It’s the hot part of summer and quite miserable to work in a small garage all day. The planer is so freaking loud, I’ve been keeping the garage door closed to absorb a few decibels since I’m just a few feet from my neighbor’s house. I don’t want them to hate me before they get a chance to know me. But the restricted airflow turns the garage into an oven. Now that I’m done prepping the floorboards, I’m thrilled to be able to work inside with a fan.
It will be better inside even though this house, like many in the area, doesn’t have air conditioning. Our climate is pretty mild and these old houses were designed to keep cool without it. Just open some windows and it creates a little breeze in through the first floor and out through the second floor. I didn’t have AC growing up and don’t think it’s necessary in the Willamette Valley. However, the wife has always had it. She wants it, so it’s on the list.
Now it’s time to remove the vinyl kitchen floor so I can install the reclaimed floorboards.
Under the newer floor is a very old-looking layer of vinyl floor. Be aware, sometimes tiles and/or its adhesive prior to the 80’s contained asbestos. Before starting, cut out a one-square inch sample and mail it to the lab. I use AIH Laboratory https://www.aihlabs.com/. I’ve found they are very affordable and quick too. They send a certificate of the results via email.
My sample was clear, so I can go ahead and rip this floor out. Don’t underestimate the time suck this step can be. The floor will probably not want to let go without a fight.
First, I tried an oscillating multitool with a scraper attachment. However, my best weapon turned out to be none other than the trusty pry bar. I wielded two of those bad boys, one in each hand and went to town. It took me about 6 hours to clear the kitchen.
Sheet vinyl removed. Still got another layer of tile that needs to gtfo.
I must say, the flat pry bar is such an underrated tool. It’s already become a favorite of mine.
Really, it should top the must-have list for any homeowner. You can dismantle almost anything with a pry bar. It can cut through nails and screws, chisel through wood, and access areas your weak, fat fingers can’t reach. You can even use it as a hammer in a pinch. They’re affordable, simple, and elegant with sexy curves. I even keep one under the bed to use as a weapon against murderers and other home intruders.
Beautiful! A nice clean, level subfloor ready for a new skin.
Get a roll of roofer’s felt to lie between the subfloor and the new floor.
Orientation of the boards is an important consideration before starting. Generally, you want the boards to go long ways along the longest wall of the room. I have a narrow galley kitchen. However, considering the wood in all the other rooms of my house goes the other way, I chose to maintain consistency with that direction.
Holy crap. This might actually turn out looking good.
The pneumatic nailer was borrowed from a friend. This is one tool I couldn’t justify purchasing since I don’t envision needing one again anytime soon.
Working with reclaimed wood comes with its own set of challenges.
Many of the boards had a curve so I had to fight them quite a bit to straighten out when nailing down.
Remember all those tongues that split when prying the boards up? These can eventually creak when you step on them. Not right away, but give it a year for the cleat to loosen up a smidge and you’ll hear it. If you have to use boards with split tongues, don’t lay them in areas that get a lot of foot traffic.
As you go along, pay attention to your board joints and make sure they’re spread out in a random fashion. It looks bad when all they’re all clustered together – I do my best to hide the fact that I’m a total amateur.
When you reach the end of the room, the nailer won’t fit up against a wall so you have to face-nail the last boards. Counter sink, those nails so they are lower than the top surface of the wood to allow sanding. Fill in those holes with stainable wood filler.
Having never installed a wood floor before, this step took me about ten hours to complete my little kitchen. Next, I’ll sand it down, and then finally finish with a sealer.
Reclaimed oak floor installed. Still needs sanding and a seal. And here’s a hint a what project is coming up next!
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