Today's Guest Blogger is Jeannie Matulis, an attorney and a friend of mine who achieved her dream of owning a cottage by the sea. Her carpeted floors, though, were not dreamy, and I asked her to blog about how she found a solution:
When I bought my house in Cambria six years ago, I was thrilled with the curb appeal of the charming cottage near the ocean, the fresh sea breezes and a yard filled with native shrubs and flowers. The inside needed work, including fresh wallpaper and paint in every room, but the house had great features, including a fireplace, a skylight and French doors leading out to the patio.
I did not do anything with the floors. The sellers had installed new carpet when they had placed the house on the market and it looked fine. I later realized it was the cheapest and crummiest carpet money could buy, but by then I was fully entrenched, my furniture was in, and I had gone on with my life.
Eventually, however, I realized that when arriving home from a business trip, I would get depressed walking into my house. The curb appeal and fresh air would give way to a dank, dreary, funky smell that exuded from my carpet.
Oh, I would have it professionally cleaned from time to time, and I invested in my own carpet cleaning contraption that I used regularly, but I could not keep up with the ground-in dirt, the cat fur and my own clumsy tendency to occasionally spill things. My carpet had become a “positive ion generator” that no gizmo from Sharper Image could match.
I finally decided to do something drastic. I had always loved wood floors, and I decided to make the investment. I was on a budget, though, and had some tough decisions to make. I could get less-expensive supplies from a warehouse and get my own contractor.
Another option was to support one of our local businesses, where I could select the supplies and they would arrange for everything. I knew that the latter option would be more expensive, but I liked the idea that I could rely on a trustworthy neighborhood store that had a solid and longstanding reputation in the community. I have a friend who had gotten terrible results when she got her roof done through a warehouse, big-box store (supplies and contractor) and no one would take responsibility when things went wrong.
I chose the local business, but because the supplies were more expensive than those at the warehouse store, I picked an engineered wood instead of solid wood.
Unlike laminate flooring, engineered wood is real wood, but it consists of several layers compressed together with the chosen wood on the top layer, covered with a polyurethane finish. The lower layers may be plywood or other forms of reconstituted wood. In this respect, engineered wood has the potential for being better for the environment. I chose a Brazilian cherry for the top layer because of its warm red highlights.
The installation went off without a hitch. The workers were conscientious and professional, and completed the job in less than two days. The job cost about $6,000, with half going toward the product, and half toward labor.
It looked stunning! I was also provided with a complimentary cleaning system consisting of a special mop and cleaning formula designed to help maintain the sheen.
It has now been a year that I have had my new floors. There have been some highs and lows. I love the shine, but have found that with the polyurethane finish, the floors are so shiny that every little smudge and scratch is highly visible. The upside, of course, is that I can see the dirt immediately and remove it. Therefore, my place now has a clean, fresh smell when I walk in the door.
If I had to do it again, I think I might have dug deeper and gotten solid wood because engineered wood cannot be sanded, and although it can be refinished, I suspect that in the long run, it will have to be replaced sooner. Also, I prefer the texture of traditional wood flooring to the uniform, slick surface of the polyurethane finish, regardless of whether the wood underneath is solid or engineered.
But overall, I am very happy with my decision to replace my dreary carpet with lovely, hardwood floors. The appeal of my house no longer stops at the front door!
Comments or questions for Jeannie? Please comment below.