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Hoob's subfloor, hardwood, and stairs project

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 11th, 2017 11:32 pm
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Hoob's subfloor, hardwood, and stairs project

Day 1, in which hoob makes the fateful decision to go ahead with things:

Many on the forum seem interest in the mega project build threads some posters maintain. Decided to start a tracking thread for my current "minor project" in my 1917 old east end Toronto tiny 2br house.

I'm between jobs at the moment, and have a lot of spare time and decided to invest a bit and do the upstairs flooring while I have the spare time. The target is to replace the laminate in the bedrooms and the carpet on the "hallway", and eventually the carpeted stairs converting to hardwood as well.

Knowing full well that putting down hardwood flooring is not easy in older houses, I know I'm getting into a relatively involved project. Last time I did flooring was in my condo, which was a whole different game with nice flat concrete slab and floating install over acoustic underlayment.

So I go and catch up with The OFFICIAL Hardwood Flooring Thread to refresh my knowledge since I last followed it closely in 2010. Confidence in hand, time to get going.

I also have waaay-back experience with hardwood floors helping the family install it in our house as a teenager in the late 1980s. So I think I'm ready (famous last words -- if anything goes wrong I'll just ask patrob.... )


Here is the approximate house layout:

Image

After visiting Darmaga Hardwood in Richmond Hill (I received good service in 2010) to see/rent some flooring samples, and taking into account material costs and the various vendor/product reputations, I decide on this product:

* Vintage Hardwood
* White Oak Buckingham, Character grade
* North Solid Sawn 3/4" engineered supporting 25-70% RH range
* Sculpted finish (with matte UVF Urethane oil finish
* 4 3/8" plank width due to a preference for a narrower look than the 5" and 7" trendy styles

Finally, I sacrifice the flooring in the master bedroom closet to ensure that there are no surprises:

Image

There aren't really any surprises, here is what I am dealing with, from the top down:

* 8mm laminate planks (1990s)
* 8mm pressboard underpad
* Layer of 8" square tiles (1960s or 1970s)
* 1/4" plywood under the tiles
* Original construction 1x4" tongue and groove plank flooring (1917)

All is well so I take the plunge and decide to go ahead with the project.
Last edited by hoob on Nov 18th, 2017 8:06 pm, edited 4 times in total.
I've got a pretty good friend who's seen me at my worst.
He don't care if I'm a blessing or a curse,
But he always shows up when the chips are down.
That's the kind of friend I like to be around.
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Day 2, in which hoob removes everything in the bedroom except the subfloor

In the morning, I go get my Saturday usual Coffee and Muffin at The Remarkable Bean on Queen, and then head up to Darmaga to place the order for my selected product.

* Estimate is 310 sf, salesguy says Vintage has lower overage requirements
* And order for 17 boxes is place, totaling 344 sf of flooring
* Price is better than expected at $6.85/sf, likely because the Sculpted line is less labor intensive
* Half paid upfront

Darmaga will receive the product within a week but will hold it as long as needed depending on how the project goes.

Most convenient way for me to proceed is to do one bedroom at a time, transferring all my "stuff" between them as needed. So first thing is to empty out the main bedroom. Here is the "before" picture:

Image

For this phase I didn't need to remove the mirrors, but once I'm swinging 8x4 sheets of plywood and 6' pieces of hardwood around, they will be out of harm's way.

First task of the day is to remove the laminate floor and its underpad. Since it's a floating install, this is relatively easy.

Image

I like how layers of flooring hide the history of the house. Clearly in the past, there were small closets in the corner under the slanted roof, which are no longer in place. I had seen these closets in an identical house down the street (forsale open house) and had thought they were an addition after the fact!

So the layer of tile is exposed. There's chance they contain asbestos, so take some simple precautions to minimize the risk (wear mask, keep dust down by spraying with water, vacuum up debris, after cutting, breaking, or splitting tiles, etc.)

So I remove the tiles one by one, luckily the adhesive compound was quite giving and 98% of the tiles pried up easily. So then I'm left with the plywood underlay covered in slightly tacky tile adhesive. Yum!

Image

Vacuum everything again and then tackle removing the plywood using a pry-bar. Luckily it's just nailed in place, not glued, so I can rip up 1-2sf chunks by just Hulking with gloves and a prybar. There's some weird sections in the original flooring (where the closets were?) The quality of workmanship here ... wow... maybe the same guys who left the empty whisky bottle in the basement infill :D

Anyway, this plywood removal part took me a grueling 5 hours. Ugh.

Image

At this point, I was pretty sure the original subfloor was going to be removed anyway, so the usual tactic would be to sawzall down between the joists and just remove chunks that way, without removing the plywood. But I really wanted to see the "character" of the room with the original flooring from over 100 years ago.

I'm glad I went to the extra effort, it's kinda of a need look. You can tell where they probably had furniture, a rug, etc.

