Beauty And The Sexist Floor Guy. Disney Can Have That One.
“Well you didn’t tell me two women were coming to pick it up!” My flooring guy laughed, I fumed, and my friend Angie did her best to diffuse the situation and ensure I didn’t do something to invite a lawsuit.
I prefer to work with local companies when it comes to flooring. Usually you’re going to have far more options than the big box stores and will be able to score a better deal. When Justin and I walked into the place I picked, I knew we chose right when it turned out our dealer lived right down the street from us. But I also knew we chose wrong, because no matter how many times Justin told him that he’d be dealing with me (because Justin was leaving town), the man refused to direct any questions my way and repeatedly bantered about indecisive wives and our unseemly overspending habits.
The sad truth is, dealing with sexism in the realm of home renovations is not an isolated occurrence. “You drew this?” the drywaller I hired to handle our kitchen once inquired of my scale drawing. “Not your husband, but you?” Boys, I love you, but please. You have to stop assuming that just because I have breasts of the hairless variety that my dainty girl brain can’t handle material decisions, planning, purchasing, or transport. You just have to. Because, frankly, it’s not a wise business move. It’s a statistical fact that women make the majority of decisions when it comes to home decor, and while you might be used to typically dealing with male contractors, residential DIY-ers aren’t going away. And, if catered to smartly, they can prove to be a fairly equitable source of revenue. Just ask the founders of The Home Depot.
I’ll never be comfortable dealing with someone who passively aggressively lets me know that he doesn’t take me seriously. But my time is a valuable commodity and he let me take home lots of samples, so I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t address the situation while we were in the store so I could put it to rest. Instead, I bought some floor.
When I last showed you our laundry room progress, I mentioned a little SNAFU with the flooring situation.
Our flooring requirements for this room were:
- Flat (because we didn’t have to deal with sawing down two exterior doors)
Justin was curious to try this brown paper flooring because it was definitely flat, mostly durable given enough polyurethane, and unarguably the cheapest solution at our disposal. They just didn’t happen to turn out. When brown bagging it went bust, my number one choice of painting using an exterior floor paint went out the window. There was simply no way we’d get the underlying linoleum clean enough from glue and paper to leave a smooth surface for paint. That left our final choice, sheet vinyl.
Linoleum vs. Vinyl
Many people use the terms vinyl and linoleum interchangeably, but actually they’re two very different materials. Linoleum, which is made of natural and renewable linseed oil and other natural materials, is the ecologically responsible choice. While it does require a sealant and periodic maintenance, there’s no question as to which choice is friendlier on the environment — both outside and inside your home. But. Vinyl is cheaper, guys. And easier to DIY. And since this is an itty bitty afterthought of a sunken room off our garage, Justin and I justified the non-eco,chlorinated, petrochemical-infused choice and bought a cheap vinyl our flooring guy had available in his warehouse. Since he was trying to get rid of it, he cut us a deal at $1.30/sq. ft.
Sheets vs. Tiles
It seems like a few years ago, synthetic floor tiles were all the rage. But it didn’t take long for consumers to discover that their longevity — and therefore value — is highly questionable. Even my friend Alaina’s higher-end Congoleum floors, which require a much more rigorous application process than peel-and-stick vinyl, aren’t holding up to the wear of a normal household. Also, one of the worst qualities of tile is its grout lines. So why, if you’re choosing synthetic flooring, would you carry over an undesirable tile trait? I knew without question that I wanted sheet flooring even though it wouldn’t look like real tiles, because the only thing that looks like real tiles is real tiles. Plus sheet vinyl, though it requires measurements and cutting, is faster to install than the tile variety, and a seamless floor is less susceptible to moisture issues.
The biggest drawback was that the sheet vinyl only came in 12′ wide sections, which meant if I wanted a seamless floor in a room that’s only 7′ wide by 17′ long, I had to buy a lot of extra flooring. As a slight consolation, our floor guy promised me he’d have it cut down to 8′ wide for easier install and transport. Which is why I was surprised to show up with my friend Angie and her pickup truck with the 8′ long bed, only to learn that he hadn’t bothered. “You’re lucky my friend is prepared with bungee cords,” I said, less-than-enthused that we’d have 4′ of flooring sticking out the back of her truck.
“Well I didn’t know two women were coming to pick it up!” he’d responded, as though it were relevant.
I can’t explain to you the irony of an overweight, middle-aged man condescension and how it makes me feel. I just can’t. So, after some curt words that I’m positive ensured I’d never get a great deal at that establishment again, we left with our 12′ long roll of flooring. Our weak woman bodies even managed to get it out of Angie’s truck and onto my driveway with zero complications.
When Justin came home, we set to work.
The process for installing sheet vinyl is simple.
1. Cut to a size slightly larger than a room. (Complicated rooms might require more complicated measurements and cutting prior to bringing it into the room, but since our room is just a large rectangle, we cut an even larger rectangle, leaving about a foot of extra material on all sides.)
2. Lay down and align.
3. Cut again.
4. Install shoe molding and transitions.
Since vinyl flooring holds its shape, it doesn’t need adhesive. The only thing holding ours down is the trim, and it hasn’t budged a bit.
First, we spread the roll on the driveway and cut it to a manageable size:
Then we maneuvered it into the room and shimmied it back-and-forth to align the faux grout lines parallel with the walls:
Style-wise, this wasn’t my favorite choice. Vinyl comes in all kinds of fun colors and patterns, but at $1.30/sq. ft. and the likelihood that we’ll have to sell this house in the next couple of years, we couldn’t pass this one up.
Next Justin took a box cutter and worked his way around the room. The cuts didn’t have to be perfect since the edges would be getting covered with trimwork:
I could’ve easily done this part too, but I tend to panic when I think about something too much and realize if I screw it up, I’d have no one to blame but myself. So really, it was better for both of us that I sit back, sip a beer, and dole out sage wisdom from the comfort of my perch on the painted brick steps.
After working the perimeter, he cut holes for the floor vents:
Finally, all he had to do was nail the original shoe molding (quarter round) back in:
Despite the un-staged shelves, second-hand paint, and third-choice flooring, I’d still say it’s a vast improvement from this:
And from this:
It’s soft underfoot, durable, and only took a couple of hours to install.
The faux design is a bit cheesy, but it’s neutral enough for eventual buyers and you seriously can’t beat the price per square foot. Now we just have to get some water hooked up in here so I can run these bad boys:
Misogynist sales guy aside, this is, by far, the easiest flooring we’ve ever installed.
Have you ever installed sheet vinyl? Would you consider doing it?