I am not a neat freak. I’m really not. Yes, I like things clean and tidy and I can’t abide a mess, but I know I’m not a neat freak because I know actual neat freaks. You can read more about that here.
In my townhouse, I had a galley kitchen with some vinyl that didn’t even take me ten minutes to sweep and clean. I preferred to clean it on my hands and knees, because as Cinderella and my mother know, that is the only way a floor is really clean.
Second apartment, same.
First house, dining and kitchen, same. But I wasn’t even thirty yet, so I didn’t struggle, and I made Bubba and Sissy do the area around the table.
Second house, different flooring in most every room. Very quickly we pulled up the CARPET IN THE BATHROOM and I tiled it in a day. Who puts carpet in a bathroom? That is just gross. Sicky, icky, ew.
The Mister broke a Wonderbar pulling up layers and layers of flooring in the kitchen and dining room because there was carpet in the dining room and the tile in the kitchen was beyond ever looking clean EVER and drove me outta my mind.
By then, you see, we had two school-aged kids and two babies, a dog, and two cats. Cleaning floors daily was necessary for basic sanitation.
We tiled those rooms.
I enjoyed my heavily sealed original wood floors in the rest of the main floor. Broom, dust mop, damp mop — voila!
We had some crazy-ass tile floors from 1960 in the basement. They were not in good shape. We had more kids than monies, and thus became fans of rugs.
Then we moved to Georgia, into a very white and light and did I mention white? space.
Then we had two tweens and two toddlers, just one cat, and a serious fire ant problem.
White walls, white cabinets, white trim, and those stupid light-colored floors.
Floors became the bane of my existence.
[I will briefly explain things I barely understood:
When you live on a military base, housing is determined by the size of your family and somewhat by your rank.
We were lucky to get assigned to new, big housing. Old, big housing was available, but The Mister picked our house: new duplex on the corner.
Military housing is not free, or is free, depending on how you look at it. The military pays a Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH. Let’s say it was about $800 a month then. Now, this is tax-free income, additional to taxable salary, used to pay for your basic living expenses. So, if you’re us, you give up your $800, take the huge house on post, and don’t pay for water, or heating and cooling. If you’ve got one kid, you take your $800, get a two-bedroom apartment that costs substantially less, pay your bills, and bank the surplus.
The military doesn’t pay you more for every kid you have, nor do they give you a larger BAH. That’s a weird urban legend. If military families are often larger I think it’s because a) homecomings = sex like whoa b) healthcare is virtually free and c) the tighter the ship you run, the more passengers you can handle.]
As I said, our home was nice and new, in comparison to other homes on base. People envied my flooring. They didn’t know any better.
Oh my God those fucking floors. When I lived in Georgia, when I wasn’t bitchin about the heat and the sun and the sand and the goddamned fire ants, I was bitchin about cleanin my floors. It was an epic battle. More than a thousand square feet of some faux wood stuff. I have no idea what it was, really. It had grooves. All the SAND went into those grooves and gave the floor a dirty, distressed look. I, in turn, was often distressed about my floors.
One of my neighbors told me the floors were supposed to have been sealed. She’d seen many sealed floors. One night, while her family slept, she used two boxes of Magic Erasers, scoured every inch by hand, and put a wax on them. She did this once a month so that she could effectively mop them.
I was amazed at her dedication. I thought if I swept several times a day and mopped after dinner, I’d be fiiine. I was wrong.
Here’s a photo that shows some floor:
Quickly, I realized mopping was not effective and as soon as I’d drop down to scrub them, I’d see the entire floor was really dirty. The Mister bought me knee pads. This made for lots of dirty jokes.
I became one with my knee pads and my scrub brush.
Here’s a picture of me after scrubbing the back of the house, just the dining room and office, not even tackled the hall or kitchen at this point. No room for vanity here y’all. My deployed husband Skyped me in the middle of the day and this is what he got.
Yes, that is ALL SWEAT.
Subsequently, that same neighbor bought a Hoover Floormate and when my husband came home, he bought me one, too. Little bristles whirring through those grooves, suction pulling up all the dirty water, ah, sweet relief! Then I only had to do the few inches around baseboards and under cabinets on my hands and knees. God love the Hoover people, bless them each and every one.
When we moved out, I was terrified of what the home inspection would reveal about my floors. I was sure we’d be charged nine gazillion dollars for the floors. I swept and collapsed.
When they came to inspect our house, they went on and on about how clean it was. I apologized for the floors, told them I’d been far too tired to clean them properly. They couldn’t believe how clean my floors were.
“Seven years? You’ve lived here seven years? With how many kids? We have people who haven’t even lived here seven months and they’re not anywhere near this clean.”
I felt better, but I knew they weren’t actually clean.
This house has a lot of different flooring, like our other old house. It annoys us for various reasons.
Keeping carpet in the entryway clean is quite a challenge, let alone when you live on a damp, wooded lot. I live in the city proper, but nature is here in a big way. Leaves, all up in my house, for one.
I do not want tan, shaggy carpet in our bedroom. I would prefer something with a low nap in a less golden hue.
I don’t mind my laminate. This being the first laminate I’ve had, I’m actually rather impressed. Knowledgeable people have told me that it’s not just laminate, but cheap laminate. I say, “Hmm. I love it.” Wouldn’t mind more of it.
Do y’all have any idea how easily cheap laminate cleans up? It’s a freakin breeze. It’s like dirt doesn’t even like to lie on it. I swear it’s dirt-repellent. It refuses to stain.
Like I said, I loved my old wood floors, but I prefer this cheap laminate. No lie.
Now, my kitchen floors. They’re gorgeous. They’re porcelain tile, lain on the diagonal. Look like stone. Nice colors, grays and tans and a bit of green-y blue or blue-y green. People come over and they say, “Oh I love these floors! I love this tile!”
Then I say, “Yes, yes, it’s really beautiful. To look at.”
They are awful, awful, awful floors. Just, I mean, I have had two homes on a slab and I’ve spent years working in heels and I’ve worked retail on concrete floors and I mean to tell you, these are the most painful floors I’ve ever encountered. They’re excruciating. Feet ow. Lower back ow.
I finally broke down and bought a coupla memory foam mats and they really help a lot.
These gorgeous floors are also reliably cool. Y’all know I like cold things, but I am surprised I do not get frostbitten when I fetch my morning coffee. It’s the kind of cold that goes right through slipper socks.
Annnd, as if that’s not enough reason to hate the gorgeous floors, anything you drop on this floor shatters into a million tiny pieces. I have kids, so sure, more stuff gets broken, but I am personally responsible for cracking the edge of a Pyrex measuring cup (!!!) as well as breaking a glass and a bottle of maple syrup.
Don’t make me tell you how much I love my pretty, colorful plates. I’m not a materialist (obviously, given my love of cheap laminate) but I do scream things to people like, “Hold that with two hands until you exit the kitchen!” and gasp as I shout, “Two hands! That color is retired!”
What do I want in my kitchen?
Not like what people call linoleum, not vinyl, actual linoleum. Like rubbery, prolly what was in my kitchen in 1920, linoleum.
Neither of the bathroom tiles bother me, but then, I don’t stand in there for hours a day, either.
One day, when we can afford to spend a week elsewhere, while also paying thousands of dollars, we will have the floors re-done. I’ll probably still yell at people to be careful with my dishes, but in a scratchy granny voice.
Thanks for reading all that, if you really did. It’s too long for a blog post and too shallow for therapy, but I really needed to bitch. Do you have any floor issues you’d like to vent about?