Our slab ranch house was built in 1955. It had all of the original floors and carpet that were installed in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. The green carpet that covered the dining room, living room and hallway was exactly the same turquoise green carpet that my parents installed in my bedroom when I was a kid in the early 1960’s.
Twenty years of scrambling with two children (boys!) and two full-time jobs took its toll on this carpet. As two active boys spilled, muddied, ripped and wore this carpet away, I found myself without the funds nor the will to replace it with anything expensive. Over a period of 20 years of hard living, I ripped and cut and removed pieces of this carpet until there was nothing left but the cracked tiles that lay beneath, chilling on the slab. Many of those tiles had separated from the cement surface, others had not. These were 9 inch square commercial tiles. Please know that 9 inch tiles from the last century contain asbestos and need to be professionally removed. I will spare you that tale. By February of 2014, the wear and tear, coupled with a lack of financial resources, forced my hand into updating the floor myself.
I started at the north end of the hallway, and worked my way south.
It took me 3 weeks to do the entire hall.
I used 12″ square Armstrong commercial tiles. They cost me 66 cents a piece. A box of 45 was $29.00 at the local Home Depot. The hall has high traffic, so I laid them 3 to 6 at a time and marked them with blue painter tape to keep people off of them. I let them cure (and forced people to jump over them) for 3 days before removing the tape.
I found myself nagging to “skip the blue tapes!” because no one was listening to me. Not even the dog. The dog did not understand her role in this. She thought she was in charge of patrolling the hall, while I preferred a sitting guard. We talked. She patrolled some more.
I screwed up a lot! I had many, “Why did I Start This?!?!?” moments. Ok. If you screw up, forgive yourself. And remind yourself what you would pay someone to do this for you. This isn’t something you do every day. For example, I could not make the 36 inches of tile fit neatly down the hall alongside the molding. Some molding was removed. Other molding was left in. Sometimes I could fit the tile smoothly under the molding but then… BAM! I came across vertical molding on a door that blocked my way. I do plan on replacing the door molding in the near future.. but for now, I simply took a saw and patiently cut the end so that my tile would fit.
Under the rotting carpet was a beat up layer of padding, and as I stated earlier, under the padding was a nasty brown 9″ x 9″ tile. It was definitely circa 1955 because that’s when my cement slab house was built. It is prudent to wear gloves and a mask when cleaning out the old to make way for the new. I know that I do.
The original carpet was installed by placing strips of wood along the borders of the room and on top of the tile and nailing the carpet in to the wood. When the carpet and padding and wood pieces filled with nails were removed, it left holes in the cement slab. I filled those holes with water, dried them out, filled them with cement then let them dry… I checked back on them every 15 minutes or so because as the cement dries, it contracts. I was ready with my handy spatula to keep them filled and smooth as best as I could.
I stored my tools on a shelf in the hall closet so I wouldn’t enhance the chaos of home improvement with unnecessary clutter.
There it is! The hallway is done! Next we do the dining room.