By Joe Rector

The week before Christmas and the one during the holiday, workers completed laying new flooring in our house. They tore up the first-generation laminate stuff and replaced it with much sturdier, prettier flooring. I watched Matthew, Randy, Tyler, and Jimmy carry armloads of the stuff and toss the scrap into the back of a pick-up truck; it took at least three trips to haul the old flooring to the dump. I caught myself thinking about what that old covering had seen over its lifetime in our home.

Twenty years ago, the kids were still at home. They padded around the house in socks or on bare feet. Sometimes the house almost shook when Lacey would stomp from the kitchen to her bedroom after another argument she and I had back then. The slower paced lumbering of Dallas echoed down the hall as he made his way to his bed after a baseball game or workout.

Throughout its entire life, that floor covering felt the quick steps of my wife as she shuffled from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen each morning before leaving the house for work. It even felt the thump of my heavy feet as I made my way outside to leave for work or to complete a long list of tasks outside.

The manufacturer promised that the laminate would hold up for years and wouldn’t scratch. Such are the product claims as merchandisers try to convince customers. In fact, the floor did hold up well, but across the years, it took some terrible punishment that eventually showed on the surface. For 13 years, our Jack Russell Terrier, Snoop, spent much of his time on that floor. As a pup, he would chase a ball thrown from the family room and across the living room. His attempts to come to sudden stops were never successful, and little paws failed to keep him from thumping into the wall. His claws swatted at the floor as he tried to gain traction.

Snoop let us know when he needed to go outside. He’d bark and jump until I’d get up and let him outside. However, because the dog was a male, he had a natural instinct to mark his territory. We lifted his leg to christen table legs, the base of a couch, and corners of rooms. We always tried to find his targets, but seeing them was sometimes difficult against a light-colored floor. His offerings sometimes cause a dulling of the finish of the floor.

I never like to leave a room in the same order for too long. Over the years, I’ve also moved my desk and belongings from one room office to another. Help wasn’t available, so the bigger items I scooted on blankets to new locations. That saved the finish of the floor, but sometimes, the weight of an item broke the laps between pieces, and that left gaps in the floor or areas where the pieces would bend.

I’ve worked to keep the flooring as clean as possible. We installed a vacuum system several years ago, and it has helped keep dust and dog hair to a minimum. I’ve used a variety of cleaners on the surfaces as well. Most of them appear glossy until I see a certain angle that reveals spots that have been missed. Eventually, nothing would clean well enough or cover the scuff marks and scratches and years of wear.

Our new flooring is a much heartier product. At least that’s what the experts say. I’m not sure about the claim, but the house looks so much nicer with a new floor. I hope it lasts, but I probably won’t be around for the next twenty years to see if it has been as good as the old flooring, and if I am, I won’t much care. One thing is for sure: this new stuff won’t have anywhere close to the number of tales to tell. Our family did a lot of living on the old floor.