Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How to Install a Floating Floor

I have been dying to get to this project! We finally replaced the floor in the mudroom, and it's every bit as transformative as I expected.

Remember what this floor looked like when we first moved in? Yeah.

Water-damaged vinyl, hooray.
Once the vinyl was up, we scraped up and sanded down leftover adhesive and repair damaged bits to make the subfloor level.

One square foot down, 89 to go...

Ready to start fresh!
Then we decided to do all the messy stuff before putting in the nice new floor. We hired a plumber to move the washing machine, so it could actually be next to the dryer. Crazy idea, I know. Then we patched up the drywall and painted the walls.

Bring it on!

Finally finally, we got to actually installing the floor! We were really lucky that someone from our local Buy Nothing group had leftover flooring to gift us. It's tongue and groove, which means it clicks together for easy installation, and floating, which means we don't have to glue or nail it down.

Here's what I learned: tongue and groove floating floors are the Ikea furniture of flooring. They sound like they'll be easy for you to put together on your own in an afternoon, and then seven hours later you're surrounded by disconcertingly unidentifiable leftover pieces and unicorn tears.

In theory, this is easy. Each piece of flooring has a tongue on one side and a groove in the other. This is true for both the short and long sides.

  1. Ideal: Lay out a row of flooring (short end to short end), and cut the last piece to the appropriate length. There should always be a 1/4" gap between the floor and the wall. (See: Floating.) The baseboard will cover this exposed edge later.
    Reality: Which part is the tongue and which is the groove? Why do they sort of look the same? And why does every piece look a little bit different? Am I holding this thing upside down?
  2. Ideal: Starting with a groove facing the wall, snap the pieces together on the short end. Moving down the row one piece at a time, insert the tongue into the groove and push.
    Reality: To "snap" or "click" the pieces into place is ... kinda optimistic. They don't always snap satisfyingly together, and you sort of have to wiggle and shove until the short ends are pressed tightly together.
  3. Ideal: Once the row is laid out the long way (boards all connected on the short end), do the same thing again for the second row. Make sure none of the seams between boards line up - they need to be staggered.
    Reality: Okay, we're getting the hang of this.
  4. Ideal: The first row has the tongues facing out. Line up the second row groove, and snap the entire first two rows together in one motion.
    Reality: OH MY GOD, ITS BEEN 20 MINUTES AND ALL WE'VE MANAGED TO DO IS BREAK THE FIRST ROW APART. Why are we doing this ourselves again? Do we have a contractor we can call? Is it too late to just tile over everything?  This part is really hard. One side clicks in nicely, but the other side pops up. We tap on that side, the entire floor scootches away from us. Brett assures me this will get easier once we get past the first few rows. (Spoiler: it doesn't. But we do get smarter about it.)
  5. Ideal: We do this repeatedly until we get to the end of the floor. Happy easy DIY!
    Reality: I realize that we can stop the floor from moving around if we shove 1/4" scraps in the gap between the floor and the wall as padding. My life improves immeasurably at this moment.
  6. Ideal: You're relaxing in a bubble bath with a glass of wine, reflecting on your lovely new floor.
    : Brett remembers a trick he's used before. He takes a piece of scrap flooring, an offcut from a piece we needed to shorten. He clicks that into the seam of any piece of flooring that's being stubborn, and then hammers on the scrap. This works pretty well! Although nearly every piece needs some nudging, at least the new method works more or less reliably, if not terribly quickly.
  7. Ideal: Clean and perfectly coiffed, you don your pearls, heels, and apron, and proceed to make a magazine-perfect dinner that's on the table at 7:00 sharp.
    Reality: At about midnight, we're finally done! Our lovely new floor is ... dirty. It's littered with scraps, covered with dust, and still a half-day away from having all its trim back in place. But damn it, we did it!!!
  8. Ideal: You have a beautiful new floor that you installed yourself.
    Reality: We have a beautiful new floor that we installed ourselves! 

Brett & Helper position the first piece

Hey, it almost looks like a floor!

Measure twice. Then measure again. Keep going, that's it.

Cutting around the bathroom fixtures.

A rare picture of the elusive me.



One last little wrinkle. I mentioned we were gifted this flooring - it was leftover from someone else's larger project. That means we couldn't control how much we had. Brett estimated that it was just enough, so we went with it. Let me show you how much was left over when we were done.

Yep - zero. Absolutely zero. We used every last piece. Yikes! At least that made cleanup easier.

Finished mudroom before and after pics coming soon!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Anniversary!

Wow - we bought our house one year ago. Happy anniversary to us!