Image

So this is the end of Day 2. Nice interesting subfloor in the main bedroom, but 30% of the boards are loose, cracked, and some spots there are outright holes or broken gaps. So so coming next is removing the subfloor.

I have no idea, is there any "demand" for old 1x4" planking like this in OK condition for reclaimed furniture projects/etc?
I've got a pretty good friend who's seen me at my worst.
He don't care if I'm a blessing or a curse,
But he always shows up when the chips are down.
That's the kind of friend I like to be around.
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Dec 24, 2007
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Great couple of days hoob!

I kept my old subfloor in my place since it was in good condition but it was screwed down every 12", 5/8 plywood PL'd and staggered strengthens everything.

For an older homes I heard it's better to go thinner as it adjust easier with uneven floors.

Once the new plywood is layed down there is a world of diffrence and it is motivating to keep on going.

Keeps us updated as you did in The past.

Cheers!
Thread started in 2016 - 1927 fully gutted and renovated 2 storey detached home in the big T.O. - small projects still in progress.

RFD priceless!
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Looks pretty sick. Good start.
Firebolt wrote:
Feb 12th, 2016 1:09 pm
give lots of head for sick knee fadez, give lots of lap dances for ca$h wallet fades. Always pop that leg when kissing for dope honey combs, knee lots of mans in the crotch for killer whiskers, low ride like an og for them stacks. And traintracks? Only achievable by a legend in the denim game
[OP]
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badass wrote:
Nov 19th, 2017 10:31 am
I kept my old subfloor in my place since it was in good condition but it was screwed down every 12", 5/8 plywood PL'd and staggered strengthens everything.

For an older homes I heard it's better to go thinner as it adjust easier with uneven floors.
Yeah.. The reason I kept the subfloor intact in this phase was since I wasn't really sure I'd remove it, depending on condition. Reality is that it's not in very good condition and any one plank is quite bouncy.

So I will get rid of it and put 3/4" plywood directly on the joists. Also helps keep the level consistent with the staircase, otherwise I'd have to add 3/4-1" filler under each stair tread and then a huge odd step at the base.

As you can see in the last picture there's a bit of bowing in the floor now so I will need to level out the joists anyway. I ordered a cheap planer on Amazon, I've never used one that will be fun to learn. So hopefully with that effort I can get the floor reasonable level lengthwise, Dunno if I can get it down to the 1/4" limit for the product, but close enough.

I will remove the subfloor but probably leave it in place (tack screwed) as a working surface so I don't have to joist walk. I hope I don't accidentally put a foot through the ceiling below. But if I do there will definitely be pictures posted here! :D
I've got a pretty good friend who's seen me at my worst.
He don't care if I'm a blessing or a curse,
But he always shows up when the chips are down.
That's the kind of friend I like to be around.
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May 29, 2006
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I would be tempted to cover that subfloor with plywood instead of ripping it out, would save a lot of time.
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rocking23nf wrote:
Nov 19th, 2017 9:28 pm
I would be tempted to cover that subfloor with plywood instead of ripping it out, would save a lot of time.
I'm unemployed at the moment. Time is something I have plenty of and costs me nothing. :|
I've got a pretty good friend who's seen me at my worst.
He don't care if I'm a blessing or a curse,
But he always shows up when the chips are down.
That's the kind of friend I like to be around.
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hey OP im curouis what you didnt like about the room before, i think that photo you posted above looks pretty good, maybe the pictures arent showing the issues or something.
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rocking23nf wrote:
Nov 20th, 2017 10:03 am
hey OP im curouis what you didnt like about the room before, i think that photo you posted above looks pretty good, maybe the pictures arent showing the issues or something.
I thought he same but then I read “laminate”
Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again. - Andre Gide
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Day 3, in which Hoob rips up the floorboards and discovers a body.

After a Sunday of beer and football, back to the project. Two major tasks today -- first to pick up all the new subfloor materials, and then to (start) taking up the old subfloor.

So rented a HD van to haul back my loot consisting of 12 sheets of 3/4" T&G plywood and an assortment of PL400 and floor screws and structural screws.

Van rental is much more convenient than renting a trailer, which is what I did originally, and I can fit in a dump run on the return trip for whatever I have piled up in my parking spot (very small old Toronto lot!!)

First issue I discover.. I can't fit 8x4 sheets of plywood upstairs. I will have to cut them down by 16 or 32" and re-plan my sheet layout. Oh well. So for now my living room has a lot of lumber in it.

Second issues... The old subfloor is so brittle you can't take it up plank my plank, it just shatters. So I end up just ripping between the joists and removing it in 16" pieces. Works well enough but a PITA.

Anyway, here's the result, but the time I hit 7PM and cease activities out of courtesy for the neighbor across the demising wall (semi-detached..)

Image

Slightly "amusing" observation. Previous owner did a reno to run a new duct to the bedroom, and notched out the joist for a 4" duct. And then "reinforced" the notch with a 4' piece of 2x4 anchored with six drywall screws.. As if that makes any different... why bother..

