Lakeshore Cottage

A reno blog for a cottage just outside of Toronto
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Flooring and stove update

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

I’m really only posting to say that I can’t even believe these two different stains/coats are on the same wood because they’re so different. We’re going from what appears to be Varathane’s 230 Provincial oil stain to Varathane’s water-based Diamond Wood Finish in semi-gloss. Basically, we’re ending up with naked or natural red oak flooring, no stain, just a water-based clearcoat protectant overtop the bare wood. If you want a clearcoat without colouring the wood, you want to use a water-based poly/clear coat. If you use an oil-based polyurethene it will add an amber or yellow hue to the wood.

Future stove placement with basically finished hearth:

It’s been an annoying past couple days trying to figure out how we’re going to vent this pellet stove. I bought a 3″ pellet stove pipe venting kit from Canadian Tire last week because it was on sale from $379 to $265 and was the only one I could find in the city that I could buy immediately. They hadn’t seen it since 2010 when it first arrived in their store and they had to pull it from the warehouse.

There are all kinds of requirements/guidelines thrown at you just when searching the internet for info on how to install/vent pellet stoves, from the stove manufacturer’s manual, the venting manual, ULC requirements for insurance and just about every pellet stove installer has a site with their own take on it too. A lot of the info on the internet is generally helpful but may not apply to where you live, which is what I got stressed about — too much information. So basically it boiled down to me looking at the stove manufacturer for the proper distance from the walls and the hearth requirements, which then told me to follow the directions of the pipe venting company for proper vent requirements, and the ULC/vent manual for proper distances from various structures.

The big issue is the fact that the stove is going right next to a window. In the US you have to be at least 4′ away from any opening (window/door) and that was the only information written in the stove manual. However in Canada, the ULC requirement is that the pipe must “terminate” at least 3′ away from any opening… which means I can do the most basic horizontal straight-out-the-wall installation and I just have to bring it out far enough that it terminates at least 3′ away from the window. The alternative is the most costly install which would be to use pretty much every pipe in the kit that I bought, along with additional piping ($$$) and bring it out far enough to clear the gutters (they’re not really deep enough to go through them) and end a foot above the roof line. At that point, if I were to go with this method, I might not even be able to use the 3″ pipe because 4″ pipe is required after a certain run length and I’d have to source new pipe.

So… after my roommates schooled me in pythagorean theorem, it turns out that I only need to bring the pipe out about 2′ from the wall to get the needed 3′ clearance. This is also great because for a horizontal install, you’re not supposed to have a horizontal run exceed 48″ (4′). The horizontal install, although not the most ideal install for various reasons, should be fine because the area it’s venting into is not exactly a high traffic side of the house and there is the access hatch to the septic tank nearby, which means there’s a 2′ or more pit dug out of the ground in the middle of the lawn. I probably should section it off somehow so it doesn’t look like I tried to bury someone there and got lazy with my digging.

Anyway… with that stuff sorted out, I’ve placed the order for the three remaining windows in the same size/style as the bedroom window we replaced over the weekend. I’ve got two friends potentially lined up to help me on Sunday and I’ll probably stick them with the task of finishing off the mudding/sanding/painting on the walls while I get lost in the damn crawl space.

Family Day long weekend progress

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

This was a huge weekend as far as cottage progress goes, and I have the amazing Molly and my brother to thank for that. I can’t even say how awesome it is to have their help. There was one point over the weekend where I was in one room working on my own when I heard the mitre saw running and knew my brother was working in the crawlspace, and I was just so damn proud to know they both were totally confident and self-sufficient with what they were working on. I’m really lucky to have them both in my life, for reasons that extend past cottage renos, obviously! And now onto the progress…

Molly and I went up Friday night to get an early start on the first-come-first-served AttiCat blown-in insulation machine Saturday morning from Home Depot. 15 bags of insulation, the machine, and the huge hose all packed into the Ranger later, we were on our way. I continue to be impressed with my old(er) Ranger. I spent about an hour and a half working on building my abs prepping the attic by cleaning out the old insulation that had been stuffed in the soffit vent areas (was all black, supposed to be pink to match the rest of the blanket insulation) and replacing it with Durovent rafter vents, then we traded places and Molly suited up to operate the blower while I kept the machine running. It was easier than we expected, I didn’t find the insulation itchy at all, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again for another house (or help a friend with it). This was a big win for getting something crossed off the list for the eco retrofit.

