Archive for the ‘flooring’ Category

something concrete

Monday, May 7th, 2012

You may have missed it but I mentioned a week or so back that we had just returned from renewing our 10th anniversary wedding vows in Palm Springs…

renewing the vows




















… with besties Lupe and Matt, who were with us on the very same spot a decade ago. Both times at dawn, no less. Very good sports, I must say.

But this post isn’t really about that. It’s about my appreciation for the use of concrete at the recently restored midcentury modern rental home we stayed in…

the MCM house in palm springs












I know that sounds strange but bear with me and see if you don’t agree.

First of all, it looked as though tile had been removed from the floors to reveal the concrete underneath…

concrete floor view




















The owners scored it and polished it. Nice detail…

scored concrete floor




















Kinda looks like terrazzo! So jealous. FYI, polished concrete is really difficult for a rattlesnake to move across… not that that will stop it from trying.

concrete floor with rattlesnake












No worries. It ended well.

There was plenty of concrete outside the house, too. Around the pool…

concrete with stone around the pool area












I love this look…

concrete with stone closeup




















Around the sides of the house…

concrete with stone along the side of the house




















Along the driveway…

concrete walk alongside the driveway




















There was a cozy little concrete patio out front, too…

concrete patio












A peek over the wall (sorry, I couldn’t resist) at the house next door tells me it was likely remodeled by the very same owners. Similar patio design…

more concrete and stone next door












Yet another nice pool. The front driveway, which is on a slope not too dissimilar from ours in Providence, is concrete and gravel, something we’ve thought might not be possible…

driveway on a slope












We keep thinking the gravel may want to travel out from between the pads but it doesn’t seem to be doing so here. Hmmmm.

This house had an awesome scored sidewalk to boot…

driveway with complimentary sidewalk












Hard to tell from my early evening shot but that’s a gorgeous Corten wall in front of the house (click to biggify it and you’ll see it better).

Be still my beating heart.

the highs, the lows

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Want to see something that turned out perfect? The floor and ceiling, finished. TA-DAAAA!

the highs: floor and ceiling look fantastic!




















the highs: still looks great from this angle




















It’s so great when a project turns out the way you hope it would.

And now that that’s out of the way, want to see something that turned out craptastical?

Sure you do…

the lows: paint peeled off




















Yup, when the plastic held on by the paint-friendly blue tape was pulled down, it took the brand-new paint job with it. All. the. way. around. the. room.


Why did the paint fail? Who knows. But one thing is for sure: it’s not a simple fix. It probably means sanding and another full coat. Kill me now.

progress report: floor finishing

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Well this is going quickly! David and Joe are putting four coats of finish on the cork flooring downstairs. The first two coats went down yesterday. This morning there was sanding, vacuuming and dust mopping…

get that dust off the floor!





















And now the final two coats are going on…

Joe adds a finish coat to the hallway into the downstairs




















More later!

floor finishing is happening

Monday, April 30th, 2012

There may be only one in this shot but I assure you there are two swarthy dudes laying down the first coat right now…

first coat going on!


get your feet on the floor

Friday, April 27th, 2012

… everybody rock and roll! Think you can name that tune?

So with the ceiling now finished downstairs, the floor is in motion. No wasting time here, nuh-uh. David and Joe are gettin’ down to bidness, if ya know what I mean…

readiness starts at the knees












The floating cork planks are huge — 12″x36″ and 1/2″ thick, so theoretically the floor should go down even faster than the ceiling…

Duro cork plank




















There’s some trimming involved to get things to fit…

David trimming cork planks to fit




















But these things snap together easy-peasy…

fitting pieces together










Work began yesterday and already the boys are more than halfway done!

floor in progress





















floored yet again: rubber cork

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

More than once, we’ve discussed flooring for our entryway. That’s this area here with the lovely particle board floor…

remod wants | entryway




















We’ve been round and round possibilities to go with the cork we’re using as our primary flooring. We’ve looked at terrazzo tile. We’ve looked at concrete tile. I thought we’d settled on this, but now David and I are revisiting the subject.

