The Third Law of DIY: Actual Task Time = Estimated Task Time x 5.

We couldn’t sleep.  K-man was convinced it was the bedroom colour: top to toe magenta.

After six years of marriage he is finally developing a small growth of Hippie in his frontal lobe.  Five years ago he never would have uttered the words “It’s just too hot, as a colour.  It’s not calming. Bedrooms need to be calming.”

I let pass the observation that I have tirelessly campaigned for improvement in decor of this particular room since we moved in.  For me it crosses the line from hot into offensive.  Plus, the carpet smells of cat piss. It’s a carpet you could hoover forever and the Dyson would still be pulling skin remnants out.  An infirm old lady and her two cats lived here before us, and frankly at times the gross is just too much to handle.

It took some time, but finally we were both singing in tune. When that happens, it’s Action! Stations! because K-man makes a decision and thenceforth there is not a moment’s focus on anything else, let alone my preferred past-time of lounging about.

Unfortunately, it was Action! Stations! on our 6th wedding anniversary.  I’d had in mind laying on the bed being fed grapes and having mojitos gently borne upstairs to me on a tray.  I’d imagined being languidly fanned.

We did go for lunch in a posh country hotel.

Afterwards though, the  A-Team theme was virtually audible from between K-man’s ears. This won’t take long he said.  Painting is quick.  Investigations indicated that all we had to do was lift the carpet and underlay to reveal stunning original 1930s floorboards.  A bit of a wipe, and we would have a temporarily much nicer room before we launch into the full re-plastering and removal of fire-hazard ceiling tiles that is a professional job, and for which we do not currently possess the bank balance.

Since I was in my no fucking around mood, we went straight for the value pack of Magnolia and escaped from B&Q without needing to have an argument with a member of staff: a good omen.  Three coats later, the Magenta was no more.  Next morning carpet-removal was scheduled.

I was dispatched to Waitrose to do the weekly food shop while K-man returned to B&Q to obtain the things we had forgotten.  On my return an anguished wail struck the air.

It seems that in our investigations we had lifted the only corner of carpet in the entire room which was free of glued-on cheap shit laminate floor tiles.  Circa, best guess, late 1970s.   I felt actual hatred for a person I’ve never met.

I mean, who does this? Bad floor tiles in a bedroom?  Glued to the floor?  Have these people never watched the Perpetual Property Programme Channel?  Can they be the only remaining people alive not to realise this is major idiocy?

We lifted the first tile and it seemed to come away easily enough.  I removed the sticky adhesive residue with some WD40.  It worked!  It wasn’t much effort.  Let’s just get on with it, we thought.  No more nights with that bloody carpet.

Unfortunately the tiles at the edge were barely glued down when compared to the ones more toward the centre of the room.  Five hours later we had cleared enough of the tiles and adhesive to replace the wardrobe and chest of drawers.  It’s no exaggeration to say that I was asleep on my feet.  The procedure was thus:

Lift gripper rods that have been nailed over floor tiles.

Lift a group of the floor tiles – enough that you know you can definitely clean off the gloop before losing the will to live.

Spray copious quantity of WD40 all over the adhesive.

Wait 15 minutes.

Wipe with Jay-Cloth.

Curse.

Wash with Ecover floor soap to remove gloop residue.

Splinter finger through rubber glove.

Curse.

Repeat.

It is a fucker of a job.  As the floor tiles come up, so too does some of the wood in special shard formation.  Some of the floor tiles are tacked down for good measure.

My mother visited to assist, but that was more trouble than it was worth.  My mother tends to dispense the same piece of advice multiple times, each time as though I’ve never heard it before.

Her: Do you want a piece of advice?

Me:  That depends.  Is it new advice, or is it the same piece of advice I’ve heard three times already?

Her: I just think you should try meths to get this up.  [it’s the same piece of advice].

Me:  Yes, I know that’s what you think.  I will try it, but I don’t have any meths.  Want me to see if they sell it at the petrol station?

Her:  No.  I just think you should try it next time.

Me:  OK.

[3 mins later].

Her: Don’t you think meths would work better on this?

