Monday, February 24, 2014

Our First Big Home Improvement Project

For Valentine's Day Patrick and I got to work putting in new laminate hardwood floors in our downstairs. We sent the boys up to my parents' house where they were in grandchild heaven filling up on fun, sand box time, Coco, and delicious food only grandma's can make. We had about 550 square feet to do. We got the kind of floors that snap in so I thought the hardest part would be the prep work but that turned out to be the easiest and quickest part.


I spy Grant playing cars. 

Prepping: Carpet removal.  Front door floor removal.

Sink and Toilet removal. Bathroom floor removal.

Dips filled. Creaks fixed.

On to day 2... start laying the floors. We worked from 9am to 11pm taking breaks to eat and run to Lowes for random things that either broke or were forgotten the first time around when we picked up the floors. I seriously thought the floors would go in like a piece of cake, and actually they did, but it was all the measuring and cutting that took so much time. We accomplished the front door area, hallway, bathroom, and part of the living room.


Day 3 was a long one. We figured the rest of the living room and dining room would go quickly and for the most part we made good time. But then we got to the kitchen. Oh, the kitchen. We knew the floor hand to come up (it was built up with particle board to be level with the carpet). What we didn't think about was that the cabinets were built on top of it.

We got to work cutting up the floor and pulling it out and then realized we'd have to chip away with a hammer and crow bar what was left along the cabinets. Lucky for us there wasn't much to do but it took a good hour of chipping to get it even enough to lay the floor. While I did that Patrick layed floor in the pantry.

There's no pictures of me but I swear I helped! Patrick did the cool stuff that was worth taking pictures of.
Also, I had no idea how much construction dust we would create. The picture above gives you a good idea of what gets kicked up and lands on everything and sticks to everything which is why I suggest removing refrigerator magnets and covering anything you don't want to clean later.

It was almost midnight when we had about 12sq feet left and we were down to our last few boards. Our bodies were done. We were thisclose to being defeated. Patrick had work the next morning and I had to get the boys. How would we finish this when they're here? The stove wasn't even back in place, how would I cook? Do we even have enough boards? So, we took a deep breath, picked up the tools, made a couple more cuts, and laid the last boards with one board to spare. ONE. We put the stove back and went straight to bed.

It was super nice to work on something with our full attention. We ate at crazy times because we didn't have little ones tugging at us for food. We ate dinner at 9 every night. The last time we did that was when we were first married. We missed the boys but didn't miss being interrupted every few minutes.

Things I learned laying floors: It was dreadfully painful on our knees, even with knee pads, and I'm pretty sure I did about 100,000 squats. I loved that I learned something significant in home improvement (painting doesn't quite cut it). I learned how to remove and install a sink and toilet, fill dips with mortar, fix floor creaks (use screws not nails!), how to measure (sort of, those 1/8 and 1/16 of an inch measurements get me when you have to reduce!), use a chop saw, remove underlayment, and install laminate (of course).

New trim added and freshly painted. Excuse the walls that need a little paint TLC.

I also learned: when something goes wrong don't dwell on how annoyed you are about it, fix it and move on. Sitting there being annoyed about a board that got chipped as we hammered it in wasted time. It's better to take it out right away and move on. I learned that Patrick and I work well together. We didn't fight or bicker the for the duration of the project. I also learned that home improvement is a lot of work but a lot of fun. Especially when it's over. Thank goodness we're done.

On to the next...