Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The First Floor

We’re taking a break from the usual here to show you some actual work.  No more hypothetical work on this blog (except for when I decide to write about the out of doors area of the house soon).

Last Thursday, we purchased about one-thousand dollars worth of laminate flooring.  That bought us about 500 feet squared of floor boards.  I planned on installing it over the weekend.  This is that story.

On Friday afternoon, I got started by tearing up the terrible, dog stained, old carpet in the Living Room and Dining room.  For reference, here’s what it looked like:


Beige with spots all over it.  Some spots (like the one under those windows) bigger than others.  It didn’t take me too long to tear up all of the carpet, roll it up and drag it out of doors.  Probably an hour or so, no big deal.  Here’s what I was left with:


Strangely, the under-carpet padding (made from recycled shoes, which is awesome) looks better than the old carpet.  Thinking of no good way to persuade Amanda to keep it as-is (as-was?), I sighed, and began the horrible, horrible process of prying up all of the seemingly miles of carpet tack strips laid about the perimeter.  The fun part of all of that was the fact that they were set into concrete, so it was just and awesome time:


It was even doubled up in some spots:


This process was just terrible.  Each nail was embedded into the concrete and each nail took a surprising amount of leverage to pop out.  Some of them even came shooting out of the floor, launched from my pry bar and flew to the ceiling in an attempt to embed themselves therein.  The process was made even worse by the old wood of the strips themselves.  Instead of coming off in one piece, or at least two or three pieces, they would stubbornly disintegrate, make my job that much more arduous.

No matter.  I persevered and after a few hand soreing (not a word) hours on the floor, fighting with each nail, I was finished:


Once each nail was removed from the subfloor, it was time for the baseboard molding to come off.  This process was much easier, as the builder used regular nails into regular sheetrock, so not much struggle was needed to pry the ugly molding off of the wall. 


Fun fact:  The builders put the molding onto the base of each wall before they created the masonry fireplaceJust an incredible idea and makes my life much easier.  No it doesn’t.  Here’s what it looks like (still):


I have since trimmed it back, but still.  There’s baseboard running behind the fireplace.  Crazy.

After that, it was time to pile the debris from the evenings work onto the yet-to-be discarded carpet padding.  There was a lot of debris, which I had to wrangle by hand, but it was finished up and the padding was rolled and out of the hour in an hour or so.  Here’s the fun pile of waste in our side yard:


The good news is, that pile will continue to grow, as pretty much every surface of our house has old and smelly carpet on it.

After the rolls were lugged outside, further cleanup began.  This time, vacuuming the floor to get rid of the piles and piles of old dirt.  Some of this dirt hasn’t seen the light of day since 1984.  That’s kind of great to think about:


The observant among you may notice the message written on the floor.  Here it is, in further detail (avert your children’s eyes, as it contains a curse word):


I have yet to call this Jeff Reeves fellow, as I am married and have no plans of infidelity, but if I ever get divorced because of some deeply hidden homosexuality, Jeff Reeves is my first call.  I hear he gives a good effword.  if anyone is looking for something like that, the area code of the greater Austin area is 512.  And in case you need it, I think that the last number, while barely legible, is a 3.

Once everything was nicely vacuumed and hopefully prepared for Saturday’s planned festivities, I watched some TV and went to bed.

The next day, I gave the floor one more vacuuming for good measure and the various items I had used off of it.  I was left with a semi clear canvas with which to paint a flooring masterpiece.  Just kidding.  It was a flooring paint by number at best.


The first step to a new laminate floor is the all important underlayment.  This keeps moisture from the subfloor from getting into the flooring and also adds a bit of a cushion to the flooring to both quiet it and keep you from dying when you fall on it.  It comes in giant rolls and goes down pretty easily:


One edge of the underlayment had an adhesive strip, so I basically rolled it out, squared it as best I could, then stuck it to its neighbor.  This took awhile, but it’s an important part of the job (I was told) so I wanted to make sure to get it right.  I probably did not get it right, but whatever, I tried.

The next step I took, which should have probably been the first step of the day, was to cut away a bit of the bottom of the door trim, as to give the flooring some room to go underneath it.  A coping saw and a few minutes later:


I am now a carpenter.  Just like your probable Lord and Savior.

