… especially when that house is Ye Olde Wreck, the infamous creation of Jim Beam and Jack Daniels.
Yesterday I was depressed. It was sunny and mild (in November!) so why I should have been depressed, I don’t know. Well, I do know. It involved writing. And the seemingly hopeless task of getting a vital message across to people not likely to pay attention.
So the cure: quit damn writing and go hammer on something.
The house’s one-and-only bedroom is this winter’s project. I was going to work on the walls, but that meant first tearing off a slab of floor trim (ugly as sin, but oh, what wondrous wood they built with back in the olden days). That put me on my knees on the floor. That led me away from the walls.
Like everything else in this place, the bedroom floor is a mess. The kind of mess that makes you wonder, “What on earth were they thinking?” A patchwork of ridiculousness.
About 3/4 of the floor is — or now was — sheet linoleum. Late 1940s vintage, I’m guessing by the design.
The other 1/4 is divided between painted wood with all kinds of holes and bad repairs in it and an entirely different type of linoleum. Squares. Distinctly early 1950s colors. With white paint slopped liberally over it. Having no conceivable relationship to the other ghastly stuff.
The painted, holey, and badly repaired portion of the floor was originally inside this unthinkable closet …
… which The Wandering Monk and I long since disposed of. But that’s no excuse for the overall badness.
All this must go.
Fortunately for me, Jim and Jack did their usual insane job on the floor but in a way that proved a glorious blessing. The big slabs of sheet linoleum were stapled down. Sometimes nailed. But mostly fastened with staples that eventually rusted from the damp. Jim and Jack used a token amount of mastic only on the edges. It long ago gave up any adhesive power.
The Monk and I, having already torn the back five feet off the bedroom, had also already discovered that the brittle old sheets could be pulled up by hand. And we’d gotten a hint that not only was the floor underneath properly constructed (amid all that rot, ruin, and stupidity); it was beautifully constructed. Two layers of gorgeous tongue-and-groove, done right.
But who knew what might horrors might still be hidden under that misbegotten linoleum?
So today I went at those sheets with hands and scrapers and pliers to extract the rusty staples. I took up most of the remaining linoleum and …
That’s not hardwood, but it’s softwood of the olden-days kind. It’s got a few water stains where the roof leaked or the staples let in damp. But nothing that can’t be sanded out.
The only problematic part is the floor under those icky 1950s linoleum squares. Whoever put those down made up for the lack of mastic elsewhere. Those are glued to survive the heat death of the universe. What’s worse, given their era, the mastic could have asbestos in it and therefore not be healthy to sand, even if I can pry the tiles up.
Good thing I asked the Monk to save as much of the flooring as he could when he tore off the back of the room. ‘Cause I think we might just have enough stashed in Neighbor J’s nice, dry garage to replace both the damaged and the overly glued flooring.
My intention was someday to carpet this room. But if we can repair the bad parts, then sand and finish them all pretty, it would be a cryin’ shame to cover up such lovely wood.
Thank you, Olde Wreck, for brightening my day.