Monday’s Musings: Floor Coverings

No deep-pile thoughts today; just unvarnished musings.

I don’t like carpet. Yes, it’s warmer than bare floors in the cold weather, but that’s the only thing going for it. When it’s new, it’s toxic. By the time the stink is gone, it’s showing wear. Berber is best because traffic and vacuum sweepers don’t leave trails, but I’m still not fond of it. You can’t clean carpet. It holds stains, absorbs dampness and odors, and all shampooing does is lift out a fraction of the loose dirt and make it wet. Yummy.

We sold a rental property a few years ago. Removed every bit of carpet. When I saw the condition of the wood beneath—stained, smelly, warped and buckled from the dampness—it made me wonder why people subject themselves to such a horrible depository of mold, odor, and disease.

I don’t care for vinyl either. The old, heavy linoleum was better. We put decent-quality vinyl in our kitchen about 10 years ago, and I’ve never been happy with it. It’s full of dents and cuts and gouges, and in one place, a burn. Also, a patch where it was torn when the refrigerator was moved.

Of course the vinyl is an improvement over what was there before. When we bought this house, every room was carpeted. I understand the reason; it was the easiest, least-expensive way of covering the floors. But as soon as we could, we pulled it up.

Removing the kitchen carpet left fuzzy glue behind on the unfinished hardwood. We eventually scraped, sanded, and wore away the carpet backing and glue and walked around on unfinished wood flooring—which tended to leave splinters in our feet, a feature the kids and their friends loved—for several years. It was fun, because when something spilled on the floor, most of it ran between the floorboards and ended up in the basement.

Finally, we put down new vinyl, which, as I said, didn’t hold up well. I’d love to replace it with ceramic tile. Now, that’s a floor.

Or, good quality hardwood. With a finish on it.

Living room, dining room, and office have the original hardwood. We refinished the floor in the office, and I love it! (And you thought I was going to complain about every floor in my house, didn’t you?) Yes. It’s beautiful. It was a terrible amount of work, made a ridiculous mess, and we haven’t gotten around to refinishing the other two rooms. Even so, the bare, original hardwood is better than the carpet that used to be there.

Last Monday, I contemplated these things as I washed the floor in the living room. It’s such a pleasure to have a smooth, clean floor. So much nicer than carpet.

Many years ago, a friend told me about the unfinished wood floor in his mother’s kitchen when he was a kid. Every Saturday morning, they’d take all the furniture out of the kitchen and his mother would wash the floor with bleach. He said the floor was smooth, white, and beautiful.

And clean!

When I was a kid, I read a story about a boy growing up in the American frontier somewhere—I believe it was in what we now call the Midwest but which at that time was the Ohio wilderness or something. In his one-room house, they had bare dirt floors rather than wood, covered with white sand. Like my friend with the mother who bleached the floor, this kid’s family had a weekly floor-maintenance routine. They’d scrape up all the old sand and put down fresh wet sand. (They must have lived near some body of water with a sandy bank or beach.) The mother would take a broom and make swirls and designs in the sand, and they’d stay out of the house until it dried. Once they came back in, they could walk on the floor (barefoot—Mother wouldn’t allow shoes in the house to mess up her floor) and it would retain its lovely design until the next week, when they’d scrape it off and start over.

I once had a penpal who lived in the UK. She told me that when they went to replace their living room carpet, they discovered that it was laid over bare dirt. The house was so old and the dirt so hard-packed, they’d thought it was concrete until they pulled off the carpet.

I’d rather have hardwood.

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2 thoughts on “Monday’s Musings: Floor Coverings

  1. We’re about to replace a lot of flooring in our house. Because of Shadrach, our 205 lb mastiff, we won’t do hardwoods. They aren’t quite hard enough. LOL But we’ve found a laminate that looks like cobbled stone s of different sizes. Since we have hardwood in the entry way, it will go with that without being a mismatch. We’ll rip the carpet out of the great room and hallways, and carry the laminate throughout.

    The dining room and bedrooms will have to wait. Obama has taken care of that with the down economy.

  2. With a 200-lb dog, I understand why you’re tearing out your carpeting! Maybe one reason I don’t like carpet is because of all the dogs we’ve had in the past. Don’t have any now, but I still prefer a hard floor.

    Let me know how you like your laminate. I’ve heard people say they like theirs and other say installing it was a big mistake. There are a lot of designs to choose from, though, and I like that about them.

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