There was also some more mudding to get rid of the textured walls and painting to prepare the walls for the pellet stove installation. Molly sanded down an area of the floor for the stove and we decided we liked the natural colour best, so we’re going with a water-based floor clear coat from Varathane. It looks great and it’s definitely the colour we want for the floor.

I ordered two vinyl retrofit windows from Discount Window and Doors and they came in under three weeks, just in time for me to pick them up before the weekend. I’m happy with the quality and the installation (a first for me, brother had done basement brick to brick installs before) went easier than I think we both expected. The bedroom window was broken and was the original 1955 single pane style, and the bathroom was a shitty single pane slider style that didn’t lock. Both rooms were really cold as a result. They’re both new now and I think I am going to order 3 additional windows to replace 2 in the main room and 1 in the other bedroom. They’re the same size/style as the bedroom window.

Steve also removed the old laundry tub, fixed some more burst copper pipes, and fixed the sewage pipe that we discovered was leaking underneath the toilet.

On Monday, we finally got around to cutting a hole through the exterior wall for the pellet stove venting. We weren’t able to do the final installation of it or get the pipes attached because I need to source some more of it to get it far enough away from the house but the harder part is done. Still a work in progress.

I need to sit down and plan out the remaining weeks and figure out what’s coming next. Need to source more piping for the stove, order three more windows, and take it all from there. It’s come a long way in 4 months.

Main room improvements

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Saturday was a short day because we needed to be back in time for an amazing show (Blue Dragon / Robert Lepage), but we had a friend come with us. This weekend was basically more mudding to make the texture on the walls less offensive, and more flooring. I pulled up the ugly marble tile that had been placed in the space between the bathroom and bedroom. A piece of the floor was sanded down to the bare wood and various sample stains applied. Molly and I also combed through paint colours to come up with a combination we think we’ll like. The plan has always been to sand down the hardwood, and now we’re aiming at just putting the polyurethene clear coat down and keeping the floor a natural or naked red oak. We think we’re going with these colours from CIL:

The electrical work our friend did is amazing. I can’t believe how much of a difference it actually makes. I’m really impressed by it all and happy with his work.

The hardwood flooring is nearly complete, but I wasn’t in the mood to use the tablesaw last night at 8pm so the last couple rows will need to go in this weekend. Turns out the flooring I bought was basically the exact right amount for the main room and small “hallway” area after ditching the pieces too shitty to use and the end pieces that they already cut. I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel now to find pieces for the last couple rows and there is no way it could have been used for the bedroom like I originally hoped. The floor is also not totally perfect. I now see that I could have done a better job at flattening/leveling the floor but I’m hoping the sander will help out in that area. Also, the wood had already acclimatized to the house it used to be in, some of them are water damaged (which is probably why they tore it out), and just warped — all of which is to be expected with reused/recycled/reclaimed hardwood flooring, I guess. It just means that in some areas, there are larger cracks between boards where I wasn’t able to pull the boards totally straight. This of course means in some areas, it adds larger gaps between boards after that.

If I had any advice for others who are considering reusing hardwood flooring, buy more than you think you’ll need, since it was suited for the project before yours. I still think it was the best way to go for the cottage, but I am not so sure I would do it for my main house.

And with that said, here are some before and after shots:

This weekend is the Family Day long weekend and I need to make a plan for what that will look like, work-wise. I’m starting to feel a bit stressed at running out of time to make the return eco-audit.

It’s electric

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Excited to go up tomorrow. We’re picking up two bookcase type things from a friend who was getting rid of them first thing in the morning, but more importantly, I’ll get to check out the work that our electrical friend did after spending 3.5 days up there. He managed to:

  • install an overhead light in the one bedroom that didn’t have one, with a switch
  • install a light switch and gfci outlet in the bathroom (was previously just a light with a chain)
  • light switch for the diningroom light, which was another light with a chain style thing (what were they thinking?)
  • 6 new pot lights with a dimmer in the main room
  • replaced all old wiring in the attic and crawlspace with new stuff
  • exterior conduit for the line that runs outside to the boathouse, it was previously half exposed
  • supply power to the boathouse
  • supply power to the rest of the house, including the crawlspace, downstairs, laundry room, 1 bedroom
  • new wiring to replace 3 outlets in the main room
  • new wiring for an outlet in the kitchen that hadn’t been hooked up to a breaker (?)

