Monday, April 15, 2013

DIY Herringbone hardwood floors series - PART 2

Sorry it's been so long since my last post - life is crazy over here! I seriously feel like every spare second of my life has been spent on these floors, and I have been having trouble fitting blog updates into the equation!

I'm really excited to share part 2 of my DIY herringbone hardwood floors series. In my last post, I went over buying, acclimating, and cutting your wood to make herringbone floors.

Before I continue, I think it's important that I outline the difference between a herringbone and chevron pattern. They seem fairly similar at a first glace, but they're actually quite different, and the installation techniques are likely pretty different as well.

This image from perfectly illustrates the difference:

The first image represents a chevron pattern - all of the pieces meet together at a 45 degree angle.This means that all of your cuts need to be cut on an angle.

The second image represents herringbone. Your pieces meet each other on the sides, which means you do straight cuts everywhere, except where you meet the walls. Aesthetically, I'm just a much bigger fan of herringbone - it seems more old style Parisian to me. But chevron is lovely too.

Where to begin when installing herringbone

The first thing you need to do, after cutting your boards, is to determine the center line that your flooring will line up with. With herringbone, the center line isn't quite as obvious as with chevron, but once you get the hang of finding it, it's not hard.

We figured out the center of our kitchen, and marked it off using a chalk line.

(there's only one chalk line on the floor, the other line you see is the chalky string above!)

Next, Joel and his dad cut a triangle corner off of a piece of plywood. They used this triangle to make sure that the boards met consistently at a 90 degree angle. They began by screwing the triangle into the floor (lining it up with the chalk line in the center) so that it wouldn't budge when they pressed the boards up against it. They started about 6 inches away from the wall, because that wasn't a perfectly straight line, and they didn't want to even risk the floor going off a little bit.

The next thing to do was to nail in the boards! We didn't use glue at all, because our boards were long enough to nail into twice per board. This totally held them in firmly enough.

How to keep the boards straight?

One trick we found was to slide a spare piece beside the board you are nailing, pushing it in as you nail, so that the boards don't slip even a smidge out of place.

 The next step is really to just keep nailing boards in, checking with a "square" as often as possible that your boards are square (Joel swears to me that this thing is called a square.. it's an L shaped piece of metal that looks like a ruler.)

These parts of the installation go quite quickly - as long as you remain square, installing the straight line parts are fast. The difficult part comes when you get to the edges of the room - this is where you have to make weird cuts to fit everything in (I'll get to that in my next post!)

That's all for now! It's crazy looking back at these pictures. Our floors are now FINISHED and I am just so excited to share them with everyone. It was a crazy, insane amount of work, but I promise, it was so so worth it.

To see my first post about DIY herringbone floors, click here

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

DIY Herringbone harwdood floors series - part 1

Last weekend, my husband and my father in law began working on our herringbone kitchen floors. They are far from done, but since the process is very complicated, I figured I would start trying to break it down now. I definitely don't presume to be any kind of expert on herringbone floors, but I had a lot of trouble finding step by step guides when we were starting out, so I thought I would try an fill this bizarre internet void with my own babbly version of how-to-herringbone.

The last time I blogged about our floors, we had just uncovered that half of our kitchen had previously been covered with ugly laminate flooring, which we now needed to recover.

Where do you buy wood for herringbone floors?

My answer to where to buy anything is always kijiji. I spent about two weeks watching kijiji for ads to pop up, either from people who were selling extra flooring, or from flooring stores running promotional sales. Since I had such a specific idea in mind (multicolor stained herringbone floors) my choices were a bit limited.

I finally decided to go with Seaway Cabinets and Flooring, a local (well, Prescott area) wholesaler that offers unfinished, rustic grade oak flooring for not very much money. For the 250 square feet I needed, they offered me two choices:
  •  For $650 (plus tax) I could get my 250 square feet of flooring, with boards ranging from 14" to 7 feet long.
  • For $1125 (plus tax) I could get the same floors, but they would be cut and ready for herringbone installation.
Having floors pre-prepped for herringbone installation is actually a lot more important than it sounds. If you start with uncut wood and cut it yourself, you lose the grooves that are generally used to secure hardwood floors to eachother. The prepped flooring comes with grooves added, so that the floors can be installed much easier.

So which choice did I go with?

Well, it's probably a sign of how devastatingly cheap I am, but I went with option one. Getting 250 square feet of flooring for under $750 was just too alluring for me.

