Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Durability is #1

By society's standards, we have a big family. If any of you have friends--and, no offense, but that's a big "if" for some of you--you know what it's like to levitate to people who have similar interests. So, we find ourselves surrounded by families with six, seven, eight, and ten children. This is normal for us.

You can imagine what's it's like when we have a get-together at our home. If I invite four or five families, it equals 30-40 children at our house. Frequently, it's many more than that. Although most of the kids who come over are well behaved, a group like that is capable of causing some unintentional damage. For example, I've lost count of the number of times someone has walked through the screen door on our slider. So when we're shopping for houses, durability of materials used is now the number one consideration on our list. Heck, sometimes I don't even care what the layout looks like.

Take our walls, for example. They're painted in a glossy finish--ALL of them. It's one of the few houses where you need your sunglasses indoors and out. I didn't choose this, but I love it! We bought it from the couple who built the home. They had three boys and a girl, at the time. The wife would clean the dirt brown stain (which runs along the entire length of the traffic walls in every house where children live) by spraying bathroom cleaner and wiping dry. That made perfect sense to me. But not to anyone with class and style.

When a good friend came to visit for the first time, she did her best to hide the horror of seeing an entire house painted in shiny white (eggshell is too glossy for her). After I explained the rationale behind it, she stated, as diplomatically as possible, "It's not what I would choose."

In the last house we lived in, if I so much as walked too close to a wall, the paint would melt off and I was left with the cardboard layer of drywall. I couldn't even consider scrubbing those clean. I think there's more water in development paint than there is paint. So this was a vast improvement for me.

Floors are another concern with the traffic that we experience at our house. We have "wood" in many of the common areas and down the hallways. It's best described as a weak laminate with a worn-in look. The installation of the floors leaves much to be desired--gaps, air pockets, floating edges. We certainly don't have to worry about anyone damaging our floors--any more than they already are, that is. When we asked the prior owners if there was a warranty on the floors to repair some spots (like there are for the laminates in our rentals), they said that they doubted it because the husband bought the material at Home Depot and installed it himself. That answers it.

It really is a blessing, though, because I don't freak out over every little scratch, pencil mark, drag line, unseen spill left to be absorbed, or dishwasher leak. It surprises me every time someone walks in the door and says, "I just LOVE your floors!" I hope to enjoy my beautiful flooring for a few more years because I'm not replacing it until our youngest (and who knows who that is) is twenty.

We didn't do so well when it came to the durability of the walls, though. They're sturdier and better insulated than those in tract homes, but my boys still manage to put holes through them. I've done a great job of patching, if I say so myself. But it would be so much easier if contractors would hide metal plates behind door knobs and in high activity areas (like where they wrestle, chase each other, and hold their "weapons" in defense). This may cause more visits to the ER for broken heads, feet, and knees, but at least our walls would remain unscathed.