Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Projectum Interuptus

I'm part way through taking a few weeks off from the big project of replacing alllll the flooring upstairs and here are the reasons why:

1. I went to California to visit some beloveds!

2. We hosted Eric's friend, Tex, who joined him in attending MisCon.

Here is where a photo would've been nice, 
but I mistakenly assumed there would've been some from the event. 

3. I worked on some boring maintenance projects around the place like fussing with the hot tub, constantly wiping pine pollen off stuff, making hummingbird nectar, etc.

4. I made a little throw pillow to help break up the brownliness going on in the guest room since replacing the floor in there.

5. I started working on the refab of the screen doors.
    (post coming soon)

6. I did my first two cross stitch projects ever! They are going to be a part of a much bigger project around the house, so I think I'll save posting photos until I start talking about that.

Just before the very first stitch in to second project. That is a great-great auntie's embroidery hoop!

7. We'll be hosting the VME's most frequent guest, Juan, this weekend.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Adventures in DIY Flooring - Cutting the Rug IV

Me: After what seemed like constant setbacks & extra weeks of research and work, I finally got to start installing the planks!
The Imaginary Crowd: NO WAY!
Me: WAY!

Here are the first few rows... the second time I installed them. Ahem.

Friday afternoon, I did a few courses in both areas and quite when I came to where I'd need to do fancy cutting for door jambs.

On Saturday morning around 9:30, I made those tricky cuts done and kept going. Let me say that this stuff is a breeze to cut with the jigsaw fitted with a metal blade.

By around 4:00 on Saturday afternoon, I'd gotten the hall and over half of the guest room done! My feet, knees, and hips were hurting and I was starting to make cutting mistakes, so I called it a day.

Base moulding not yet reinstalled.

YAHOO! And HOT DAMN! And [celebratory, creative cussing]! As of Sunday, the floors are starting to be in. Like in-in. For reals in. I even got all the baseboards back in and then all the furniture in the guest room. In addition to all the additional construction-related expenses, I followed manufacturer best practice and added felt pads to all the feet. I'm not looking forward to the way lint and dog hair clings to those, but that's better than marring these hard-earned floors.

I am so glad I labeled the back of each piece of base moulding when I took it off, because it went back in pretty quickly. Hand nailing it was kind of a hassle, though.

This view makes the room look less colorful than it is, but we definitely need some more color now that there is all that wood tone- probably through some rugs.

New threshold-adjacent piece! I got a deal on a damaged oak threshold, ripped it down to suit, stained, etc.

It was Tuesday by the time I had the base moulding reinstalled and the furniture put back in the hallway. Due to a wow in one of the walls and a rookie mistake in another place, I added a base shoe to the base moulding in the hallway, so that added time for purchasing, finishing, and installing. Plus I kind of needed a break for sanity, comfort, and to work on some other things. With the staining, varnishing, cutting, and live-in-general this wasn't complete until the next Sunday.

The paint color in the hall is far from great, but man does it look worse in these photos!

When i was working in the hallway, I noticed that the cool bear tile that hangs above the guestroom door was in need of a bit of repair, so I took it down before it fell down. I need to get on that and get it back up!

Since the LVP is thinner than carpet + pad, the base mouldings are lower than they were before all this. And since we haven't yet repainted the hallway, I have no way to disguise the evidence of that on the walls, but giving them a scrub helped quite a bit. Anyway, repainting the hallway has moved up on the to-redo list, but of course that means other* projects associated with that have also moved up the list. However, those are probably winter projects.

I used pretty much exactly 14 boxes of planks to do these two rooms. I would say that there are less than two planks' worth of waste to date. That's quite a bit less than the expected waste of 6-10%! However, I am probably being way more attentive to that and moving much more slowly than professional installers on all counts, so it probably makes sense. Some of that waste is being put to use to temporarily hold things in place where the finished floors meet the as-yet-incomplete floors.

Next up: the master bedroom and closets. This whole self-leveling thing which adds a few hours of work and days of wait to the process is really going to mess with my intended schedule which had us able to sleep in there every night of the process. I guess we will not. So, this means that I am going to wait until I get back from a little trip and after MisCon is done. Eric will be on some panels and will be participating as a Pro in the MisCon Writers' Workshop. Also, his friend Tex will be staying with us so we'll do her the kindness of not having our king bed set up in the living room.

