Thursday, October 3, 2013

“Cut Your Losses”

        According to all of the DIY YouTube videos, my desire for nice, clean, and new grout for the kitchen and living room floors entailed buying a couple of inexpensive hand tools and scraping away the old grout.
Hours of work!
DIY equals a huge temporary mess
            Optimistically, my husband and I grabbed the little tools and proceeded to scrape and gouge for four hours without removing much more than a layer of dirt! My son’s suggestion that we needed to resort to Tim the Tool Man’s motto, “More power!” resulted in a quick run to The Home Depot to purchase a reciprocating saw with the special grout removing attachment. After two more hours of work, we’d managed to remove the grout from a single eighteen foot strip. Quickly counting up the remaining “strips” for both rooms resulted in predictions that the grout removal would end sometime in 2014.
            Not to be deterred, we decided another power tool would cut the work in half, and so my husband borrowed another saw, purchased an even heavier-duty blade, and joined me in determined unity as we again attacked the grout. Another couple of hours left us with two and a half strips finished, hands aching from the vibrating saws, and the beginning of backaches from hell.
          All of the videos we observed showed people how to replace small sections of grout. Patch and repair jobs. None depicted the hell of removing entire rooms. Ever wonder why these home make-over shows rip out perfectly good tiles? We now know. It’s easier to take a jackhammer and rip out entire floors than to remove grout, even grout that is over twenty years old.
            So. . . . We admitted our defeat. We critically evaluated the worst sections in the living room (mainly in the entry way) and the kitchen and decided that we could do patches and repairs in these areas if we could get the existing old grout clean enough to match the new patches.
            Back to The Home Depot to purchase goggles, rubber gloves, and a miracle cleanser that we saturated onto a bad patch of old grout to do a test spot. After fifteen minutes to marinade, and a little elbow  grease with a sturdy grout brush, the end result looked almost new. Good enough for me, at least.
 I know in another world (where things always go right), the grout would have flaked effortlessly out of the grove. I would have sucked up every speck of dust with the Shop Vac and spread a nice, bright, new grout into every little crevice. But I don’t live in that world.
And so we scrubbed and patched. We conceded to our reality. My parents didn’t raise a fool.  
Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman


Floors cleaned, patched, buffed

Padme enjoying the "new" floors

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