My “quick and dirty” demolition and restoration of the floor in the office room.
Listen while you read to “Sunday Afternoon” from TPO’s “10 Strings” album since a lot of the work on this massive demolition/restoration project was done on Sunday afternoons.
Late July, 2011
After finishing the interior hallway on Saturday, I had taken Monday off from the day job too, and so had two complete days to potentially dismantle and demolish the office. Nevertheless, I had to wait until the varnish had cured in the living room before I could move the furniture back in and create space to move the office furniture to, and since having Monday off afforded me the rare advantage of having business hours available for transacting personal business, that is much of what I did that day, so the office demolition unfortunately got pushed into the work week.
After spending the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday cleaning stuff and putting the living room back together, including completely redesigning the practice area and cleaning resin-y sanding dust off of what seemed like about half a billion CDs and several instruments, I amassed a collection of items that needed to be repaired or dealt with in some way to make them useful, getting them out of the “debris layer” and putting them back into service. As I write this, I am reminded that I still to this day (April 24, 2012) have not yet picked up the CD deck that I took in for repair (the door is messed up, but other than that, it works fine and is a nice deck). The shop never called me to tell me it was done (I had totally run out of money – more about that later!), and it wasn’t done when I’d gone back to pick up the speakers that needed new cables since Laxmi chewed up their old ones. It was more complicated than simply changing the cables since the existing ones had specialized plugs and the wires would need to be spliced and I didn’t have time to monkey around trying to figure that out. $30 to make an otherwise perfectly good $300 stereo usable again is money well spent as far as I’m concerned.
Another item I dealt with was getting a nice Van Gogh print matted and mounted in a frame Chi had bought second-hand. That turned out great! I also took the piano cover which was a filthy, cat hair and sanding dust-covered mess to the laundromat down the street and washed it (it’s too big to fit in our washer/dryer). I also found a great little Mexican joint in the strip mall where the laundromat was, and that became my daily dining spot for the rest of the time Chi was in Cuba since I ran out of food and didn’t want to waste time shopping for more, and the kitchen was a completely inoperable disaster area by that point anyway.
I spent the rest of Monday and Tuesday after work on the truly wretched pain in the ass of moving the ridiculous amount of furniture, electronic media and paper and books and crap of every manner and kind from the office out into the living room, which meant having to hand-carry two huge bookshelves worth of books and sheet music a few at a time because I had neglected to get boxes at the day job for this purpose since I hadn’t been at the day job for the past couple business days.
I stuffed as much of that bullshit as I could fit under the piano, including a huge crate of papers and junk to have to sort through and file away/ deal with, etc., and then set about dismantling the two computers and all the various gadgets connected to them, took the desk apart so I could move it and rigged up a temporary workstation in the beautifully remodeled living room, maintaining my connection to the outside world by duct taping my modem to the wall (to get it off the office floor) and running a 50’ ethernet cable out to the living room. I put the rest of the furniture wherever it would fit, which made the kitchen and living room with makeshift workstation virtually inaccessible. The chaos and disorder didn’t seem to bother the Panache Cats at all. In fact, they seemed positively tickled to have the house turn into a giant jungle gym.
By Tuesday night I finally had the office completely cleared out and ripped out the carpet, revealing along with the obligatory wretched carpet strips that take a herculean effort to remove and trillions of staples, not nasty linoleum this time, but the most hideously ugly sheet vinyl flooring I’ve ever seen in my life! That would just have to wait until tomorrow. So much for my aspirations of having that room stripped and sanded and varnished in one night. (I should note here that this whole operation was a “quick and dirty” job, and I took a MAJOR shortcut with the drying time between coats of varnish as explained in this post. So far (one year later) it seems none the worse for it, but only time will tell.) As badly as I needed a full night of sleep, I had a growing sense of impending doom as Sunday, July 24th was advancing much more rapidly than my progress. We were now on Tuesday night, July 19th. By this point it was 100% clear that I was absolutely not going to be able to get the bedroom or Cat Shit Corridor done, and in fact would be hard-pressed to get the house cleaned up and back into a passable state of order by the time Chi arrived at the airport.
Well, Wednesday evening after the day job, I laid into the vinyl flooring with my “floor bully”, and encountered a most perplexing situation. The vinyl in the middle of the room came off without much resistance, and in fact was so flimsy that the staples from the carpet pad ripped right through it and stayed in the floor, but I couldn’t get the stuff around the edges to budge at all. This was apparently a totally different type of adhesive than I’d encountered in the living room where I’d demolished two layers of linoleum tiles the previous week and had an arduous and protracted ordeal with stripping off the remaining adhesive.
I started by drenching it with acetone and leaving it to sit for about half an hour to dissolve the glue as I’d done with the linoleum adhesive in the living room, and it didn’t do squat. Further perplexed, I tried lacquer thinner, a more aggressive solvent, waiting another 20 minutes or so for it to work. Again, no joy, even though it stunk all the way out to the opposite end of the house where I was waiting. Fuck! I had no idea what to try next, and then I remembered that certain types of adhesives can be removed by dissolving it with hot water. That didn’t do jack in the living room, but I decided to give it a try and went out to the kitchen to boil a pot of water, which I poured over an array of shitty construction towels I laid out over one section, and waited for it to work its magic. Success!! That was the magic bullet, although the water didn’t penetrate the cardboard backing that was still stuck to the adhesive in some places, so I had to try to scrape that off, which was very difficult and time consuming. It took several hours to get all that stuff off, and then there were still about a million staples left in the floor that I had to pull out.
Sanding the floor and getting all the remaining crap off was another knock-down drag-out that took all of the next night (Thursday), and I’m sure our neighbors in the apartment bloc next door love us more than ever now. I finally gave up when I ran out of belt sandpaper. Again, it was the same soft, splintery kind of wood that I had found in the interior hallway, but this room had quite a few very rough, scratchy areas. If I hadn’t been so critically low on time and money, I would have gone back to the hardware store and bought more low-grit sandpaper the next day and done a better job, but decided that I would just have to settle for “good enough for rock n’ roll” and get the varnish on, and the last coat went on just after midnight, which brought me into the wee hours of Friday, July 22 and Chi was due back at LAX Sunday afternoon around 4:00 PM. That wouldn’t even allow enough time for the office floors to sufficiently dry before I’d have to put the room back together.
– To Be Continued –
P.S. Note that this monumental ordeal only amounted to getting rid of the dirty, nasty, dust and allergen-infested, cat-puke-stained floor covering and leaving me with a more sanitary, readily cleanable and aesthetically inoffensive surface. It didn’t even begin to address the underlying problem of developing a robust system for managing the totally overwhelming tsunami of bullshit that constantly inundates that room. That’s a subject for another post once I have the system in place, which has been a lengthy work in process!