* It turns out that a house is a collections of cans-of-worms and working on the house is a series of opening those cans.


More unforeseen additional steps:

Adding felt to the feet of all the furniture.
Learning how to re-install bi-fold closet doors at a different height.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Adventures in DIY Flooring - Cutting the Rug III

It is taking me awhile to get started installing the planks. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I didn't have written directions specifically for this product. I mean, I understand the gist of the whole thing, but once you start you're stuck or you're wasting product. I just happen to like going in confident with the support of documented methods! Eventually I got some PDF directions that the retailer got from their rep and emailed to me. Second, I had to wait on the stair nose piece because they are generally made-to-order or on some kind of schedule and therefore can't just be rush shipped at extra cost. That took 2 weeks after bringing home the planks  Anyway, Eric and I unloaded all the boxes into the living room in a mostly-out-of-the-way place behind some chairs on the Saturday after I brought them home.

After "patiently" waiting 15 days I finally got going on Saturday and once I decided where to start and laid a few rows, it went poorly. Why? Well the floor was out of level just enough that to keep the planks from locking together properly. Sigh. As this happened after the local building supply place closed on Saturday (1:00p), it meant a Sunday trip to Missoula to buy all the things it take to apply/install self-leveling underlayment. I could have gone on Saturday afternoon, but I was crestfallen and cranky just couldn't face it.

The First Planks... The First Time. Sigh.

This did not mean I didn't make progress on Saturday afternoon, because there is an issue with the subfloor at the top of the stairs and I started tackling it. Because the lip on the stair nose piece is shallower than the cobbled together edge that was under the carpet there and wouldn't cover them, I had to remove those pieces (one fir and one plywood) and replace it with some oak to blend with the stair riser. Yeah. What would've been perfect is a 4' length of 1x2 oak that I could make into a 5/8" thick piece. What I could get nearby was a 9' length (yes, even the employees were surprised about the 9' length) of 1x4. All but about half of one side will be covered, so it only has to look "pretty" on that one bit. With some creative cutting with my table saw, I have a good start. I need to knuckle down and tackle some creative "nibbling" with the table saw before it's done.

I have no idea what these stairs are finished with and given some stories I have heard about the last owners and how the floors are wearing since we got here, I would say they are finished with something other than professional-level products. Like maybe something seen on a late night infomercial. Ahem. This bit certainly isn't going to get any wear, but this makes matching quite difficult particularly as wood stain stuff is far from my forte. So the goal was to get close and hope it mostly goes unnoticed. It being the top stair means it's at eye-level at some point, but oh well!


So, here is the guest room floor after the self-leveling process. This process... well it didn't go as expected or wished for. I kind of (actually) did it twice. The whole thing got me quite frustrated and temporarily semi-paralyzed, even though I understand that a 42 year old house is just not going to have totally level floors - especially on the 2nd story and it's not any real indication of some historical half-assery. Anyway... I ended up msixxing 6 bags and the whole thing took about 2.5 "extra" hours to apply.. Then I had to level out the "self-leveling underlayment" with a feathering product. I used 1.25-ish boxes and this added about 6 "extra" hours over the 9 times I applied it. All these steps had to cure for 16 hours - each of the nine times time I did part of it.  I hope this means I'll be laying planks on Friday - the second Friday after this all started. Finally!

Leveled! Or close enough to it.

All my research led me to two different brands of self-leveling material. Both of these brands are designed and promoted as ones you can apply flooring over fairly quickly - as soon as 3 hours for tile. I think this worked against me, as I learned later that these really are not one-person jobs. But I am just one person despite my mightiness. For the rest of the rooms, I am going to look for something less quick-setting which might make for better results with a one-person application. And perhaps ultimately it will mean less time between evacuating a room and laying the planks.

During those 16 hour curing windows, I worked on some other time-sensitive crafting projects, so at least there was that bright spot! Of course that is also when we slept, cooked & ate, shopped for more materials, and wrote blog posts. Oh yeah, and I had to buy a saw so I could cut back all the door jambs and some of the door mouldings. I wanted to avoid anything even remotely like this situation we inherited in the upstairs bathroom. Luckily, that will go away when I redo that floor later this year.


