Fixing the Floor

I made a lot of progress on the flooring project I’m doing. After the carpeting got wet when the chest freezer defrosted and the whole room started reeking of mildew, I decided the carpet had to go. I started tearing it all out on Sunday. It stunk and the underside was crusty and dirty with mold. I have no idea how many years this wall-to-wall carpeting has been in the house, but we are guessing the previous owners installed it in the 1980s. The rug was tacked and pinned down, so it wasn’t terribly hard to pull it up. However, underneath the carpet was the remnants of a yellow foam pad that sat atop the particle board subflooring. This pad was disgusting: half melted into the subflooring and half blanketed in greasy mildew slime. It was easy to pull the loose parts up, but not easy to do so carefully. It was fragile and had the tendency to tear, so I had to use a face mask to try and block airborne spores and fibers that sprung aloft when it tore. I had to scrub on my hands and knees to remove the part that had melted onto the subflooring. Then I had to bleach and scrub the entire subflooring to disinfect and clean it. It was tiring and disgusting, yet quite successful; it cleaned up really well with some good old elbow grease and bleach.

The most difficult part of the project so far was trying to remove the long strips of wood stapled, glued, and nailed (yes, all three) along the perimeter of the room from which the tacks for the rug protruded upward. The most effective route for dislodging these heavily-adhered strips of plywood involved jamming in a flattened crowbar-type tool and trying to wedge it underneath the strips in frequent intervals to pry it off. The nails and staples were so close together that this was very challenging and frustrating. After that was eventually destroyed and removed, the room was vacuumed. Equally difficult and much more tedious was the next task, which consisted of wedging a file under each of the staple gun staples and then using a pliers to extricate them. There must have been at least 80 heavy duty staples to pry up. What made this particularly arduous was that a big tuft of the corroded foam pad was wedged under each staple (they must have been inserted to tamp down the pad).  However, the tufts of aged pad swallowed the staple, obscuring the orientation of the bar of the staple. This made it a stabbing guessing game to try and align the file correctly under the blind staple. It took quite a long time to successfully remove all the staples and clean up the refuse and debris.

While I was doing all of that, Ben went and picked out some vinyl tile that I will install in the coming days. I’ve watched a bunch of videos and online tutorials at this point, so hopefully even though I’ve never done this type of work before, it won’t be too hard. We opted for a tile on sale; although it might not be the most aesthetically-pleasing option, it’s nice and neutral and will certainly be an improvement over the dirty blue carpet. It’s a room we only use for storage anyway, so its eye appeal is not the priority; the goal is to replace the moldy carpet with something clean, healthy, and functional (water resistant, easy to clean, relatively durable, etc.). This product should meet those objectives, plus it was affordable, which is mandatory because most of our home projects are cost-prohibitive.

My body is tired today from the unaccustomed positions and repetitive motions from the project so far. I’ll probably wait a day or two to begin tiling. The aspect of that I’m anticipating to be most challenging is cutting the tiles to size at the edges of the room. I’ll probably employ Ben’s help with that stage. I’m not afraid to ask for help when I need it. Although I take pride in completing projects on my own, ultimately, it’s most important that they are done safely and correctly. He and I make a good team.

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