So we bought a new house in Rainier Beach, and we’re doing some projects before moving in. I hired some folks to do some electrical stuff, plus build a fireplace accent wall with a mounted TV. More on that later.
I hired Sergey for the floors. He brought out Andrei and Ivan to install new floors and baseboards, and Vitaly and Tim to paint baseboards. Originally I heard them speaking Russian, so I referred to them as “the Russians.” My cuñado pointed out that this was culturally appropriate in Spanish speaking cultures, but a little questionable in English. To tell the truth, I picked up this habit from Kiwi J. In any case, only Ivan is Russian. Sergey, Vitaly, and his son Tim are Ukrainian, Andrei (and his son Michael) are Estonian. My real estate agent Tess remarked that there are a lot of Russian and Ukrainian folks around here who do floors. From what I’ve seen, they do good work
We are getting floors done because the original carpet made us itch and sneeze. It had a very thick pad, was bunching in some places, and was not entirely free of dog hair and dander. It hid some defects in the floor that Andrei had to fix; some places he sanded down, other places he mudded up. It also had a lot of squeaky parts, especially in the stairs. Andrei said that around 2014-2015, a lot of experienced contractors quit due to the economy, and a lot of construction from that time was done by rookies. These rookies did not necessarily nail floors or stairs into the joists; and the result was squeaks. Andrei fixed all of those.
The baseboards; ah, the baseboards… In Spanish, “baseboard is “zócalo” in the dictionary, but I’m going to stick with “el rodapié” or “el friso.” In French, it’s “la plinthe,” which sounds a million percent French and is totally opaque to me. In Chinese, it’s 踢腳板.
So anyway, the baseboards on the stairs were ugly AF. They were only on the treads, cut very bluntly, and spaced way above the puffy carpet, (puffy due to the thick pad). The default option was to return the ugly baseboard, but it would have to be lowered since the new laminate floors would be much lower than the puffy carpet. I said it was too ugly. The contractor proposed a skirt, which is the fanciest fix. But since my stairs went around corners a lot, I thought the angles would be wonky. I asked the guys, what if we put baseboard on the tread AND the riser? They said, nope nope nope.
But then, from where I was standing, I noticed that there was one spot in the stairs that actually had a baseboard going up the riser. So told the guys, “look at that!” and pointed to it. Earlier, they said nope nope nope, but seeing it made them reconsider. Yes we can do that, they said, it would be cheaper than the skirting, but it would be a lot of work. I said, let’s do it.
It was a lot of work, and I’m sure Andrei never wants to see my stairs ever again. But it now looks clean and finished.
Later, I’ll blog about the fireplace wall, the landscaping, and the fence. And someday, we’ll have to paint the walls.