Out of the Fly Trap and onto the Beach

Life at the beach means accepting the certainty that sand will find its way into every nook and cranny of your house.  Well, we’ve taken that to a whole new level:


We’ve brought the beach inside in a big way.  Yesterday, we were bemoaning the giant fly trap that was our house and preparing for a long war with the adhesive, armed with an angle grinder.  Today, we are dancing a jig (my inner Irish) on our new sandy floors.  We had seen someone on the web recommend using sand to mitigate the stickiness of vinyl adhesive, but we typically don’t take web-based advice that isn’t corroborated by someone else we know and trust.  Enter my dad.  When he saw the situation, he suggested the sand.  Fortunately, we had an extra bag in the garage from the front porch paver project we did last year, so without further ado, we spread the sand in the kitchen, the stickiest spot, as a test. SO. MUCH. BETTER.  Oh my goodness. We used a dustpan to distribute the sand and then worked the sand into the adhesive with our shoes  Then we used a push broom to move the sand to the next section of floor and repeated.  MIRACLE OF MIRACLES, FOLKS.  Now, does the sand remove the adhesive? No, but we can actually walk on it now, which means we can actually cook in our kitchen tonight and not have to wear work boots to the bathroom.  PROBLEM SOLVED.

A Sticky Situation: The Giant Fly Trap That Is Our House

This time last week, we were eagerly preparing to begin the laborious task of floor prep for our new tile.  Here’s the recap of what we accomplished through Sunday:

  • renting storage unit to store garage things and furniture so that we have room for 1850 square feet of 6 x 36 wood look porcelain tile coming on 4 pallets (and can move furniture out in sections to prep floors and lay tile) (did this Tues)
  • moving garage things and furniture to said storage unit (Wed-Thurs)
  • ripping up carpet, carpet pads, tack strips and hauling to curb for pick up (Thurs-Fri)
  • renting PRO stripper from Big Orange and scraping up vinyl tiles, glue, and paint and hauling to curb for pick up (Sat)
  • purchasing  DITRA 
  • purchasing DITRAset and other supplies as needed (trowels, etc.)

IMG_4778Note that the HD PRO stripper we rented did not get up the glue and paint as hoped (and advertised…MAJOR WOMP WOMP), so we applied natural, nontoxic solvents and even resorted to Goo Gone, plus a lot of elbow grease, to try to get the sticky up, but to no avail. Oh sure, we knew the 20 year old vinyl tile and its adhesive would be a chore to remove, but man-oh-man.  Arduous doesn’t even begin to describe it. The stripper did get some of the glue up, but whoever originally installed the vinyl tile before applied so much glue that the stripper couldn’t get deep enough in the sticky mire to strip down to the concrete.IMG_4785 The glue was also pulling up chunks of concrete with it, so we are wondering if whoever did the concrete slab didn’t use enough water, resulting in a crumbly crust, which we like on some things (apple crisp?) but not on our foundation.  Good thing we were already planning on patching holes and flashing the floor.  As it stands right now, our house is officially a giant fly trap.  Seriously.  Stand in one place for more than 1 second and your shoes are stuck fast.  Try to walk, and you’ll walk out of your stuck shoes onto the most disgusting flooring ever.  If you are building or remodeling your own home, please do not use horrible products like vinyl and vinyl adhesive in your house if at all possible.  Bad all around.  At least ours didn’t contain asbestos…and it was picked up within 2 hours of being hauled to the curb….


You may be wondering why we decided to get rid of these super stuck floors in the first place if they were so “well done” initially.  If we had sheet vinyl, maybe we would have kept it as is for a longer time and eventually tiled over it.  However, these delaminating vinyl tiles were installed with little faux grout lines over a slab that clearly has significant enough hills and valleys to merit concern about tiling over without flattening. Dirt collects in the faux grout lines that then sticks to the adhesive spread underneath, rendering it impossible to vacuum, sweep, mop, etc., and the hills and valleys mean that eventually any tile we would install over it would buckle and crack.