This is a perfect moment to pause and reflect on everything we've accomplished so far. Lately, I've been struggling not to get stressed out by all the things we haven't done. Lots of projects I thought would be completed are half-finished, and some big things (like, uh, the entire second floor of the house) aren't even started yet. It's easy to get wrapped up in the negatives, and forget all the great experiences from a year ago, a month ago, a week ago, five minutes ago.

I really need to stop and intentionally remember how much we actually have accomplished. We've done so much to make our house a home, and we've even managed not to get divorced or commit murder in the process.

One year ago:
Icky carpet removal unearths actual missing pieces of floor

Yellow everything

Dark, gross, generally terrifying kitchen
Horror movie mudroom

Rotten porch being consumed by blackberries
And now, today:

Original hardwoods uncovered and refinished

Pretty repainted and trimmed walls, with bonus new heat pump!

Amazing cozy kitchen

Brand new porch

And you'll just have to wait until next time to see how FREAKING AWESOME our mudroom is now.

And all this doesn't even include renovating the chicken coop, fixing the well, improving the yard and fence, and raising the world's cutest puppy.

Okay, including the puppy. Baby Hermie a year ago!

Hey, we're doing pretty well after all!

Monday, April 20, 2015

We have Chickens!

Meet our ladies!

I'm happy to introduce Attila the Hen (Dominique), Queen Elizabeth (Buff Orpington), Henrietta (Rhode Island Red), Henny Penny (Silkie), and Rose, Blanche, and Dorothy (Ameraucanas).

They'll live inside, under a heat lamp, for a few weeks until they're old enough to move out to the coop. They seem to have adjusted pretty quickly to their new home, and they're busy eating, drinking, exploring, and making adorable peeping noises.

Hermione is a little confused by the whole thing. We're keeping her separate from the chicks, except for short supervised visits so they can hopefully get used to each other.  


Okay, now you can do what I'm spending all my free time doing, and stare at the babies some more.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What Nobody Tells You about Home Renovation

What nobody tells you about home renovation is ... that the rooms you AREN'T remodeling are going to be a bigger mess than the ones you are.

We're coming along on the mudroom, which is great, and is going to basically double the amount of storage we have in the house.

While we work on it, though, everything has to come out of the room. Every. Thing. Including the bits that were nailed down.

Where, you might ask, are all those fixtures, trim pieces, construction materials, and discards going to go? (And if you did ask that, you'd be smarter than I am, because I did not really think about this in advance.)

Let's play "Spot the item in the wrong room!" Step right up, contestants.

First off, the living room.

Did you find it yet? Hint: there are TWO in this picture!
And kitchen...

Don't forget to look under every puppy.
Dining room....

Which one of these items is not usually found in an eating area?
Even outside.
We're officially hillbillies now.

And that doesn't account for the ironing board leaning on the front door, the baseboard in the hallway, the random pieces of hardware in the kitchen, and please don't even ask me about the bedroom.

Oh well. At least the important things always stay where they're supposed to be.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Puppy Saves the Day

I'm feeling frustrated this week. The coop renovation is taking forever. I swear it was quicker to remodel the entire kitchen. 

Thankfully, puppy is here to save me from my own grouchiness. Enjoy some adorable, entirely non-work related fun!

Enjoying the yard!
Pay no attention to the half-painted coop behind the curtain. 

Tulip festival!

Attempt #592 at a selfie, also titled Why There Aren't Many Group Photos on this Blog.

And I saved the best for last. I give you Hermione trying to kill the water coming out of the hose:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Moss, Begone! Chicken Coop, Hello.

The chicken coop is almost ready!

A couple weeks ago, we built our nesting boxes and connected the coop to a covered run. That still left a lot to do, though.

First, there's just a heck of a lot of cleaning that needs to happen. Brett dug out the bedding in the outdoor run, and I cleaned the moss off the roof.

Lilyputian forest.

Nifty tip: a hoe is exactly the right side to scrape between the rides of a tin roof.

No more moss! Just lots of dirt.

 Next week, we'll hose it all down. I'll also spray the roof with vinegar to prevent the moss from growing back.

Next, we built a place for our chickens to roost. They need a bar a couple inches wide (they sleep flat-footed, not holding on) where two or three chickens can fit next to each other for warmth and support. Chickens pick high-up spots to sleep, so we wanted roosts near the ceiling. However, because they can also hurt their feet if they jump down from too high, they need an easy way to hop up. That means multiple rungs. The perches need to be at least 15" apart in height, and staggered so that the rows of chickens aren't directly underneath each other. Basically, the design is like a ladder leaning against the wall.

The floor under the roost also gets dirtier than other parts of the coop, so we added a removable tray for easier cleaning.

Everything's built now, so we just need to finish cleaning and refresh the paint. Since it will be weeks before the chicks are ready to move into the coop, I think we're ready to order our birdies!