Sunday, August 24, 2014

Yes, we're still alive ... and working

I know it's  been a long time since I posted. Things at 3283 have been more leisure than work for a while. Since the last post both of our kids, their spouses and all three grandsons have been here. So "work" slowed down quite a bit. I did manage to cut, stain and install the moulding around the new floors in the living room, entry, kitchen, bathroom and on the front porch. 1x4 and 1/4 round aren't very photogenic so no pictures.

Bobbie has been here a lot this summer. Two weeks in June/July and another two weeks in early August. She also came for this weekend, and took me to West Olive Nursery for the start of their Labor Day Sale. Therefore, yesterday and today were spent filling some of our empty "flower beds" with plants.  The prices were amazingly we are trying some things to see how they will work out.

We have only planted one trial group of foxglove on the front side of the house. But, we did also buy some lazy Susan plants to try to grow in front of the deck (once I clear some of the weeds).  A picture of the foxglove is below.

Along the south side of 3283 we mixed some semi-shade appropriate perennials called cone flower and purple coral bells. They should make for a colorful walkway as you head to the beach.

In front of the lattice-enclosed outdoor shower we planted holly bushes. Three are the variety "China Girl" and the fourth is "China Boy."  I guess they won't produce berries unless there are both nearby.

As you arrive at 3283 you come up to the back porch and steps to the back door. Along the wall below the back porch screens we planted boxwood bushes. They should grow just tall enough to break up the white wall.  At the south end of the screen porch next to the steps we planted two azalea bushes. These will, hopefully, go well with the boxwood and add some color when they are in bloom.

Lastly we did some planting in the terraces along the stairs to the basement. We are trying out both a new variety of hostas (upper shelf) and something called liriope varaga (to Bobbie's right). This area is on the north side of the house and shaded by large oak trees ... so we needed full shade loving plants. Stop by next summer to see how they worked out.

Needless to say, on the warmest, most humid days of summer we got plenty dirty playing gardeners. Now I'm trying to post to the blog from my iPad with pics taken with it. Not sure how this will add a comment letting us know.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Big Changes Inside -- Fini

Alright not finished. But the flooring contractor's work is done.

Yesterday, Sunday, was a testament to the dedication, professionalism and work ethic of the tradespeople people we've encountered throughout this project in west Michigan. Specifically to Expert Flooring the installation contractor used by DeGraaf Interiors. They had scheduled work for Saturday; and I had hoped that it would be the final day. But transportation and communication problems prevented them from being here.

When Marcel, Expert's owner, heard about the miscue he personally got involved. Boy did he get involved. He was attending a National Wood Flooring Association training session in St. Louis, MO. He left the meeting and drove back to Michigan late Saturday night. And, at 8:00 Sunday morning was here to finish the job. And, finish he did. He was here a full 12 hours...leaving after 8:00 in the evening. In that time he: reset the bathroom toilet; grouted the bathroom floor; tiled the fireplace hearth; finished the hardwood in the kitchen [including jockying the stove and refrigerator around]; installed the trim at the living room / porch doors; installed a threshold at the back door; cut four doors to clear the new floor; and did a little touch-up to tiles along the front porch wall.

I tried to stay out of his way....only helping a little when asked. Thus I didn't take a lot of action shots. The few I took are below.

The finished product looks fabulous. I still need to install baseboard. When we stand back and look at the new floors the transformation is spectacular. The old, dirty 1950s tile is gone. New 21st century flooring covers the main living areas of 3283. Bobbie made the comment that it looks so good we [almost] don't want to put furniture back into the rooms. Though to enjoy them the chairs and sofas will soon make their return. [Of note: All the 'communication' for 3283 enters through our cable system. Expert's guys kept the table with the TV, modem and router, cellular 'mini tower' and miscellaneous electronics connected throughout the project; moving it as required. Thanx for keeping us 'connected.]

Below are a bunch of pictures that try to show how good the hardwood looks. But, in person it looks even better.

OK. DeGraaf and Expert have met and exceeded expectations. Now I need to stop typing and see if I can do trim work that approaches their standards....while we 
Have Fun
Be Happy.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Big Changes Inside -- Part Five

Had I thought ahead I probably could have come up with more clever names for these recent posts. But, obviously, I didn't. Once the floors get done titles will be better.

Work today, Friday, continued on the floors. Most of the effort was spent finishing up the hardwood in the living room and entry area. Once the wood was installed up to the bathroom door Jimmy was able to lay the last few rows of tile in the bathroom. The tile and the hardwood match perfectly. No step or bump in that doorway.

Pictures below give a little idea of the work done today.

One cool "tool" that was used today helped Jimmy move the stove around effortlessly. It's a pneumatic gadget that consists of pillow like bags that are inflated by a small blower. Once these are under the appliance it can be slid with minimal effort across the floor.

As usual, the finished product shots were attempted with a bright sun shining in. So the pictures are less than ideal. Friends reading this will have to come visit to get the total effect.  And, you will notice, a thorough post construction sweeping will be needed to remove all the dust.

