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Posts Tagged ‘floors’

Shelves!

Do we have news for you! We’ve finally put the shelves up in the kitchen. Leon, our trusty electrician-turned-apprentice carpenter, used his laser level and mad skillz to get our shelving up perfectly straight and even. (I can’t find our camera memory card so had to take yet another iPhone photo–apologies.) I was a little dubious when I first saw the photos that Nick sent to me at work, but in person the shelves really look good. No more walking around the corner to the pantry for a bowl or a plate! I’m happy to report, too, that our dishes are pretty nice looking, and I’m not embarrassed at all to have them out on display.

Of course, we still need to paint the kitchen, a task that just got more difficult now that we don’t have empty walls to work with, but we never seem to find the time to paint, and can’t keep putting off the other things we need to do until that magical day when we’re able to block off a whole day for painting.

In other news, I made the executive decision last week to hire a cleaning person to really give our house the good, post-reno cleaning it needed, particularly of the floors. Our new wooden floors had been subject to workmen boots for weeks, and though I’ve vacuumed plenty, I kept waiting for the reno work to really be done before I got down on my hands and knees to scrub the floor. A good scrubbing is what it needed, too–no mop was going to do the job.

Unfortunately, the cleaning team I hired, a mother-daughter duo on the recommendation of another cleaning service that was too booked to offer us a one-time clean, didn’t quite get the job done. The house was clean when I got home–vacuumed, tidied, and the stove, sinks, and bathtub were all sparkling–but the floors were no better than when I left them this morning. Apparently, I didn’t specify that I was looking for elbow grease, not a wet mop. I’m a little bummed out because the whole reason I hired someone was to do the hard labor of scrubbing floors. Argh.

But the house looks good, nice enough that it motivated Nick and I just a little bit more to clean and organize. I guess for that reason alone, the cleaning team was worth the cost.

Okay, not quite. I really wanted those floors clean.

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I’ve had to go back in time to give you a sneak peek of the pine floors that will be covering the kitchen/dining area. Nick’s Dad, Luke, flew out from Minnesota two weekends ago on a special mission to help Nick lay down the locally-milled pine flooring we procured on our previous adventure.

This flooring is covering what you may recall was just dirt several weeks ago! No sooner were we admiring the newly laid floors than we had to cover them up with heavy-duty paper so that the drywallers wouldn’t scuff them up while doing their work. We haven’t seen our beautiful floors since these photos were taken.

New pine floors in the former porch!

New pine floors in the former porch!

Looking back towards the kitchen area.

Kitchen floors, almost complete

Kitchen floors, almost complete

Luke, at the beginning of the project, as the realization of what he’s gotten himself into sinks in.

Luke

Luke

Luke flew out here from Minnesota on his own dime, and put in two straight 14-hour days of labor. He’s also helped us out a lot on this project in other ways. In addition, we’ve received other, unexpected help from other relatives near and far, and we can’t thank you enough!

Oh, also, I added a new Page to the blog layout. Check out Progress, Room by Room in the tabs. So far I’ve only added kitchen photos, but I plan on doing something similar for each room in the house so you can really see how the renovation has progressed. But it’s late now, and considering that this is going to be a really stressful week, I think I’m going to do some relaxing yoga poses and then get ready for bed. We move on Saturday!

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I’ve been dying to try the sample pot of the OSMO polyx oil I bought at F.W. Horch, and tonight I got the chance. (Seems like I get a lot more done when Nick is home!) This is the floor finish we want to use throughout the house–it’s a very low-VOC wax/oil finish that dries to a satin matte sheen. It’s as durable as polyurethane, but actually easier to fix if need be, since you can just rub more of the oil in on worn down places (unlike polyurethane, which requires you to re-sand, etc.).

I should also add that today we scored some ash flooring for Sadie’s room, $150 for the lot. So I took a piece of it, gave it a light sanding, and rubbed in the OSMO oil using a paper towel. We think it looks pretty good. osmo

The best part is that you can barely smell it at all. (It does contain some solvents, otherwise it wouldn’t stay liquid.) We’ll post another pic after we rub in the second coat.

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View from LR to Kitchen via Dining Room.

View from LR to Kitchen via Dining Room.

This is a milestone. A floor! Something to walk on! No more balancing on floor joists, no more dirt floor. And just look how nice and level! This subfloor will be our only floor for a while until we can afford hardwood. We will paint it white, screws and all, and live with it, because we have to. At least it’s non-toxic OSB (oriented strand board) and not plywood.

