Digital Home Thoughts

Digital Home Thoughts - News & Reviews for the Digital Home

Register in our forums so you're ready for our next giveaway contest...

Zune Thoughts

Loading feed...

Apple Thoughts

Loading feed...

Laptop Thoughts

Loading feed...

Go Back   Thoughts Media Forums > DIGITAL HOME THOUGHTS > Digital Home Talk

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-20-2009, 03:00 AM
Jason Dunn
Executive Editor
Jason Dunn's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 29,160
Default The Moment I've Been Dreading Has Arrived: Office Teardown

This is off-topic for all the sites except Digital Home Thoughts, but I thought you all might enjoy this article. OK, yeah, I'm looking for some sympathy. ;-) Have a great weekend everyone!

I've been putting this off for at least two years now, but I finally had to bite the bullet and get it done: I had to tear-down my home office and move it in order to get my floor fixed. We moved into this house in 2001, and finished the basement later that year. We put down berber carpet, which at the time seemed like a good idea because basements tend to be cold. Then we got a little puppy named Keiko - and after a few months that berber carpet was covered in stains (house-training a puppy is a messy business). It was also problematic for me to not be able to roll my office chair from computer to computer - for a while I had a custom-cut piece of Plexiglas on the floor, but over time that cracked and broke.

Not wanting to pay another $500 to replace it, and realizing it was a bit demoralizing to be working surrounded by urine stains, it was time for a renovation to my home office. In 2006 I hired a carpenter, and he sub-contracted a flooring company (Underfoot Floors in Calgary), to re-do several key parts of my office. He built a custom set of shelves for me, and the flooring company ripped up the berber carpet and installed a hardwood laminate floor. For a while, everything was great - but then I started to notice that as I rolled my chair across the floor, it would seem to catch on the floor. Over the next year, I'd find little chips of broken hardwood laminate - bit by bit, I was destroying the floor. The entire point of going with the hardwood laminate was to get something tough enough to stand up to a rolling office chair. I brought in the carpenter and the flooring company, and there was a lot of shoulder shrugging and finger-pointing.


Figure 1: This is what the floor looked like after a couple of years worth of my chair rolling over it.

The problem was two-fold: the underlay that Underfoot Flooring used was quite thick. I had asked for a thick underlay in an attempt to plug up some of the awful insulation problems that Bay West Homes inflicted upon us when they built the house - on a cold day, my basement would be a good 15 degrees Celsius colder than the main floor. You could hold your hand along the baseboards and feel freezing cold air blowing in. Knowing nothing about flooring, I didn't realize that by having the thicker underlay would cause the floor to move up and down more. You'd think that the flooring professionals would have pointed this out to me, right? No such luck. The particular flooring that I selected - completely based on colour and design, because hey, what do I know about flooring - turned out to have a bevelled edge, meaning that the pieces didn't lock as tightly together as the indestructible Pergo flooring I had back in my condo. Again, I had no clue - Underfoot Flooring knew this was going in a home office, so I trusted their advice about the flooring options I had.

In early 2008 someone from Underfoot Flooring came in (after much griping on my part), examined the problem, and said the best thing to do was to replace the broken boards - which they'd send someone out to do at their cost - and find a surface to put under the chair so it wouldn't happen again. I was dreading ripping apart my office, so I put it off for months and months. I tried to get in touch with Underfoot Flooring again in late 2008, but struck out - no one was answering their phone, and eventually it was disconnected. I drove past their store front, and sure enough, it was abandoned. And not in the "we're going out of business slowly" kind of way - their store sign was still up, and inside there were still parts of their displays set up. This is a "we don't want to pay our lease and we took anything of value out of the store in the middle of the night" kind of scenario. Their Web site is still up, but the phone numbers no longer work.

So, with much grumbling and groaning, I tore down my office last night in order to make room for someone to come in and replace the broken floorboards. Here are a few photos of the process...


Figure 2: Just getting started with the tear-down...


Figure 3: All my technology...gone! OK, well, one computer remains, secure on a shelf.


Figure 4: And here I thought I kept my office fairly clean. Yuck!


Figure 5:


Figure 6: Putting it all back is where the real nightmare begins!


Figure 7: Most of the problem was the very thick underlay the flooring company used - it had far too much “give” and the floor-boards would move as I rolled over them in my chair, catching and breaking.


Figure 8: All done! Everything is fixed.

And now I'm faced with the daunting task of re-assembling my whole's hard to know where to start, there's so much work to be done. I still need to find something to go underneath my office chair - I've been looking at interlocking gym floor-type materials but I'm not sure how well they'll work, and they're expensive. I'm going to use this opportunity to simplify my office a bit - the Logitech 5.1 surround sound system will probably be replaced by a simple 2+1 speaker setup. And if Windows 7 were out now, I'd probably use this opportunity to tear down and re-build all my computer systems...but the timing isn't right for that. I have quite a lot of work ahead of me this weekend...

Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. Maybe he should leave his office in pieces and go buy a 17" Macbook Pro and call it a day.

Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information.


Want to contact me personally? Use this. Want to read my personal blog? Check it out. Want to follow me on Twitter? Here you go.
Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-2009, 03:36 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 48

If you want to be able to roll your chair, I wouldn't touch the interlocking gym tiles. You might want to look more at a garage type flooring as they have some thin interlocking tiles that might work well. I will say I have a fairly inexpensive laminate I bought at Sam's Club (made by a Pergo subsidiary company) and I have had no problems with it in my office. But I didn't put any more underlayment than what came on the back of each piece of flooring so I am sure that is a big part of it.

Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-2009, 08:03 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 639

Have you considered just buying a bit more laminate--either the same or of a contrasting color and/or style--and laying on top? Might be cheaper and tougher than some of the other options. Since your work area is roughly rectangular in shape, it should be easy, especially if you get the snap-together type with the built-in underlayment. Get some end moldings to make it look nice (and to make the action of accidentally rolling off less traumatic). The second layer would all but eliminate the slight up-and-down "travel" that caused the chipping.

Also, a simple vinyl floor mat from an office store would seem to be a plausible (and cheap) alternative.
Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-2009, 03:17 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 135

Figure 6 is what my "office" looks like ALL the time
Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-2009, 04:01 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 90

I don't know why, but apparantly most people are unaware that their chairs have "hard" wheels which operates best on carpets instead of "soft" wheels which doesn't do nearly as much damage to a wood floor.

Where I come from, on more professional office chairs, it's just a matter of specifying which type of wheels you want.

Could this be the case here?
Reply With Quote
Old 06-21-2009, 06:26 AM
jdmountford's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 58
Send a message via MSN to jdmountford

Allright.... one, office stores have these wonderful mats that you put on floors for chairs to roll on. They come in various sizes and work great!!!

Two, it seems that owning a new custom built home is as much of a PITA as owning a ten year old home. uggg.

Three, Windows 7 RC is super stable and good until October 2010 I think. I am running the RC on my main system with no worries and no stress.

Goodluck putting the office back together.
Reply With Quote
Old 06-21-2009, 04:53 PM
daS's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 484

Sorry, Jason, but no sympathy from me here. I had to clean out my home office and move to a corner of the master bedroom. I don't get my office back for about a year to 18 months since it's now been turned into a nursery. Once the baby sleeps through the night, he's moving into his older brother's room and I get my office back - but with light blue paint on the walls.

Okay, well given the trade-off I'm making (especially writing this on Father's Day here in the USA) I guess I don't get any sympathy either!

Anyway, just a few more weeks (or perhaps days) until the room is occupied again.
David Shier
VP - Sales & Marketing
CK Technologies, Inc.
Reply With Quote
Old 06-22-2009, 01:59 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2
Default Salutations and commiserations...

I could not believe the article arriving at such an opportune moment. I had promised my wife, that whilst she was holidaying in the UK, I would "fix" up the study (home office). I dutifully took her to the airport on the 5th June, waved her off with a tear in my eye... and set off for home with full intentions of attacking the study immediately. From memory, I slept till 10:30 am on the first day and when finally getting up found an excuse to delay the start until the next day. It is now 22 June and I have run out of excuses, I have to start and I have to start NOW! She is due back in 11 days...

So, I can fully sympathize with Jason.

My real reason for reply here was to alert people to an alternative if they are considering a new floor for an office. I put a lot of work into this and even visited many high traffic offices, both pedestrian and the wheeled kind (office chairs). I was able to get a sample and I put it through its paces. I stabbed it with a knife, dropped many items from desk height, (which reminds me, I need a new stapler) and this is what I found:

I have no affiliation with this company but provide the URL for the purpose of display only. Regardless of my final choice of flooring, I will still be purchasing a purpose built floor mat, specifically designed for high traffic office chairs and maybe, just maybe, my study will survive for a few years to come.

I had better get moving, she has just sent a text from Stonehenge.... "is the floor done yet?"
Reply With Quote
Old 06-22-2009, 01:03 PM
tregnier's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 270
Default Similar Situation

Hi Jason,

I just remodeled my office, having an engineered wood floor installed. I also have a Herman Miller chair like yours. Don't buy a pad, make something, etc. I purchased a Karastan wool area rug and put a good pad under the rug. (Bought the rug on sale very inexpensively). Look for a rug with a thick, dense weave. The chair moves nicely on it. Protects the floor. Quiet. Attractive.

Good luck.

Reply With Quote
Old 06-22-2009, 03:42 PM
The Yaz
The Yaz's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 340


The simple solution is to invest in a computer chair with different wheels. I do not remember the brand, but I bought a computer chair for my son's room that uses roller blade wheels on the feet.

They work great. No scuff marks, and they roll quietly.

When I return home from vacation, I'll send you the manufacturer's name.

I would be afraid to put a rubber surface kile those gym tile though. I did that in our kid's play room and found mold had formed in the wood grain. It seems the tile retained the moisture. So be careful.

Good luck.

Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 07:31 PM.