Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nice bit of laminate flooring in the hallway

As I wrote back in January, when we were over having a great summer break at our French holiday cottage last August, as well as us spending time together and doing family things, I of course couldn't be sitting still all that time so in the middle week of our holiday Alan came over to do a number of jobs with me, including repairing a leak in the zinc guttering.

Next up after the guttering was to lay some new flooring in the upstairs hallway of the Gite.

I'd had it in mind to replace the upstairs hallway carpet for some time as it was (a) incredibly thin and (b) it had acquired a couple of stains of mysterious origin that no amount of cleaning or scrubbing would get rid of. The stain wasn't really all that bad but it annoyed me and as part of the inevitable ongoing maintenance you need in a rental property was something that I'd ear-marked for replacement.

Fortunately on one of our occasional Saturday morning trips to the auction centre in Bedford to "see what they've got" (aka opportunity to be outbid on some things that we don't really need, but that someone else is more desperate than you to own), I'd managed to pickup a big pile of beech laminate flooring, about 6 brand new and unopened boxes I think, for £20 the lot.
The flippin foam underlay for the laminate flooring then cost me another £10 from one of the UK DIY sheds; and then we had to try to find space in the car for the trip over to France.

The old carpet was up in minutes and fortunately the foam backing to the carpet which had been stuck to the floor was still in pretty good condition, so we laid the new foam underlay and then the laminate flooring straight on top.

All the skirting boards which I had painstakingly masked off and painted a nice creamy yellow colour a couple of years ago had to come up though as we decided to lay the flooring underneath the skirting board so it would hide the expansion gap round the edge. This of course meant that I then had to sand down and repaint all the skirting boards as they all now had a white edge to them where the carpet had originally butted up against the side, but at least it was a nice day outside so the paint dried reasonably quickly and probably incarcerated a few flies that made the mistake of landing on the wet paint and getting immortalised forever.

It took Alan less than a day to cut and install all the flooring, then me another couple of days on and off to finish the job off.

One problem that I hadn't anticipated were the metal edging strips that go across the doorways to finish off the flooring and stop you catching your foot on an exposed carpet edge - door bars I think they're called? Previously with carpet in the hallway and carpet in the bedrooms both sets of flooring were on the same level so I'd fitted flat metal door bar strips; but these all now needed to be changed to angled strips to cover the difference in height between the laminate in the hallway and carpet in the bedrooms.

This turned out to be the most expensive part of the whole flooring episode .... door bars are extortionately expensive in France.

If you look on ebay or in one of the DIY sheds then you can buy door bars in the UK for between £5 and £15 each depending on the style, quality and materials you want to use. In France though its a different story with Mr Bricolage selling their cheapest door bars for €19.99 and the price rising rapidly to €40 or more - EACH !


No time though to buy some from the UK or to try to shop around further so I gritted my teeth and paid an outrageous €25 for each of the four door bars that I needed. Each needed to be cut to size to fit the doorways (did this bit very carefully - not going to make a mistake at this price), and of course some of the doors needed to be planed down a bit to clear the new flooring height.

Anyway it all looks lovely now and makes the upstairs look more presentable.

I did run out of laminate flooring though as there wasn't enough to cover the nursery area outside the third bedroom. It's taken me ages to track down the German manufacturer's phone number, find their UK distributor, find a local Bedfordshire distributor, and now to find that the carpet shop only 3 miles away from my UK home can order me some more flooring to match; but I'll go and do that in the next few days so I can finish the last section of landing.

And if ever I need to find a future French income stream I think I will go into the door bar import business. I'm sure I can make some money buying door bars in the UK and selling them in France!

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