September 3, 2015

File this one under: “minor oversight leading to huge time delay.” We planned for a few days to rip up carpet in the office and demo tile in the entryway. Once we got cracking on the tiles, we learned there was a 3/4 inch layer of concrete underneath them. This is not terribly uncommon and it could have been much worse, but it did slow us down. We reached the point where we had to choose between being a lot behind on our big picture schedule to finish the hardwoods or shell out some cash to have someone demo the tile quickly for us.

With David working on the demo for a couple hours on free weeknights and then a longer stretch on the weekend, it probably would have taken him at least a week to do it by himself.

DEMO ON THE ENTRYWAY TILE from Rachel Schultz 3

What a pleasant home for our baby to live!

To not have laying the wood floors drag out forever, we decided to hire a friend to get the tile done in a day. It was worth it to not have David tied up in this step for any longer. I could manage having him working with the wood floors for a few weeks, but pushing out past the month mark of living in an unsettled construction-land and with David busy all the time would have weighed on both of us.

For an idea, the above photo is 1-2 hours of work. He probably got up about 20% of the slate tile. On top of that would have been a whole (longer) second pass through to do the concrete. 


When our friend came he brought an eight pound sledgehammer which helped him break up the mortar beneath the tile into small pieces. There was a wire mesh below the concrete that had to be torn or cut out. A lot of that was done by hammering a pry bar against it. Then, of course, the clean up. All of the entry took about eight hours to finish. (Note: dust everywhere.)

It was possible (and we were hoping) that rather than straight concrete there would be a “concrete backer board” underneath the slate. It is still solid concrete, but adhered with screws that can be unscrewed and easily removed in large pieces rather than the concrete applied directly to the plywood. We would not know what we had until we got some tiles up. For a home built in the 1970’s we were told it would be a 50/50 chance if we would find a backer board. No backer board for us. Alas.

DEMO ON THE ENTRYWAY TILE from Rachel Schultz4

I texted David photo updates throughout the day and it was probably the closest to him being giddy (in the most manly way possible) I have ever seen. Having this hard labor done for him efficiently was (direct quote) a “dream come true.”

We left the tile in the bathroom because that will eventually just be re-tiled with something new. Getting this done in one swoop was a nice power boost for morale on this whole wood flooring conquest.

Now we are only a few dollars shorter and maintaining some semblance of our timeline. After this tile drama, laying the wood sounds easy. (And cleaner).

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