More unforeseen additional steps:

Oiling baseboards, since they were already taken out.
Leveling the floors which exceeded the tolerance of the material.
Fashioning & staining a piece of oak to under the stair nose piece.
Cutting back all the door frames and some of the door moulding.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Taming the Monster in the Closet: I

A project in which the closet itself becomes a monster.

I tell ya', full-on occupying these spaces for almost 6 years means that these rooms and their closets are full-on filled up which is adding complexity to this flooring project in that it takes not a small amount of time to move stuff around repeatedly.

When the room is too narrow to get frame the photo well so you rotate it in Photoshop and then realize that the shelf was level before you rotated so you leave the background weirdness to add to the overall non-fun house effect.

It also means that I am taking this as an opportunity to attack these closets by adding some shelves and getting a fresh coat of paint in there. I had a gallon of paint that was a bad choice for the guest room's neutral, but a fine choice for inside a couple of closets.

What are those cutouts for? Only the left-most is over a stud.

On both ends the closet has room for shelves; on one end they're deeper than is practical for storing clothes, but the only clothes we store in here are costumes and they are hung on hangers. So that means that we need some hanging space for costumes and I want to have some for guests should they want to hang any of their clothes. On the other end where the shelves are shallower, we have an access door to the shower plumbing, so the shelves work around that and will store something easy to unload.

Of course, the doors and base moulding will be reinstalled, but after the new floor goes in.

What follows is the long path, riddled with obstacles, that lead to this unremarkable closet:

I reused what I could from the closet as it was when we moved it; parts of the closet rod and shelf, as well as the drywall-textured and painted-over rod/shelf brackets. The condition of the brackets really bothered me, but the idea of wasting them bothered me more. I decided to soak them in a Simple Green & water solution, scrap/rub off the paint and texture, then spray paint them to protect them from rusting, then reuse two of the three. I also drilled holes in the rod holder parts, so I could keep the rod stationary when sliding all the contents to one end.

I'm sure I'm not alone in that when I am remodeling and find something... er, unusual... I wonder about the history of the processes that went into the existing situation. I had always assumed that the knock-down/brocade drywall texture had been added sometime after 1976 when the house was built, but when I removed the base moulding, I saw that it covered all of the drywall. However, apparently they had installed the closet hardware before texturing the drywall. Curiouser & curiouser. And it seems that they had an issue with the plumbing in the shower at one point and cut through this drywall to deal with it.  Fair enough, but when they patched the wall that wasn't the access door, they didn't remove the shelf that was on top of these brackets. Funny thing is: the shelf was not attached to the brackets. Just resting on there. The whole thing is even more puzzling since they aren't installed level.

Black was not what I was imagining, but it is what I already had on hand that wasn't a just-plain-wrong color or a color that might be better saved for more visible projects.
I used scrap moulding from the front door project to make a support for the rod/shelf part in the center of the closet. Despite all the extra steps in getting the brackets cleaned up and adding these supports, the was the easiest and most direct part of this project.

Just to get every inch out of that closet rod, I put some stops on the ends. I used some funky cabinet knob escutcheons that came off the upstairs bathroom vanity. They're definitely weird and probably gauche, but I think they're funny and... they work! So at least this section of the closet is no-cost... except the screws. GEEZ!

The access door to the plumbing for the shower on the other side of that wall is oddly fancy with it's angled trim and it's not-just-a plywood-square door. It also has a way more secure latch than did any of the three screen doors when we moved in.

I used this as an opportunity to take a whole mess of stuff we've removed from the house or that was left here to Home ReSource in Missoula for donation. I was hoping to get materials for building the shelves there, too, but they had none of what I was looking for. It would have felt good to use something that might have otherwise ended up in the landfill and to nurture my inner cheapskate by not paying full price. At least I was able to keep 6 light fixtures, a ceiling fan, a stainless steel kitchen sink and faucet, 3 curtain rods, some curtains, a couple-few dozen switch and outlet covers, and various other bits of hardware and some paint/stain out of the landfill with our donation.