Me:  Mother!  Are you saying you want me to see if I can get some?

Her:  Yes!  I think it would work.

Me:  OK! I will go to the garage right now.

The garage doesn’t have meths, so after she leaves, I receive two text messages and one email telling me I should try it.  I try it.  It doesn’t work as well as the WD40 at getting the glue up on the first pass, but it’s better than the Ecover Floor Soap on the second pass.

Also, inhaling meths fumes makes the task seem less awful, somehow.  I should probably wear the mask next time.  Because there will be a next time.  As of today, this is our bedroom floor:

Once we’ve got the tiles and adhesive residue up, we will have to belt-sand it to remove the shards of wood, and the paint stains.  Then we will stain it a tad darker than it is right now.

I have a feeling it is going to look astonishingly good.  Then, we can get going on the rest of the floor which (oh, yes) is also covered in glued down tiles.

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16 Responses to “The Third Law of DIY: Actual Task Time = Estimated Task Time x 5.”


  1. 1 lane July 11, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    My god, it looks so much better already! You’re right, it’s going to look stunning when it’s all finished. Nice work!

  2. 2 unmitigated me (m.a.w.) July 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    You will love it when it is done, though. My daughter and her fiance had to do this in one of their rooms. They went with a bit darker stain as well, and it was gorgeous!!!

  3. 3 kellyg July 12, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    The 70’s were a crap decade all around.

    It will be worth it in the end. It will look great when you are finished. Then you can have the mojitos and grapes.

  4. 4 Gretchen July 12, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    What is meths? Because in the US, meth is short for crystal meth, a very cheap, nasty, illegal drug made in home labs that sometimes blow up.

  5. 5 Nic July 12, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    @ Gretchen: Ah, no, not that kind of meths. I meant ‘methylated spirit’, which is basically purple highly flammable liquid used for all kinds of housely ick tasks when nothing else will do the job. Wikipedia says ‘denatured alcohol’, if that makes any sense to you?

  6. 6 Gretchen July 12, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Got it! That makes more sense.

  7. 7 Ashley July 12, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I think it looks great so far!

    Maybe it’s just me but both of those descriptions of meth/meths sound a lot alike. Just sayin.

    Do you get splinters in your feet walking barefooted now?

  8. 8 P Fisher July 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    WOW – what a fabulous transformation! It’s going to be beautiful. Sounds like a hot muscle relaxing bath may be in order before grapes and mojitos. Good luck – your hard work is producing amazing results.

  9. 9 Suzanne July 14, 2010 at 9:13 am

    It does look fantastic, thus far! Bye-bye, magenta hideousness and hello, gorgeous! Nice job on the icky work!

  10. 10 Naomi B. July 14, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Hell of a project, so worth it though! You’re doing a great job!

    • 11 nic July 14, 2010 at 1:17 pm

      Hi everyone,

      Thank you! I definitely think it will be worth it in the end. Sometimes it feels like such a huge task but honestly, we will be SO proud when it is all finally done. At this point ‘done’ feels about 10 years away, but we will get there.

  11. 12 Jenn @ Juggling Life July 16, 2010 at 7:00 am

    It IS going to look amazing. And already I’m sure you’re happy to not feel as though you were sleeping in a vat of pepto-bismol.

    Is that a Klimt print above the fireplace?

    • 13 nic July 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm

      @ Jenn, yes it is a Klimt – amazing spotting!

      @ Ashley, we do have to wear slippers now to walk on the floor. I’ve forgotten a couple of times and escaped with my feet intact but I was lucky!

  12. 14 Jonathan July 17, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Looks fantastic. You know, some day you need to come visit for the day to see our hell hole of a house. We can swap stories.

  13. 15 Stacie July 25, 2010 at 3:36 am

    It looks fabulous, what a huge task that is, but so totally worth it. I cannot believe someone would glue that horrible laminate flooring over those beautiful hardwoods. In some backwoods southern parts of the States, yes, that could happen, but in England, where people have better sense than that?? I’m amazed.


  1. 1 The Boudoir Beautification Project « lifesmudged Trackback on February 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm

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