 If you can afford it, and you can find a place that offers it, you should totally go with pre-cut and pre-prepped wood. We added a lot of extra work for ourselves because we did it ourselves (which at the end of the day we're really fine with, but if you can afford to have someone cut it perfectly for you, work it!) 

How do you know how much flooring to buy?

If you are going to be cutting them yourself, it's a good idea to get about 25% to 30% more than what you need. Our kitchen measured at 190 square feet, and with 250 square feet of material, we will probably have a bit leftover, but not much. 

Acclimating your wood

We let our floors acclimate for a week, by keeping the wood in the same room that we were going to be using them. I can't think of anything more torturous than waiting to install floors when your floors look as hideous as ours did, but everyone and their dog recommends letting the wood acclimate for a significant period of time, and for a process that is as nit-picky as herringbone floors, I'd say it's worth the trouble.

Cutting your wood

Once your wood has acclimated, you need to figure out how long your herringbone pieces will be. The ONLY thing you need to know when deciding on your length is that the length of your herringbone pieces need to be a multiple of the width of your boards.


So were we. In fact, it took me hours to actually mentally figure out what that meant. By the time I got it to make sense, Joel had gone to bed and I had to wait until the next morning to explain it to him. 



 Here's why:

So really, you just need to figure out a length that looks appealing (for us, our length is the width of five boards) and work with it so that it it's a multiple of your board length. Deciding on our floor length really felt like a milestone in this process - it meant we were ready to start cutting and laying floor!

Check back in a couple of days for part 2 of my herringbone hardwood floors series!

Monday, April 1, 2013

$70 front entryway makeover - DIY Board and batten!

 This weekend I did one of my favorite room makeovers ever. Surprisingly, it was also the least expensive, and the only one I've ever done without Joel's help. 

Our front hallway was seriously lacking in the beauty department. For whatever reason, the previous owners decided that painting it avocado green and slapping a weird, sideways rail around the room was acceptable. Even more confusing, Joel and I lived with the room like this for almost five months before I did anything about it.

Joel was tied up all weekend working on our hardwood herringbone kitchen floors (which are looking killer, by the way) so I wanted to find something I could do on my own to help beautify our house.

I've seen tutorials all over the internet for DIY board and batten, and finally decided that I would give it a try. It ended up being even easier than I could have imagined. I feel silly for living with this hideous vegetable colored mess of an entryway for so long.

I began working on my entryway on Friday (which I had off from work.) The first thing I did was  prime the entire room white. I even painted the wood baseboards and molding, which was so boring but needed to be done so badly.

Once that was finished, I began to figure out my room. I knew that I was going to place my batten strips 16 inches apart, because that's how far apart the studs in the room are (this actually ended up not mattering anyway, which you'll see later.) I decided to place my top rail 3 feet up from my baseboards, which was really an arbitrary height that just seemed to work in the space.

I made a sketch of my space, and figured out how many battens I would need (13, at about $1.50 each) and how many feet of wood I would need for the top rail (about 20 feet of 1x3 wood, so I needed 3 pieces of 1x3x8 pine at $1.27 a piece.) The wood itself cost me about $30. I also bought some paint (a mistint at $10) a new rug for the door, and some hooks.

When I got home, I began to space my battens apart on the wall. I would tape them up using painters tape, then use a level to make sure they were straight (since the painters tape wasn't too tight, I could slide them around to make them level.)

To make the job easier on myself, I had a scrap of 1x3 cut to 16 inches, which I used to space my batten evenly. 

 Once I had a walls worth of battens placed, I used a nail gun to secure them in place.

Once the batten was nailed in, I was able to slide the rail in place. Since the batten was all cut to the same length, the rail was level to begin with. I used my nail gun to secure the rail.

To secure the rail, I used a drill to add screws every time there was a stud. Since I had initially spaced my batten 16" apart, this should have been easy, but it turns out I still needed to use a stud finder to find some of the studs. I guess things like electrical switches, compounded by the fact that this house is weird and old, made the studs not totally evenly spaced.

Once the screws were in, it was time to sit back and adore my wall. 

It took about an hour to put the board and batten up around the whole room. It went so quickly. Once I was done with the wood, I used wood filler to cover up the holes from my screws, and used caulking to fill in any cracks between the walls and my rail.

 The next day, I began painting. I did the top part of my walls first, because I figured if I dripped anything, it would be easy to cover with the white.

