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  Updated 1-2-08




























Home Remodeling

By Kevin Crawford

This weekend was spent putting down engineered hardwood floor. For our renovated lake home, we chose the engineered flooring, which has the pretty wood on top, but is held together underneath by plywood. We arrived at this decision after researching every flooring material ever invented.

One reason we chose this product was for ease of installation. Installing a floor is a lot like playing Tetris. There are odd corners, angles, and holes, which you must fit with preformed pieces. The work is not physically demanding, except for the constant bending. After doing it a couple of days, my lower back feels like somebody has been using it to keep tempo to a Rolling Stones tune with a lug wrench. And I don’t mean one of those wimpy, slow songs either. But the good news is that the floor is essentially done.

During the course of our home renovation, my wife and I debated about whether to undertake many of these do-it-yourself projects. We consulted a variety of experts in those fields. We call them “guys”. Sheetrock guys, flooring guys, roofing guys, air conditioning guys, etc. For every aspect of your home, there is a “guy” whose business it is.

He knows everything there is to know about his area of expertise. Everything that is, except what to do in our particular case. We were always an exception. You see, the problem with our home is that it was built before straight lines were invented. So since there are more twists and curves in our home than a Shakira video, we spoke with lots of guys.

Speaking with the guys was always a challenge for me. Unlike most of the guys, I don’t even own a Nextel phone.  I own a small, practical cellular phone, which puts me at a disadvantage. I cannot simply engage the “chirp, chirp” function and order a pallet of shingles to be delivered next Thursday. The guys have phones that look like racecars bred with front-end loaders. Mine looks like a computer mouse dressed up for a Star Trek convention. Their phones have Nascar ring tones. Mine plays “Ice, Ice Baby.” So after several lengthy episodes of phone tag, I managed to actually meet a few of them.

In speaking with the guys, I learned that a good tradesman is not one who just knows the thing. He has to know the exception to the thing. Yea, multiple exceptions even. However straightforward a thing may seem to be to the ignorant, uninitiated, the expert must explain that the reality is as convoluted and complex as tax code. Further, each expert must offer an opinion variant from his predecessor. For instance, on the matter of flooring:

Guy one: You don’t want laminate in your house. You want engineered wood. It’s easy to install and can even be refinished. (His phone rings) “Vroom, vroom.” Hold on, I need to take this call.

Guy two:  Take that engineered wood back. That crap will swell up like a dead dog in July. You want laminate. It’s durable and maintenance free. (His phone rings) “Gentlemen start your engines.” Let me grab this call.

Guy three:   What are you, an idiot? You definitely want to go with real wood. All that other stuff causes cancer and is made by communists. (My phone rings) Is that Vanilla Ice? Get out of my store.

So after much debate and research, we installed the engineered floor. And I have to say, it looks great. Once you finish a big home remodeling job like that it’s like being part of a fraternal order. It’s a man’s badge of honor, like your first shave. Since word has gotten out, I have noticed that other men now ask my opinion on related renovation issues such as, “If I’m painting a house that’s 2100 square feet, has T111 siding and the temperature outside is 90 degrees, how many cases of beer will it take to do the job?” Even though I don’t drink, I can usually come within 2 cases. Heck, if this keeps up, I might even get a Nextel.


© 2006 Kevin Crawford

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A lover of all things Southern, Kevin Crawford is a Florida native and a simple man. Despite being continually ridiculed for his love of bluegrass music, drinking hot, sweet tea with no ice, and eating barbeque sauce on his pizza, he perseveres. He has absolutely no writing credits or awards. In fact, the only time his name has ever been in print is when he was in the “In Need of Prayer” section of the church bulletin.

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