Next on the list of things to cover is an update on the Northcrest Swim and Tennis Club. Things are just about ready to get into full swing for the 2010 season. A lot of work has been put in down there and drum roll please… the new fence is up!!! The rusty miss-matched fence with sections of prison barbed wire is gone and now replaced with glorious black vinyl covered chain link that virtually disappears into the woods surrounding the pool. Additionally, Jordan and I are pleased to be helping with all of the 2010 social events this summer. There are some new events blended in with all of the Northcrest favorites. Make sure to keep July 17th open on your calendar as that day is the Club’s annual Luau. This year is going to be bigger and better as we will be having a 45 minute Polynesian hula review preformed by the Magical Fires of Polynesia…how awesome is that?!?
Finally, don’t forget the pool still has a few Northcrest neighborhood flags for sale. Click HERE to order. Also, this summer we are going to be selling a really fun Northcrest can koozie for only $3.00! Jordan and I have already tested them out on our favorite can beer (remember no glass at the pool!) and have concluded that the koozies do an excellent job keeping your favorite frosty beverage or soda ice cold. Email me if you want one now, or stop by the newly remolded tiki hut any time the pool is open to get one.
So now I want to turn the clock back to sometime around mid January. In an earlier post, I made mention of us finally putting down hardwood floors. I wanted to take some time to explain the process we went through and to prove that installing prefinished hardwoods is totally a DIY project. Before getting into the specifics, there are two lessons I learned from this undertaking. We purchased the house knowing full well that we would one day replace all the flooring on the main level of the house. It was in bad shape but we knew we could live with it for the time being.
This leads into the two lessons I learned. The first lesson is if I ever buy another house, I would much prefer to buy a non-staged house. I say this because, and not to be assy but, neither one of us has a problem visualizing and filling a blank canvas. Also, we would have quickly realized that the carpet was in far worst shape than we thought. When we looked at the house, it was “staged” with large and “lovely” blue leather couches in the living room. Once we moved in we quickly realized they had strategically placed the furniture over probably some 20-30 cigarette carpet burns.
The second lesson I took away from the hardwood floor adventure is instead of complaining while living with the status quo, it is far better to make the changes you want to happen. In other words, we lived with the carpet and would make excuses for it when friends would come over and then complain about it when it was just us. While you might not be happy with things, unhappiness can often cause you to point fingers at situations that are not the problem. Bottom line, instead of complaining and finger pointing, just get out, do the work, stop making excuses, and make the changes you want to happen. As our good friend Brian has said in the recent past, “it is better to go fix something for the better and ask for forgiveness latter”. But if you making something better, should you really ever have to ask for forgiveness? I don’t know…enough with the esoteric stuff and now to the “specifics” of DIY hardwoods.
Part I: Picking and Receiving Hardwoods
Ok, so Jordan and I looked at a couple different flooring places around town. We finally settled on FLOR and DÉCOR on the I-85 access road/N.E. Expressway between Clairmont Rd. and N. Druid Hills. All of the staff was very helpful and they certainly do not put the hard sale on you. Initially we went in thinking we would get bamboo floor. However, we were hesitant due to its perceived durability and more importantly; we felt bamboo floors are a popular style now but worried about the longevity of the look. We continued to look around and finally came to a decision.
We decided that maple flooring is a classic addition to any modern home. While we love the look of maple we also wanted something with some “organic movement” to mimic the outdoors. We are also lucky that our ceiling has not been modified from is original look so we also did not want a floor that would compete with the ceiling and original kitchen cabinets We ended up choosing birds eye maple which brings in the lightness of maple but also gets around the homogenous look of maple.
In the past I have watched a lot of HGTV. For some reason, I don’t watch it as much now and maybe that is because we are involved with some many projects at the house right now that I don’t want to be burden with other people’s TV projects. Anyway, watching the litany of “DIY” shows on TV you always see folks removing carpet while wearing what could be compared to a hazmat suit. I always thought to myself that sure you had to wear gloves, but really all your doing is cutting the stuff into strips, rolling it up, and taking it away. What I forgot was the primary reason why we wanted to get rid of the carpet in the first place. Even with a good vacuuming, I don’t think carpet ever gets fully clean. After removing some 1500 sq ft of it, I’m now convinced it never gets anything close to fully clean.
Quickly after the first strip of removed carpet and all of the nasty unidentified particles associated with it rained down on me, I donned my safety glasses and dust mask. It is horrifying to see what really is lurking in your carpet. I cannot believe I ever walked around barefoot on that stuff. I removed most of the carpeting late in the week. As ugly as it was on our floors, I certainly did not want to burden the neighbors with a long weekend of having to look at disgusting carpet. So, I decided that I would just load it up in the back of the truck and dump it early on the next Monday morning.
Well between loading and unloading, the skies decided to dump rain down on this giant pile of disgusting carpet. It was partially covered by the carport, but the pile just functioned like a giant sponge and soaked up all the rain water it could. Well, Monday morning rolls around and I back the truck up the end of the driveway and unload it. Just a little while later, here comes DeKalb sanitation. They pull up and park the truck and the guys kind of just stare at the pile of wet, smelly, disgusting carpet. I truly felt sorry for them and they started loading it up into the garbage truck. Say what you want about DeKalb County, but man these guys worked hard that morning…Thanks!
The carpet removal was actually pretty easy. Once you get past all the grossness, you get in a rhythm. The tack strips are not that fun either, but again, you just get in a rhythm with the pry bar and next thing you know, you’re done. I was not really looking forward to the kitchen floor removal because I could tell it was built up and thus contained multiple episodes of flooring. I started at the doorway and set about taking up just one small area to see what I was going to be dealing with. So the basic stratigraphic sequence I found involved the surface layer of terrible nondescript recent vinyl flooring. Under this was a layer of luan underlayment plywood and finally I came upon the original kitchen flooring…speckled linoleum. I set the gauge on my circular saw and cut a straight line down the center of the kitchen.
After giving the original subfloor multiple sweepings to get up all the debris, we had become pretty familiar with it. I was amazed at the condition. I fully expected to have to replace some sections, but after a full survey of it, we were able to use it. Ok now we need to talk about the tools you’re going to need if you want to attempt hardwood flooring installation. You are going to need just about every type of saw know to humankind. Honestly, the books and online sources do not prepare you for this fact. During the installation, I used the table saw, circular saw, chop saw, and the jigsaw. By far you use the chop saw the most in order to cut the planks to length. Also, have a couple extra blades for the chop saw and don’t skimp on the blades. Go ahead and get a decent blade as they will not harm the flooring finish.
You are also going to need an air compressor and a full arsenal of nail guns unless you wanna get all Roy Underhill and go old school and hand set everything. We decided to rent a pneumatic floor stapler from Home Depot to help make the project move along. Again, trust me and rent this tool as the manual floor staplers are much trickier to use.
Part V: Let the Pain Commence
So we started in the living room by establishing a parallel chalk line ½ inch off the front wall of the house. We then randomly picked 4 or 5 boxes of flooring and out of them; Jordan would layout/rack 5-6 courses of flooring making sure to stagger the joints. Once she had them laid out, I would fit the planks together and nail them down. The first few courses I had to use my nail gun to face and toe nail them down. Due to the way a floor stapler is configured, it takes you putting down a few flooring courses first and then it can be used and the wall will not interfere with it.
Once you can use the big artillery, things move along. Rack 4-5 courses, nail it down. Repeat over and over again. I’m not going to lie, it is very tiring and kills your back and knees. Our living room was the biggest space we covered, and it felt like it. There were a couple moments where I thought I would never get finished and it took me a full weekend to get the living room finished.