the concrete olympics

You could have watched the Olympics last night. Or, if you are one of my neighbors, you could have watched me competing in the 100-yard sprint-and-rinse, lightning dodge, and synchronized cement mixing.

Joe’s parents came home Saturday night, so after a 14-day break, we got back to work. We started slow because we were all out of practice (as evidenced by the fact that we forgot the power saw and had to have Joe’s mom drive it out to us) but after lunch and the requisite trip to Lowe’s, we were back in the groove.

No amount of reason could convince Joe to finish the electrical work (heck, who needs a functional bathroom?) so instead, we tackled leveling the floor in the master bedroom. We’re on a slab with no subfloor, so we need to do this before we can install hardwood. Also, it’s comforting to know there’s a layer of concrete between us and the asbestos glue.

Self-leveler sounds easy in that deceptive, self-cleaning oven kind of way. Which means, not as easy as you think. The premise is simple—add water, mix and pour. But the stuff sets quickly, so we arranged an assembly-line system that would make Henry Ford proud. Or puke.

It went like this: I filled buckets with water; Joe added the leveler, a powder, and I mixed it with an industrial strength electric mixer. Then Joe would pour the liquid level out on the floor while his dad smoothed it with a trowel. (This turned out to be largely unnecessary when the self-leveler actually lived up to its name). While Joe was pouring, I was racing out to the back yard to rinse out the previous bucket with a hose and refill it with water. In a lightning storm.

By the end, I was soaked, with concrete caked all over my pants. But I think we fared well for a bunch of amateurs. We all stood, admiring our handiwork, when we suddenly realized that we forgot to turn the air conditioner off. And now the floor was covered in goo that wouldn’t fully set for 12 hours. We had to trip the circuit breaker.

But as we left, there was a rainbow, a full one, over our house. Now only time will tell if we did the job right.


3 responses to “the concrete olympics

  1. I love that the picture of Joe’s dad just so happens to include the air conditioner that you left on. It was like the picture was meant to torment you later, when you’d realized what you’d done (or, rather, forgotten to do…)

  2. Ha–you like my newspaper curtains too? They’re pretty hip.
    Thanks for reading!

  3. Um, and at second glance, why do I have a giant bald spot? Yikes!

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