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Renovation Progress Update

Pete Brown - 31 October 2005


A couple weekends back, my father in law and I put down a second layer of 5/8" tongue and groove fir subflooring plywood over the majority of the second floor. I had previously prepped the floor by hammering down all the protuding nails, screwing down some of the existing subfloor, removing the railings and generally cleaning up. Before that, Melissa had painstakenly removed all of the carpet staples from the previous owner's two different carpet installations. That made for a lot of staple pulling.

Even so, it took us a full weekend to get it done. He did the majority of the measuring and cutting, while I glued and screwed the sheets in place. I used regular subfloor adhesive, and square (combination) drive coated deck screws to hold everything down. We made sure to overlap all seams, so the new plywood is still perpindicular to the joists, but completely overlaps all seams in the existing subfloor. This not only makes the flooring much stronger, but also helps to even out any height differences between the original subfloor sheets. To date, this has been the only constructive part of this renovation, so for that reason, it was very satisfying.

Above is a shot of the floor halfway complete. The new subfloor is much more even and much smoother than the old. It will make a great platform for the new bamboo floor.

More Destruction

I was sick with the flu or something this past week, so not much was done. However, here's an update of the current state of destruction.

The single most time consuming thing (even more than the wallpaper) was removing the kitchen floor. The floor was a nasty sandwich of tile, tile mud, 3/8" screwed and glued plywood, the old vinyl floor, more glue, 1/8" untempered hardboard underlayment, a million staples, and some more glue. Of course, the underlayment screws were placed about every four inches, and covered in mud, so I had to guess as to where they were, then hack at the mud to find the countersunk screw head, try to get it out of the floor, then move on to the next one. Here's a diagram of what it was like, click for a larger version.

And here are a few shots of what it looked like in person. Some tile, especially that near the edges, needed to be smashed to bit to take it up. Much of the tile in the middle came up in full pieces by hammering the prybar underneath it. The underlayment was much harder to to remove. Since the 3/8" plywood underlayment was both screwed (every 4 to 5 inches in a grid...ugh) and glued, it came up in splinters and chunks.

After all that was done, the worst part was yet to come! The 1/8" untempered hardboard came up easily enough, but it left a million staples in the floor. These weren't normal old staples, these are 1 1/4" narrow crown flooring staples, shot from a gun like the guy had a staple quota to use up. We're still trying to pry all of those out of the floor with needle-nose pliers. There are literally thousands of them in this small area. If you were to just leave them in and put the new plywood on top, you would get squeaks and rubbing noises. Despite the tedium, it is better to pull them out then leave them in place.

Here's the current state of the kitchen, as of this past weekend

Status to Date

  • All carpet and trim removed
  • Removed main portion of dividing wall (it is ready to be re-framed once the electricians come in and move some wires)
  • All hallway doors, casing and frames removed (except to train room, which currently has all the stuff we don't want the cats into)
  • Second layer of subfloor added to half of the upstairs (kitchen, dining room and master bedroom still to be done)
  • Kitchen tile, underlayment, old vinyl and old underlayment all removed
  • Some kitchen cabinets removed
  • Specified and contracted electrical work (starts the week of November 7. I used the same electrician, Cook Electric, that did my shed workshop and house amp "heavy up". Eric Cook there is a great guy to work with. I definitely recommend these folks.)
  • Called in plumber for estimate (estimate due any day now)
  • Ordered windows, sliding doors and vinyl shake siding, and had all measurements taken
  • Ordered bamboo floor
  • Ordered replacement interior doors
  • Put in request for a visit regarding pre-built staircases. The old staircase, as it turns out, is a manufactured POS with MDF treads. There's nothing I can salvage there as the ends are simply mortised, with no stringers underneath. given the amount of squeak, flex, and bow to those MDF treads, I doubt it would pass inspection these days.

The one real fiasco we did have this past week was with the flooring. The delivery company called on Wednesday and asked if they could deliver it tomorrow (Thursday). I said I wouldn't be home, could they do it on Friday? She said sure, and said I was schedule for Friday. I asked what time, and she said hte best she could do was "between 9 and 5". So I took Friday off.

Of course, on Thursday, I got a frantic message from Melissa saying the trucking company was there to deliver the floor. She told the driver no one was home to help him out, and she definitely couldn't help (the boxes are 70 pounds a piece, and there are 49 of them). So the driver, who was not a nice person, moved one pallet to the lift gate and perched it on the side. Of course, the weight was too much for the lift gate, the way he had it positioned, so it tilted and the entire pallet crashed to the ground. Right about then was when I got back to my desk (from yet another meeting) and saw the frantic messages waiting for me on IM, and my message light blinking on my cell. I told her to refuse the delivery. Needless to say, the truck driver was *not* happy at having to load 25 6' long boxes of wood flooring on to the back of his truck. I rushed home, but managed to just miss the guy.

On the plus side, I explained this all to the flooring company, Sustainable Flooring, made good on this, and has shipped at their own expense, another delivery of flooring from their Colorado warehouse (the first was from Virginia, considerably closer). Thanks again to the great folks there, especially Pete Nichols. It's service like that that makes me happy to deal with a company, and even more happy to recommend them to others.

posted by Pete Brown on Monday, October 31, 2005
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