Monday, March 25, 2013

Floor Update

Old Austrian ceilings are usually rather complex.
The load-bearing layer is the usual plaster&lath setup with heavy timbers as joists (and I mean HUGE, the ones in my bedroom are something like 18 by 28 cm or 7x11"!). On top of it there is a board-and-batten subfloor. The battens are designed to keep the layer above from falling down, that is the sound insulation. The easiest way of reducing sound transmission through a ceiling is sheer weight and the old-timers knew that. So they simply shoveled 10 cm+ (4") of sand, clay, broken mortar, bricks and other construction debris on top of the lower subfloor. In this dirt fill they embedded sleepers (2x3s) for either the second subfloor (in case of herringbone) or the finished floor (planks).

The old mix weighs around a tonne per cubic metre and did a decent job. Modern alternatives are often MUCH lighter (200-300 kg) and much worse. The best option in terms of weight would have been clay but that is expensive and needs to dry for a loooong time. Therefore after lengthy negotiations we chose Liapor Fit, which is double-fired clay granulate.

The battens in this room were partially damaged, put on crooked right from the beginning plus there were some splits and knots in the floor that allowed the old fill to fall down into the joist space. We requested the floor to be covered with paper or felt to prevent this but the contractor refused to do that. His guys did take some old boards and nailed them over the worst holes (after we told them) and filled some other gaps with *gasp* expanding foam. Then they built the subfloor.

Yesterday I worked on the wiring for the ceiling light one floor below and the instant I touched the cable I was showered with Liapor! Upon closer inspection we also discovered a nice sink hole above! That means there's a substantial hole (or in fact there are probably several as I found at least two sink holes) through which the nice new stuff can disappear!

On the plus side today the painters showed up to remove the leftover old distemper and skim the walls. Tomorrow they're supposed to shellac the water stains and skim another time. Then it's on to painting!

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