Sunday, September 10, 2006

Grrl Power

I have successfully planned and installed my first floor (in less than a weekend, even). The mission: to upgrade Laura's unfinished office in the Broadway warehouse from bare concrete with traces of carpet adhesive to a vinyl tile floor.

On Saturday, I took stock of 'how to' sites on the Internet, picked up Laura. We went to Home Depot armed only with my engineer's computation pad and determination and a rough estimate of the room's dimensions from Matt's schematics. To the flooring section! We picked out tile (and designed the floor pattern), estimated minimum and necessary placement of 4'x8' sheets for the underlayment, got nails and cartridges for the Remington powder-driven nailgun and other sundries. After checking out, it turns out that our eyes were too big for my Honda Civic, so it was back into the Despot for carpet pad, clothesline and a razor knife (John from Flooring earnestly made sure we had the right trowel and then excitedly showed me his fool-proof trick for cutting edge tiles to size).

Laura and I then strapped the 4'x8' sheets of luon (ideally, you'd use plywood, and this is one of the corners we cut) to the roof of my Civic with the clothesline (with some doubtful and informative comments by a grizzled old contractor). It was secure, but still... I've never been happier to hit traffic than I was when we had to get onto Storrow Drive West to go to Back Bay. A cabbie yelled that we should have used 2x4's to keep the boards flat and a cute blond girl in a fast red car looked at our plywood and our wee little Civic and smiled at us while we were stuck together in traffic. We arrived without incident and unloaded and got to work.

Step 1: cut the underlayment and piece it together. Step 2: fun with powder actuated nailguns! It turns out that power level 3 is not quite enough to put 1" nails into concrete, but hammers can solve this particular problem. Step 3: "stitch" along the underlayment seams with a staple gun. Pound flat. Step 4: mark center lines and dry lay tile. That's where we stopped for Saturday. Sunday morning, we pulled up the tile in quadrants, spread adhesive and then glued the tile down as such:

 Step 5. Iterate. And once we were done, it looked like this:

If you look carefully, you may notice that it's an interwoven checkerboard of vertical gray and vertical white crossed by horizontal tan and horizontal white. If the tiles came with serial numbers, we probably would have had a hard time not laying them in serial order. But, hey. Floor!

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