Archive for the ‘Floors’ Category

Thou Shalt Pour the Driveway First

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Okay, okay, I know I'm writing about new construction again. Sorry.

And I'm sure I've just offended .018% of my readers by refering to concrete as something which is “poured” rather than “placed”.

In any case, on with the article…

False Economy Case #917 – Installing hardwood floors before the driveway has been poured.

The Rationale – “We want to wait as long as possible to pour the driveway so that it will stay nice and clean looking. All that driveway maneuvering will leave your slab with some embarrasing 'tire hickeys', and some construction workers have vehicles that leak oil.”

The Voice of Experience – In theory, this is a great idea. In practice, you'll get a rainfall (or painters who clean their brushes out on the proposed driveway area, leaving a large swamp) which makes the soil/gravel mixture start to stick to the feet of the tradesmen. 3-5% of them will notice this and spend 30 seconds wiping their shoes. The rest will stomp through the house with their stylish “gravel soles” and you know the rest. Protecting the floor under these conditions becomes a very stressful undertaking with a low success rate.

Would you rather have a pristine driveway or pristine floors?

Be Proactive about Prefinished Flooring Defects

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

If you're having prefinished flooring put down this summer or fall, this is for you. (more…)

The Scourge of Under-sized Joists

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Joist – the large beams that give the strength to your floor system.

Scourge – A source of widespread dreadful affliction and devastation such as that caused by pestilence or war.

Okay, okay, that's probably an overstatement, but it makes the point:

Never, never skimp on joist sizes to try to save money. In fact, I strongly urge you to go up to the next larger size from what is recommended.

My story for today is really heartbreaking.

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Steel Beams in Remodeling

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

If you've ever used a steel beam in a remodeling project, then you may consider yourself an advanced practitioner of the trade.

Probably most homeowners aren't aware that steel can be the best choice for a support beam in a remodel project, especially in this age of impressive LVL joists.

But steel beams can make things possible which otherwise could not have been. This is because the density of steel is somewhere around 20x that of wood, and its strength per weight greatly exceeds wood.

Probably the most common situation where steel is used would be when a load-bearing wall must be removed, yet the support must be provided by a member that is very shallow. This is a very typical situation with old houses whose joists may be a true 2×6 or even 3×6, so we only have 6 inches of height to provide support to the ends of many joists. In this case, only steel provides a solution which satisfies the structural and aesthetic requirements.

Here's the view with the studs and joists exposed from the lower floor:

old-wall.JPG (more…)

My Take on “Engineered Hardwood” Flooring

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Want to have real hardwood floors, yet avoid the high cost? You may want to consider using a prefinished, plywood-core hardwood. As always, you need to reckon with the drawbacks, but in this case there is actually a benefit of going the cheap route.

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House Jacking: A Realistic View, Pt 2

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

House Jacking part 1 is here.

When you're in a dark crawlspace, just trying to get oriented can sometimes be quite a challenge, especially in newer or larger houses.

(I have a trick for this: I drill a tiny hole — a sixteenth or smaller — through some existing feature on the floor like a knot or a seam. Then I push a wire or coat hanger through the hole, through the insulation, and down into the basement. This way it's just a matter of finding that wire to know precisely where I am.)

Next you need to form a theory that explains whatever is happening up in the living space. (more…)

House Jacking: a Realistic View, Pt 1

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

The first house jacking project with which I can remember being associated was the raising of key points on the interior floor of my childhood home, built around 1920. I was about 10, as I recall. I can remember standing in the dining room, feeling a slight sense of motion beneath my feet, and watching cracks appear in the walls. I also recall being allowed to look, but not participate, in the underpinning of piers and beams. For a few days, our basement became some eery kind of dark laboratory with warm islands of light surrounding the greasy ramjacks and steel supports.

The team assembled for the job was my dad, my older brother, and a friend who said he knew how to fix our floor problems. Although I was confident they had everything under control, I do remember that there was a vague kind of uncertainty that came up through the floor with those muffled conversations.

Twenty years later, (more…)

Kitchen Appliances, Layout, and Flooring

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Here's a reality check for those of you planning a kitchen remodel. You need to think about where the heavy kitchen appliances and cabinets are located on your layout, and then do due diligence to assure that your flooring system is up to the task. Don't assume that the kitchen designer will do this for you. (more…)

Basement Remodel Surprise

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

This happened about four years ago.

I was working on a remodel of a 1905-1910 house on Lookout Mountain. Part of the plan was to tear up the shoddy concrete floor of the basement and replace it with a thick, freshly poured slab.

It fell to a friend of mine by the name of Jackson to actually break up and rip out the existing floor, which was at ground level. The tool of choice was a steel wrecking bar. You probably think I'm talking about a crow bar. I'm not. (more…)

Bath and Kitchen Designer Conflict of Interest

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

I'm sure the bath and kitchen cabinet industry is not alone in having this quirk.

Here's the deal: The typical cabinet showroom doesn't charge for its designs. After reading this, you may decide that free isn't the way to go in this case. (more…)