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Life and Floors

Some observations on floors and life. Seriously.

My wife and I are renovating an older home with the hope of having it on the market by mid to late July. At the same time, today a crew is coming to our new house to repair some early water damage to our kitchen floor. Ideally, our new house is back to prime condition by month's end.

In the old house, we found there is once-beautiful hardwood flooring in the front half. The flooring, however, was covered by carpet in much of the house, linoleum in the bathrooms, and a lousy stain job in the dining area. Worse, years of pet damage exists in the form of dark stains with white crystalline edges.

Curiously, you can see the supports and beams where walls once stood. The living room is divided in half where a long-removed wall had created two rooms. A six-inch beam of plain, unstained wood down the middle of the room means we likely cannot leave the hardwood exposed. When you look up through the basement, it is clear the hardwood was mounted across the beams. The hardwood is *the* floor.

Walls were moved when the house was doubled in size by a 1970-something expansion. The addition added a large garage, a workshop, and two massive bedrooms. It allowed for a second bath, and then the expansion of the existing rooms.

The house evolved to meet specific needs. Some of its former charm had to be sacrificed to practicality. I never contemplated walls moving, because we tend to think of them as fixed. Yet, the walls were moved within the shell of the original house. The front exterior changed little, and the house still looks like a cute little box from the front. Major change can be invisible until you look deep within.

It's a shame the house wasn't maintained well, but now we are giving it yet another chance to be a great home. The floors will be recovered and restored when possible. The paint will be updated, the exterior washed, and someone will come to love it.

In the new house, our floor was damaged by a leak within our first full 24 hours as its residents.

The hardwood, which we purchased because it can take abuse, was damaged quickly by the water. The once smooth surface now has ripples, the edges of the planks upturned by moisture.

We thought wood would be sturdy, with any minor wear adding character. Instead, it proved to be fragile when faced by the most basic household problem: a plumbing leak.

The hardwood in the old house is so strong it takes serious effort to remove the carpet tacks and staples. It hardened with age. Yet, we will have to cover it again because the house evolved and grew. Supporting families for at least a half-century, the floor does its job quietly and reliably. The new floor is only a surface, a covering that can be easily replaced. It serves no structural purpose. And it failed. The new hardwood floor proved to be "young" and weak.

I'm hoping I am more like the hidden floor of the old house.

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