Tag Archives: floor

Moving right along to the inside- camper floor and framing


It’s more comfortable to be working with wood again, that’s for sure. I hated the bondo and fiberglass. Unnatural stuff.

Now we’re into things that I recognize, we’re hitting the ReStore hard for various bits of wood. On this nearly dollhouse scale, scrap leftovers are more than adequate. For instance, we got our lovely countertop out of a partial box of bamboo floor.

The actual floor H.W. put together at the same time out of four pieces of salvaged hardwood click- the good kind, 3/16 of real hardwood, refinishable, on a plywood T+G base (as opposed to a digital photograph of wood glued onto a piece of composite plastic, like most laminate floor is).

H.W. glued the four pieces together and clamped them with truck straps, and then we had the central floor, floating on the rigid styrofoam.

Total cost for fabulous countertop and hardwood floor? $10. Such is the glorious bounty of the Re-store. Continue reading Moving right along to the inside- camper floor and framing

Almost done, it must be about time to move again!

We’ve been on a concentrated push to truly finish the barn. That is, our home. It’s been “adequate”, by my standards, for some time, and I’ve been living in it, but the true goal is to have all the trim and paint and handles and whatnots complete. It’s tiresome to be constantly surrounded by a to-do list in 3D.

We’ve finished all the floor, putting in click planks of cork. It’s a compromise; I wanted gluedown because it looks better and has no adhesives in the laminate, but the cork could outlast the subfloor so it’s nice to be able to take it up, and I was told that Torlys has peerless environmental practices. We finished all the last voids of canvas, plated all the outlets, finished all the baseboard and thresholds, exterior wood, made custom curtains, a tile pad for the woodstove, and many storage shelves. It was more work than it sounds like.

Not that I was ever out to prove this, but I feel I’ve proved that a home can be as sexy and cozy without plumbing, with wood heat and minimal electrical, as a house much bigger with a $1000/month mortgage (I’ve been there).

We have a strong ethic of not buying any materials if we can figure out a way to avoid it. This frees up money to spend in the right place, IMO- on better quality and more attractive versions of what does need to be purchased. It also means multiple varieties of wood trim, reused and denailed lumber, and using stuff for applications it wasn’t exactly meant for.

The creative alternatives tend to be more satisfying and unique. Ceramic insulators and baling wire for curtain “rods” (I have a hunch that champagne corks with a hole bored in them would be pretty cool too), DIY wooden switchplates, 12″ tall (short) wainscotting pieced together from dozens of scraps, and of course a pulley-operated dumbwaiter. My favorite is the dumbwaiter, to send morning tea up to the loft. No home is complete without one.

It’s very satisfying to have all the inevitable stuff of life support organized and arranged for optimal accessibility and function. It takes a fair bit of time and attention to orchestrate that. It’s quite emotionally satisfying, a relief even – in H.W.’s version of “A place for everything and everything in its place”: “Everything has a holster and everything is holstered”. Our kitchen won’t look like the average kitchen (maybe anyone’s kitchen), but it has functional zones and we can lay hands on everything commonly used instantly, and less used easily.

I’m especially in love with this composting container from Lee Valley Tools. It’s meant to hang on a cupboard door, but since we don’t have one, I made a custom catch for it to hook on, and it slides the length of the counter and slides off to take it and empty it. The unexpected advantage of this is that it slides the length of the counter, and one can deftly sweep all the crumbs straight into it with a flourish!

The final price tag for this entire reno, from the starting point of roof, framing and dirt floor to (plumbing-free) suite, is under $12 000. The biggest chunks of that expense were the certified chimney, the Roxul insulation, the cork floor, and the essential but unseen drain tile.

Accidentally Green

Today was a good day.

I got as much of the sub floor down as I could without tackling all the tricky  compound slope sleepers I’m going to have to deal with where there’s a concrete pad, and got the poly all up.  Finally, the space of the barn I’m claiming looks defined, and the envelope is almost complete.  The walls have that stuffed sofa look they have after vapour barrier and before drywall.  Most importantly, there’s enough space closed up to move all my stuff into before I go to Iceland.