Next, I painted the board and batten white, and that really changed the entire room. I added some hooks, an old chair I made over a while ago, and some homemade art work.

I'm in love!

Our floors are really coming along. I'll hopefully be posting about them this week!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The view from my living room couch

Our floors are here! They have been "acclimating" for the past few days. I use quotations because I don't know what they're actually doing. All I know is that hardwood acclimation has to do with moisture levels, and if you don't let them acclimate for at least 2 days or 3 days or 90 days depending on what website you check, your floors will explode and your husband will never let you get hardwood again. So right now, we're waiting.

As I mentioned here, we have big ol' plans for this hardwood. We are going to be laying it in a herringbone pattern, and just about everyone has made sure to tell us that it would be easier to lay them straight. I argue that it would have been even easier to not rip out our perfectly fine ceramic tile in the first place. But we did that, so here we are.

Just in case the process of laying herringbone flooring didn't seem daunting enough, we've also decided to stain the floors in three different colors. We'll be doing a light, medium and dark stain, mixed up throughout the flooring. My goal is for it to look like this:

but since we have no experience with laying flooring of any kind, let alone complicated patterned hardwood, I'm open to the idea that this all may not work.

We'll be starting the whole process on Friday, and I will definitely keep everyone updated!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kitchen floors - the beginning of our saga

So we've been VERY busy these past few days.

It's a silly story. We were moving along so well in our kitchen. We had almost everything finished (with the exception of finishing details). We knew we wanted to replace our floors, but were holding off until the Summer to get it done. We were able to live with our ceramic tile - it wasn't pretty, but it wasn't offensive either.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, while sitting at my desk at work, I had a brainstorm. What if there's HARDWOOD under our kitchen tile?!  It could be possible, right?

So I rushed home and checked underneath the heating vent. This is what I saw:

I just about lost my mind. Hardwood!! Hidden under our tile flooring!! This was a must investigate. Even though I hadn't wanted to change our floors right then, I couldn't resist the hardwood. I told Joel, and he reluctantly agreed that we could check it out soon.

A couple of days later, I came home and found this:

 It seemed that Joel couldn't resist the lure of the hardwood either.

Since we hadn't planned on ripping out the floors, Joel just used a hammer and a pry bar that first day. It took forever for him to get the tile off but seeing the progress kept our little hearts going.

My job was to find the screws in the subflooring and remove them. Each time we removed the plywood and found hardwood, I wanted to squeal.

 Some patches were unstained. We started to piece together that there had been a wall closing off this part of our kitchen, and that there was some kind of china cabinet or something here.

 We weren't concerned thought - we were happy to stain them again. You can see where the wall used to be below.

By the next day, Joel had a much better system going - he borrowed a hammer drill and was able to knock the tiles out so much faster. It was wonderful.

We removed all of the tile and subflooring in our eating area, and were just amazed by the beautiful hardwood we found underneath.

But it was around this time that things turned... questionable.

For this to make sense, I'll start with a diagram. Keep in mind I made this in about 2 minutes, and it's not even remotely to scale!

What was the problem? Well, we found a spot where the hardwood abruptly stopped, and instead of any flooring, we found what used to be a wall.

All of a sudden, it occurred to me what was going on - our kitchen had likely been two separate rooms at one point, a small kitchen, and a formal dining room.

I freaked. It was SO likely that only the dining room would be covered in hardwood. Who knew what we would find once we moved over the threshold and reached the old kitchen?

We eagerly cut away the tile, making a space big enough to remove a piece of plywood.
 And at that, it was time for the moment of truth... removing the plywood that lay over the old dining room and the old kitchen. And we found...

Awful, awful laminate tile.

I was so disappointed. On one side, we're looking at this:

 And on the other side... this. (Don't mind the mess - we were in the midst of floor removal here so our kitchen table was in the dining room and our kitchen was upsidedown.)

Our dog even came to show her dismay.

So, what now?

We have a few options:
  • Live with the floors as they are
  • Recover the tile with hardwood and try our best to match it
  • Go with something completely new
After lots of talking about it, we've come to the conclusion that we will do something completely new. I had fallen in love with hardwood floors in the kitchen, so we aren't going to stray too far from that. But we will be doing something...different. Something that's going to involve an incredible amount of effort and cutting... but that will hopefully be AMAZING!!

More to come as we get started!