Buying snowballs in winter…
The floor in our kitchen, and really the floor of the entire back of the house, really needed to be replaced. So, for the past week and a half, I’ve watched the removal of ancient layers of old, dirty linoleum and see it slowly but surely be replaced with a sturdy new marmoleum (a non-toxic, sustainable flooring which we’ve nicknamed “marmaladoleum”).
The flooring guy, John, is a friendly sort and guessed that the top yellow layer was about 15 years old. He estimated the pink patterned sheet directly underneath that was probably from the 1970s. The thin layer of green institutional-looking flooring tile squares at the bottom? He placed that in the 1950s. As a friend quipped about the layers, “It’s like sedimentary rock.”
There was one more layer uncovered, but only in the breakfast nook (aka my office). It was a simple wood floor on top of the subfloor. Unfortunately, it wasn’t nice enough to polish. It will also be paved over in gray marmaladoleum. Seeing some of the “bones” of the house, which was built in 1932, was a joy though. (Yes, I have been taking lots of photos.)
John is probably in his fifties and works alone. When he is on the clock, he keeps us separated with a thin, zippered sheet of plastic that covers the doorframe from the kitchen to the main living area. He brings a small rubbery bluetooth speaker to listen to soft rock and a red Thermos full of I-don’t-know-what, probably water, with him. He wears a headset so he can take calls.
At the end of each day, I got the rundown of what he was able to accomplish in those eight hours. First he removed the old linoleum by cutting them into big squares and stacking them up in short piles. Two days later, he brought all those misshapen squares to the dump, along with an old piece of foam that didn’t fit in my trash bin (he offered!).
Then, on another day he cut and placed a birch “underlayment.” The following day was a short one. He filled in the cracks where the underlayment sheets met with some kind of dark gray patching material that needed to dry overnight. Every night SJ and I have been able to use the kitchen as usual.
John’s meticulous with his work. He really takes pride in it. I told him I was surprised that he works alone because it’s really labor intensive. He said that he tried in the past to bring on help but it never worked out. They were always checking their phone or just not engaged in the work. He said he’s happy working solo. I told him I was happy working alone too, and I am for the most part.
On Monday, he placed the first piece of the brand new flooring. It was ok to walk on it by the time he left. Right now I can hear him ironing out another piece of it. He uses a heavy (and squeaky) metal roller to do the job.
I’m absolutely fascinated by the entire process. It’s cool to witness one man doing his craft. He takes no shortcuts, makes no excuses and confidently stands 100% by his work. It might sound silly but I’ve been so impressed that I want to raise my own, already high standards. I think it’s the only way to get to the next level… the only way to become a true professional. I sense I’ve been holding onto some of my amateur ways. No more.