It seems like the only thing not working at this point is the water pump, but we need the weather to get warmer before we do anything with that.

Tomorrow the plan is to tear up the marble tile that is in the small space between the bathroom and bedroom, finish mudding the walls, finish nailing down the floor and call it a day. I’ve picked up four different stains for us to try out on some extra flooring and will see if we like any of them enough to do the entire floor at some point. Still debating the paint vs stain…

Hardwood flooring success

Monday, February 6th, 2012

This past weekend was all about hardwood flooring. We drove up Friday night to get an early start on Saturday, which meant that it was our first official night spent in the cottage. One of my roommates moved in recently with a hardcore heater that actually made us overheat through the night and we shared the couch together while the dog got a bed on the floor. It was actually pretty nice. After a Home Depot trip Saturday morning, some cleaning/rearranging/sorting through another package of shingles, we began nailing down the oak flooring.

To recap the floor, I bought it second hand off a guy from kijiji. It still had nails in it and its condition wasn’t the most consistent. Molly became the master grinder and ground off all the nails. Since we’re planning on sanding it down and re-staining/painting it, I didn’t care what colour it was. It was supposed to be about 400 sf and I thought I only needed about 300sf. After being somewhat happy with the subfloor preparation, I spent some time checking out youtube and the web for flooring videos/tips, bought myself a Porta-Nailer, and decided to just get it done.

I went with the Porta-Nailer 402 model after swaying back and forth between buying or renting something from HD. Considering the age and condition of the flooring I was installing, I figured it was better to buy a manual nailer instead of renting an air or pneumatic nailer. Basically, I figured I would be slow at doing it (this was my first nailed flooring install), I have a bedroom to do as well as the main room, the manual nailers pull the wood tighter together than pneumatic ones since you’re actually hitting the nail into the board, and the cost of buying a manual model would have worked out the same or cheaper than renting an air model. The part that clinched it was finding a ratcheting manual nailer (the Porta-Nailer) that allowed you to take multiple swings at it until the nail was totally driven into place. If it wasn’t in totally, the ram (part you hit) didn’t return and you knew to hit it again. I love the nailer, it was totally the right decision, and although I planned on selling it after, I might find myself keeping it for future renos (another house, another time)… we’ll see.

Molly did a great job of finding appropriate boards and it was really helpful having a second person while I was able to just nail away.

We only did enough on the first day to be able to move the hearth into place (temporarily) because I needed to add more shingles to the other half of the room, and we had a friends birthday party to come back to in the city.

I basically finished it the next day and now have some more decisions to make before continuing the next time I go up. The space where the pellet stove is currently sitting in the photo above has tile from the bathroom on the floor. I hate the tile and hate the idea of walking out of the bedroom onto cold tile. Turns out that with all the end pieces (they were already chopped off) and the rejects and existing cut pieces, there’s not enough to finish the small bedroom like I had wanted. There is enough though, to extend the wood into that small area and I think I will.

Next small steps:
1. Move the pellet stove from that spot
2. Tear up the tile
3. Sort out whatever subfloor is under it and try to match height to the main room
4. Extend the flooring into that area and finish the rest of the floor

Next larger steps:
1. Sand the floor
2. Stain or paint it

Originally I had wanted to paint the floors but after some discussion about resale value, we’re not sure anymore. Need to find an appropriate stain and test it out on some of the excess wood.

If I had any words of advice to offer people new to the world of hardwood flooring:
– It’s not as daunting once you get started
– The subfloor really makes a difference, so spend the time to get it flat and right
– The racheting part of this nailer was great and I would recommend the Porta-Nailer to anyone
– Make sure to measure your width properly so your chalk line is proper… the walls in my place are definitely not perfect

I’m pretty happy overall with how it turned out.

Next up… an electrical friend is on his way to the cottage now to sort out the rest of the electrical gremlins in the place, add some new pot lights to the main room, a bedroom light, hopefully restore power throughout the entire place, and light up the boathouse. I’m pretty excited to go up on the weekend just to be able to see his work.

Getting to lay the floor really feels like a significant project was completed and means more fun, cosmetic type stuff will get a chance to happen this coming weekend. Not to mention being able to soon move furniture into the space and have it start looking like a cottage. Pretty excited about progress so far.