Warning: Graphic Content
I give you the graphic content warning because, as you might expect with a home improvement project, I injured myself. There are photos of the injuries, and I know that some of you have a weak stomach. You have been warned.
As you must know by now, my entire house is covered in white carpet. Everything except the main entry way and the kitchen floor, which is made of oak that is getting to the point where it needs to be refinished. When I say everything is carpeted, I mean everything. Remember the bathroom project? That was previously white carpet. The other 2 bathrooms are still white carpet. The dining room? Yep, white carpet. There is a blueberry stain near one of the chairs. And the living room? White carpet covered in cat barf. There is also a spot under my desk where the Island kittens used to poop. I can’t imagine that every molecule of that came up.
So, I decided to change that problem room by room, and this time it was the living room. For at least a month I researched hardwood floors. I watched DIY Network, I watched videos (2 separate videos) on the Lowes website, and I asked questions at local flooring stores. Ultimately, Michael and I settled on acacia floors pre-finished in a bronze color. We ordered the wood and tools, then got to work. There were 25 boxes of wood. 1600 pounds. Michael and I hauled it in ourselves.
I had to rip up the carpet and the padding on the next day, but I could go no farther because some drama outside the scope of my blog, the need to finish assembling my table saw, and my first injury of the project slowed me down. Got me to a grinding halt really.
Let’s meet the tools that I used, shall we?
Which of these tools do you suppose I managed to injure myself with? Go ahead, guess.
Well, you’re wrong. This was sort of a trick question. I descended the stairs to the living room while carrying drill bits, and that little bit of extra weight set me off balance (I swear!) and I fell down the stairs. I twisted my ankle, which isn’t really visible, but it still hurts today (a week later). I also skinned and bruised my elbow. This might not be the first time I took a tumble down the stairs, but I won’t say for sure.
I took 2 injuries total on this project, and the second one was perpetrated by an actual tool. While tapping one of the boards in place, I managed to smash a finger with the dead-blow hammer. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t smashed a second finger 2 swings later. This was on my third day of installing the wood.
You totally expected that I sawed a hand off, didn’t you? Or maybe injured myself with the safety equipment? I think that the problem was that I have a healthy respect for the saw and other power tools, but not enough for the hammers. Especially the plastic one. Michael tells me that the most common tool for people to injure themselves with is a screwdriver, mostly because they use the tool in ways it was not intended to be used. I could believe that. Moral of the story – the hammer is scarier than it looks.
The first row has to be face-nailed because there is not enough room for the pneumatic nailer. I used spacers to keep the boards 3/8″ away from the walls (there needs to be an expansion gap for when the weather changes). This would have been great, except I failed to see if the walls were flat. They were not flat, in fact, and a few boards ended up crooked. We had to rip out 9 boards the next morning, which is no easy feat when you’ve used a pneumatic nailer. I learned the importance of perfection on that first day.
I am proud to say that I got really good with the table saw. I had to cut around the air vent, and I did so with amazing accuracy, if I do say so myself! I learned that the vents were not square to the wall, which made my cuts different on each board. There was also a place where I had to use a hole saw (the gas turnoff is in the floor in my house), and that came out perfect on the first try.
We did run into some trouble in a few spots, but with patience and creative problem solving, the project went well. Michael helped when he could, but he had to earn the money to do this project, so I was largely responsible for it.
While I was working on the floor, I had to deal with sick kittens. This meant I took lots of breaks. Duck and Chicken had to be given fluids twice a day and they had to be fed with supervision (and occasionally force-fed) 4 times a day. It started with just Duck, so it was only he who got photographed, but I wish I had pictures of Chicken, too.
Caring for the kittens probably slowed my work considerably, but the kittens are my #1 job. Besides, I also took breaks to knit when I was weary of swinging the hammer. Although Chicken didn’t survive, I think my work with Duck paid off. He was on an outing today, looking more handsome than he has in a long time.
I still need to install wood in the office and hallway connected to the living room, and I still need to work heavily with Duck. The floor is on hold until the weekend, save for the stairs. I need to fix the squeaks and install the wood on the treads. So far, the floor and kitten projects may not be perfect, but they are going to be just great in the end. I feel it.