Monday, December 27, 2010

It's still floor time

Sanding floors. I have been sanding floors for days. Kathy has been sanding floors for days. The only good thing about that is that we actually LIKE sanding floors. Well, not the only good thing. The main good thing is that the floors are actually beginning to take shape and look good.

Kathy talks about how everything conspires against her and she can't get to the sanding. Today she was upset because they up and moved the Home Depot and it took her over an hour to find the store with the 24 grit sandpaper. Fortunately, the store only moved in her head and once she was re-oriented, it appeared. So we have 4 more sets of 24 grit sandpaper. We hope we do not need that much. It's time to more on to finer grit sandpaper.

Here are some before and after photos of the floors. They actually look better than the photos because the camera accentuates the shades in the wood.

This is one area of the stained living room floor. This floor was under a sheet of vinyl flooring.

And here is after we have sanded like crazy. We've also used a little hydrogen peroxide to try to get the stain up.

Much better, isn't it?

The floors look so much better that we are re-thinking the plan to stain it with Minwax "Dark Walnut" stain. I'm still thinking dark will look good in the house, but now we feel like we have a choice at least. We originally thought we couldn't get the floors to look anywhere near this good and that we would have to stain them dark to obscure the stains.

We'll keep you informed about the little house. Here is a shot of the house in the first ever (for me) Christmas snow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's floor time

I've been on a mini-vacation for the past few days. I went to Salt Lake City for my sister's birthday. When I left Greenville it was 16 degrees, but it was in the 40s when I arrived in Salt Lake. It barely got below freezing in the valley the whole time I was there. And no snow in the valley either, but there was very nice snow in the mountains. I was able to ski with my brother-in-law one afternoon.

You would not believe the lift lines. Impressive, huh? No one in the lines except someone else with a 1/2 day pass waiting for the magic hour of 1:00 pm.
We got 1/2 day passes at Alta so we had to wait about 5 minutes before we could get on the lift. It was very beautiful up there. 
The ironic thing about my return trip was that it was snowing in Atlanta before I got my flight to Greenville and we had to wait about 3 hours for the plane to get deiced. My brother told me that it has been colder in Greenville, SC than it has been in Yellowstone. Crazy weather, huh?

Anyway, back to renovation of the Lenore house. My current job is to do the floors. I am supposed to sand, stain, and apply polyurethane. I have been delinquent in my duty. My first frustration was that the 24 grit sandpaper gets clogged with the old floor varnish in about 5 minutes. Then I kind of injured my knee pushing the sander around the room. How does that happen? It's really easy for me. Basically I just extend my knee and push against it and boom! I'm hurting. 

So now I am wearing a knee brace all the time to remind me not to fully extend my knee and push against it. I worked at the house tonight and actually got somewhere with the floor in Adam's room. Here is a before picture of the floor.

Now here is what I've done tonight.
The varnish still clogs up the sandpaper, but I bought a lot more sandpaper. I still think I need about 10-15 more packages.
This is the U-sand with 4 brand new sandpaper sheets on. The floor looks much better doesn't it? 
We're going to stain the floor walnut with a satin water-based polyurethane. I think it will look good.

Kathy has done a great job priming everywhere. We have been somewhat indecisive about colors. We were going to put a grey called Rocky Bluffs (we call it Rocky Butts) in the mudroom, but decided that it really was too grey for a tiny room. We don't want white because it is a MUDROOM, the room the dogs go in and out of to go to the bathroom, rain, snow, ice or shine. We'll have to choose soon because we've got to get this house done. It needs to be livable (is that how you spell it?) as soon as possible.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Living room insulation

One of the walls in the living room is adjacent to a bedroom wall. Since the living room will be the media center Kathy and I considered it important to put something in the walls to moderate sound. In the previous post I told you about my sudden impulse to order sound reduction insulation. The Roxul mineral wool insulation did not arrive in time, but the soundproof cow Quiet Batt did.

I had to work Wednesday evening from 4pm to midnight so I got up early and installed the insulation because I (mistakenly) thought that the drywall was going to be installed in the living room and mudroom yesterday.

Quiet Batt wall. The wall studs were very uneven so it took some effort to cut the batts to fit.
Here are some photos of the Quiet Batt. It took me only 2 hours and was basically fun. I did lose a little blood though. That happens when you rake a utility knife over your finger rather than the insulation.
Fortunately blood doesn't affect either the sound reduction or insulation properties of the batts.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Insulation that reduces sound - Soundproof Cow

The Lenore house is a tiny, tiny house. A complication of that is that sound could be a problem. I ordered some insulation to reduce sound transmission. I actually went crazy, didn't even measure square footage that I needed and ordered from 2 different companies.

The first one I special ordered from Home Depot is Roxul Comfort Batt. Roxul has a specific sound attenuation insulation but it is about $5 more per package so I just went with the regular insulation. This insulation is a mineral wool insulation meaning it is made from volcanic rock and coal slag (slag is leftovers from coal burning). It is basically noncombustible and will not absorb water. Their website shows a demonstration of Roxul insulation in a window of a cement block building compared to fiberglass. The building is full off old pallets and set on fire. When the temperature has peaked around 2000 degrees the Roxul window is cool enough to put your hand on it, but the fiberglass insulation is long gone.

If I have leftover Roxul insulation I will use it in the attic after cellulose has been blown in between the rafters. I think the insulation I got has an R value of 15 to fit between 2 x 4 studs.