I picked up a bunch of 10' 2x6 to use for sistering/leveling and will slightly fix up this notched joist, but aside from that the joists look relatively OK to just apply the subfloor directly.

In particular, the "high spot" I was worried about, seems to have always been there, since the joists right there show evidence of manual hewing down to try and level them a bit, which must've taken place when it was built. So I will just plane it down some more.

Note all the knob & tube is inactive so no frantic responses about how my house will burn down. I will test with a current detector to be sure and snip them all before closing things up.

So, the body. Poor little birdie, he's probably been there for 100 years. At least it's not a mouse!

Image

So tomorrow I will continue, with these tasks needed to be done before I put the subfloor on:

* Put some Roxul in the "sill joist" area since it wasn't insulated (what this area called on a non-sill floor for a balloon framed house??)
* Likewise, put Roxul and a fireblock in the joist gaps between me and my neighbour, since this is missing (also helps a lot with noise propagation as well as neighbor's tobacco fumes)
* Extend the wall plug to put an outlet on the opposite wall since it's a PITA not having a plug there
* Check how level the floor is and see where I need to shim/sister up, plane down, etc.
* Foil-tape up the HVAC duct to seal it up better
* Maybe run some potlights for the living room underneath, not sure... Would probably be more convenient to do it now..

Can't think of anything else what I should do while the floor is open. Any ideas?

BTW, 100 years of household dust makes opening up floor/ceiling dirty dirty work, ugh.
rocking23nf wrote:
Nov 20th, 2017 10:03 am
hey OP im curouis what you didnt like about the room before, i think that photo you posted above looks pretty good, maybe the pictures arent showing the issues or something.
The old reno was done in about 1995 (previous previous owner) and it was just a quick Ikea slap down of laminate over a floor that wasn't really well done (voids under spots in the laminate, etc.) So the "foot feel" was quite bad besides just being laminate.

Another factor is that the only carpet I have in the house are the stairs and landing, which I want to replace with something nicer and more durable, but why bother with just the landing?
I've got a pretty good friend who's seen me at my worst.
He don't care if I'm a blessing or a curse,
But he always shows up when the chips are down.
That's the kind of friend I like to be around.
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Dec 24, 2007
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Great job, I know all about almost 100 years of dust.

While reading your post I was going to suggest laying Roxul safe n sound before the new floor but you had already thought of it .

I'm sure you will enjoy the benefits of doing it yourself and doing it right the first time.

Looks like you have it all covered.

You should really replace that knob n tube before your house burns down and that bird could be an exotic yet to be discovered species. :)

Thanks for the update.
Thread started in 2016 - 1927 fully gutted and renovated 2 storey detached home in the big T.O. - small projects still in progress.

RFD priceless!
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Gotta love rfd. Unemployed? No job prospects? All the time in the world? Hell I won’t look for a job, I’ll renovate my house and blog about it lol

Nice job so far
Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again. - Andre Gide
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Red_Army wrote:
Nov 20th, 2017 8:55 pm
Gotta love rfd. Unemployed? No job prospects? All the time in the world? Hell I won’t look for a job, I’ll renovate my house and blog about it lol

Nice job so far
I resigned my previous job of my own volition and am taking a 3-6 month break. "Don't quit your day job" they said.. Burnout's a bitch. Hmmm.. Job hunt starts in early 2018. Gotta keep myself busy in the mean time!
I've got a pretty good friend who's seen me at my worst.
He don't care if I'm a blessing or a curse,
But he always shows up when the chips are down.
That's the kind of friend I like to be around.
[OP]
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Week 1, in which hoob realizes things take longer than expected...

Slow week of progress, limited work due to the fact I got sick with a bad cold (or really reacted to the dust) and actually had a job interview.

So not much to report yet, other than I finished all the blocking of the joists, which makes it much stiffer.

Image

Three rows of blocking in the 14' span added a tremendous amount of stiffness.
badass wrote:
Nov 20th, 2017 8:32 pm
You should really replace that knob n tube before your house burns down and that bird could be an exotic yet to be discovered species. :)
When I was cutting out the debris, discovered that the knob and tube is/was in fact live and still in use, by the overhead ceiling light in the room. I've disabled the light circuit for now and will fix the light later (wall/attic/ceiling so not linked to floor work.)

It's the only wiring I hadn't directly seen with my own eyes, so now I'm confident the house is free of K&T. I hadn't checked that light switch before and in fact the modern is tied into the old light loop at the switch, and that light loop had branched off the K&T light circuit in the floor used for the downstairs lighting as well.

On to next week, where I plane and sand the joists to make them cross level (they are a bit bowed down, about 1"drop by center, but I am not fixing that.) Then put down subfloor, and then transfer everything from bedroom #2 and repeat.
Last edited by hoob on Nov 25th, 2017 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I've got a pretty good friend who's seen me at my worst.
He don't care if I'm a blessing or a curse,
But he always shows up when the chips are down.
That's the kind of friend I like to be around.

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