Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Installing a wood floor

Before we moved into this house two and a half years ago, we pulled out the super-stinky, stained, sad, scary carpet that was in the big front room/dining area.  I scrubbed the concrete pad with bleach three times before we moved in to get rid of the odor.  And then, with so many other areas of the house needing more immediate attention, we left our furniture, covered with blankets, on the concrete pad for over two years. 

We had just lived the previous 8 years in a 2 bedroom (about 1500ft2 I think?) house, and had lived in smaller places than that before.  So what if three or four hundred square feet of this house weren't available?  We still had more space than we had ever had.  (However, I'm finding that there is never so much floor space that it can't be covered with all the socks and shoes we have in the house - they have replaced legos as the most common floor covering.)

Seriously, this is only some of the shoes that are left around the house.  How can only two boys wear so many shoes in a week.  To be fair, only one pair belongs to Nathaniel...
After I finished grading my fall semester finals, Chris and I started putting in the floor.  We bought the wood (engineered hickory) two years earlier and it sat in our entry "curing" until now.  It was good and ready.  First, we cleaned up the floor (the bare concrete has been a dust-generator for the past two years) and then primed and leveled it.  "Self leveling compound" is a misnomer unless it means that you have to do the leveling your "self".  Chris leveled the floor a week ago Saturday, and then after doing some grinding decided it needed more leveling.  So, Monday (after submitting my final grades) I went back to Home Depot and bought two more bags of leveling compound and a bottle of primer.  I primed the floor (just one side that seemed to be sloping) and gave it a couple of hours to dry so Chris could do the leveling after work.
Primer drying on concrete

Self-leveling compound (second round)
Grinding concrete
Tuesday morning the floor was level, dry, and after some grinding to get rid of some ripples, we measured, snapped lines, and Chris glued down some guide-boards for the first few rows.  The biggest challenge of putting engineered wood on concrete slab is the glue.  This was a tongue-in-groove floor, not a snap-in, so there was no "floating" a floor and we couldn't nail it to the concrete.  The glue was thick and would get everywhere.  Fortunately for us, someone at the college department party the weekend before had just finished gluing a floor in his house and had an extra jug of adhesive cleaning solvent in the trunk of his car.  We had bought mineral spirits and he had learned the hard way that mineral spirits did not work very well.  We each kept a solvent soaked rag hanging from our back pockets to wipe our fingers, tools, drips, or any glue that squeezed up through the boards and it went very smoothly.  I think he saved us a lot of trouble.  Chris said it was the best purchase he'd ever made out of the trunk of a car.
Trowelling out the glue
The first few rows were slow.  Chris did all the trowelling and floor laying and I handed him boards and tools.  We had to cut boards to fit the fireplace.  So, after the first full day of laying boards, we only had 6 rows down.  We worked each night when Chris got home from work and would lay some rows and then sit in the spa.  Our backs were so sore and our fingers were getting raw.  Eventually, I started trowelling some of the glue and laying the boards and we could go much faster.
Woohoo!  DIY Jen.
We finished laying boards on Saturday night.  Chris cut the trim to size, but with Christmas three days away, we've taken a break (so I could clean up the dust that covered the whole house, and make candy, bake and generally get ready for the holidays.)  We need to do a final cleaning of the floor to get rid of any glue spots, patch the wall around the base boards, do some painting, cut, stain, and install new base boards.  I think we will move the furniture in before all the base boards are done though, I'm tired of having the piano in the kitchen.

Piano in the kitchen?!

All done!  Yay!
Doesn't it look pretty?  I'm very excited. 


Bethany said...

It's beautiful! You guys are so impressive!!

Just curious, what other purchases has Chris made from the back of a trunk?

And thanks for the Christmas card -- love hearing from you guys!

California Garners said...

Bethany, Chris likes to buy birthday gifts, seafood, steaks, and such out of trunks... ;)