Aug 30, 2012

Hardwood Floors - Part 2 - Preparation

So you've purchased your hardwood flooring (and, of course, negotiated the price!) and now it's time for installation. What do you need to do to get ready?

Your installer will tell you all you have to do is put away breakables -- they will take care of the rest. Ha! I'm here to tell you every square inch of your house -- whether or not floors are being installed throughout -- will be covered in thick dust. 

Here's what I've learned BECAUSE I DID NOT DO THEM! Apparently, I am destined to learn things the hard way!

1. Take down your curtains/draperies and blinds down, and store in a sealed plastic bag.

2. Cover as much as you possibly can, especially upholstered furniture and any electronics, like flat screen TV's and computers, which are sensitive to dust.

3. Depending on where your laundry facilities are, get all laundry done and put away before installation day. You don't want to run out of underwear in the middle of all the craziness chaos mess installation process.

4. Box up and remove ALL knickknacks, art work, do-dads -- anything that is not large furniture should be boxed up and moved out of the area.

5. In my case we are having only the downstairs floors done. Put up (painters tape and plastic tarp) a thick plastic covering over/around the stairwell so all this dust doesn't travel upstairs.

6. Close doors of rooms that aren't going to be floored. I've even put a towel across the bottom of the closed door to try and stop the dust from entering those rooms.

7. Plan on eating all meals out. Even if your kitchen isn't being done (mine is), the dust is just overwhelming.

8. Cover the front of bookcases and shelving with heavy plastic. Use painter's tape to tape in place.

9. Put a roll of paper towels in your guest bathroom for the installers. Hide your good guest towels.

10. Make sure everything in your refrigerator is sealed and cannot spill. They TIP your refrigerator to the side when they move it, and everything inside slides around!

11. Don't have your floors done in the heat of summer or the cold of winter. You are going to want every window in your house open, so take that into consideration if you normally have heat or A/C going. (Today it will be 95 degrees here and the installers still want the windows open. Shoot me now.)

12. If anyone has allergies or asthma in your house, get them O.U.T. for the entire installation. And for the days afterward it is going to take you (and hopefully some helpers) to clean all the dust and debris. I have minor respiratory difficulties, and right now I can't be in my downstairs for more than 10 minutes before I start having real trouble. I'll have to keep Mr. B. away from the house for several days after all this is done.

We are having the family room, den, dining room, kitchen and hallway done. On the same floor, we are not having the laundry room or guest bath floors done, as these will get new tile in the near future.

Our carpet in the dining room, den and family room is 25 years old. That's right. Twenty-five years. And honestly, it wasn't worn or stained and it's only been the last year that it became obvious we needed to get it replaced. (That's what happens when you buy good carpet and take care of it.) Despite two kids, one grandchild, dogs, cats, and holiday dinner spills, the installer said he's seen two year old carpet that was in far worse shape that ours. HOWEVER...

In our kitchen, we had two layers of flooring. The original white linoleum and a stick-on faux tile floor on top of that, which my husband glued down for all he was worth because he didn't trust the "self stick" of the tile. Our carpet didn't cause all the dust and flotsam and jetsam that is giving me fits right now, it was our kitchen floor.

I'm guessing that original 25 year old linoleum dried out once the second layer was put on top of it. The installers had to scrape both layers off -- and linoleum is made of solidified linseed oil, pine rosin, ground cork dust, wood flour, and mineral fillers such as calcium carbonate, most commonly on a burlap or canvas backing. You can tell where I'm going with this. Ground cork dust? Wood flour? Mineral fillers? All about to become floating dust particles in the air. Rosin and linseed oil? Make it all sticky enough to adhere to your kitchen cabinets, your furniture, your windows, your draperies, the cat food dish, the toilet seat, the books on the shelves you were told you didn't have to cover or move... In other words... DUST! Thick layers of white dust on every visible surface. If it wasn't covered, it now has a thick layer of sticky dust that must be washed off. Every knick knack. Every piece of art work. Every shelf. I can't begin to tell you how much work I have in front of me.

Now, your experience may be different from mine. You may not have old linoleum to pull up. You might have ceramic tile instead. But guess what? That tile will break and chip and the results are going to be exactly the same. I say it's better to be safe than sorry, and just remove and/or cover everything you possibly can before you realize everything you own is going to have to be washed -- and it's too late to do anything about it.

During installation? It's noisy. Compressors running, nail guns running, hammers banging boards into place, radios going, shouting back and forth, saws going. It's all noise, noise and more noise. Although I may dodge out for a few minutes, I'm not real comfortable leaving the installers to their own devices alone in my house, so I am pretty well a captive in the upstairs right now. Every morning I pack up a few drinks and snacks, and stay upstairs quilting, watching TV, reading, blogging -- all of which are difficult to concentrate on because of the noise downstairs!

The ONE thing I DID do right was schedule all this during the week my husband is out of town on business. I don't have to worry about meals or fixing his breakfast and lunch for work, or having his clothes ready, etc. It's just me squirreled away in our upstairs during the day, not two of us. It's just me balancing my dinner on my lap in the bedroom, not two of us. And I am perfectly willing to wait for all this to be over before I start cleaning, where he would have wanted to clean everything up every night after the installers left. I adore my husband, but I am really, really glad he's not here!

Would I do this again? You bet. As I've said before, these floors are absolutely gorgeous. I'm not looking forward to the days and days of cleaning I have ahead of me... but on the positive side, boy, is my house going to be CLEAN when this is all said and done!

LIFE IS GOOD - even if you have to dust it off to enjoy it.


Verna G said...

I can appreciate all your suggestions. We had our floors refinished a couple of years ago (there was hardwood under our carpet). It was a dusty mess. We actually moved out to our cottage while it was being done and I had plastic on all the orher doors but even then it was bad! It will be beautiful when you are done however. I'm looking foreward to seeing it (with the flag picture above the fireplace!)

Karen said...

I"m glad I'm not in your shoes right now!!