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.

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