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Posts Tagged ‘linoleum’

Danger!

Danger!

Soooooo…. (averts eyes, whistles)……remember my post about the bathroom floor being my Moby-Dick? And how I was going to use my bare hands to chip away at the linoleum to reveal the beautiful wide-plank pine floors underneath? Well, yeah, that didn’t go over so well.

I had Sunday afternoon all to myself to get the job done, so I started by buying a little crowbar at Ace hardware. The tip was the perfect size for noodling under the brittle, dry, linoleum. But even with that fine tip and beautiful torque, the linoleum still wasn’t peeling up in great strips like I hoped it would. Out of frustration or inspiration, I’m not sure which, I just started jackhammering away at the linoleum with the tip of the crowbar, and lo and behold, I actually started making some recognizable progress. I suddenly realized that being too deliberate–placing tip of crowbar under flooring, carefully lifting–was going to take all day. But this Psycho-esque stabbing was getting me somewhere. (Remember– this was all taking place in the bathroom!)

It was then that I recalled a nice fellow at Ace hardware telling me several weeks ago, back when I first started this project, that they had a power tool for rent that could help me get rid of the linoleum. After tantalizing me with this magical tool, he then advised against it, saying it would gouge the floor. But I decided yesterday that this tool was going to be the answer to the bathroom problem, so I got back in the car and went back to the rental counter at Ace hardware. I told the tool rental guy I needed something that was like a reciprocating saw (this I picked up from All the Way Home, because I swear that’s what Giffels said he used for the tiles in his kitchen. Oh wait–maybe they were actual ceramic tiles, not resilient flooring after all, now that I think about it.) Anyway, my mistake, I think, was in saying “reciprocating” without really knowing what that means. The guy behind the counter rented me a Sawzall.

I also bought a $10 blade called The Shark or The Tiger or something, which you’re supposed to stick inside that little clamp-like thing at the end of the saw (the same clamping thing that’s in drills, where you put the bit in), which was then supposed to be tightened with a little allen wrench like the ones that come with every box of furniture you buy at Ikea. I don’t know if I just didn’t tighten the thing up enough or what, but within minutes of turning on the Sawzall, the blade first fell over, kind of limp-like, then shot out the end of the Sawzall and ended up about 2 feet away from the linoleum it was supposed to be scraping up. Not to mention that the Sawzall itself was so heavy and made so much noise that it scared me half  to death, especially considering that I was alone in the house at night with nothing but construction lights hanging from nails to light my work. I think I used the Sawzall for all of 15 seconds before deciding that Nick was right–I should have just asked the Horseman to do it. The Horseman could probably get rid of this flooring using nothing but his bare hands in a few hours. But no–I had to go spend $18 on a replacement crowbar (I lost the first one I bought), $15 on a Sawzall rental (yup–a dollar a second), and $10 on a stupidly named blade that doesn’t stay locked into place, only to realize that the same amount of money could have bought me about 3 hours of the Horseman’s time. And he actually would have finished the job.

Nick was kind enough not to say “I told you!” to me, even though I say that to him so often that now he knows to beat me to the punch by saying, “You told me!” In fact, he even defended my honor by saying that the tool rental guy was a jerk for suggesting a Sawzall in the first place.

But we all know the real culprit here: hubris. There are some things you just have to learn to let go of. This floor is one of them. We’re calling the Horseman first thing tomorrow.

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And call this floor my Moby-Dick.  I will conquer this.

Night shot of the bathroom floor

Night shot of the bathroom floor

I finally got to take a second stab at this thing tonight after work while Nick was home with Sadie. When I first tried to pry off this flooring, it was stuck to the 135-year old pine boards underneath it with a viscous glue formed from all the cat pee that had seeped through the carpet and plywood tacked down over the linoleum and mixed into the original adhesive that bound the linoleum sheets to the floor. I was able to lift up a lot of the stinky flooring with a thin crowbar, but vast swaths of it stayed stuck.

But now that some time has passed, and the carpet and plywood has been lifted and discarded, the old linoleum has dried out, becoming more brittle and more vulnerable to my crowbar. While Sadie was at home eating dinner in her high chair, I was able to go to the house unencumbered and alone for the first time in weeks. I plugged in the big chain of construction lights that now hang around the house and went to work with the only tools I could find. Missing from my arsenal was the perfect tool for the job, the small crowbar I used in the first round, so I used a small paint scraper instead. I imagined that the Horseman and his family could see my silhouette through the window, bending and scraping, looking for all the world like a mad Miss Havisham doing a renovation in her attic.

I was surprised to find that even without the torque afforded me by the crowbar, I was able to get up some decent chunks of linoleum with the tip of the paint scraper. This did not happen before. As the pieces came up, the scent of eau de gato wafted upwards, reminding me why we started this whole job in the first place.

Our floor sander claims he can just sand down the last of this linoleum stuck to the floor, but I really don’t want linoleum (or worse, vinyl) dust floating around our house, no matter how well we clean or filter the air afterwards. Nick thinks we should just hire the Horseman to do it, but I think we’ve already spent enough money paying other people to work on this house, and dammit, I want to get my own hands dirty! I know there will be plenty of time for me to do lots and lots (and lots) of work when we move in, but it’s really frustrating to sit by for three months feeling like you aren’t doing  anything. This is one of the few things I can do now.

So this weekend, while Nick is working, I’m going to drop off Sadie at my mom’s, buy myself a new crowbar, and demolish this whale of an eyesore. Mark my words!

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I spent today and yesterday using a crowbar and hammer to chip away at some really old linoleum. Under the cat pee-stained carpet there was disintegrating yellow foam that was stapled to plywood; under the plywood was what seemed like fossilized linoleum melded to a layer of tar paper. But underneath it all was the prize: more wide plank pine!

Here’s where I started:3brloofr1

Here’s what a few hours of work got me:

A few hours of work.

A few hours of work.

Here’s where I am after two days of inserting the thin tip of a crowbar under very old linoleum and then pulling up.

After two days of work, much of the linoleum has been lifted.

After two days of work, much of the linoleum has been lifted.

In some places, the linoleum came up easily, in great strips. But in others, I had to use a hammer to really jam the tip of the crowbar under the sticky, thick tar paper stuff. A lot of times I lifted big wood splinters up with the linoleum–the very top layer of that beautiful pine that I just know is waiting to be released from its fossilized prison!

The house is speaking to us–it wants to be free.

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