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
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:
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.
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.
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.
* * * * *
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