Tuesday, April 9, 2013

stuff I've been up to

I assume you all remember this:

I said - at the end of January, if I recall - that it was going to absorb my attention as I was coming off the kitchen project.  It certainly did.  First I ripped up the underlayment (the light wood you see at the lower edge of the photo).  Then I discovered that the flooring (that's the dark-green-painted wood you can kinda see along the left edge) only went about 60% of the way from left to right across the porch.  (I've been through many theories now, and finally concluded that it was originally just a regular porch, and just about four feet wide, and when somebody or other decided to enclose it, it was also made wider.  Except they just filled the gap with plywood.  And they appear to have covered the green floorboards and the plywood with carpet.)  Then I discovered that nobody makes 2-3/8" wide flooring any more.  Then I decided I'd just put a new floor over it.  Then I realized that the subfloor (that plywood somebody put down) had rotted near the exterior doorway, so I removed it, and then I discovered that the lower part of the wall to the right of the doorway was also rotten, so I removed that:

Obviously the goal was to replace these things, specifically with pressure-treated lumber (which is water- and rot-resistant).  In fact, you can see a big piece of pressure-treated lumber hanging out at the right of the picture above.  It's just leaning on the wall.  Because before I could get it in there, I had to deal with the fact that when its predecessor was installed, that exterior wall (the one with the door in it) didn't exist yet, so the wall went on top of the subfloor, and how do I get the new subfloor in without removing the wall first? 

The answer is:

This project was fairly expensive on power tools.  Not to mention the incovenience of frequently having to put a halt on progress (with a hole in the floor in front of our main exterior door, no less) to procure more power tools.  So eventually, I replaced the missing wall and subfloor, but why would I take a picture of them?  You'll just believe me.  I was very excited about those developments, because they meant I could address myself to the pile of (very pretty) oak flooring that had been occupying the porch for, by this time, a month or maybe even two.  I'm so tough, I was going to nail it all down with a hammer. 

Except I'm not that tough, or rather, my hammer isn't, or, perhaps more accurately, my nails aren't.  I bent about 20 of them in half (I am a beast!  See below) trying to attach the first board.  One long-distance call to a friend's dad in Canada later, and I realized the problem wasn't me (mostly): you cannot get a steel nail through an oak floorboard with a hammer.  The oak is too hard.  (This doesn't make sense to me either, but I have seen it with my own eyes and I know that it is true.  And yes, I can nail through pine just fine.) 

So then there was this:

Again, had to put the project on hold for several days while I awaited my boxes (OF POWER TOOLS!) from Amazon.  I think this project actually doubled my collection of power tools (and tripled my total power tool expenses), although I think I got very good prices on both of these.  For this much money (and time) I could just have laid the slate floor.  Ah...but then, I would have had a slate floor and NO power tools to warm my cold little heart afterward.  By the way, that's a two-gallon oil-less air compressor on the left, and an 18-gauge brad nailer on the right.  The rope is just sort of random; ignore it. 

Also, oil-less air compressors make a sound like all the demons of hell (or at least a significant portion thereof) and ear protection is NOT optional.  In fact, I think two layers would be wise, so I should probably pick up those very attractive muff things the next time I'm at the big orange store.  For all my future projects that will require an air compressor and a brad nailer. 

(That's me, with my nail gun.  I have wicked canines.) 

So then the packages came and I sat myself down with some power tool instruction manuals for a while and then I started nailing down floorboards:

You see that bit of white wall?  That's the wall with the door in it (it's just out of the picture).  As noted above, formerly there was a hole in that wall, which (by the time of this photo) is filled in with three layers of pressure-treated plywood I glued and screwed together, and then attached to the original wall boards, the floor, and the door frame, after bracing the door frame with a chunk of pressure-treated post.  (After I took out the rotted parts, the wall rocked back and forth if you gave it a light push.  Not cool.  It does not move any more.) 

You may also recall that there was an enormous hole in the floor.  That hole would have been just to the left of the nail gun.  No more hole! 

I kept moving with the flooring (very, very slowly):

There, you can see the new flooring in the foreground.  Just beyond it is a piece of underlayment (to smooth the transition between the original green floorboards and the plywood subfloor).  Leaning against the wall in this photo is more underlayment that's drying.  I ultimately decided to re-use the underlayment the previous handyman had cut, since it was already the right size - but it had been out in the rain and leaves for a bit, so I had to bring it in in batches and dry it.  Highly scientific processes, all. 

Oh, here's a close-up that might help:

The green is the original flooring.  To its right you can see the plywood that someone laid down to extend the porch's width.  And at the bottom is a piece of underlayment.  It's just sitting there - the nails that secured the floorboards went through the underlayment, so it all got nailed down in one step.  Also, that appears to be my toe.  Not that I did any part of this work barefoot. 

As I went along, I sawed off the lower part of the wall-board.  These archaeological forays suggest that first there was a (very narrow) porch with painted flooring; then there was an enclosed porch, with these lemon-yellow walls; and then there was another (white) layer of wall material added:

The yellow walls are just 3/4" thick boards, so I can see thinking that the wall needed some beefing up.  What I don't understand is why they just added some 3/8" thick weirdly-decorated plywood and called it a day.  All that was between those layers was spiders

(I am not putting a picture of an evil-looking spider here.  This is just not that kind of blog.) 

Being more sensible, I'm planning to remove that entire piece of white stripey board (on the two walls, under the windows) so I can thicken the walls under the windows and put insulation in them.  That was the original agenda for this project: (1) remove vinyl flooring; (2) re-paint original floor boards; (3) remove wall-board under the windows; (4) add framing, insulation, and drywall in its place; (5) paint the walls yellow (leave the window frames white); and (6) add a baseboard heater.  The first two steps were maybe 10% of the project, but of course they (and the unexpected extra steps) have taken two and a half months. 

ANYWAY.  I was clever enough to saw off the bottom of the wall-board BEFORE I laid the flooring so that when I came back and ripped it out, it wouldn't scratch my brand-new floors.  (After the floor is done, I'm ripping the rest out.) 

And that will be this weekend (along with our income tax returns.  Sigh), because I got up extra-early this morning to put the third coat of varnish on my new porch floor:

I guess maybe it could use five coats, but they take forever to dry and I have porch things all over the hallway and our exterior door is in the garage and my patience is at an end.  Also, it only looks that shiny because it was still wet when I took the picture.  It's actually semi-gloss. 

I cannot wait to come home tonight and see my FINISHED FLOOR, with the varnish all dry.  And then start in on demolishing the rest of the walls...


  1. Wow! It looks amazing! Great job!

  2. I'm positively salivating over that floor. If/when I win the lottery, I'm going to pay you handsomely to quit your job and come redo my house. I'll also fund your HGTV show...because dang, I would so watch that.

  3. Beautiful job on that floor!

  4. Wow-such an improvement. You have a knack for flooring.

  5. It really looks fantastic so far!