Adventures In Hardwood Flooring

Late last week we were finally able to start installing our hardwood floors at the new house. It’s going well (we’re getting it done with our own four hands), but it’s proving to be a time intensive project – which is not necessarily the type of project you want to take on when you’re short on time (we’re scheduled to move in this weekend and would like to be completely done with four bedrooms and a long hallway by then – egads!). So once we’re breathing a bit easier and a bit further along, we’ll write up a play-by-play of how it all (literally) is going down. ‘Til then, enjoy this still-dusty pic of the first room we have officially completed: our master (well, we still have to get the baseboards and quarter round in).

As much as our timeline has me sweating bullets, it’s nothing compared to the Cathy-comic style perspiration that I was feeling during the first step of this project: just getting the dang wood home. Allow me to paint sketch you a picture. Lumber Liquidators called me to say my order was in and ready for pick up. Clara was napping so Sherry stayed home with her and I ran off to rent the $19 truck from Lowe’s or Home Depot that they suggested to pick up our lumber (it was a pretty huge order that definitely wouldn’t fit in our car – and renting a truck from blue or orange was cheaper than LL’s delivery service, so they recommended that). Off I went to Lowe’s, where I purchased all of my quarter-round molding for the four bedrooms and the hallway we were tackling (Lowe’s doesn’t let you rent their truck unless you’re making a purchase, but since I needed that stuff anyway it worked out well). Then I headed down the street to Lumber Liquidators.


Now, I knew my order would be bigger than our kitchen’s cork floor (which I was just barely able to fit in our Altima, btw) but I was still a bit shocked when I saw the massive stack of boxes being trucked out on a forklift. Was that really all ours? Gulp. It made me very glad I had rented the truck….

…that is, until they started to lower the load onto the truck bed and I noticed one of the tires was squishing down a little more than the other three from the added weight. It definitely wasn’t flat, it was just a little lower than the others on air. Which was enough to turn me into a Nervous Nelly (not to be confused with regular Nelly). But the Lumber Liquidator guys were great and forklifted my materials in a way that seemed to take the brunt of the weight off that tire – and we all agreed it looked okay enough to take it slow and drive the three short miles down the road to the new house.

Well, it turned out to be one of the longest 3 mile drives of my life. First of all, the load proved to be pretty unbalanced. Between my worries about the tire and the fact that the boxes of flooring were stacked pretty high (and not strapped together as tightly as they initially appeared to be), every time I turned I could see the boxes lean one way or the other. And this was despite taking turns at like five miles per hour with my hazards on in the right lane.


After a few turns I got a sense of how to shift the load back to an even-ish center, which thankfully squelched the visions that I had of myself in an overturned Lowe’s truck watching my new hardwood floor boards get strewn across the road and crushed by oncoming traffic. And since there were just a handful of turns between me and home, I figured it would be smooth (albeit slow) sailing the rest of the way.

Then it started to rain.


In all of my stress about the unbalanced load, I failed to notice the storm clouds that had rolled in without any warning. Awesome. It wasn’t just a drizzle, it was a sudden downpour… and I had dozens of boxes of hardwood floors being protected by nothing but cardboard in my truck bed. Hello blood pressure spike!

Luckily a previous occupant of the Lowe’s truck had left a large plastic drop cloth in the truck bed (something finally went my way!) so I was able to pull off onto a side street and cover everything before it got too wet. Of course it took me a few more death-defying turns to get off and back on the main road, but crisis mostly averted.

No more than one stoplight later, the rain stopped. Stupid thunderstorm. But it was still a bit windy, so my hasty cover job with the drop cloth was now coming back to haunt me and the plastic was starting to flap loose from the truck bed. Cue a few more turns to stop and remove the drop cloth completely.


I had barely made it a mile from Lumber Liquidators at this point.

My pounding heart was probably visible through my rain-soaked shirt, but fortunately my next two miles were far less eventful. I soon arrived to the new house, a few hairs grayer but with my hardwoods and truck perfectly upright and intact.

Then it hit me that I had to unload the darn thing. I had completely failed to think about this step in the process. I was alone. Sherry was still with Clara at home – where it never even rained (cue me screaming “What?! Was the cloud just over my truck?! Am I Eeyore?!”). Clearly I didn’t have a forklift at my disposal, so I sucked it up and started wrestling the boxes one by one off the truck and into the house. All 50 of them…

I think it took me a good hour to get them all unloaded. They were heavy (56 pounds each, I later learned), unwieldy (each one is about five feet long), and they all had to come down from the truck bed, up a few stairs and through a narrow doorway in the garage, before I could stack them in the dining room to acclimate before installation. There was no way in heck I had the energy to take them all upstairs at that point, so that would have to wait for another day. Between nearly giving myself a panic attack driving them home and then hauling 2,800 pounds of wood inside (seriously, I did the math) I figured I earned that much.

That was Clara enjoying the new flooring the day after it arrived. Here’s hoping she enjoys it as much once its out of the box and laid across her floor – because that’s what we’re working on today. Woot!


  1. Nicole says

    I’m sure it was a horrible experience, but like someone else said, I think this was one of my favorite posts ever! I’m so glad this stupid S*&# happens to everyone, and not just me! The cartoons had me rolling at my desk :)

  2. N Shirley says

    I have a worse story involving two rooms of hardwood- an older mom and a young woman with her first apartment- we paid for delivery- turns out Home Depot only did curb to curb in New York City. All the flooring was left, boxed on the sidewalk in front of a three floor walk-up… buy me a drink and I will tell you about it…

  3. Theresa says

    John, a little story to hopefully ease your anxiety. We had a small pickup truck and offered to help our neighbor pick up his load of fencing. Everything went great until the first hill. Yup, all the wood slid out and onto the road. Quite a scramble to pick it up before other vehicles ran over it. All ended well and the fence is still standing 20+ years later. Thanks for the great story to tell/illustrate for all of us.

  4. Hillary says

    Bless your hearts! It looks great. I always think of this sound bite when I know I’ve got a huge project in front of me and have to be up late. Clearly, I’d forgotten the context and creepy hip swirl, but I hope you appreciate it for what it’s worth! :o) “You can do it! You can do it all night long!” Good luck, guys!

  5. Harmony_G says

    Leave it to you to turn a terrifying, nerve wracking, intense moment, into comedy. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Danielle says

    Wow, what an ordeal! Kudos to all your quick thinking – and the crazy hard labor!! After all that, installing the hardwood should be (fingers crossed) a piece of cake!

  7. Sandy says

    I no doubt would have dropped to the ground and cried why me!!! What a nightmare. Obviously the unloading of the truck didn’t even dawn on you guys prior to you leaving for Lowes and Sherry staying behind. It’s only funny because of the way you’re putting it with your drawings, but I’m sure it was hell. John you are a saint!

  8. Donita says

    Sorry about your bad luck……..but seriously, you gave me a good Monday morning laugh. LOVE the drawings!!! Hope today goes smoothly for you both. :-)

  9. Meg says

    In retrospect, don’t you think paying for LL to deliver might have been worth it? You guys are just amazing!

    • says

      Oh yes, most likely would have been! You just never know going into something if it’ll be super simple (and totally worth saving the money) or if it’ll snowball into something unexpected…


  10. CC says

    Toooo funny, John. That last sketch is my favourite!! Don’t worry, like child birth the pain of hardwood floors fades quickly and you’re just left lovin the incredible job you did (she says positively on the other side of 1800 sq ft of hickory).

  11. Lil says

    It looks so good! Even with trim overspray on the walls and dust on the floor! It screams potential. Love the drawings. John is a trooper!

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