Girl Scout’s honor, we found a diamond ring beneath the kitchen floor when I removed it this weekend. Before I even get into the demo-fun that ensued in the process, what in the world would you do if you were in our shoes? Track down old homeowners? Or sell it to offset the price of the new floor?
I’ll admit it, I’ve been drop-dead nervous about replacing the kitchen floor. The existing laminate’s not old. It’s not in bad condition. And from my thrifty-minded brain to yours, I knew that removing a perfectly good floor to appease my aesthetic senses meant that I was reaching a touchy point on the crazy/stupid/spontaneous scale (not to be confused with the Vicky Mendoza Diagonal). Pete would like me to remind you that we’re also still in the midst of the bathroom renovation, and starting another project wasn’t exactly on the agenda yet.
Brushing off the bathroom trim for another day, I spent a few short hours on Friday morning taking the kitchen floor from looking from this, all light-colored, smooth, and universally desirable:
To this, covered in stacks of laminate and a handsome layer of Armstrong Vapor Lock moisture barrier:
To this, a ragged-out but temporarily functional, overly-mastic’ed to its subfloor, probably asbestos-filled vinyl sheet that has clearly seen better days (but not since 1950):
Clearly, I’ve taken a step backward to go forward, and you can call me whatever you want for making the decision to replace what most would consider pretty faux-wood laminate with vinyl concrete tiles (something I wrote about on Friday), but I still think it’s going to be fab.
If you’re thinking about doing something like this yourself, it should be super, super easy to remove Pergo-like laminate. I started by removing the quarter-round trim that finished off all edges of the room with a pry bar and some gentle lovin’, carefully preserving each piece as I went (and marking them with blue painters tape so that I knew what wall they came from in case I decided to paint and reinstall the same trim later instead of splurge on base shoe (it does run upwards of $1.50/linear foot, not quite as appealing as zero dollars).
Because pergo-style laminate floats on top of the moisture barrier and hooks together with a tongue and groove system, there was no glue to get through. No nails or staples to wrestle with. With the thresholds removed, I lifted the floor boards out one-by-one, exposing the black foamy moisture barrier that rested beneath the laminate and on top of the old, old linoleum.
Because the laminate ran below both the stove and the refrigerator, I wiggled and jiggled these appliances (and the center table island) out of my way as I went.
Each board came out cleanly, without damage, and within a sweet hour, the kitchen was free, and a stack of flooring sat against the wall in the dining room (although clearly, I waited until sunset to snap this picture). That little stack – that’s a-l-l of it, approximately 120 sq. ft., sorted into one 10″ pile. Amazing.
We’re not just taking it to the curb, I should note. What makes me feel better about removing it is that it will go back into society productively:
1. 30 sq. ft. of it will likely be installed in Pete’s parents’ bathroom.
2. 90 sq. ft. will be Craigslisted and sold to the highest bidder, or dropped off at our local Habitat’s ReStore.
With the flooring cleared out I also decided to salvage the moisture barrier. I rolled each piece up like a burrito, partially to keep it neat and orderly, and partly to capture all of the dirt that had accumulated on it throughout the day. It was easier to unfurl each dirty piece on the deck in the breeze than to try and sweep it off or vacuum it in the house. Efficiency, people. I like efficiency. And burritos.
Side note: We still hadn’t found the diamond ring yet at this point in the clean up. If you look straight back to the dishwasher in that above picture, it was sitting on the vinyl just beneath the cabinet overhang, but not out of sight. And true story, even though I swept that room about 3 times over the weekend (observing at the same time how well the grungy floor hid muddy dog footprints), we didn’t actually notice it’s presence until Sunday night. How’s that happen, yo?
With the original flooring exposed, we’ve been in awe. In awe, and also eager to get it covered back up. I have no real reason to believe that this isn’t the flooring that was installed with the house in the 1940’s, but I have a hard time believing that it was once desirable. While it’s in fairly good condition (meaning no holes, tears, shreds), it screams dingy, filthy, and unattractive. In person, the greenish-brownish-gray floor doesn’t compliment the natural hardwoods that extend through the rest of the house, so it’s really hard to imagine what the place used to be like as a new construction model.
Looking forward to next steps this week, I’ll be back soon with an update!
Editor’s update, 6/23/2012: A woman stopped by our garage sale, mentioned that her sister used to live in our home, and began to describe who slept in what room, the holidays they spent here, etc. Before she walked away, I asked curiously if her sister ever lost any jewelry, the woman replied without hesitation “Her diamond engagement ring. We turned the house upside down looking and never found it.” It was a good karma kind of day, as we promptly handed it to her and she excitedly drove off to deliver it to her sister. Cheers!