Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Blocking a Doorway

The second half of the day didn't go too smoothly. We grabbed various additional supplied we had at home (like joint filler and screws) and set to work.

You're supposed to cut the steel studs using tin snips, that hardly worked at all at least with our tin snips - lots of cursing there. Once we had the U-shaped parts that go on the floor and ceiling cut I started to screw the first piece down. The screws we had, leftovers from a job my parents had done in 1987, were much too long and didn't really want to go through the steel so I first banged them in with a hammer and then used the drill to sink them. Once I had the first three screws in I realised I'd forgotten the foam tape - oops!
The picture is a bit blurry, my small camera has trouble focusing in some situations, but you can see how the U-shaped bit attaches to the floor. The C-shaped studs are then slid into these tracks and are supposed to be screwed together. That hardly worked at all, even if I managed to get a screw through the channel the stud just moved and bent. It's been a while since I last watched professionals build a wall like this but I seem to remember they used pop rivets rather than screws.
Installing the plasterboard wasn't much easier. The screws went through the board and that was it. Occasionally one went through the stud just like it was supposed to but most put up a big fight. Several times I was ready to throw my drill in frustration but chose not to although it might even have survived. With lots of cursing we managed to get each side boarded once, the fibreglass in without too much itching (including an emergency trip to the DIY store because we'd bought 100 mm insulation instead of the proper 75 and as it turned out we'd also gotten a type only suitable for ceilings. The stuff for walls only comes in MUCH larger packs, we hardly used a quarter of the expensive roll) and the joints filled. Tomorrow we'll add the second layer of plasterboard, fill and tape the joints and maybe paint (or just put some furniture there). Either way, once the filling is complete my work on that part of the project is done.

My brother got about half of the old floor out rather quickly but it was already late and around 8 a neighbour showed up and nicely asked us to stop so his kids could sleep. Tomorrow we'll remove the remaining bits and try to install the new floor down.
The construction of the floor was roughly what we expected and has some of the typical issues. For some reasons, probably mainly for sound deadening, the usual method for building floors back in the old days was a bit more elaborate than in most other countries. First they'd build a complete beam ceiling with 1" rough sawn boards or - for added fire resistance - entirely build the ceiling from logs  cut in half and hewn or planed on three sides, round side up. Since the logs are thinner than joists would be for the same span, those dowelled log floors are considerably more bouncy than regular wood ceilings.
On top of that they'd put a layer of some 10 cm of dirt, sand or whatever they had at hand, including broken bricks, pieces of china, tramway tickets, chicken bones from lunch etc etc. The actual finished floor is held by 2x3s floating in that dirt, not supported by anything else. Since the finished floor isn't really structural the builders in the old days skimped on anything you couldn't see and sleeper spacing is often a bit erratic and far more than you'd expect for 19 mm thick pine planks. In this case they were either pissed or one sleeper short or both as spacing varies from 55 to 115 cm. The largest gap is almost in the middle of the room and that's where the old pine floor was most damaged. Some of the tongues and grooves had actually broken because the floor was bouncy and not really supported by anything! So one of our fun tasks tomorrow will be to add one more sleeper by digging out dirt and somehow levelling the new timber.
Removing such a floor without disturbing the sleepers is tricky too because prying up the boards tends to pull up the sleepers too and then dirt seeps under them and they won't stay down. Today we worked as a team, some people just weighing the sleepers down to prevent that but we'll see how many people we're tomorrow.

Now I'm absolutely knackered and ready for bed!

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