Thursday, June 13, 2013

Erich and I made a Hardwood floor

This was one helluva project. Originally proposed to simply expose the original hardwood floor that is all over the rest of the house, this project turned into a full installation of a new floor. What ended up happening was that first we pulled of the first layer of Vinyl floor to expose the sub floor. Removal of the subfloor was the first challenge. Simply ripping it up was impossible because the floor was nailed down every four inches of the perimeter as well with a row of nails every 2 feet. So instead we had to pry the nails out and try to ply the wood too. Often times the nails would break or the wood would break and we would have to pry more nails. At this point, nothing in the project would be as simple as we anticipated.

In fact this would turn slightly perilous.
I should have gotten stitches for this cut, 5 years later I still have a scar. I think for 3 years at least, there was a slight scab thing due to constant use of that finger joint. 

This happened because the head of a nail hadn't come out with the wood and while pulling on something else I slipped and sliced my finger on the nail head. Stupid nail.

So the next terrible thing was that there was a second sub floor, of a different material that was harder to come out in single big pieces. It ripped like cardboard, yet was heavy duty particle board  compression stuff. Also nailed to shit.

Next terrible thing: After we had exposed the entire dining room floor, we find that there are huge areas of NO HARDWOOD! WTF?

Look at this shit show. This wood isn't even all wood. Some of this stuff is a weird concrete filling.

So all this demolition work actually led to some cool discoveries about the history of the house and the original lay out.

First, the blonde hardwood was apparently laid when the dining room was still two rooms and there were still stairs to the basement in the back towards the west wing addition with all the bedrooms. Additionally there is some weird angular piece near the entrance to the current kitchen, not sure what that is about. Maybe it was a corner pantry?

But whatever, not only do we not have matching hardwood, it is apparently a certain depth of hardwood that they don't make anymore and we would have to custom order. Plus there are a bazillion nail holes all over the place.

We let it marinate in its current exposed state for quite sometime before we came up with a plan. That plan: buy new hardwood floor for the dining room area.

But first, we removed the currently exposed patches of blonde hardwood only to find that....  surprise! The current hardwood was actually placed on top of even older 4 inch plank hardwood. This shit was gorgeous old growth plank.

So this led to even more discoveries about the original floor plan. We find that the dining room as it is known now was actaully the old kitchen with a toilet in the NW corner (see the big round hole which seems to be walled off), stairs to the basement on the north wall, and the sink and stove hookups in the middle of the current room. The other section was probably the actual dining room as judged by the AWESOME hardwood floor layout in the square (parquet?) pattern.

If there was anyway to salvage this stuff I would have, but it was even more ruined by the two layers of subfloor and then the flooring nails of the first layer of hardwood. So we decided to use the 4inch plank as our subfloor. But interestingly enough, the subfloor of the original plank floor is a diagonal pattern that is supported by the joists. OH, speaking of joists!

It turns out that the addition on the back of the house that currently is the bulk of our bedrooms has a 1st floor just a couple inches higher than the first floor of the current house. This means that toward the back of the dining room, the vinyl floor was designed to slope up to it. Therefore, the new joists that filled in the old stairwell area were place a couple inches higher that the rest of the joists in the room.

At this point Erich said "fuck it" the wood will be fine. But me not being a impatient whiner thought better and said, no we need to do it correctly, plus the slope will make the tongue and groove not easy to fit or fit at all. So I independently (thats right Erich said he didn't want to help) removed the old joists, lowered them reusing the same hangers, and placed new plywood for the patch of subfloor. Then I also made new custom made patches for the places where the old kitchen walls were.

OK, now we are ready to install the wood. This was actually fun and Erich and I worked very well together.

Plus this pneumatic gun was sweet.

The only hard part was the very last row, which had to be jammed into place. But we got it in, and then I sanded it with a rented sander, which was also fun. But I have no pictures. Finally, I stayed up all night adding a couple coats of sealant and lacquer stuff and watching an 80's vampire flick.

 Finally, finished! Don't worry, with 17 people living here, it won't look this good for much longer. It will be back to co-op condition within a month if I remember correctly. Plus we will find places where the sealant didn't really work well enough. Overall, I think it was a great improvement and probably my biggest contribution to the Janet Smith Co-op, except maybe building the back deck.

Thank you tools of the trade.

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