Monday, January 18, 2016

Flooring Sadness

One of the bigger and more intimidating tasks on our list of things to do to improve the house is to rip out the carpets in the spare and bedroom. Both small rooms have this horrible tan carpet which is super dirty, stained, and dusty around the edges. Also after my bookshelf crashed down and some of my nail polish smashed, it has some stains of dark green nail polish. We both have allergies, and the carpet is just the absolute worst and needs to go. I'm sure you would agree if you saw it.

Most of the house except the bathroom has seriously decent wood floors. I don't know if they are hardwood or engineered, or original to the house. There are cracks between the boards that dirt gets stuck in, and some boards are slightly cracked or dinged, but on the whole they are in great condition. There isn't the thick layer of varnish you see in a lot of rentals. There are, notably, no nails visible. Also the boards are on the same level as the carpets. Anyway here's a corner in "my room" showing our great (dirty) baseboards, and the hideous carpet. That trim on the left is the same pukey brown that all the kitchen trim used to be, ew ew ew. Sadly we don't have any original doors, they are all kinda cheap-looking plain hollow-looking wood. Lame.

Ok. I decided I'd take the plunge and see what's below the carpet. Maybe it was hardwood floor?? I really hoped. I mean, maybe the house originally had wood floors? I just used some pliers to grab the carpet and ripped it up, it was easy. The wood around the edge has nails sticking out, it's this trim that keeps it down. The blue stuff is the top end of this padding that goes under the carpet. The whole thing smells kindof bad. I was really afraid this thing has been peed and vomited on by pets and there would be a horrible mildew situation but this was more of a chemically stale smell?

Gross. The specked stuff, which I love the look of whenever I see it in giant rolls, because it looks like these bowls, lifts up to reveal a paint-spattered linoleum floor. WOMP WOMP.

It kinda looks like it might be linoleum tile, based on the black and white sections. Although it's hard to tell having only looked at the corner. Real linoleum is supposed to have a unique smell, maybe that's the smell?

Here's a closer, nastier look. You can see the furring strips, but also that the baseboard looks like there might have been a higher floor at some point? See how the paint is kinda chipped away in the corner close to the furring strips, and it's like, grayer in a strip close to the ground? I don't know. That could just be from the carpet. God, it looks disgusting.

Linoleum might actually be the original flooring. Linoleum has been around since 1860 and was widespread in 1880s/1890s in the US. It's made of natural materials, unlike vinyl flooring, which it is sometimes confused for, which wasn't introduced in US until 1933 Chicago World's Fair. I think in art class in high school we used tiles of linoleum to carve and print with, because it's pretty soft and bouncy. Wood flooring, according to this source, was likely still a luxury (and it kindof still is). Houses might have a pine subfloor and then they'd paint it, cover in parquet or a "wood carpet" or cover in linoleum or oilcloth. Or carpet.

There is the possibility that this is a later addition, maybe vinyl flooring. I need expert advice, or even an uncle in construction. Anything. If it's vinyl, it could have asbestos which would make it a seriously more heinous undertaking. However it's unclear to me if real linoleum, assuming that's what this is, would contain asbestos.

Anyway a comment on this blog and all over, really, suggest that it's possible, though painful, to remove all the linoleum and find wood subflooring, which you can then refinish and they can be beautiful. Another worry is that the subflooring could be gappy and uninsulated to the basement. Pulling it up, putting down plywood, and putting it back in would be the recommended, and terrible, best solution then. The subflooring could look gorgeous if it's wide-plank pine, I would want to keep it light and natural, maybe a soap finish. We could, instead, just paint the linoleum? It's unclear since a lot of people talk about painting vinyl but call it linoleum. Or try to clean it up? 


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