Level-headed?

 

A lesson in reading directions…

On Saturday, after finishing the painting, I attempted to use leveling compound to even out some of the settling in Chloe’s room. Besides the overall slope from front to back, there was a dip along the center over the old stairwell. While the 2×4’s are strong enough for a floor, they weren’t big enough to hold the floor completely flat over the years. Knowing that the laminate floors really need a nice, flat surface, I figured that I’d better do something to improve the situation.

Believe it or not, I did actually read all the directions on the bag. Following them was a different story altogether…. mixing paddle powered by a 1/2″ drill? check! (that’s a lie, I have neither – how about hand stirring with a paint mixing stick for a few minutes?), one of those floating trowels on a long stick? Another miss, but I figured between a wallpaper scraper and some scraps of lumber I could make it work.

I was amazed at how easy it was to mix the compound by hand. While I had been expecting the tough stir of concrete, this wasn’t bad at all. My excitement ended when I started pouring it onto the floor, only to see all the lumps that had been hiding under the surface. After attacking a few with a stick and seeing them break up easily, I decided to just go for it and pour it all out. Enter problem #2. While a small area would have been easy to do with my “tools,” I wasn’t fully thinking through the logistics of what would become a 5’x8′ rectangle of goo. At first it seemed easy, as I used the high points of the floor as rails for a board that I used to push the mixture along the floor. But it was moving so much of the mixture that I started to worry about having a 2″ tall lump of it at the end of the room. So I pushed some of it back. And forth. And back. And forth. And by this time it started hardening, which made the pushes much less smooth. And did I mention that the lumps started migrating to the surface en masse, scaring me with the prospect of a rock-hard lunar surface which would guarantee the impossibility of installing the flooring? And now that it was hardening, whenever I treid to smash a lump, I’d create a divot and a surrounding donut in the floor! Although I wasn’t truly panicked, I was convinced that I’d have end up having to plywood over the room’s floor to be able to install flooring. At a certain point you realize that it’s hardened enough that you can’t work it anymore, and you just have to resign yourself to your fate. I was very happy when I checked later that night and found that while it looks very sloppy, none of it seems to be higher than the surround floor. So a few layers of felt paper might be enough to smooth out the problems. Hopefully…

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