This is why we’re noncommittal: Initially we hoped the cork would work everywhere, including the entryway. It’s durable. It doesn’t mind when water’s tracked in. But when it comes to stairs…

remod wants | entry stairs




















… the nosing on the risers would have to be wood or metal. Not the worst thing, I suppose, but that’s when we decided to consider tile. A tile riser with a tile nose is a more cohesive look. Of course, it would be noisier than cork. And colder. Which is why now we’re also considering this: rubber cork.

capri re-tire




















After much web surfing and multiple calls to flooring dealers, a Capri Rubber Cork rep called and pointed me toward Rustigian Rugs in Providence. David and I dropped in to see samples.

We like that Capri’s Re-Tire Medley collection combines recycled tire waste, post-industrial rubber waste, virgin rubber and post-industrial cork waste. Slip-resistant, sound absorbing and it contributes to LEED points. Nice!

The Peppercorn sample plays well with our cork sample…

capri re-tire peppercorn




















Kinda looks like terrazzo, doesn’t it?

Still undecided. Like cork, rubber requires separate nosing — although steel or aluminum would look pretty sweet with the steel cable railing we’re planning. It runs about $11 a sq ft and a minimum order is 200 sq ft. (Or we could just use the cork everywhere after all?)

It also requires an acrylic or urethane finish coat available from Capri. I optimistically assume the sealer would encase that heady scent of eau du tire factory. One can only hope.

prepping the bathroom floor

Monday, November 7th, 2011

David Bettridge will now catch us up on the downstairs bathroom as he preps for tile. Try to contain your excitement, okay?


The majority of the downstairs floor is insulated and ready for flooring but the bathroom is its own special case. Way back in March, I removed the old tiles from the floor…

the floor during




















More recently, I removed the last of the thinset (tile ‘glue’, a kind of flexible mortar). A wide chisel bit in my trusty Bosch Bulldog made short work of it…

bathroom floor | bosch bulldog

The Bulldog is a light-duty rotary hammer that has settings for drill+hammer, just drill or just hammer. Hammer drills on the other hand only have settings for just drill or drill + hammer. The Bulldog drills into 40-year old concrete like a hot knife through butter.

Once the slab was clean and smoothish, I layed down 1” tongue and groove high-density foam insulation…

bathroom floor | foam insulation




















It will act as a thermal and moisture break between the new tile floor and the slab (and planet earth) underneath. This will hopefully keep the bathroom floor more comfortable underfoot and keep the basement dry. And it will help the bathroom be more energy efficient as well.

I layed 1/2” cement board over the foam and screwed it down to the slab underneath, using Tapcon screws…

bathroom floor | cement board




















Due to their special threads and lubricated coating, they actually cut into the concrete when installed into a pre-drilled hole. Technology, gotta love it. I used a lot of screws so there would be no movement under the floor tile, and therefore no cracking.

Some lucky tile installer will trowel thinset onto the cement board, lay Schluter Ditra tile membrane down before troweling on more thin set, then setting and grouting the floor tiles. The membrane acts as another moisture barrier but more importantly it separates the tile from the floor which lets things move a little bit before any cracking takes place. Again, technology at work.

Schluter will also be providing all the metal bits and pieces that allow tile to be installed up against other materials like cork flooring, wood cabinets, mirror, etc. A small prep detail but an important one. Like they say, do it right the first time.

what’s underfoot

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

After a week of posts from Mr. Bettridge on the downstairs progress, we might just be caught up! Take it away, David…


To make the downstairs more comfortable (and cheaper to heat) in the winter, we decided to insulate the floor slab. Our house scientist wanted 2” of foam, but we didn’t think we could afford to give up that much headroom, so we decided to use 1” instead.

Then we became concerned that the foam alone might not be enough — its 20 psi load rating isn’t high enough to properly support furniture and whatnot. So we had local Branch River Plastics make us a bunch of these panels…

floor insulation panels




















It’s the same EPS (styrofoam) we used at 3” thick to insulate the foundation walls, only these are made of 1/2” thick 4’ x 8’ OSB (oriented strand board) glued to 1” EPS….

floor insulation




















The non-formaldehyde, non-outgassing OSB spreads out the weight of people and stuff on top of it and provides a nice stable surface for the finish floor to rest on…

floor insulation detail




















Underneath the foam is 6 mil plastic that acts as a vapor barrier, keeping moisture out of the floor system. Even in its not-quite-completed state, the basement is down to 45% humidity which is great.