Tomorrow, in episode six, we hope to see:
the bathroom grouted;
the hardwood installed in the kitchen;
the last row of floor boards installed along the south living room wall;
the tile installed on the fireplace hearth; and,
some trim [that I'm not responsible for] installed.

And, also tomorrow, Bobbie and her mom will be arriving at 3283. I'm sure she will keep the progress moving. Though I'll try to make sure we have some fun, too.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Big Changes Inside -- Part Four

Work continued on Thursday on the living room floor. Jimmy worked his way across the room from south toward north. He made it all the way across the doorway leading to the porch....and part way into the archway leading to the entry/kitchen.  Enough of the hardwood is in place to give a good idea of the look of the finished product. And it looks wonderful.  Not a lot of explanation is required for the following pictures. Board after board was selected; a bead of glue placed along the grove edge; the board tapped into place; and pneumatic stapler used to fasten each plank to the subfloor. Pictures are below.

Tapping plank into place along south wall.
Every plank was fastened with staples every 4 inches or so.
By the end of the day planks made their way into the entry/kitchen.
The living room isn't finished. Tomorrow the north side will be completed and the hardwood will be installed in the kitchen and entry. Also, the fireplace hearth will be tiled. And, hopefully the bathroom tile will be finished and grouted.  
Below are pictures from the end of work Thursday. 
The floor is going to look fabulous.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Big Changes Inside -- Part Three

Expert Flooring, in the persons of Marcel and Jimmy, spent Wednesday progressing on the flooring installation. The day's results weren't as dramatic as yesterday, but things are laid out and in place for two days of very visible changes tomorrow and Friday.

Marcel spent a while calculating the dimensions and building the frame upon which the new raised fireplace hearth will be built.  The tile work will be done after the living room floor is complete; but the 'box' had to be built first.

While Marcel worked in the living room, Jimmy began the ceramic tile work on the bathroom floor. He first laid a bed of mortar and fastened cement board over the existing old flooring. Then he spent most of the day cutting tiles to put in the irregularly shaped room.  All tiles except the last few rows were completed today. He will 'feather' the height of the remaining rows to meet the height of the new hardwood at the doorway. Pictures weren't easy to take as he was working. Bit I did get a few...and some of the floor at day's end.

Marcel also laid out the hardwood for the living room floor. He ran a laser line the total length of both the living room and entry and verified the positioning of the first row of floor boards. He determined that the south wall is relatively straight but somewhat "wavy." The first row was started slightly away from the wall and there will eventually be another row scribed and cut to follow the ins-and-outs of the wall.

After laying down a moisture barrier on top of the subfloor he began to fasten the flooring in place. The Mohawk product requires a bead of glue be placed in the tongue and groove connection and staples spaced about every four inches along the length of the board.  He had about four strips completed at the south side of the living room when he had to leave for the day. With this in place the remaining boards should go quite well when they return tomorrow.  For today I'll include a couple pictures of the work in progress.

That's it for today. A short post. Stay tuned; the posts tomorrow and Friday should show the big changes to the floors at 3283.

Big Changes Inside -- Part Two

After waiting a couple days for materials to arrive the crew showed up Tuesday morning to begin installing the flooring. The first part of the day was spent hauling boxes and boxes of material from the truck into the house:

Twenty boxes of Shaw VersaFit vinyl plank flooring...for the front porch;
Twenty-seven boxes of Mohawk engineered hardwood...for the living room, kitchen, entry;
Five boxes of Cerdomus ceramic tile...for the main bathroom;
One box of Saime porcelain build the new raised fireplace hearth;
And grout, and glue and staples. Oh My.

The first work done Tuesday [though hauling all that stuff in was certainly "work"] was to complete the plywood underlayment on the front porch. Then the front door needed to be trimmed to allow clearance for the plywood and flooring.  They also spent some time helping me out by installing a new threshold under the door and soon-to-be-installed storm/screen door.

The vinyl plank flooring product we selected for the front porch allows what is called a loose-lay installation option. Basically each "plank" is just tightly set on the subfloor and held in place by gravity and the adjacent pieces. We decided that this would work well for our situation as long as the edges were firmly fastened in place. The designer and installer decided on a 'perimeter glue' installation. They used a spray adhesive to attach the planks around the walls....and let the center be loose-laid.

There is no good product for a three-season room floor...except maybe stone or ceramic. We knew that whatever we chose would be an experiment. We are well aware that what we chose does not fall within the manufacturer's warranty guidelines...and thus are willing to live with the results. Ask me in a year or two how it worked out. [Any Shaw techies who are reading this need not send a copy to the legal department. But you should be working on flooring for rooms that are used for three seasons ... and then get cold in winter. You could fill a huge market niche.]

At the end of the day the front porch at 3283 had a finished floor. It looks very very good. Pictures ... without furniture are below.  And the crew just arrived to start today's work. So, pictures of the bath and hearth will be on line tonight or tomorrow...I hope.