Saturday, November 3, 2007

Flooring Ranbles

The majority of our main living floor is hard wood. Good 40-year-old red oak. We sanded them down and refinished them this summer, and they look awesome (if I do say so myself!). We did, however, use standard sealers and finishes. This was due to our floor guy refusing to use "that green crap." This was an old friend of Wirenut's who refinishes floors down in Tennessee for a living. He said he has worked with the low-VOC finishes twice, and unfortunately, they aren't quite ready for prime time. This spawned a discussion with him about green living and green remodeling. To his credit, he willingly admitted it was a noble cause and something we should all be doing. Yet he said that, when they used the products before, the quality was just not up to his standards. (And I imagine Naturegrrl is reading this thinking "He has standards?!"). So hardwood refinished, we didn't do so good on green, but we get an A+ on frugal for getting a pro job for the cost of materials and a one-way Southwest ticket from Nashville to BWI.

Our bathroom is currently tiled. Sadly, we will be tearing that up for the remodel. Due to the restructuring (enlarging and then dividing), we have to remove it. The replacement tile was, however, purchased from Habit for Humanity. So, the money went to a good cause and we bought remnants. And there are no petroleum products in the tile, so no off-gassing and nasty stuff like that.

The basement - well, the basement is so far down on the list of things to think about that we haven't done much. We are, however, 75% sure we have good old asbestos tiles down there. So, we will need to encapsulate the tile. And since its a basement and needs encapsulation, we pretty much will need to use a sheet product or will have to skim coat is with something. But yeah, it will be awhile.

This brings us to the kitchen. Our kitchen floor is currently vinyl. I would say it is in good condition, but when we rotated the peninsula cabinet, we were left with a large patch of missing flooring. So, it will need to be redone. This has put me on a quest for real, honest to gosh darn, linoleum. This stuff is hard to find. Armstrong makes one, as does Fobo. Armstrong's website sends me to my local Lowe's. I should have known better. The conversation went like this:
Me: Hi, I am looking for real linoleum.
Lowe's Idiot (LI): Sure, do you want stick tiles, sheet, or what?
me: No no, those are vinyl. I want real linoleum.
LI: This is real linoleum.
me: No, its not.
LI: Well, everyone calls vinyl linoleum. But its the same stuff.
me: No. Linoleum is made with linseed oil and has a hemp backing, vinyl is made with petroleum products.
LI: We don't carry it.
me (at this point knowing I am wasting my time, but he is annoying me): Well, Armstong's website send me here. Armstong says you carry it.
LI: We don't carry it. And it has asbestos in it. Why would you want that?
me: That is so not true. They took asbestos out of flooring products before you were born! (said as though I was more than 10 years older than him - LOL).
LI: We aren't allowed to carry anything with asbestos. Its illegal.
me: Ok, fine. Whatever. I bet Armstrong will be happy to hear you are telling people such things.

This conversation reads so much more calmly than I remember feeling. I've never felt like screaming at a Lowe's idiot before. Normally, I'm a fan of Lowe's idiots. I own Lowe's stock. I shop there a lot. I can usually sweet talk the guys into carrying drywall for me. But not this guy. I was about to punch him for being such an idiot!!!

I have been to a couple of other big box and small stores with my question "Do you have real linoleum?" Usually there is a little conversation back and forth before they realize I do not mean vinly. Big box people generally say no (although none with such passion as the above Lowe's idiot). The smaller stores generally say no.

A few weeks ago, we were shopping for a mattress, and there was a flooring store right next door. On a whim, I walked in and asked my standard question. Bernadette took one look at me and said "I think we have one sample in the back, and I can get more." I was in love! She has gone out of her way to get us a wheel of sample, even sending us a letter when I accidentally gave her the wrong phone number! So, I want to plug her and where she works: Standard Carpet and Floor. I just returned the samples. Unfortunately, due to the bathroom, its going to be 2008 before we redo the floors. But I will be going back to her because she has been so helpful! And, if you find this post by googling linoleum and Baltimore (I know at least one person did), then go to Standard Carpet! No, I get no kick-backs. But I like good service!

Friday, November 2, 2007


We just had our oil furnace cleaned and tuned up for the winter. We have only run it a few times, but those couple of time reminded me why I am so glad to not have a heat pump. mmmmmmm warm air. Fuel burning furnaces definitely make a house feel so much more cozy than a heat pump. Unfortunately, fuel burning furnaces tend to use non-renewable fuels, such a natural gas and heating oil.

The thing about heating oil is that is technically #2 fuel oil. And #2 fuel oil is really, really close to diesel fuel. In fact, the heating oil guy told use if we install a diesel generator, we can run a line from our (massive, 550 gallon) heating oil tank. Conversely, if we run out of heating oil, we can dump a couple of 5-gallon tanks of diesel from the gas station to tide us over til the delivery truck can get out. (this is what our heating person told us, if you found this from googling and try it, you do so at your own risk.)

Further extrapolation means that you can run a oil burning furnace on Biodiesel. Biodiesel is a side passion of mine. Not that I have done anything with it (other than make a bundle, then lose the rest on Earth Biofuels). But, for the past couple years I have talked about how I want to buy a diesel car and run it on veggie oil. One day... But I digress. The biodiesel folks have begun to blend biodiesel with heating oil to produce BioHeat home heating oil! (Wiki's bioheat link) This excites me beyond belief! Even better, there is a genuine biodiesel plant here in Maryland.

But alas, my attempts to find someone to deliver bio heating oil have been futile. Everyone I call is not carrying it yet. The company we are using right now says they are discussing it and plan to carry it at some point, but can give me no time frame. I am hoping that as one of the largest companies in the state, they will have the resources to get new storage tanks sooner than others. I will gladly replace my lines and pump to heat my home on waste veggie oil! Hopefully, I will find a source before I get fed up enough to make it myself. I'm too much of a girl to deal with stinky used oil from the local fry-everything joint.