Ok, so I order all this cool mineral wool insulation, but I have been trying to get some denim insulation for a long time. The main company that makes it is Bonded Logic and it's called One Touch only no one has it and you can't even order it as a special order from Home Depot. I figure the company must be difficult to work with because no one carries it around here.  So I found something online that is also made from denim scraps called Quiet batt. It's got an R-value of 13. I ordered it, printed up the receipt and never got an email confirmation from the company. I kept meaning to check on the order but didn't for various reasons - inertia, procrastination, iPhone died, etc. Today I was able to get my iPhone fixed (by getting a new iPhone under warranty). I was coming home from the Apple store and I get a message from "SOUNDPROOF COW" that my insulation has arrived. Soundproof cow? I think I would have remembered if I ordered from a company called Soundproof cow. Anyway, I get home and find 5 boxes of denim insulation. Yeah! How fun! Soundproof cow did not let me down.

I just looked up my order. The receipt is from American Micro Industries which has a subsidiary called "soundprooffoam". Where soundproof cow came from I will never know. But Kathy and I did have a good laugh about the company name.

We dropped off the boxes to the Lenore house. I will try to install it Wed morning, then Martin the drywall guy can start to drywall.

I hope to work on the floors soon but I have got a lot of shifts in the next few days and I have some other work-related paperwork stuff that is absolutely haunting me. Floors probably won't get done until some time in December.

Goal for habitation of the Lenore house is by Christmas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

We tried. We really tried. Part 2

Once again Kathy and I were getting ready to paint some walls and we just could not do it. We had to gut the walls.  This is the mudroom with the new storm door installed. Carlton and Chris did a great job with it. The only problem is that the surrounding walls and ceiling were really too horrible to keep even temporarily.
The tiny mudroom was lined with thin paneling overlying who knows what. Yes, you can see me in the reflection of the door with my iPhone as the camera.
So once again we are "forced" gut a room that was not intended to be gutted. The problem with this room is that 2 walls have asbestos siding underneath. I had to be very careful pulling nails. I was in full hazmat gear when I gutted that room - respirator, suit, gloves, safety glasses.

This is the outer wall of the mudroom after pulling off the panels. No asbestos here, but what is the hazard down in the corner?
A giant hornet's nest in the wall. 
There were no live hornets probably because of the termite treatment done before I bought the house. Thank goodness for that.

After I got all the wood panels off, I pulled nails. I did not remove the asbestos siding. I've read that it is best to leave it alone and just cover it up. Then I wet the debris on the floor so whatever asbestos fibers that were released would not become airborne. I didn't use a vacuum to get them up for the same reason. I swept the wet debris into a garbage bag and tied it up.

After all the nails were gone, I painted the asbestos siding with primer with disposable foam brushes to encapsulate whatever surface asbestos fibers were there. That way when Carlton and Chris put up some drywall or whatever in the room, their exposure will be limited.

You can see the asbestos siding below the beadboard ceiling I uncovered. The ceiling was one of  the cool things we've found. 
The other area Kathy and I felt compelled to gut was the hallway, basically a small rectangle in the middle of the tiny house. We did find kind of a cool piece of wallpaper in the hallway. 
Looks like some kind of old toile wallpaper. I think it would have been pretty cool in its time.
The frustrating thing for the people helping us with the house (Carlton, Chris, Martin, Don and Buck)  is that they had already installed 2 wall sconces, the thermostat, and moved the return air vent to the hallway wall from the floor when we made the decision to gut the walls. The guys have been very kind about the changes. 

Now I am determined NOT to gut the kitchen even though it has no insulation and desparately needs gutting. I think I will be able to reign in my impulses for a number of reasons:

1. I am running out of money
2. My brother is a cabinet-maker and he is nowhere near ready to make the cabinets. 
3. We need to get Adam and Kathy into their own home. 
4. No money plays a big part. 

Still working on the floors. I'll do a separate post about the challenges of refinishing the floors. 

I'll leave you with a picture of the little house. I think it is going to look incredible when we finish. 
I'm smiling behind the mask. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

We tried. We really tried.

We tried to tell ourselves that we could just put in a new (insulated) picture window in the den and paint the paneling and it would be good enough. We tried. Really we did. We were almost ready to paint primer in the room.  But we just couldn't do it. The pictures tell the story.
This is the doorway in the den that leads to the enclosed porch. You can see the paneling and trim that was in the den. Well, still is in the den. About 1/2 of it is gone now.  I will replace the glass in the door before Adam and Kathy move in.
You can see the rotted wood around the window sill of the picture window. Not good. 
This is wall in the den with the trim and the paneling pulled off.  Next step is the drywall removal. I had to tape the picture window in place so it would not fall on me and cause massive blood loss.

That's the condition of the den tonight. If the windows are in tomorrow, the carpenter crew can easily remove the drywall and install the windows. I am trying to do everything that I know how to do so the carpenters (Carlton and Chris) can do the skillful stuff. 

Kathy worked on her room, cleaning walls, patching holes in the wall from the millions of nails that were in the walls and finally priming them. Her room is coming together. She needs a window replacement in that room as well. The only reason we did not gut her room is that we will install a bathroom in her room next year and it will have to be gutted then. We can make her room livable without gutting it. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Renovation begins

I finally got to work on the new (old) house that is going to be a rental house for family members. Kathy and I went over there to start prepping the walls for painting, but got much more than we bargained for.  The room we started on is for Adam, Kathy's son. We looked at the wall and knew that we had to pull the paneling off. We hoped the drywall layer underneath was adequate but that was not to be. So we had to pull off the paneling and the drywall. Kathy had never done any demolition before so it was new to her.

The drywall was in a "pre-demolition" state when we found it. 

I pulled trim that I hope to reuse. This is a "green" renovation after all.

Kathy got to whack drywall. She found it therapeutic.
This is one of the 3 pieces of insulation that we found in the wall.
That was day one of our part of the renovation of the rental house. My contractor's crew had been hard at work for about a month before we actually got into it. A new furnace is being installed, vinyl flooring and old carpet had already been pulled up. I'll show you where we are now in the next post.