Monday, May 24, 2010

Master Bedroom Floor, Fin

After ripping out the crappy underlayment in the master bedroom and assessing the height of the floor, we decided to lay a 3/4" subfloor before continuing with the bamboo (instead of the 1/2" we had planned on). There was a subfloor of 1/2" plywood that was sagging in well travelled areas, like near the door and from the door to the bathroom door. It was really bad which is why we went with the thicker plywood. The trick with laying the new plywood is to make sure none of the seams are within 6"-12" of seams in the old floor being covered. I could tell where they started when they laid the original sub-floor so we started in the opposite corner with a full sheet and that seemed to stagger the seams just right. One thing that made the whole project just that much more annoying was the supplies in the room that had to be moved from side to side, as we finished the subfloor, then the bamboo floor. There wasn't any other place to put the seven flooring cartons and shop vac, and the compressor for the nailer needed to be in the room too.

I thought we could use the framing nailer that we already owned and wasted a good few hours trying to make it work on a scrap in the garage. I finally gave up, the pressure was not enough to get the head of the nail all the way in the tongue, no matter what angle I put the gun at. The bamboo was too dense. I found a flooring nailer at a local rental place and reserved it for Saturday afternoon. Here's the trick with renting on a weekend- rent from a local place that's closed on Sundays, then you get the tool from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning for the cost of one day. If I had rented from HD or Lowes, I would have only gotten it for 24 hours. I brought a piece of the flooring to the rental store to make sure the tool came with the correct "shoe" and asked the tech to set it up for me. He was basically useless. He took it in the back to where they had an air compressor. After 15 minutes, I looked through the glass in the door, there were 6 employees standing around the nailer and my bamboo, some actually scratching their heads. That should have been a clue. We got the nailer home and Wino started by setting it up and practicing on scrap flooring while I face-nailed the first row. The first row is set on a chalk line with 1/2" gap to the wall for expansion. It's then face-nailed about 1/2" in from the edge. We pre-drilled the holes for the nails and discovered that we also needed to pre-drill (with a larger bit) the countersinks for the nail heads. The bamboo was that hard. The tongue side is then nailed down, pre-drilling at a 45 degree angle to hide the nail. Once the first row was in, the subsequent rows were installed using the nailer. There were some issues, for example, the rental guy said to hit the trigger for the gun really hard to get the nail in (this seemed wrong to me since it's air-driven, but I'm just a girl) so Wino was hitting it really hard and the whole tool would bounce back and the nail would end up not where it's supposed to be. The shoe that the rental guy put on the gun was a little worn and wouldn't always sit in the right place, also putting the nail in the wrong place. The bamboo had some hard spots where the nails would curve and come up through the top of the board. We thought we were hitting nails in the subfloor but I had the joists marked and it should have been clear. Then I noticed the tarpaper laid underneath didn't have a hole in it from the nail. There was nothing to do about the curving nails except take the board out and try another one. The other issues got sorted out. Wino decided to try a different shoe on the gun which worked 100 times better. And he stopped hitting it with so much force and started stepping on the back part to stabilize it. This took all of Saturday afternoon and a bit of Sunday morning. On the first few rows we had a little problem getting the flooring to sit snug up against the other rows. I'm not sure if it was a bum board or my first row install but I got a killer upper thigh workout pushing the boards into place while Wino nailed them down. Once we passed that and hit the plateau in the learning curve, things moved along well. I laid and tapped the flooring boards into place and Wino nailed them down, placing boards when I was in the garage cutting the end boards.
We had a nice rhythm going. At about 5 pm, we got to the place where the nailer was too close to the wall to use so the last 3 rows were nailed in by hand by me the next morning, after returning the nail gun. To finish the floor between the bedroom and bathroom, I needed to get creative with some scrap of the flooring and made this threshold piece. It's finish-nailed in and sealed with oil based satin polyurethane. The floor now looks beautiful and feels even better when walked on, and the annoying squaw-squeek in the middle of the floor is gone!

There are two more bedrooms and the hall/foyer to complete but now that we've got the learning curve on the tool, I'm hopeful things will go smoother and quicker. I'll rent the same flooring nailer from the same place, but I won't trust the rental guy to have a clue regarding what he's renting out.

A Fowl Weekend

Sometimes having a deadline doesn't always work, as illustrated by my dilapidated chicken coop in the yard and the 26 chicks and 3 ducklings in the garden shed. Knowing that for at least the first four weeks of their lives with me the chickens would be in a brooder, staying warm and practicing the scratch-and-peck technique mastered by so many before them, I focused on other more pressing projects and the coop has remained untouched. A few days ago Wino and I were given two great vintage doors that will go on the coop. They need to be stripped, patched, trimmed to fit and painted. In my mind I was waiting on the doors because that would give me the design for the rest of the coop. Well, no procrastinating now!

We picked up the chicks at the farm store on Friday. It was crazy when we walked in because they had temporary brooders with heat lamps set up throughout the store- it's not a big place to begin with. There were hundreds of chicks, all chirping.
Usually there's only one or two other people in the store but it was packed that day, not only with people picking up chicks, geese, or ducks, but with mothers who brought their children to watch the chicks and play with them. And a local farmer had set up in front of the attached house to sell veggie and herb seedlings. It was crazy!