In DIY land, Big Orange and Big Blue are helpful to a certain extent, but they have their limitations.  We know there are more potent (and also flammable, noxious) solvents for remediating our sticky situation, but we were trying to avoid this at all costs.  When seeking other possible methods, the flooring “specialist” with whom we spoke at Big Blue wondered (a) why we didn’t want to keep the vinyl tile (erm, what tha what?) and (b) now that we had already stripped the tile, why didn’t we just tile over the adhesive despite the hills and valleys (there. are. no. words.).  This goes against EVERY recommendation from tile installation experts and every instinct I have, based on the tiling I’ve done in the past.  I’m not one to call people dolts, and we normally love Lowe’s.  BUT COME ON, PEOPLE.  Clearly this guy knows zilch about tile installation and should not be in charge of the flooring department.  We walked away empty-handed and fairly disgruntled, especially because he shouted, rather aggressively, “Don’t walk away from me,” as we were walking away.  He was rude, patronizing, unknowledgeable, and a bully, at best.  In sharp contrast, the flooring lady at Big Orange recommended using a concrete grinder with a wheel of blades designed to scrape up the adhesive and paint after she and her husband ran into the same issue in their home.  He painstakingly ground away at the gunk from 3 layers of vinyl (Three! The Horror!) using a handheld angle grinder on their own concrete slab and did such a good job that they were able to polish the concrete. Pretty amazing. Even though she was delivering somewhat discouraging news about what it would take to solve our problem, her willingness to help and gracious, understanding attitude scored Home Depot a purchase of an angle grinder and coating removal wheel of terror.


Now that we are going to be meticulously grinding away the grime in each room, I’ve had to make a more detailed plan of attack.  The layout of our home is just open and juuuuust closed enough to be problematic for floor work in sections in the limited time we have together after work while still having access to an entry/exit, a bathroom, and room for furniture that we cannot store in the interim anywhere else because we refuse to pay to move it AGAIN {read: baby grand}.  Here’s the breakdown of what’s next on the 40 Days to the Floors We Love list:

  1. Mon: Amy paints guest hall (GH), laundry room (LAR), and master hall (MH) while Chris takes out shoe mouldings + baseboards (we didn’t have time to do this as planned prior to stripping)
  2. Tues: Amy paints second coat in BR2 and BR3 while Chris grinds LAR + MH
  3. Wed: Amy patches LAR concrete  while Chris grinds BR2 + BR3 + GH
  4. Thurs: Amy patches BR2 + BR3 + GH concrete while Chris grinds foyer (F) and living room (LR)
  5. Fri: Flash BR2 + BR3 + GH; demo fireplace tile
  6. Sat: Amy patches F + LR concrete while Chris grinds kitchen (K) and dining room (DR)
  7. Sun: A + C go to tile school at HD (refresher for Amy, first time for Chris)
  8. Mon: Flash F + LR (except for study nook = path to backdoor from MBR)
  9. Tues: Move life to guest suite, clear MBR
  10. Wed: Amy patches K + DR concrete while Chris grinds MBR
  11. Thurs: Patch MBR + MH concrete
  12. Fri: Flash MBR + MH
  13. Sat: Flash DR + Study Nook of LR
  14. Sun: Rest
  15. Mon: Ditra LAR + MBR + M. Hall
  16. Tues: Mark + Dry-fit LR Tile
  17. Wed: Mark + Tile Laundry
  18. Thurs: Mark + Tile MBR
  19. Fri: Grout Laundry
  20. Sat: Grout MBR
  21. Sun: Rest
  22. Mon: Mark + Tile Master Hall
  23. Tues: Ditra DR + Study Nook
  24. Wed: Grout Master Hall
  25. Thurs: Mark + Tile DR + Study Nook
  26. Fri: Ditra BR2 + 1/2 G. Hall
  27. Sat: Grout DR + Study Nook
  28. Sun: Rest + move life back to master suite
  29. Mon: Mark + Tile BR2 + 1/2 G. Hall
  30. Tues: Ditra BR3 + GBA + 1/2 G. Hall
  31. Wed: Grout BR2 + 1/2 G. Hall
  32. Thurs: Mark + Tile BR3 + GBA + 1/2 G. Hall
  33. Fri: Ditra Music Nook
  34. Sat: Grout BR3 + GBA + 1/2 G. Hall
  35. Sun: Rest
  36. Mon: Mark + Tile Music Nook
  37. Tues: Ditra Living Room + Foyer
  38. Wed: Grout Music Nook
  39. Thurs: Mark + Tile Living Room + Foyer
  40. Fri: Grout Living Room + Foyer

Even if we don’t stick to the 40 day plan, we will definitely be knocking out the floor project in this order.  Goodbye, sanity; hello, blisters!

Prepare to be Floored

Last Thursday we made our most expensive home improvement purchase yet {gulp}….We finally ordered flooring for our whole house!  We talked about the porcelain wood plank tile we chose, Spice in the American Heritage Series by Marazzi (#3 in the pic), here.

