Friday October 30, Tuesday November 10, Thursday December 17 / Friday December 18
The order in which we have built or finished particular components has mostly been determined by what has been needed next: I promised my guests a working toilet for the birthday party in November, so the toilet had to have a floor to sit on.
Most of the floor of 60k House is polished concrete. Most. The remaining part is two different types of timber flooring: Tas Oak floor boards for the entry/ante space and the dry area of the bathroom; Huon Pine duck boards (widely spaced floor boards) for the wet area of the bathroom. The concrete slab was set down 100mm to allow a timber frame to be built for the timber floor. The decision to incorporate some timber flooring inside was primarily a sensory consideration (the warmth of timber under bare foot) while also defining the function of the spaces, providing relief from the concrete throughout, and acting as a threshold between inside and outside; the bedroom and the living room.
- Tasmanian Oak is actually a combination of three Eucalyptus species: regnans (Mountain Ash or Victorian Ash), delegatensis (Alpine Ash or Woolybutt), and obliqua (Stringybark).
I spent a while at the timber yard sorting through floor boards, trying to find the right lengths to minimise wastage and save some money (you pay by the lineal meter). There are various grades of timber floor boards – ranging from the most uniform to the most distinctive: select; prime; standard; and character or feature grade. I bought 60LM of 108x19mm Tas Oak prime grade end matched tongue and groove floor boards. End matching (with a tongue and groove at each end of the board as well as the side) wasn’t important because each board covers a single run with no joins (the length of the floor is only 2.2m).
Wax on, wax off
We didn’t use a floor clamp to tightly press the floor boards together – instead just an off-cut block of timber and a hammer to knock the boards tight before fixing in place with the brad gun (small nails). Once the floor boards were nailed we gave them a light sand with an orbital sander (they do make larger floor sanders for larger jobs) before applying three coats of Whittle Wax – a natural floor coating that protects the timber and provides some water resistance (similar to Tung oil).
Greg took some time fiddling around to fit the floor boards to match the edge of the concrete as best he could. He did a good job, but the edge of the concrete wasn’t even (we didn’t pay it enough attention when pouring and finishing the slab). As a result there is a slight lip between the two different materials. Dean suggested a release detail: cut back the floor boards and fill the gap with sealant to even out the slight height difference.
To protect the timber floor from the elements, and enclose the building more, we screwed some second hand sheets of roofing where the wall and entry door will go. We also fixed an old piece of Perspex to the end wall of the bathroom to provide privacy to the toilet and stop some of wind and weather blowing in. I told Greg that neither of these temporary measures should look too good or we might get too attached to them. What I didn’t realise at the time was the gap left open at the top of the Perspex sheet afforded a beautiful view to the tree canopy outside and up the valley to the west. It turns out that this height is EXACTLY the same as the awning windows around the building. Everyone that has visited the bathroom and sat on the throne has commented how delightful the view out is. I never had any plans for a window in that direction (instead was going to use opaque polycarb throughout the bathroom) but as a result of all of the oooohs and aaaahs will now include a glass window and clear panel in the door.
Finish it off
It was time to get Dean back in to finish off the concrete floor while it was all accessible, before the kitchen joinery would be installed. The concrete slab had already been ground – all that was required was another grinding, densifying, sanding, and a few coats of sealant to finish it off. This took a couple of days, and needed to be left for a couple more for the finish to set.
Costs: floorboards – $395; concrete grinding and finishing – $1,500 ($3,000 total)
Disclaimer: Any advice contained within this blog is of a general nature only and cannot be relied upon. Details provided are in good faith and relate specifically to this project. Any author will not be held responsible for advice or information presented.