Eventually — well, soon — the cork floor planks will be installed over the top of the insulation panels. Until then, they wait…

cork tiles waiting in the driveway




















Luckily, they’re no longer waiting in the driveway.

The last piece of sub-floor went in twice because of the leak in the foundation wall. On the right you can see the 6 mil vapor barrier coming out from under the sub-floor and up the wall. It got sealed to the 3” foam with non-hardening sealant (in that big caulking gun on the step)…

underflooring in front of steps




















Give me a few more days and I’ll show you how we’re prepping the bathroom floor in a slightly different way.

recycling our old carpet

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

I’ve mentioned more than once how icky our ancient carpet is. But since David pulled up the carpet downstairs today, perhaps I should clarify. I’m not talking about the weave or the shade…

carpet removal

Unless it’s made of an untreated natural fiber, carpet is a cushy layer of toxic chemicals right under your feet — and every time you walk on it, you release them into the air. Have you ever thought about how creepy that is?

david rolls up the old carpet

The most common carpet fibers are woven from petrochemical compounds. They’re full of bleaches, dyes, stain fighters, flame retardants, antimicrobial agents and horrific carcinogenic things you don’t want to know about but should. The backing usually contains latex and PVC. Very, very bad. There are nasty industrial adhesives involved. They’re in your air. You breathe them. You swallow them. And so does your child if you have one like I do.

I won’t go into it here but honestly, you should read more:

  • The Body Toxic by Nena Baker, investigative journalist. Highly recommended. Will scare the bejeezus out of you, but you should get an idea of the chemicals in your everyday household items, including carpeting.
  • Is Your Carpet Toxic? “Older carpets are so toxic that your chances of being exposed to hazardous chemicals are 10-50 times higher in a carpeted room than outdoors.”
  • The Toxic Dangers of Carpeting “In America, we love wall-to-wall carpeting — in fact, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute more than two-thirds of American floors have them — despite the fact that they contain toxic byproducts that are released into our homes and even inhaled and absorbed into our bodies.”
  • Chemicals in New Carpet “Longterm effects of VOCs can include damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Concentrations of VOCs found indoors, such as in new carpeting, can be as much as 10 times higher than those found outdoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.”
  • Toxic Carpet: Dangerous Toxins that Live in Your Carpeting “Numerous studies have shown that there are over 200 chemicals in the mixtures of gases which are released by new carpets.”

carpet rolls bound for the recycler

My goal from the moment I stepped into this house has been to go as green as possible, starting with removing our chemical-laden carpet. But it’s the kind of thing you shouldn’t in good conscience just throw away. According to the Carpet America Recovery Effort, 5 billion lbs of carpeting ends up in the landfill every year. Do the right thing, people — keep this toxic disaster out of your local dump.

With a little research, I was able to locate a carpet recycling center within 40 minutes of our house — Conigliaro Industries. They recycle just about everything (they even took our electronics). Carpet can be broken down into components used to make roofing tiles, furniture, soundproofing and more. Did you know that? I didn’t.

*          *          *          *          *

Before I go, I must say this: please never tear up carpet without wearing a really, really good dust mask. And vacuum like mad before you take a breath without it.

all that’s left

hmm… not so floored

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Went to look at terrazzo tile from Fritz Tile because it just sounds so frickin’ cool. But alas, it’s not quite as cool as I’d hoped. The guys at State Rug in Cranston were nice enough to hand over all their Fritz samples so we could check them out at home. Take a look…

lots of samples

A whole spectrum of colors to choose from but up against our cork flooring selection only the neutrals and possibly black looked like they might work… (click to biggify)

terrazzo possibilities against our cork floor choice

One of the boxes of samples featured terrazzo with bits of mother of pearl worked in. The sparkly bits were a nice touch on a tile that mostly comes across as kind of meh in person…

not too awful

The substrate for most of their tiles is this weird clear stuff that makes these look like headcheese. From a distance the Fritz looks like terrazzo but has the sheen of a vinyl. Blech…

grey terrazzo headcheese

How Barney is this?

how barney is this?

I’m a big fan of terrazzo, don’t get me wrong. Definitely an awesome modern choice. But these just don’t come across as authentic. So I’m glad we took a look but the Angela Adams Argyle is looking more and more like the winner.