Sunday, September 1, 2013

Gorgeous plywood floors


It's finished! No more dirty, Kilzed subfloor that gives in some corners when you step on it. No more stepping on little plates that covered up the holes from where, I can only guess, pipes ran for base board heating. It is WONDERFUL to have real flooring upstairs! 

You can see by the pictures that the floor really was incredibly dirty. So what did I do? Did I scrub it all clean or hit it with another layer of Kilz? No, I didn't. After all the effort that I put in to packing up my upstairs and hauling it to storage (Btw, I can pack a truck like nobody else. If you need help moving, I'm your girl), I seized the moment and shoved all the furniture to the other side of the room and got to work.

We started this whole thing by measuring the upstairs, figuring out how many full sheets of pre-sanded 1/2 plywood it would take to cover it whole and then pre-ordering them. We asked Home Depot to cut each sheet into 1 foot wide lengths, getting 4 boards per sheet. Picking up the cut lumber was the easiest part of the whole thing and I am SO glad we had them do that.  

Mr. Ireland and I decided a 1/3-2/3 cut on the length would help us stagger the planks appropriately and started along a wall. He helped me cut the first row and then had to go to work, so I was on my own. After laying flooring in the available space, almost half of the big room, I then went to work staining it. Admittedly, the color was a little darker than we had originally wanted, but I have grown to love it. I chose to use a wool applicator attached to a broom handle. It worked very well! I poured stain out into a tray, soaked the wool pad in it and applied it with the grain. Then I went back over it with a rag to soak up any extra stain.

Enjoying the new floor

When that whole section was stained, I got out the polyurethane. I chose to go with Valspar High Traffic, figuring the kids would drag furniture and drop heavy objects almost daily. It too was easy to apply. I used a nylon bristle broom head and poured out a little at a time, pushing it across the boards evenly. I reapplied coats about every 4-6 hours, for a total of 3 coats.

 I gave that side of the room 48 hours to set up and then we moved everything to the finished side and repeated the whole process on the other side.

Things we could not live without long enough to be in storage



Half way

Notes: walls are NEVER square, so make a jig board that will help you space things going across the room and DO NOT rely on your wall to be your guide, or you may end up veering off to one side or another and not have room later to insert boards where needed.
Also, sheets of plywood are not 48", so be sure to specify that you want your boards to all be cut to 11.5" to give you the most consistent lay.

Quality Control

I did some of this with kids in the house, but most of those days they went to my aunt's house. If I started in the morning, I could get all 3 coats done in one day, going out to my little cutting tent to cut more flooring or work on bookshelves while the urethane set up. Don't worry, I wore a mask and ran fans at all 3 windows.

Hallway before

Hallway after

So that is done.
Now for trim work. Eventually.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Its a long, long road to.... a completed house

Its easy to forget how far you have come when you still have a great distance to go, isn't it? I have taken to keeping a list of completed projects on my phone to remind me of all that we HAVE accomplished and not let myself feel like we haven't done anything this summer. Obviously I am still incredibly busy or you would be seeing regular posts from me. Don't let the last post's date fool you, its been changed to reflect the general time frame I finished some of the projects.

July has been a skunk of a month.  Its improving though. Much of June and July was spent waiting for Mr. Ireland's gout flare up

to subside. In the mean time, we tried to do a few fun things when we couldn't work. We have been to Homer to the tidepools, had a few birthday partys, a few trips to parks, but nothing big. We warned the kids that this would be a busy summer and I can't WAIT to be done with big projects and back to a normalish school year schedule.

Along with the list of things from our last post, I have completed a can rack for my food storage area,  Mr. Ireland has moved 3 refrigerators and freezers around to accomodate my new all refrigerator, and we are still waiting for the roofers to come. The list is getting shorter, we are down to the kitchen remodel, the bathrooms (nearly finished upstairs), removing the back porch and replacing it with stairs, and if we have time, the dining room ceiling, though I dont see that happening.

This week I started the flooring for the upstairs. We chose to go with 1 foot planks, cut from sheets of   presanded plywood, 4 planks a sheet. I will post pictures of the process in my next post, probably when it is all finished next week. It looks really nice so far. I had no idea that the nail gun would be so much fun!

The next project will be our kitchen and I have just put in my order for the few cabinets we need. This will be a project that makes a huge impact in how our home functions.
The last update I will give is on our little chickens. They are almost ready to start laying and I have built a bigger pen for them. We also bought some meat chickens (uh, 43) and are scrambling to find a  little house and second enclosure for them.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Summer plans

You have had nothing but silence from us for months, I know. Really, not much has been happening around here. I will update you a bit on the little that has happened and then talk about my BIG plans for the summer!

I finally finished the bottle cap floor! Of course, I did it in a way that caused me far more work than necessary, but this is my way. Remind me to update the tutorial (done) - DO NOT FILL THE BACK OF YOUR CAPS BEFORE WORKING!!

We built a chicken brooder and added some chicks. We bought way to many for the tiny space and had to transfer them out to the big coop earlier. Poor babies didn't have all their pin feathers in, but with the heat lamp, they made it. We did lose one chick during the first couple of days after we bought them. It was sad. One of our older ladies (hens) has taken to mothering the chicks. She follows them around, stays with them all the time. She is a good ol' hen.