This picture gives a good look at what the underlayment actually consists of.  I don’t know hat other underlayment is made of, but the cheapest kind that I could track down is Styrofoam balls sandwiched between two sheets of plastic.  I paid 22 cents per square foot of this stuff and it looks like I got gypsied on it.

Once the sawing was finished and cleaned up, it was on to the actual floor laying work.  The way to do it (I read) is to lay the first three or four rows of flooring, then put it in place.  I did just that:


You put the first few rows of flooring together (tongue and groove in this case) to give it some rigidity, then slide it into place along the wall, with some spacers:


Once those rows are as square as you can possibly get them, you can confidently lay the rest of the flooring knowing that the flooring won’t be off kilter (because those rigid few rows are square, hopefully), nor will it buckle or warp later on (as you left some gap with the spacers to let the floor breath, or expand and contract with the changing temperatures and relative humidity).  Either way, the floor was and is still square and there aren’t any giant frost heaves in it yet, so it might have worked.

Another thing to note, in that picture showing the first rows, please note that pretty much every box of that stupid flooring was dragged into the living room and opened.  This is because everyone recommends pulling planks from different boxes each time to lay one, as to make the flooring look ‘natural’ as a whole.  I can understand that with actual natural wood, but this laminate stuff is man made and thus, shouldn’t look all weird one way or the other.  I don’t know.  Get your essword together laminate flooring manufacturers.  I should just be able to pull planks from one box until it is empty, then move onto the next box, instead of traipsing all over the living room pulling planks for this box or that.

Now’s a good time for some random pictures.  This was where I did all of the fun cutting:


Our porch is still covered in sawdust.  I was hoping that the wind would take care of it, but apparently there is either no wind back there, or the wind is so pathetic that it cannot be bothered to lift the ultra light grains of dust that remain.

Amanda brought me some lunch of Wendy’s at noon.  I drank from this cup:


Why am I telling you this?  because before that cup, I had probably six full glasses of water.  I had that cup filled with lemonade from Wendy’s, then used this cup for the rest of the day.  I probably had between 15 and 20 full cups of water bringing my day’s total to about 26 adult sized containers of water.  Conservatively, each container full was maybe 16 ounces.  That’s, again conservatively, over 300 ounces of water during the day.  I did not urinate the entire day.  I am not kidding.  I was sweating like a maniac methamphetamine addict and couldn't replace the fluids fast enough. 

Wait.  Why did I tell you that?

Another fun picture.  This is me during the day:


I felt like Casey Jones from the Ninja Turtles.  Instead of an awesome golf bag filled with various sporting good implements used as weapons, I had super gay kneepads, and rubber mallet with a towel over it (as to not damage the flooring) and glasses.  Like an idiot.

Well, fun’s over.  Back to the floor.

I started working on the floor at 8:30 on Saturday morning, at 8:15 on Saturday night, I laid the last of the planks and called it an night.  Or so I thought.

When I was in bed, I was thinking of those last few planks.  I didn’t measure the gap between them and the wall, so I might have had some more work to do.  in the morning, I measured and whimpered a bit.  The gap was about an inch and a half.  Crap.

I got back to work, cutting a bunch of one inch strips of flooring and laid them in:


Stupid things.

once that was finished up, it was time to cut away the excess underlayment that was poking it’s way out of the flooring (see previous images for visual evidence).  This wasn't difficult, and was finished in a few minutes, but I did almost involuntary manslaughter this lizard:


Luckily, he avoided my utility knife blade and made it out alive.

During the process of cutting two sheets of plastic adhered to little balls of Styrofoam, you can imaging that little balls of Styrofoam go everywhere.  Your imagination is correct:


I vacuumed them up, along with a bunch of sawdust, and the floor was ready for some mopping, which Amanda kindly took care of:


After the mopping, it was finally time to bring our giant furniture collection back into the room.  Luckily, we have a giant foyer, or I don’t know where it all would have fit:


Just kidding.  We only have a couch and a TV stand right now.

We put the little felt “don’t scratch up that new floor that Ryan spent the last 14 hours on” pads on the legs of our furniture, dragged it into the room and relaxed.  New floor finished.


The next step in all of this is the floor trim.  I’ll get that, paint it and install it this weekend.  It will likely take less time and will likely make me less sore.

No comments: