Flooring - Part 1

All of the remaining carpet around the walls has been removed and the hook strips pulled up, which was hard work because almost every nail had rusted into the floor and had to be pulled out separately.

I especially want to retain the original timber in the flooring in this room even though it has obviously been pulled up and put back down at least once in it's lifetime.

Spent several hours punching floor nails down in preparation for sanding at some time. My regular nail punch and claw hammer weren't up to the job so I got myself a flooring punch and switched to the 4 lb (1.8 kg) block hammer pictured (image 1). The heavier hammer and punch gave much better control and safety. I managed to not hit my knuckles at all. The boards pictured are 5 1/4 inches wide (and 24 mm thick).

1. Punching nails was easier with these

New skirting will need to provide a good seal against the cold air coming in through the wall vents, pictured.

2. Breezy

The floor boards in the lounge have pretty obviously been pulled up and re laid at some time. My guess is that this occurred when the room was still in use as a classroom because there are large spills of coloured paint on the floor, including the newer unmatched floor boards, that do not appear to match any colours used in the décor. present or past. They are kind of colours that you see in children's painting sessions. My guess is that the entire floor was pulled up and re laid to close gaps. The newer floor boards were laid in a continuous section, I assume to fill the shortfall resulting from closing the gaps and replacing boards that were damaged when pulled up.

Archeological Finds

3. Two pieces of wood used to pack a window frame. See right -->

This would have most likely been lamp oil. "Snow Flake" oil was sold in NSW in the 1910's according to one catalogue of historical Sydney signs. That would mean some repair work was done on the window after that time

4. An image of a box with matching print from a Google search.

If you had just glanced a look at the box you'd be forgiven if you'd thought you saw the words "Snake Oil"

5. Artifacts

Small artifacts found so far during the renovation. The fragment of a ceramic inkwell and the pencil were found under the floor jammed between a wall and the timber bearer supporting the floor joists. How they got there I can't say. The chalk came down when I was removing render from between one of the end tie beams and the end wall. Clearly it was thrown up there, so perhaps some rowdy classroom sessions were had. I don't recall where the marble came from but the game was a very popular passtime up until the 1950's. I remember playing marbles but wasn't very good so soon lost mine. Then "jacks" (knucklebones) took over in the early 1960's.

Flooring - Part 2

About one third of the flooring in this room was replaced at some time with cypress. The planks are a much narrower width and a lighter colour. It can be seen in several of the fireplace reno images above. I suspect it was laid when the building was still operating as a school, i.e. prior to 1946. My only evidence for that is the colours of the paint stains, which I have not found used anywhere in the rest of the building and which look like childrens water based finger paint colours. These odd planks will be replaced by the best original boards taken from the other four rooms, which will all be getting new floors.

The odd boards were all pulled out then replacement boards were selected, positioned and cut to length. Once all the replacement boards were fitted loosely they were all stacked in order out of the way and nailing began. I used whatever worked to close gaps and straighten boards as I nailed them down: clamps, car jack, and even a manual hydraulic ram and jaws kit that I bought cheap. I spaced and aligned each strip working towards a final gap that would be consistent the full length of the room, which turned out to be 20mm. The last step was then to cut some 19mm strips of flooring to lay in the gap. The 19mm strips had no tongue and what was left of the tongue on the strip adjacent to the gap was removed. One edge of the 19mm strips was glued then they were fitted. See image 75 below for the end result. I could have rebated the edges to overlap but decided against it. The floor will be sanded and then filled all over using a mix of epoxy and final stage sanding dust before being finish coated. If shrinkage causes a gap to appear I can always create a rebate along it and drop in a strip of timber, or brass if I want to make a feature of it.

Other than replacing the odd boards the aim is to retain the character of the original floor, so there will be no major structural additions to the subfloor. The subfloor will not be levelled, for example, except where gross adjustments are found to be needed. There are none to this stage.

6. Out of the floor and into the fire to heat the workspace (the smaller pieces, the rest is in the woodshed). The cypress was so brittle not a single board came up without breaking and long lengths literally snapped under their own weight

7. Revealing the structure beneath the hearth

8. All done. Revealing a glimpse of the centreline foundations supporting the floor

9. All done. There were a lot of large basalt stones from where they created a gap in the centreline foundation wall to pass the original oil heating duct through. I've collected the stones for use in other projects.The green duct is for the new HVAC

10. Cutting and arranging the replacement boards

11. All finished. The white on the boards is from where gaps were filled between boards in the rooms they were taken from. It will disappear when the floor is sanded. These boards are 23mm thick so I can take a few mm to get a smooth level floor

12. Where tongues were too damaged the section was removed and a slot routed into the edge then a plastic tongue glued in. This is the same 15mm x 4mm plastic tongue as used in structural particle board flooring only the product I bought was sold as electicians cable snake. They sell it online as such for about AU$18 a 3.6m length. I bought mine at Bunnings for AU$4.10

13. Router and bit - 4mm slot

14. There are small gaps because the boards were not all exactly the same width and I did not want to reduce it by dressing them. I used various methods to compact and straighten, including my car jack and finally a cheap hydraulic chassis straightening kit with various attachments including some spreading jaws that I used for the last row with just a 20mm gap. The main thing was to finish with the last board parallel to the existing edge. I started on the right and you can see where I finished on the left.

15. Because I was not starting or ending at a wall there was always going to be a gap to be filled at the end. It turned out to be 20mm that I filled with a 19mm strip of flooring.

16. The problem with running vents across boards is the lack of support for the short lengths of boards between the vent opening and the wall. The vent in the photo is for the new HVAC, and is shorter than the original oil heating vent. You can also see the effect of time, heat and moisture on the particle board used here to fill a gap. It has disintegrated.

17. Vent relocated

Both of the original oil heater vents in this room had the same problem. Either they were much bigger then reduced in size or their locations were adjusted slightly. They are both below a window and I suspect were relocated further from the wall and away from drapes before the room was carpeted. I relaid boards around the other vent and have moved the vent in this photo to another wall rotated 90 degrees.

Repairing the hole left behind required cutting and removing boards so that the replacement boards could span at least three joists. With the replacement boards around the vent, to reduce the width slightly to match the existing boards I chose to cut the tongue side then cut slots with the table saw and glue new plastic tongues in place.

18. Repair underway.

Boards cut and removed so that replacement boards will span at least three joists. The replacement boards are 1 or 2 mm wider than those below so this time I will dress them a little to match. The joists have been planed and the first board is in place.

The way the joists have been joined to extend across the width of the room seems odd to me. The centreline foundation wall supporting the joists is just one or two board widths to the right so I don't know why they didn't lap both sides over the plate

19. Finished.

The replacement boards are also thicker than the surrounding boards.

The rooms that the boards came from had dark perimeters a few feet wide leaving a lighter coloured square in the centre of the room, as if a rug had occupied that space.

Sanding should fix both those problems

20. New tongues