[I had intended to take a photo of the stuff all loaded up, but forgot. It would've gone here] 

I decided to at least use what I could from our scrap wood stash to make the shelf cleats. Most of this is what was left from building the wood shed. I tried to buy 3/4" plywood from the local lumber yards. Yard I doesn't have a way to rip a 4x8 sheet into two 2x8 pieces so I can actually haul it. Also, the "new" guy there is almost-subtly patronizing and a blatant mansplainer... he once actually mansplained to me how I should feel about the weather. So yeah. Yard II simply didn't have any 3/4" plywood. I didn't have the heart to further inquire about the smoothness of the 3/4" that usually carry and to ask again if they could cut it - the poor trainee seemed to be really struggling with the phone call already. Well, dammit! I tried to do good, but had to drive back into Missoula to a big box supplier.

Dumb mistake: I had the audacity to assume a wall that is longer wider than 16" would have a stud somewhere between the two ends. This is not the case for the shorter front walls of this closet. Of course, I didn't check until I had 3/4 of the cleats cut... from a 2x4 ripped into thirds. What a waste of time and materials! Maybe at least some of these very specifically cut lumber will be suitable for the studio/office/sewing room/auxiliary guest room close when I get to that?

Sigh. And so. Thinking about what we had already:
-Standards and brackets, but what sizes and in what quantity are out there? And were exactly are they out there? Not the right sizes. In the two places I thought they were.
-What is there that would not be best used in another place, sitting unused for even more time until then? All of it would be best used elsewhere, unfortunately.
-What about all those wooden brackets removed from the master bedroom way back when? Nope. Too small.

You can see that I haven't yet gotten the top shelf installed. That's because I'll need to get more 1/4" AC plywood, so next time I'm in Missoula and near Lowe's I'll get it. Then I'll already have materials for the next closet!

Anyway, that's the deal with the pine-board brackets; they're screwed to the corner studs and to the cleat on the back wall. The shelf is screwed to the brackets. I added a piece of screen moulding to the front for a tiny bit of added stability and to cover the plies.

Something similar will happen in the studio/office/sewing room/auxiliary guest room when I tackle the floors in there later this year, but hopefully it will go much more smoothly, quickly, and unembarrassingly.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Adventures in DIY Flooring - Cutting the Rug II

Here we go! As mentioned in Cutting the Rug I, I'm going to start installing the new flooring in the guest room, working west through the hallway and into the master bedroom.

I'd already removed the carpet, pad, and staples in the master bedroom, so I just continued with the other two rooms. Given that there really is no place to move the entire contents of all of these rooms all at once, this is where it started getting difficult.

Temperature non-sensitive stuff sometimes in moisture resistant containers was stored on the balcony... and of course is snowed a bit and despite typical snow behavoir it actually settled all the way to the siding (but had melted by the time I took the photo).

But guess what? We noticed the smoke smell might have actually stronger after the master bedroom was down to the subfloor. UGH! So I did some more research and decided it was probably coming form the subfloor and that there were a couple ways to handle that. The way I chose was to seal the subfloor with a shellac-based primer, like I'd used before when working on a couple fire-restoration jobs back in my decorative painting contractor days. I also used this stuff to paint a closet that reeked of cigarette smoke in a rental I lived in once and it worked great.

When I tore out the carpet from the master bedroom, I didn't have any trouble with the baseboard heater, but the guest room heater had to come off the wall to get to the tack strip. Sigh. So I have started a list of unexpected, added steps. See below.
Fun Fact: we haven't turned on either heater in years. Good to have as backup, I suppose.

I wear a respirator and this primer cures, via evaporation, very quickly. So, it turns out getting this going in spring worked out so I could air each room out pretty quickly with a fan in the window while Delia was outside keeping the Squirrel Menace at bay.

All the blue carpet is oh-ewe-tee OUT!

Speaking of unforeseen steps... and now we wait. Wait for the vendor to get back to me with some details and wait longer, up to 3 weeks) if those details are a particular of one of the options. Sigh.