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On Friday morning before Labor Day, the insulator came to blow in sucrose-based spray foam insulation in our kitchen and dining room floors. Spray foam is apparently the next big thing in insulation. It creates a much tighter seal than fiberglass batts ever could, by starting out as a liquid then expanding to fill in every nook and cranny of your old, drafty house.

Proponents of spray foam say it will seal up your house’s envelope so tight you can expect to see up to a 50% reduction in your heating expenditure. (I hesitate to simply say “heating bills,” because I like to think green building is as much about conserving resources as it is about saving money.) It has an R value of some pretty high number, like R-21, I think. Detractors say you have to be careful when calling spray foam insulation green, because it is a petroleum-based product. But because our house is so old, it has smaller than average stud bays, which means the contractor would have had to build out the framing on the house by up to 2 inches, all over the house, to make standard blown-in cellulose insulation have the proper R-value. So you I suppose one could argue that by using the spray foam, we’re saving trees by saving on the lumber we’d need to do all that extra framing.

Anyway, spraying this stuff is a pretty big job. The insulator parked a truck outside our house, ran a thick hose through the front door, and suited up in a pretty serious-looking spacesuit. The fumes, I have to say, did not smell pretty.

Spray foam insulation truck

Spray foam insulation truck

Ben, our contractor, told us that according to the insulator, 99.9% of the petroleum product off-gasses within the first 24 hours, so indoor air quality is relatively unaffected. The petroleum base of the insulation is mixed with either soy or sucrose, in varying percentages, which means some formulations are more “green” than others.

To be honest, we don’t know how much sucrose and how much petroleum is currently insulating our floors. We do know that in previous years the winter air in the crawlspace underneath the kitchen must have made winter mornings pretty darn cold.

Spray-in foam insulation

Spray-in foam insulation

The subfloors in the kitchen and dining room should be down soon, and will cover up all that pretty green foam. Once the carpenters finish the interior framing, the insulator will come back to fill up the stud bays in the walls.

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Day 3: Floored

I honestly can’t believe the rapid progress we’re making on the demolition phase. Nick has been putting in full days since Saturday tearing out ceilings and busting through walls. Herewith, photographic proof of his progress:

The living room ceiling before:

demo1

Living room ceiling after:

P1050349

We’re going to pull down those thin wood slats and leave the ceiling beams exposed after painting them white, which will help bounce some much-needed light around the room.

I spent about half of Saturday, and my brother Jay helped Sunday morning, pulling up the old cat-pee stained carpets upstairs. Ripping up the carpet was pretty straightforward, especially since they were poorly installed to begin with and were disintegrating due to constant dampness thanks to the three mangy cats who lived in the house before we bought it and seemed to have used the entire upstairs floor of the house as their personal litter box.

We were delighted to find wide plank pine flooring in what will be our bedroom and in the “third bedroom.” (That’s in quotes, because it isn’t really private enough to be considered a bedroom. We’ll probably use it as either office space or a sitting area, maybe a play area for Sadie.) Jimmy Sanderfloors said he could sand this down:

BRflors

We were also delighted to find wood in Sadie’s future bedroom. The planks looked a bit odd, almost like beadboard, but I figured that was nothing a good sanding couldn’t take care of. Unfortunately, our future sander, Jimmy Sanderfloors, just told us that that type of wood, whatever it is, can’t be restored after all.

With the carpet removed, and one sheet of plywood lifted, the original beadboard floor is revealed.

With the carpet removed, and one sheet of plywood lifted, the original beadboard floor is revealed.

Neither can the wood floor in the “dining room” (our current term for the room next to the living room, that will probably ultimately be used as a crafting/TV room. If we ever get a TV, that is.) This was a surprise, since we thought that was the ONE room in the house that wouldn’t need new floors! In fact, we were going to get wood to MATCH that flooring so we wouldn’t have to do the environmentally irresponsible thing of pulling out a perfectly good floor just so that it would match our new flooring in the adjacent room. But considering it can’t be refinished after all, I’m not sure how we’re going to proceed.

Dining room floor, which apparently is not worth saving, and which may even be moldy underneath.

Dining room floor, which apparently is not worth saving, and which may even be moldy underneath.

We had considered bamboo for the living and dining room, because it is very hard, renewable, and relatively inexpensive, but decided that it wouldn’t look quite right in a house built in 1874. Right now we’re thinking we might go with more wide plank pine.

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