Bamboozled

marmoleum 0519
Marmoleum samples on the hardwood floor I assumed continued in the bathroom. It does not. Bonus dog toy, because there’s always a bonus dog toy on our floors.

I don’t know if it’s with the same frenzy as paint, mostly because there’s no local store to go stand in front of a display and then buy little samples, but Lynn and I have been consumed by floor issues for the last couple of weeks.

Here is another large difference between paint and flooring: we are familiar with paint (how it works and what choices there are), but not so much with flooring.

And I should stand corrected when I say there’s no local store for floors when in fact there are two, and we haven’t set foot in either. The last time I was in either of them was a little over a year ago, when I had a young man take up carpet in our current bathroom. (Before you say “ewww,” the carpet came with the house.) I was sure there was hardwood under the carpet, but I was wrong. There was an awful speckled green linoleum from the 1960s, and then the subfloor.

So I went to the one local floor place with Saturday hours, but it was closed when it was supposed to be open. I went back the next Saturday, and the clerk showed me exactly one product, Core-tec vinyl flooring, in five versions of faux weathered barnwood. I went to the other store (on a weekday), where they showed me exactly one product, Core-tec, but this time there were other faux wood options. I picked the one that looked the most like the bathroom vanity.

Then it turned out everything had to be ordered by rolls and boxes, so I paid for a lot of under-pad I never used. The first week it was supposed to arrive, the truck never went to Denver. Then a second truck had some issue, and it was something like three weeks before my flooring arrived.

The young man helping us was completely irritated with these stores when he found out what I’d been shown. “That’s ridiculous,” he snapped. “You just need vinyl that you glue down.” He was ready to take everything back on my behalf and demand my money back, but I said I’d just hang onto what they’d sold me. It had already taken six weeks to get to this point, after all. Click flooring was a product he’d never installed, so I had to call the store back to see if I could get an installer. I didn’t get much of a reply, and I waited, even asking Dusty if he knew anyone (this was while we were in our 10-month design phase), and he said he was too busy.

Two men did eventually call me and come over, but I’m still not sure of their connection to the store, since I paid them directly. When they arrived, the first thing one of them said was, “We don’t usually install this in bathrooms.”

So. I went to two different stores, told them what I needed, was shown precisely one product, which was much more expensive and less appropriate than the vinyl my handyman thought I should get. This year, when Dusty recommended skipping the local stores because they feature what he thinks of as “Crested Butte prices,” I didn’t argue with him.

But that has left us at the mercy of the internet, and Dusty, who keeps saying he has distinct opinions on flooring but has yet to provide much input. He has been getting more anxious for us to make a decision, but we seem to be in a communication breakdown where he has offered very little. Maybe we’re not asking him questions, or the right questions, or sending him enough links. I don’t know. From our end, it feels like he is not providing promised assistance.

Several weeks ago, we had mentioned bamboo to our Some Day neighbor Lisa, who turned out to have spent 10 years working at one of the local floor stores. She had automatically assumed we were going with tile, perhaps due to our radiant floor heat. She strongly advised against bamboo. But Dusty, who has bamboo flooring in his house, said it’s performed much better than all the dire warnings would suggest. However, his bamboo is not over radiant heat.

Yesterday, early, I sent Dusty one of the many e-mails I’ve sent that he never answers, showing him links for the bamboo we had narrowed our choices down to. At lunchtime, I decided to call Green Building Supply (GBS) in Fairfield, Iowa. This is a place Dusty recommended several months back, but then told us they were expensive and referred us to Home Depot (which should be THE Home Depot, I gather) and Lumber Liquidators. But after we looked at Lumber Liquidators, he seemed to be pushing for THE Home Depot again . . . it gets very confusing at times.

So I called GBS, which touts its family ownership but immediately puts you on hold while their “amazing” customer service promises to “try to find an eco-adviser to help you.”

I ended up speaking with Cynthia, who heard me say “arid,” “Colorado” and “mile and a half above sea level,” and immediately told me, “You don’t want bamboo.” She recommended Kährs hardwood floors. (It’s Swedish, and now I can’t remember if she pronounced it “curs,” “cars” or “cares.”)

Cynthia steered me toward oak, advising against maple due to the radiant floors. I tried again with bamboo, and she shut me down once again. She assured me Sweden’s careful forest husbandry leaves the country with more trees now than in the 1930s. But for all I know, Sweden was entirely clear-cut in 1930, so this could be a low bar. When I tried a quick research minute on Swedish forest health, I learned instead that there’s a breed of cat called Swedish Forest. Now we all know.

Kährs invented click flooring, Cynthia told me when I asked if it came that way, and the company avoids toxic additives. The styles listed on GBS’s website as “on sale” (still above big box prices) are generally in their Iowa warehouse, and could ship out the same day, provided it was ordered early in the morning. (Except on Wednesdays, for whatever reason. No shipping on Wednesdays.)

But here’s where Cynthia really sold me: she wanted to give me her direct number, but I didn’t have a pen. “I’m trapped by a cat,” I said. “Don’t get up,” she advised. “Don’t disturb the cat.” It turns out, she has eight of them sharing her home.

As I’m typing this, Lynn has returned home (during the commute part of her workday, when she moves from the Gunnison P.O. to Almont) with the Marmoleum samples she ordered from GBS. Dusty has long touted Marmoleum, which I gather is really a precursor to linoleum. The company likes its R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, renew.

Along with the samples Lynn requested, GBS enclosed a catalogue, and on the front page it announces the company has achieved its goal of 100 percent solar power. Crazy cat ladies AND solar power: how could we not go with this company? And while it might not be the savings we could get from big boxes, we should be on or under budget. Until we get to carpet, but that’s a whole other story.

By this time tomorrow, if all goes according to plan — when does that happen? — Lynn and I should have floor selections made for the Good Room, two hallways, two bathrooms and the laundry room, leaving only bedrooms. But it doesn’t seem, at this point, that any of it will include bamboo.

There’s a song for everything! Thanks, Wendy, for reminding me of this one.

2 thoughts on “Bamboozled

  1. I’m not floor expert, but I can google. A quick search led me to 4 types of floors to be used with in-floor, radiant heating: tile, laminate, engineered wood, and natural stone. Here’s the good news directly from the Home Flooring Pros site: “Engineered flooring even comes in bamboo. It looks great, wears great and warms great.” Ok. I typed the previous comments before I got to the end… I’ve now checked our marmoleum – never heard of it – and approve of your choice. Which I’m sure is a big relief to you. PS: I like the natural colored one by the dog toys lower left foot. PPS: thanks for the info about the Swedish Forest Cat.

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