So, last Friday and this whole weekend, I’ve been moving. Moving with two small kids is so fun! I wish I could do it every week! [Beats head on desk.]

Anyway, it reminded me that a while back I wrote a post soliciting flooring advice. I thought I’d do a quick follow-up for the vanishingly small number of you who care.

I said in that first post that we were promised hardwoods throughout, and it turned out not to be so. This elicited talk of small-claims lawsuits and such, so to clarify: it did not say in the MLS listing that there were hardwoods throughout. It may have said that on some sign at the open house, or we could have misread it. Whatever. As it turns out, there’s a semi-happy ending, since there were hardwoods in the places we really wanted them — the dining room and living room.

Why did we initially think there weren’t any in the dining room? Well (and I shall struggle to remain calm here), some previous owner or other had decided it was a good idea to glue down particle board over the hardwoods. Not just screw down particle board, mind you, though there were dozens of screws as well. No, they also need to dump about five gallons of glue. On the hardwoods. Picture me shaking my fist at the heavens.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Here’s the floor, shortly after we discovered the truth and started pulling up particle board:

Floor with particle board

There ensued one of the most miserable homeowner experiences I’ve ever been privy to: me and my friends on our hands and knees with crowbars and chisels, first prying up whatever big pieces we could find, and then, toward the end, scraping glue off the floor, inch by inch by miserable, hand-destroying inch. My left leg still hasn’t regained feeling. Here’s what it looked like when we were finally done:

Floor after scraping

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

At that point, the hardwood professionals rode to the rescue. Two days later, here’s what it looked like:

Floor, finished


So anyway, we restored the hardwoods in the living room and dining room — the greenest option, right? The second R.

For the bedrooms we went with carpet. I know wool (or sisal or whatnot) is the eco-friendliest, but even the cheapest, lowest-quality wool carpet cost more than $1 more per square foot than recycled-fiber carpet from a carpet liquidator in town. Recycled fiber is still coated with chemicals, and really it’s downcycled, headed for the landfill, but whaddya gonna do?

For the kitchen and laundry room we got a nice, dark-brown marmoleum, which turned out to be much cheaper than we expected.

So yeah, we kept one eye on eco-friendliness, but to be honest, we were just like everybody else: cost was the overwhelming factor. I know that with lots of green building stuff, the up-front costs are high but it pays off better in the long term. But up-front costs were the overriding factor here. Hell, we’re spending on credit.

That’s why (just to give this post some pretense of relevance) Al Gore’s plan for a “Connie Mae” — a federal fund to provide short-term loans for homeowners, to overcome those high front-end costs — is so brilliant. If I could get some low-interest loans, sure, I’d get wool carpet. I’d replace my oil furnace with in-floor solar-powered radiant heating. Hell, I’d put up a windmill. But when a guy’s scraping for pennies, well, it’s all about satisficing.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!