Friday, August 7, 2015

Door and Floor

Of course everything took longer than anticipated. Installing the second layer of plasterboard and filling the joints took two of us over half a day, partly because we still had to patch in tiny bits of plasterboard (the door frame has a rabbet and that's just a bit wider than two sheets so we had to cut 2 cm strips). You can just see the wider white line on the left, that's where the narrow strip of plasterboard is.

To cover the narrow strips I put the second layer on sideways, that made the wall more solid but also meant more cuts, more waster and more joints. We also had to add a 10 cm strip at the top to avoid overlapping seams. Luckily we still had a leftover piece of greenboard I could use.

While we worked on the door my dad took the old beaten floor to the tip and when he returned the others left me alone to do even more shopping. The sleepers were spaced much too far apart so we had to add three new ones but we'd only found two in our storage (leftovers from when we renovated our own place back in the early 2000s).

Investigating a sinkhole near the window where the dirt had just disappeared showed that this isn't a dowelled log ceiling but rather a simple joist ceiling and where the floor boards meet the wall there's a gap. I slapped some flat pieces of brick down there and hoped that'd be enough. Ideally you'd remove everything and support new sleepers on blocks of wood or adjustable metal feet but that'd have been so much extra work we really didn't want to do this. In hindsight we'd have screwed a new floor on top of the old one instead of removing anything.
You can see in the pictures above how wonky the sleeper spacing was!

Adding the replacements involved digging trenches, then putting the new timber into the trench. checking whether it's level and if it isn't rocking it sideways to get some dirt out underneath until it's level and flush with the others. The trenching is usually annoying because only the top layer is fine sand or slag, underneath you hit larger pieces of broken bricks, pebbles and who-knows-what. The biggest piece I've ever found was nearly 3/4 of a building brick, that's a chunk about 6" wide, 8" long and 2 1/2" thick!
I got all trenches dug and two sleepers down by the time my family returned with the supplies so we put the final one in, back-filled with what we'd dug out plus some Liapor and paving grit.
Here I already have two sleepers down and the second one from the radiator is already mostly filled in. We ended up binning two buckets (10 litre each) of broken bricks that we didn't manage to bury again!
Then we started installing the floor boards. I'd been a bit wary about the screws as the last ones I bought from a certain DIY store were almost useless. The old-timers nailed down floor boards but these days there are special screws for the task that are supposed to be much better because they won't ever work loose. These special screws have tiny heads and the heads have rasp-like teeth so the screws can be counter-sunk without risking splitting the wood. Their tips are also shaped like drill bits and that's where the last screws I bought really lacked - they just didn't want to go into the wood!

This time I was luckier and we had a good start. Unfortunately it was pretty late so after only four boards we had to stop for the night. We then started moving stuff and only finished carrying furniture up to the third floor around 11.
On Wednesday we had an early start although work on the floor was delayed again because we needed to carry a desk. By noon we had around 2/3 down (all the way past the window) but I'd arranged to go swimming so I couldn't help any more. I definitely needed the break anyway, it was 30C and humid inside, we were quite literally dripping! We left damp spots on the boards every time we touched them!

After a relaxing afternoon at a lake I returned to the heat of the city, popped into Lidl's for some food supplies, grabbed a quick dinner at a newly opened Balkans grill place and was back to work a little past seven. We then finished the floor just in the nick of time at 8:30, just when the neighbour's kids had to go to bed! Now the floor has to be oiled (I think my brother will do that), some broken plaster has to be patched and we need something like skirtings. Real skirtings like you'd find them in the UK or elsewhere are fairly uncommon but in the fanciest houses (and this is humblest working-class bedsit-type) so we'll probably just nail down some triangular trim as they did back when the house was built.

While it isn't perfect it looks a million times better than the old floor and feels much more solid walking on it!

Next up: trying caustic stripper on the resilient paint I've talked about before.

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