Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Floor: done!

OK, so the latest in the southwest corner saga has been the decision to put in a raised floor covering the southern half of the downstairs in the carriage house. Once we started painting those walls, the prospect of a family room kind of area there just sort of leaped out at us.

That effort is complete.

The first step was to frame in the section of floor we wanted to use. The layout of the upstairs of the carriage house actually shows this pretty well; the new family room area is the square on the south end of the downstairs, with the stairway to the east of it. That turned out to be an area just shy of 16'x16'.

Since we were using 2x4s taken from the big house's basement, they smelled rather moldy. So as you can see, we decided to paint them with a Zinser sealing primer after dousing them with bleach. After the bleach, they actually no longer smelled moldy, but man, some of them had branching mold structures etched on their sides, so we just didn't want to play around with them. Plus the kids did the painting, so it was no extra work for me.
This framing work took about a week.

Once the framing was done, it was time to start laying the plywood, a 3/4" moisture-treated subfloor. This stuff was heavy; I could lift a sheet, but since all sawing had to be done in the big house (to minimize sawdust propagation), it all added up to a lot of physical labor. As you can see, we also laid down Styrofoam insulation board under the floor. It's about R8, so I don't know whether it's going to have a huge impact, but the completed floor is indeed comfy.

As I went, I tried to insert shims under the 2x4 frame to make sure it was solid on the concrete. I found that attaching the plywood warped the frame somewhat, but the final floor is still pretty solid and has no places that bang when you step on them, so I call it a success.

Here's an extremely important trick I learned from disassembly of the floor in the big house's basement - as you lay the plywood, take a 4' straightedge and draw a line over the joist. Now, you know where to put your screws. I forgot this on one sheet of plywood (until it was too late; I'd already put down the next row) and kicked myself repeatedly as I sank screw after screw into empty space.

Finally, though, yesterday, eight pieces of plywood later, it was done. I don't know if you can see this, but the plywood is cut to fit into the irregularity in the south wall (also the west wall) where the doors used to be. I'm pretty proud of this floor, actually. It's kind of silly - but this is really the largest carpentry project I've done. I actually ran through a box of screws for the first time in my life.

Anyway, today's project was to get the carpet down. What you say? Carpet? Yeah, even with the dust allergies, we decided that a thin, easily cleaned carpet with no pad was still a better choice for the floor than a cold linoleum - and we can't really afford a wooden surface here. I'd love a laminate or plank floor, but it's just a temporary house for the winter, not the main show. This picture, by the way, shows the carpet cut in under the west window (remember that first picture of that window with the Truck 'o' Stuff piled next to it?)

So here's nearly the final result for the southwest corner. I still want to put a bit of drywall over that exposed brick section, and the little window needs sealing and insulation, and there still needs to be some caulking done here, and painting of the trim and repainting of the dings and scrapes from putting in the plywood. And the trim's not finished yet, and actually I still have about six feet of tacking on the east wall, but:

The tree is up in time for St. Nicholas Day. And the shoes are in the window. Happy Holidays.


  1. This just reminded me to tell folks who may not already know---I have an apartment! All I need to do is to get the Internet hooked up and sort stuff. The latter is going to take weeks, I think.

    Congratulations on the floor.

  2. I'll bet your apartment already had a floor when you got it. You kids these days.