IMG_4472We have a couple of weeks between now and the delivery date, so we will be spending that time prepping the rest of our house for flooring. This involves the following exciting (and overwhelming) activities, some of which we started last year, here,  


and the rest that we will be tackling this week:

  • renting storage unit to store garage things and furniture so that we have room for 1850 square feet of 6 x 36 wood look porcelain tile coming on 4 pallets (and can move furniture out in sections to prep floors and lay tile) (did this Tues)
  • moving garage things and furniture to said storage unit (Wed-Thurs)
  • removing baseboards and shoe moulding (carefully) (Fri)
  • ripping up carpet, carpet pads, tack strips and hauling to curb for pick up (Thurs-Fri)
  • renting PRO scraper from Big Orange and scraping up vinyl tiles, glue, and paint and hauling to curb for pick up (Sat)
  • patching holes and cracks in concrete, sanding, cleaning, and flattening where needed
  • purchasing and installing DITRA (maybe/maybe not) Update: We are definitely going with DITRA!
  • purchasing DITRAset and other supplies as needed (trowels, etc.)
  • snapping chalk lines to form grid and dry-fitting tile
  • purchasing a commercial wet saw (none for rent in our area are large enough to rip 36″ tile) [if needed, based on our dry-fit]
  • pre-cutting tile

Fun times, right? Or crazy times.  Getting ALLLLLL this done in two weeks while working should be interesting. Oh, and we have a fence to finish, too. If you want to track our progress in more real time, check us out on Instagram: @kazoopartyoftwo

Here goes nothing!

Fauxtography in the Family Room

Having a smartphone with a decent camera has increased the frequency of pictures we KaZoos take, but not necessarily the quality.  Unfortunately, time and other, more pressing issues, usually rob us of time to break out our old film cameras for photography.  We also never, and I really mean never, print the pics we do take, which is why our frames have nine year old wedding pictures in them. And pictures of our cats. Confessions of the childless.  We are in the process of trying to remedy that situation, and last summer I bought some 12 x 12 square frames from Michaels at one of their BOGo sales (plus coupon!) to use to create a gallery wall in our house for all the new, fun photos we would be taking of our new life at the beach.  Flash forward a year, and those frames have languished in our foyer, empty…until now.

After painting the living/family room, and rearranging the furniture, I knew I wanted to have a gallery wall around the TV.  Since we only have one main living area in the ‘Zoo, and a small one at that, there is only one room for communal TV viewing, and the TV dominates the wall space.  We painted the wall a dark gray so that the TV would blend into the wall more, and the bookshelves flanking the media stand have improved things tremendously.  There was just one thing missing–art.  We debated between a gallery wall, photo ledges, or shelves but ultimately decided a gallery wall was the way to go.  After examining our collection of wall IMG_4589art and frames, we elected to go with a uniform grouping in a rectilinear arrangement around the TV, using the 12 x 12 square frames.  For a couple of weeks, the frames sat empty (again), but the blankness in the well-used living room bothered me more than it had in the foyer, where no one really spends a lot of time.  With no photos or photography of our own that was sized appropriately for these frames (yet), I pondered what to use instead.

Inspiration hit when I realized (after how long?!) that scrapbook pages were the perfect fit for the frames! I took some pages leftover from one of those tear-out scrapbook page collections that were photography. I had mined its best contents years before but managed to scrounge enough decent pages to fill the frames. IMG_4745I played with the arrangement a bit until I was satisfied with the balance of color, pattern, texture, etc.  Now our wall is much happier, and so are we.  Plus, I realized that I can easily swap the contents for different scrapbook pages for seasonal or holiday themes as desired, and I won’t feel bad about ‘replacing’ someone’s picture.

If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive and fast way to create some wall art, this is definitely an excellent option.  This strategy would work well in rooms like kitchens and baths where you don’t want to use real photos or original artwork for fear of moisture damage but still want some bright and cheery art.  I could also see this being useful for staging your home to sell when you need to depersonalize yet still have attractive (but affordable!) art to appeal to buyers or for furnishing a rental/income property with art.  A key thing is to make sure the frames have nice mats, otherwise your photo scrapbook pages will look very much like scrapbook pages and less like real photos. The mats dress things up a bit, I think.

PS: We don’t stage our bookshelves.  Although the carefully planned arrangements of whatnots and collectibles tossed in with a few books harvested IMG_4748-1for their bindings (and not their contents) may be visually appealing, we use bookcases to do real work storing lots of books.  We are unapologetic bibliophiles, including the cats.  Cats and books go well together.  With a cup of tea.  And perhaps a cozy quilt, too.  Happy Friday!