I shuffled things to a storage unit again, and have been very successful at getting rid of things. The things in there now are things that need to come back - fabric totes, coats and boots, some baby clothes (I'm still on the fence about getting rid of those).

Not much else has happened until just this last week - Charley pulled the trailer out to start moving junk from the yard. This house was a really good deal because it needed A LOT of work and that includes the piles of trash it came with. They should all be gone by summer's end.

You won't see pictures of the completed bathroom because, well, its not complete yet!
I painted bed frames for the older boys, a picnic table for the toddlers and the upstairs bathroom vanity counter. Charley installed the toilet and vanity in to the upstairs bath! We finally have 2 toilets again!!

Next up: (Items in green have been updated as done) -
Shower stall, window and trim in upstairs bathroom
repair ceiling in living room and put in flooring upstairs,
clear deck so roofers can repair (cleared, still waiting for roofers)
gut kitchen and put in new cabinets and ceiling.
my bathroom
our bedroom floor (Not going to happen this summer. Maybe winter?)
bookshelves for homeschool area
lattice around porch (finally!) (Mostly completed, waiting for trim)
move freezer to basement, move appliances (Well done, Mr. Ireland)
build mud room storage and benches
buy couch. (*cough* uh, we might be building this too)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bottle cap tile... What NOT to do.

 Well, we finished the refinance, have some money in the bank for projects and just as we get focused on tackling the bathrooms... we get sick. Off and on for two weeks! I am happy to say that I did manage to get a little done in that time, but the weeks of setting a date and time, arranging child care and then cancelling really frustrated me. Can you tell that I am not a patient person?

Grout - any color will do, since you won't see it. 

We are all healthy now (relatively) AND I am finally done prepping bottle caps for the bathroom! Before we start the actual remodel, I had to turn each of the bottle caps in to a tile that could be used. This meant filling each cap with grout and letting it dry. Now, I could do this as I tile, but that means at least a week of sitting on the bathroom floor every night, filling caps and placing them in the design.

Empty caps set out to fill. I used newsprint for a drop cloth.

(Okay, here is where the DO NOT DO THIS comes in. DO NOT FILL YOUR CAPS. True to form, I made this far more complicated than I should have. I am going to leave this post up, so you can see what I did. I was very worried about rust from moisture under my caps, so I filled them. Big MISTAKE. I had to relevel every tile I placed. It took FOREVER. Don't fill, just tile! And if your floor is very uneven, please please, use self leveling compound before tiling! Read on if you must...)

I chose to set aside a couple of evenings after the kids went to bed and fill as many caps as I could. I tried smearing properly prepared grout in to caps and it took 2 hours to do about 200 caps! With almost 3000 caps to fill, this still meant I was going to be putting enormous amounts of time in to filling caps. Thankfully I am a quick study and realized that a) the grout was going to have to be much thinner to fill the caps so they were level and I wouldn't have to trowel each one and b) I had to find a delivery method that would allow me to fill them quickly and to keep my hands off the caps, since each cap was sticking to my gloves.

Grout mixed too thick - added more water

Enter the pastry bag. Rather, the disposable pastry bag, since this is what I had on hand. A pastry bag would contain the grout nicely, allowing me to fill each cap as it sat on the table top. It also made clean up so much easier, since I could ditch the bag at the end of the night and only worry about cleaning out my grout bucket. For those of you who might attempt this in the future, you could use ziploc bags or something similar. I wouldn't recommend using your regular icing kit, since those are meant to be reused in the kitchen and might compromise food safety in the future.

Bad bottle caps! Time out while I figure out how to rehabilitate you.
I mixed the grout with about twice the instructed amount of water, making it in to a slurry. DO follow the instructions to use an electric drill with mixing attachment. It will eliminate lumps in the finished product. I set my pastry bag in a jar for stability and used a plastic cup to pour my grout in to the bag. Then I cut off the tip and set to work! It was still a long process, taking me a total of 5 hours to do all the caps. If the mixture is too thick, it won't self level in each cap.

Caps being filled. A squeeze bottle would also be an effective tool for filling caps.

 If it is too thin, that is less of a problem, since eventually the water WILL evaporate off, but it does take more time to dry and it is harder to manage while filling because it is so runny.
I also set aside caps that were too bent to use for my project. A floor should be as level as possible. My requirement is that the cap be level on the bottom edge, so if it was slightly dented on the top, it was acceptable. I may decide against using them once I start tiling, but for now I kept them. The bent caps went in to a warped container (see picture) to remind me that they are warped! I will try to figure out how to bend them back to a usable condition before I start tiling. I need every cap I can get!

I filled caps at night, allowing them to cure all night and then sorted them by color in to jars and containers. My kids helped with this. This can get tricky, so my criteria for sorting depended on the general color of the top - if it appeared black overall, it went in to the black jar. If it had teal on it that made it stand out significantly from the other black caps, it got its own jar. I'm hoping this will help when I get to putting the caps down in my design.

Caps sorted by color; the children were also very helpful flipping the caps before and after grouting.
Hopefully the next post will be sharing progress on the bathroom and a preview of my designs ;)

There you have it, basic instructions for prepping bottle caps tiles. Phase one complete, now on to the next step!