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Tool Fool’s Stool: After the Break

When I was shopping for my first home, I did a walk-through of a house that looked, on paper, to be everything we wanted. Even approaching the door, I was full of hope. But the minute that door opened, those hopes were dashed.

It started with the paint. You could see where they tried to tape it off but the edges were frayed and peeled. A few of the walls didn’t even have a full coat. It was as if they ran out of paint and instead of running to the store to get more, they said, “Nah, let’s just sell the place.” Two of the bedrooms had floors half-covered with laminate wood flooring. There were lighting fixtures hanging free, a water feature in the backyard that was little more than a hole with the liner held down by a few rocks, and a half bath with half a tile floor.

It was clear what had happened.

When watching those home improvement shows, the host walks from room to room meeting the workers. Invariably, some person is on the floor and they are asked what they are working on.

“I’m installing a new floor. See I’m using this,” name brand sponsored flooring material, “which snaps together. I started over there and I should be done by lunch. We’re using this, “name brand sponsored liner, “which will help with,” babble, babble, babble. Joe Consumer stopped listening to grab a pen to write it all down. By the time they find the pen, the host is saying, “After the break, we’ll catch up with you.”

“Wow,” thinks the wannabe DIY Weekend Warrior, “that looked easy. We should totally do that in our bedroom.”

That stuff that happens during the break? You know what that is? Hours of meticulous work likely punctuated with a healthy amount of frustration and language that would make a proper lady swoon. Tiling a bathroom? It may take you a day but it’ll take that DIY guy the better part of his child’s formative years since he doesn’t have a clue of what really goes into that job. He thinks all he needs is some spacers, thinset, and grout.

That’s why the edges peel when he tapes off for painting. It isn’t because of the tape, it is the techniques. Techniques they never show you because, frankly, they make bad television.

I’m betting most of you both love and hate those home improvement shows. Sure, it garners you extra work from time to time, but no one likes to clean up someone else’s mess. Especially when they don’t understand why the quote for the repair/completion is more than doing it from scratch. “But I already did half of the work for you!”

“No, sir, what you did is an affront to the tiling industry and made a part of me die inside. After I take a picture of it and post it to Facebook, I’ll be happy to rip it up for you before it starts to spread like some sort of zombie tile floor infection. The public must be protected. Oh, and give me that trowel before you poke your eye out.”

I’ve learned my lesson. Heck, even my wife has learned. She doesn’t say, “Hey, Other Tom,” yes, she calls me Other Tom too, isn’t that endearing? “I saw on the TV about outdoor living spaces. We should do that.”

No, now she says, “Hey, Other Tom. Why don’t you call Tom about doing something outside? I was thinking a screened-in porch with some sort of fireplace or waterfall thingie. See if that’s something you could do, or is he going to need to help you out.”

She knows damn well I can’t do it myself or she wouldn’t have me call Tom. And she thinks it’s so funny to say things like, “Hey, Other Tom. The steaks are burnt again. You should call Tom and see what’s wrong with the grill.”

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