The chicks and ducklings are in a brooder made of a recycled compost fence for the walls, cardboard to keep out drafts, quilts laid over the top to keep in the heat, and shredded paper to soak up their droppings. They have a heat pad and a heat lamp. The brooder needs to be kept at about 95 degrees for the first week and 5 degrees less every week until the outside temp matches the inside one. On the first night, we thought they would be fine without anything covering the corral since it was 95 degrees in the shed itself during the day. When I went out to check on them they didn't scatter when I reached in to pick one up. I thought I had gotten some really friendly chickens! Not so, the temp had dropped and they were lethargic. Oops! Some quilts
to keep in the heat and a different bulb in the lamp and they're scootin' around like crazies, jumping on each other. The chicks like to jump on the backs of the ducklings and ride them around. It's quite entertaining. Our town limits the number of farm animals residents can keep based on acreage and zoning. We are allowed 12 fowl so half of the chicks and the all the ducks are going to my Mom. She lives on a lake and the ducks will have a good life but I would keep them in a heartbeat- they are so cute!

I've been asked a few times why I want chickens and it's not just for the eggs. Now, the eggs are the main reason since "pasture fed" eggs have been tested to be high in the good stuff (omega 3 etc) and low in the bad stuff (cholesterol, fats) and it's really hard to find eggs labeled "pasture fed", outside of a true farmers market. This doesn't mean free range or cage free, both of those are arbitrary to the farmer- to label eggs "free range", the farmer only has to provide access to the outside, whether the birds actually go outside doesn't matter. And cage free just means they are all packed into huge coops, often with their beaks trimmed off so they don't fight and injure each other. "Pasture fed" means a portion of their daily food comes from foraging for bugs and seeds in the outdoors. This is where my other reason for having chickens comes in. They eat bugs. They dig up grubs that eat the roots of plants.
They eat ticks and fleas and beetles. They love ant eggs which cuts down on the population of ants. They eat slugs and snails. They eat flying insect eggs that are in grass, reducing the insects around the house. When moved around the yard, they leave behind healthier grass with less weeds since they eat seeds too. They eat a lot of the food garbage that we put in the compost since we can't put it down the sink, like the stalks of broccoli (shredded) and apple and veggie peels. Since they scratch and dig for their food, they turn the top layer of soil, aerating and making it healthier. This is also the reason they shouldn't be confined to one area, they'll overwork it and it becomes a muddy mess. They stay close, usually the boundaries of a yard and can be trained to come when called (with the sound of a treat shaken in a jar), they put themselves to bed in the evening, relying on their humans to close the coop door and make them safe. As I've said before, this is an experiment, hopefully all of the things I've read and been told by other backyard chicken farmers will be true in my yard and I'll not only have delicious eggs every day, but a healthier yard without spraying chemicals.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Master Bedroom Floor is Started!!

Yes, we are finally moving into the latter stages of the master redo. The bath is 90% there and Wino is itching to get into the (slightly) bigger bedroom. A few weeks ago, I had decided on a carbonized strand woven bamboo for the floors on the bedroom level. Here's my logic- I needed a wood floor that could withstand 48 dog nails tearing around, I wanted something renewable and prefinished. Solid as opposed to engineered, but stable through humidity changes. This bamboo had everything. The strand woven bamboo is twice as hard as oak and three times more stable. If it's carbonized, the color is a warm brown that goes all the way through (they heat the bamboo and caramelize the sugars in the wood). The strand has a nice color variation that makes it look a little more like tradition hardwood too. I had decided on this product but hadn't found the price I wanted. Looking online means factoring in shipping which can get very expensive. It's a better price per sqft but with shipping, well, it's a challenge. Wino said 'let's get it!' so I got online and it happened to be Earth Week and many home improvement suppliers were having eco-friendly sales. I find the bamboo I want at 60% off (I had looked at this online store before and it really was 60% off the price they usually sold it at) plus free shipping! That's huge because the shipping cost should have been $420. So I bit the bullet and ordered the floor, not just for the bedroom but for that whole level it was such a great price, hoping the boxes would be light enough to put into my car to drive up the driveway since freight carriers only do curbside delivery.

No such luck on the weight of the boxes. They weight about 80 lbs, are over 6' long and awkward as hell. The freight truck shows up as they are replacing the guardrail on our street right in front of the driveway and have one lane blocked off. He's now blocking half of the remaining lane. The driver has the wrong phone # on his form and can't get a hold of me so he finds my neighbor at the bottom of the hill. Jim drives up to get me, chuckling about the situation. He graciously offers to get his dump truck (he's a landscaper) from a worksite close by to load the flooring cartons (22!). So we're blocking the street for about 45 minutes, the township workers are shooting daggers at me with their eyes, and the driver's forklift won't work to move the pallet of flooring to the end of the truck. It was a bit of a mess but with much help from my neighbor, we were able to get all of my new flooring into the garage.

Wino had the pleasure of moving seven cartons into the master bedroom to "stabilize to the humidity of the room prior to installation". He moved the rest over the next few days into the office (because there isn't enough stuff in there already) just to get it out of the garage. Having it in the way in the house is also a form of psychological warfare- we're more likely to be motivated about installing it if it's constantly in the way. At least that's what I tell myself. Next step- subfloor.