Voila, floor!  A marble won’t sit at rest anywhere on it, but it’s smooth, and what a difference.  Yes, I can frame partitions and my windows/doors on real floor!  I also laid the floor in the loft, with the gorgeous blushing cedar I got for $1.30/bd ft, so beautiful it aches.  We’re so lucky to have such lovely local wood.  Too good for the barn.  Turns out the loft floor tapers, losing 3” over 12’, so I couldn’t set up my chop and go, but it didn’t take too long.

What a relief it is to be working in the cool of the insulated barn.  Can actually  get a full day’s work done, without working a split shift.  Even wrestling vapour barrier over my head, the giant uncooperative sheet draping on me like a deranged plastic wedding train, is not so bad when it’s 10 degrees cooler than it is outside.  It’s hard to judge the efficacy of the Roxul yet because there’s so much space shared with the uninsulated part of the barn, but there’s a big climate difference in a few steps.

Today I really noticed the sound muffling quality of the rockwool.  I thought that it was only raining on the other part of the roof for a few moments.  Really.  But obviously, I could only hear it from the other side of the barn.  We’ve been having a blessed series of afternoon thunderstorms that are grand and exciting, and hose down the hot earth after cruelly blistering days of sun.  I don’t like summer.  Too hot.

Now I can’t wait to move in, to sleep in a real bed- my real bed, for the first time in ten months.  It won’t be the first time I’ve moved in and slept under vapour barrier.  Or no vapour barrier.  Or no insulation, even.  In February.

Floor made of pallets

This insulation blows

In the trend of using construction materials in unconventional applications, today I filled my pallet floor with blow-in insulation.

When I went with my glorious pallets, I figured all that air space was a pretty good start, but it would be nice to have something I could pour in for some R-value.  Perlite and vermiculite were considered, but vetoed because of their admirable (in other contexts) properties of absorbing moisture and holding it.  That’s all I need, for my floor to suck moisture out of the very air and then hold it there, like a miser.

I called my beloved lumber supply store, where no staff member has mocked or scorned me for anything I’ve ever asked them advice about, in ten whole years.  Not even a smirk.  For all I’ve got up to in a decade, that’s saying something.  And I still get treated with universal respect there; sometimes I’m even greeted with effusions of delight when I show up after a long absence (I have been bear-hugged by yard guys), so they apparently don’t compare notes and mock me when I leave, either.  They should get a medal.
Continue reading This insulation blows

Pallet palace

I was going with a concrete slab in my head, for several days.  I thought that was “doing it right”.  It would last forever, easily translate purpose to a garage or shop, and would be flat, level, and smooth.

That changed.  The tipping point was thinking about doing yoga on a cold concrete floor.

The other option I was considering was throwing a bunch of pallets onto the leveled grade over a sheet of poly, and sheeting it, which had some merit.  Easy.  Cheap- the pallets were all readily available for the taking free from the garden supply.  Recycled and “eco”.  I just like pallets.  The downsides were that it won’t last nearly as long as concrete, as it’s wood, it’s organic and will eventually rot, relying on the poly for a vapour barrier, and like a cluster of lilypads, they will only create as flat and level a floor as the packed dirt beneath is leveled.

An immense amount of shoveling and raking ensued, removing piles of earth from the dirt floor of the barn and scaling it off to reasonably flat and level.  Then I rolled out the poly, and moved in the pallets, tacking them to each other, essentially creating a floating floor frame.

They worked so well!  Thankfully, the first few went in perfectly solid and flat, because not all of them were so easy to settle in place, and that would have been a disillusioning start.  Oh, so cool.  I’m so excited that it’s working so well.  It’s such a thrill and relief when something untried and suspect works out the best way that you hoped.