After the trauma of last week, abandoning the house to avoid getting snowed in, I was looking forward to a much easier couple of days this weekend.
Hah! The Forth Road Bridge has been declared unfit for use until the New Year (though I don’t recall anyone saying which New Year that might be…) And instead of snow, this week’s extreme weather was rain, rain and more rain.
The bridge closure added about 40 miles to my journey. Trying to find alternative routes for roads that were closed because of flooding added another 20 or so miles. I got home at 1.30am. So I wan’t really in a very DIY frame of mind when I got up on Saturday.
But at least the flooring was all ready to finish. The self-levelling compound had done its stuff, the corner of the kitchen was now nice and flat. So I’m good to go.
I’ll be honest, I thought this would take me a couple of hours – max. I mean if the underlay is all down and all I’ve got to do is line up a few planks of wood, how hard can that be?
Well to start with I’d forgotten that there would be a bit of cutting to do. The floorboards around the Aga needed to be trimmed to fit, as did the edges into the doors. Now I think I’ve mentioned before that I hate sawing wood. It takes forever, and I can never seem to saw in a straight line. Not to mention that the last time I picked up a saw I managed to cut the edge of my thumb off.
But for long straight cuts on planks of wood, I do actually own a table saw. Well sort of. It’s a combination mitre and table saw. Given the amount of wood I’ve got through in building this place, it’s been one of my better power tool investments.
But I usually only use it as a mitre saw because the table saw doesn’t really work. I think it must have come off the production line at 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon. I can just about get the blade locked into position but it pulls the ‘table’ into an angle of about 45 degrees. Probably not that safe for trying to feed a plank of wood through. So I’ve tended not to use it much.
However, given the amount of sawing I was now faced with, I decided to get creative. There had to be a way to get the thing working; I just needed something to hold the table flat while I was cutting. I tried using a concrete block to weigh it down, but it just got in the way. And then I found the answer.
It’s what ratchet straps were invented for….
Where there’s a will, there’s a way ……..
Admittedly it still wasn’t 100% flat, but with a certain amount of judicious handling it was usable. Which saved a whole heap of time on all the wood that needed cutting to size.
So with that problem sorted I could crack on and get the floor down.
It started off so well. Until the I reached a point where new strips of underlay had been put down.
I think I mentioned last week that in order to get started with this stuff you need to peel a portion of it back and put a bit of film over it so you can line up your floorboards before you stick it all into place. Simple….
It’s always a good idea to read the instructions that come with anything like this – no matter how straightforward it looks. In this case, the instructions pointed out that “you have to use the shiny side of the film.”
Really?? What shiny side? It is a totally transparent film that looks exactly the same on both sides. Apparently not. One side, when laid on to the black sticky back of your underlay, will peel off nice and smoothly. The other side, when laid on to the black sticky back of your underlay, will stick to it like you used superglue.
When I tried to peel it back, it would not budge. When I tried yanking it out with a bit of brute force, it lifted the floorboards out of place and pulled the underlay into a sticky black wodge of foam. It is fair to say that I swore a bit at this point. I ended up having to cut the wodges of underlay away, and trying to scrape the remaining lumps of foam off the underneath of the wood with a screwdriver. Not my idea of a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
By pure good luck, most of the time I had used ‘the shiny side’. But I was still left with a couple of places where I needed to remedy the fact that I’d ripped the underlay out from under the floorboards I’d already laid. And I couldn’t just take out the couple of planks affected, because the ones all around it were already stuck down.
I tried lifting the whole floor and sliding a fresh piece of underlay underneath. I ended up with it stuck to me, the concrete floor, the scissors, the wrong side of the wood floor – basically anything within about a 3ft radius.
So I tried again, but this time without peeling off the film that protects the sticky stuff on the underlay. Which means there are places where the floor isn’t stuck down at all. But it’s only a couple of small(ish) patches. Who will ever know…..
Couple of hours. Right. I actually finished at 1 in the morning!
But at least that’s it – the last floor has been laid.
(Well apart from the half a tile that I need to finish the floor at the bottom of the stairs, and the half dozen slates I need for the cupboard under the stairs, and whatever I decide to put down in the new conservatory. But I think I’ll leave all those till the New Year. I wonder whether I’ll get them done before the Forth Bridge is reopened….? )