountant, after all) we decided the best investment in the room would be a wood floor.  Not real wood (very very expensive to buy and install) but a nice grade laminate that would hold up to tenant, guest, or messy-son traffic and would look beautiful for years to come.  But it would only be cost-effective if we installed it ourselves.       
          So…first we asked our DITY (and that’s a good thing, it means Do-IT-Yourself) friends, and they all said installing laminate is easy-peasy. (Yes, a grown person actually said that.  Most just said “easy”).  Then we watched the YouTube videos on laminate wood floor installation.  Then I shopped around, seeing if we could find a reasonable installed price on the above options.  Then we watched the YouTube videos again, asked more questions of friends and professionals, and finally, after much cogitating, debating and beer drinking, made the decision.  We were going to do this ourselves. Oh-Rah! 
          We have a Home Emporium store here that sells quality stuff for about 1/3 the cost of the big home improvement stores.  If we were going to do this ourselves, we were going to save as MUCH money as possible, darn it!  Imagine my glee when I found the grade and color of wood I really liked and a price I really, really liked.  All was falling into place nicely.    
          I took my ticket to the cashier and then drove around back to have my car loaded.  Via forklift, they delivered it right to my car.  It took three strong men about three minutes to load twenty-eight, fifty-pound boxes of flooring into the back of my car (refer to photo at beghinning of post.)  Off I drove, wondering of the front tires of my front wheel drive car were even touching the ground.
          Needless to say, without benefit of three strong men or a forklift, the unloading process took a lot longer.  I had to carry it, box by heavy box, from the back of my car to a space in the garage.   Technically, it needed to be hauled up the 16 steep steps to the carriage house, but that was beyond my physical abilities on a scorching hot summer afternoon.  My goal was to get it out of my car so I could have room for groceries.  I accomplished that.  But boy, howdy, was I spent.
          At three o’clock that morning I woke up remembering the advice of the YouTube video to buy about 10% more than needed, because some would be wasted on end cuts and such.  So back I went to get four more boxes of flooring.  I treated myself to lunch at The Olive Garden while in the area.  There are some aspects of this project I enjoy immensely.
          The aspect of the project hubby enjoys immensely?  The opportunity to use his power tools that have been sitting idle while we lived in rental housing the past five years.
          So a beautiful Saturday morning in early September, we’re set up and ready to floor.
          First to be laid is the vapor barrier that supports and somewhat insulates the floating floor.  It already had tape strips so that part was very easy.  We are totally rockin’ this so far, thinking we could even go into the floor-laying business! 

          Now time to lay the floorboards.  The video made it look easy. No nails or glue, just snapping the boards together.  Think Lincoln Logs meets Legos, both of which we'd played with as kids so had “experience” in this area. 
          The first row snapped nicely down along the wall.  Last piece needed cut to fit.  Time for the power saw!  Yeah!  So far so good.  Now the second row.  The video shows “snap together” and “gentle tapping” with the tapping tool (by far the best $14.99 I have ever spent!):

You slip one edge along the lip of he board and "tap" on the other end. Was it P.T. Barnum who said "Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see"? Yeah, well, we shouldn't have beleived when our friends told us this was "easy peasy" and we shouldn't have believed the installation video that showed things going together easy as pie. 
          Reality:  it took some pretty hard hammering to make the rows fit tight.  Hammering loud enough to rattle your fillings.  Seriously, I kneeled on the boards that were stationary while husband hammerd the next row in, and I could feel the vibrations all the way up to the top of my head. 
          That second row took a LOT longer than the first.  But once we got the hang of it, it would go faster, right?   
          Wrong.  We battled our way through the third row.  Same for fourth row.  Hit a snag when we reached the closet.  It would require some tricky cutting and working in a small space.  Hmm, what to do?  Yeah, save it for later, once our skills were finely honed. 
          Long about the sixth row we realized, to our horror, that the fourth row was separating from the third row!  Great big gaps!  So we (meaning hubby) tried to hammer it back together.  Phew, it worked.  We turned our backs and once again, you guessed it, we had separation.  Again tried to hammer, and it stayed that way for a few minutes, then the minute we turned our backs, it slipped apart again. 
          We were about three hours into the project, we're hot and sweaty, and things weren’t at all as simple as the video had shown!  I’ll admit, lots of bad words were mumbled and frustration increased to the point we came this close to giving up.  Totally NOT going to go into the flooring business!    
          But, we are a Navy family and certainly faced problems bigger than this, so after a few deep breaths and an ice cold beverage, decided to give in the old college try.  We undid the rows and tried to fix row four.  The board giving us the most trouble got tossed across the room.  There it sat, bowing like the proverbial U.  Oh yeah, tiny little footnote to the video, "watch out for warped boards."  They ruin a project!  Turns out the whole box was warped!  Once we removed all of them and started with a fresh box, things went along smoothly, just like the video had promised. (Still not going into the flooring business, though!)
          By smoothly I mean, an eight hour long repetitive process of Stand up-kneel down-hammer in place, up-down-hammer, up-down-hammer.  By the end of Saturday afternoon, we had the bedroom finished.  We still had the main room/kitchen/two closets to do.  But it was Miller Time!
          I had nightmares that night of returning to the carriage house the next morning to find the entire floor having unsnapped and all the boards scattered like a fallen house of cards.
          Good news, everything held.
          Sunday was even harder work because we worked faster.  Up-down-hammerhammerhammer, up-down-hammerhammerhammer.  Think those dreaded "grasshopper" exercises in 8th grade PE class, and add incescent banging as the background music!  I'm tellling you, the Chinese Water Torture seems tame by comparison.   By the waning hours of the afternoon, we were so tired we were moving at the spead of an ant tromping through molasses.  Our mental faculties were just as slow.  If I had a dollar for every baord we cut backwards, then the carriage house would pay for itself.  Fortunately, we maintained ours sense of humor, and shortly before sunset, we were done, in the physical sense as well as the project sense.  And it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. 

          But Monday?  I could barely get out of bed.  My legs and back hurt so much, it honestly hurt to breath.  I felt as if I'd just done a dozen back to back workout-videos (which is more than I have done in the past decade!)  I had to deliver something to a neighbor, and the mere incline on the wheelchair ramps on the sidewalks were almost too much to take.  I’m not gonna lie, that Monday was a wasted day for me as I pretty much sat in a chair and read. 
          It’s been over a month now, and the soreness has gone, the memories of the project have faded, the floor has held up to traffic of additional phases of construction, and it still looks fantastic. 
          So good, that we want to preserve it.
          So good, in fact, that hubby suggested I go buy rugs to cover it all up! 
          There goes the saved money.  Area rugs, especially 10x12 ones, don’t come cheap! But I did get another lunch at The Olive Garden during my shopping excursion. 
          Thank goodness the do-it-yourself part of the project is done for now as we turn it back over to the professionals.  I know you have all been chomping at the bit to see these kitchen cabinets I picked out, and they finally arrived.  Here is a sneak peak at what’s in store for next week:

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