Monday, August 18, 2008


I must have started looking at wood floor samples for the living room about a year ago, grossly under-estimating how long it would take me to get to this point. And now it feels SO good to finally be there, stepping back and admiring the finished floor at long last (OK, nearly finished). And it really wasn't so bad to install, at least not after the sub-floor was done. And especially painless compared to my multi-month ordeal installing bathroom tiles. In the first photo I'm doing one of the more tedious bits, scribing a board for a circular cut around one of the two floor electrical outlets in the room. Ann, my official flooring installation photographer, had to be thinking that watching slime grow on a turtle's back would be faster and more exciting at this point.

The second photo shows the near-finished product, with that electrical box visible in the middle of the floor. So now I can really picture the completed room, furniture and all. I see a crisp winter day, fireplace blazing, with a couple of grandkids racing around the room, sliding with their sock feet on the floor that Grandpa built just for them. And I like to picture myself snuggled into a cozy leather couch with Ann, one hand wrapped around a steaming cup of hot chocolate, grinning.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Let There Be Light, release 2

I've been promising some progress on our living room construction for some time, and here it is. Two weekends ago I installed all the lighting, and last weekend I started on the hardwood floor. By "started" the floor I mean mostly putting down the sub-floor, which including drilling 250 holes in the concrete slab to anchor down the 3/4" plywood sub-floor. You can just see the first few rows of actual hardwood flooring at the very bottom of the first photo. If the process sounds a bit labor intensive, it is. Should come with a "don't try this at home" warning. But it should provide a 50+ year
lifespan for the hand-scraped white oak surface.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Better is Harder

Now that I've got much of the drywall installed in the Wimberley House, I'm starting to get better at it. Especially the MENTAL part, which is essentially figuring out the best sheet layout for the various wall and ceiling situations. And, like many things in life, the best way to do something is NOT the easiest way.

The best way in the drywall business includes arranging sheets so that there are as few butt joints as possible, which occur at the ends of the panels. The sides of the panels are tapered, so joints there can be easily filled-in with tape & "mud" and are practically invisible. End joints, on the other hand, are not tapered, so they bulge out with the added thickness of the tape & mud. Bulging drywall joints make me very unhappy.

Excited yet? I'll bet.

One way to minimize butt joints is to use longer sheets, so for my 10' ceilings I use 10' long drywall sheets, vertical, instead of the standard 8' sheets. If you've ever lifted an 8' sheet by yourself, you know that they are fairly heavy. After installing about seven or eight 10' sheets in one day by myself, I start hating them. In the photograph above I'm smiling because I actually had a helper to help unload a fresh delivery of 10' drywall.

Someday I'll also be smiling when the finished walls are bulge-free. When the stained wood trim flows across the drywall without the tell-tale waviness that butt-joints produce. Someday. For now, I'm happy for just a bit of ache relief. From a nice little back rub, or from sitting back in the couch with a big glass of icewater. Maybe watching HGTV, where someone ELSE does the work.