Number of Evil Tack Strip stabs: 6 (see photo, above)
Number of times I've taken breaks to comfort Delia after vacuuming: 2
Unforeseen additional steps:
     Removing baseboards (that was just willful naivete)
     Touching up wall paint where reinstalled baseboards might be lower than prior
     Removing on baseboard heater to pull tack strip: master, no; guest, yes
     Might as well install closet shelves, etc while we've got them emptied. Painted, too.
     Taking down closet doors and popping room doors off their hinges
     Figuring out how to reinstall bi-fold doors now that the floor is lower
     Removing glued-down vinyl flooring under existing laminate in bathroom.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Adventures in DIY Flooring - Cutting The Rug I

And now this year's (first?) big house project: replacing that blue carpet we hate so much! The color and wear of the stuff is only part of it. I mean, if this was installed back when this color was popular, it is 30 years old give or take. It's done its job and then some. And by "and then some" I mean that it's done its job and also absorbed some odors including the slightest aroma of cooking oil and cigarette smoke. Like we can't always smell them, but then when we do catch a whiff it sticks with us. Blech. In the main traffic areas the pad is shot, too.

I started the demo in the master bedroom. After getting all the carpet, pad, & staples out of this section, we moved all the furniture back and upended the bed to get that side.

Demo can be very fun in a cathartic kind of way, but tearing out wall-to-wall carpet is not fun in any kind of way. Poor Delia; between all the vacuum-monster sounds and the mama cussing sounds she didn't find it fun, either. She had to come give my neck and ears a very good cleaning while I was sitting on the cedar closet floor with her ears in the worried position the whole time.

Is the photo blurry or is it just air born particulates making it look that way? So much dirt and dust under the carpet pad! And it was so obvious where main walking paths were vs. where furniture was. GAK! Yes, I wore a mask.

We - more Eric than I - just finally could not take it any more. I didn't think we were ready to financially commit to replacing pretty much 800+ square feet of carpet, so I re-visited the projects I'd seen online where people painted and stenciled their subfloor. They could look very nice and not at all like half-arsed solutions. And then I looked into the possibility of DIY carpet binding which actually seemed pretty feasible. Until I priced broadloom carpet remnants, that is. Even the most generic of greige options were pretty costly! In fact, all the options were just variations on generic greige.

The left side (also the back side) is all master bedroom/closet/half-bath. Center is full-bath and hall. Right is guest bedroom and studio/office/sewing room/auxiliary guest room.

So then we decided that if we were going to spend that kind of money for painting and self-bound, boring rugs we should at least look at what the materials would cost to replace the flooring "for real." That's when I drew up that layout on graph paper to email to Doug at the flooring place. I get teased for my proclivity for drawing rooms - and their furnishings - on graph paper, but it works for me and I actually enjoy doing it, so... suck it, haters!

This is the carpet and pad from only the master suite. Without working the numbers, I think it's safe to say that the master suite comprises at least half the blue carpet, though. It is a good thing we started this mess when the wood shed was almost empty!

Just doing the quickest of estimated calculations, I determined that going with Plan A - the filling, priming, painting, stenciling, & sealing and then DIY binding rugs to size could easily cost $1500. It would be dirty work that would take a long, long time with much of that time crawling around on the hard floor. It turns out that was more than half the cost of the materials for installing plank vinyl. This stuff is rated for sound-proofing for multifamily dwellings as well as being waterproof due the core not being made of wood particles. This also means that it has a much greater span capability so there's no need to have transition pieces in doorways, etc. I think it's a fair assumption that this is going to be much faster and easier, as well as a cleaner project and more likely to last as long as we do. 

There were six to choose from at the cost we were quoted. The other three were a narrow plank pattern, so I didn't even bring them home as I knew they weren't right for us. From these three, we both liked A best on its own. However, A was pretty much the one that worked the least with all the other wood tones going on. Both B & C would work, but we like the "saw mark" stuff going on with C and the oakiness better for our house in the forest.

I think I'll start in the guest room, move through the hall to our bedroom/closet/half-bath. After those, I'll likely tackle the bathroom which has the more typical laminate, probably installed shortly before the last owners put the house on the market. Last will be the office/studio/sewing room/auxiliary guest room, which actually has light beige carpet of a similar era instead of the blue and also has the most shit stuff to move. It's also the only room upstairs other than the hall that we haven't repainted and it has some unfortunate fake paneling wainscot in a few, random places along with a mystery chair rail all the way around. I've already started playing around with how we might put the room back together when that's done... probably sometime next winter.

You can sure see the difference between this photo of the graph paper studio and the scan of the graph paper second floor.