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Today is one of those days when my house-to-be is not winning friends and winning influence in my book.

All day I have struggled with the final decisions on flooring. Flooring is expensive. It is really expensive. It makes $1000 bathtubs look cheap. Regular flooring is $2.00 to 15.00 a square foot–before it is installed. Depending on what you choose, installation can cost the same or even more than the product.

And there is the fact that if you buy your product in one place and your installation from another the can cancel each others warranties out. If there is a problem with the flooring from the installation perspective it must be the product. From the product perspective it must be the installation. Some stores handily solve the problem by selling both product and installation. Then there are the stores who sell only wood and you have to find someone to instal it. This is actually true of the stores that sell the product and install it because installation is usually done but a cadre of subcontractors who moonlight for the stores. Sometimes they work full time for the stores but almost always as independent contractors.

I am willing to go with lower end wood and with vinyl in the bathrooms but I really, really wanted stone in the entry. We are trying to incorporate some elements of houses from the 1700s into our new house and stone makes more sense than any other flooring. Except for price. I found stone really cheap but then the installation price is more than doubled because the material is hard to work with. The cheap stone is cheap since it is the chips and chunks left over from making the nice neat expensive stone tiles most people buy. So, here it the outcome. I can have vin ordinaire flooring for $3.00 a square foot in the entry. This is truly table wine. A step up from the bottom for sure but not too far. Alternately, I can choose carefully the stone on the lower end of the spectrum and end up with $1000 in stone and $2000 to $3000 in labor for my 217 square foot entry hall. It seems like it could be a splurge worth making but in the big picture but when you consider that it is that is 7% of the flooring for 17% of the budget it looks a lot harder. Worse yet, for us, our budget is cut to the bone already.

So, rather than look at random pattern slate a $13.48 slate material to which you  must pay someone to ship ROCK overland, I spent the afternoon looking at $1.39 vinyl tile. Of course no one is going to be fooled that vinyl is rock. Still, though, it gives the visual appeal and it is evocative of the time period we are working toward with our decorating.

But, there are two buts. These are in addition to the buts mentioned before about the crisscross that can come from product one place and installation another. The first of these new buts is that the product is so cheap will a professional actually be willing to install it and second, I can install it but then there are NO warranties and I will undoubtedly be in everyone’s way as they are working.

One of the bad things about being a moderately skilled do-it-yourselfer (modestly might be better term) is that you can do the things that professionals are doing but, like laying vinyl, there are two issues. First (a), your work is probably not anywhere as good as a professional and (b) if your work is as good it probably takes you twice as long.

I am a truly excellent interior painter. I painted our old house, nearly 2000 square feet all trimmed out in raw fir. You could not find any paint blops on the fir except the ones that the professionals made the 12 years before when they painted. We all admired my handiwork. Even the very smart, very competent, stern, sometimes grumpy foreman of a construction crew we knew complemented me. After silently inspecting my work up and down trim and across several color changes where I had to free hand paint straight lines on lumpy walls, he said to my spouse, “You should keep her. She paints better than I do.”

Don’t worry, no second career on the horizon. When I paint I am so slow and meticulous if you had to pay me I would make flooring seem cheap by comparison. One of the things that makes my work good is that I mix my paint colors from colors that are similar but not quite right. You know how when you go to the paint store and there are literally a thousand or more chips, you cannot find the right color? Well, I decided a long time ago that I would circle my prey and end up with the color I wanted. A couple of Christmases ago some of my younger relatives and I went to get some paint. I wanted a nice sage green with some body. I did not want pastel but I wanted a soft color. We were at a box store on Christmas Day and there was not a lot to choose from. After a frustrating search for other options, I grabbed a cam of the only green, dark Army Green, and started to the counter. Someone said politely said they thought that color might be a little dark for what I wanted. I responded that I could make it work just right. Given that I am a lot older no more was said on the topic. What I knew and they did not was that I had left over cappuccino colored paint from a previous adventure. When I put the Dark Army Green in I ended up with a lovely green that had body but also the softness of a fluffy cup of coffee.

But I digress. Floors. Whatever shall I do? I have gotten several bids and they are downright frightening. We can have the floor if we leave out the kitchen sink and the dishwasher both. I suspect we would have to leave out the cook top too. We lived in this temporary house from August 1 until Thanksgiving Eve without a cook top by using our Coleman stove outside. We have a good sized porch on the new house, we could just move the kitchen out there and skip the plumbing and the wiring and cook on wood and wash with creek water. Whoops, no creek. Back inside.

I guess I will have to deal with flooring tomorrow but for today I am not enjoying my house-to-be but I know I shall. I imagine it is like me and painting. It will be brilliant but it will take forever.

emtry hall with slate floor and oriental carpet