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Archive for January, 2011

DIY: Reclaimed Oak Flooring

January 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

A couple weeks ago I posted the “after” photo of the most extensive project so far. Taking some old dirty & stained oak flooring and turning it into beautiful reclaimed flooring in my office/guest room.

Why pull up perfectly good carpet? That’s not green – Here is why:

It was not perfectly good carpet. If you have ever watched the “Hoarding Animals” series, you know that ammonia does not add to good indoor air quality.

Moving on……

I bought the flooring at the Rebuilding Center. When I bought it – they estimated the square footage to be 300-400 SF. Since we didn’t know how usable all the wood was I was able to get the whole bundle for $200. It turns out that there was about 250 SF of usable wood in the bundle – so I paid a meager… $200/250SF = .80 Cents a SF.

That’s a great deal. You can hardly get crappy flooring from a big box store for that price and I got super nice 3/4″ thick real oak flooring. Not only was the price great, but because of the service the Rebuilding Center offers – I was able to re-use something that someone else was going to send to the land fill.

THIS is sustainable building on a shoestring at it’s finest.

This is an excerpt from their website: The ReBuilding Center, a project of Our United Villages, is a vibrant resource working to strengthen the environmental, economic, and social fabric of local communities. Founded by volunteers in 1998, The ReBuilding Center carries the region’s largest volume of used building and remodeling materials. It provides resources that make home repairs affordable to everyone, with the goal of promoting the reuse of salvaged and reclaimed materials. Three hundred visitors come to The ReBuilding Center every day to browse the ever-changing inventory that includes sinks, tubs, tile, lumber, doors, windows, trim and much more.

Here is a step by step of how to take .80SF flooring and turn it into an equivalent $7-$8SF looking floor.

Tools Needed:

  • Staple Gun
  • Rosin Paper
  • Air Compressor
  • Flooring Staple Gun
  • Hammer
  • Nailset
  • Mallet (should come with the gun)
  • 10% more flooring than you plan to use (for waste)
  • An in floor heating vent
  • 10″ Blade Miter Saw
  • Finish Nail Gun
  • 2″ Flooring Staples
  • 2″ Finish Nails

#1. Plane. I am lucky to have a cousin with a portable planar. (A lucky happenstance after boasting to my purchase at a family gathering)

Here is a photo of how the flooring came to me:

The planer is very simple to use. In one side – out the other. Just tried to keep all the boards steady and straight so the planer’s blades didn’t create grooves in the wood.  Here are some before and after pictures of the wood. So Beautiful!!

This image has the original board, stained & damaged at the top and a newly planed board on the bottom.

Here is a close up of the flooring restored to it’s natural beauty by taking off just a slight layer on top.

See the darker edge there on the right? This is a beveled edge that required hand sanding for each piece – but will give the finished floor a more dynamic look.

Then the flooring needs to be placed in the same room it’s going to be installed in to acclimate to the space. This will prevent future issues of squeaking & morphing.

#2 Prepare the Floor. I ripped up the carpet soon after moving in because it smelled so much like dog pee. I was careful to cut the carpet into strips so I could bring the carpet to a recycle center.

After vacuuming and cleaning the sub-floor, I laid down Rosin paper. Rosin paper is a vapor barrier and it helps move the flooring pieces into place easier. I used a run of the mill staple gun to hold it on the floor.

Here is what the rosin paper will look like when you buy it.

Roll the paper in the longest sheet that makes sense. In this case, we went with the line of the flooring.

Cut the paper at the wall with a box cutting knife.

#3. Install the Flooring.

There should be a 1/2″ gap between the wall and the flooring left for moulding and transitions. The easiest way that I found was to find something, a piece of extra wood or a shelf, that you can use as a gauge.

The first and last row are the hardest because the flooring stapler is too big to be used. I used a finished nailer. So using the gauge all along the wall and carefully measuring the first row – just nail the first row down. You can go back later and fill the nail hole with wood filler. Here is a picture of the tool I used.

Using this tool is simple, it does need to be plugged into an air compressor, after that, just push the front of the nailer into the wood until the safety lever is pushed in all the way and pull the trigger. I found the best PSI to have this tool at was 120PSI. This means you will wan to set your Air Compressor to 120 PSI before you use this tool. If for some reason the nail doesn’t penetrate all the way – grab a hammer and get it out to try again – don’t try to hammer it in unless you have no other option. You risk damaging the flooring.

After the first row the rest is a cinch. Just match up the tongue side of the wood with a groove side. The best way to show how all this is done is with a video. Here is what is happening:

  1. Use a mallet to hammer the flooring piece into place.
  2. Place the flooring staple gun where you want it – securely up against the wood.
  3. Use the mallet to give the hammer a good hard whack! Don’t hold back!

Here is the video:

The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.

Tricks & Tips:

  • Use a scrap piece of flooring, with the tongue side cut off as a buffer to hammer each piece tightly into ints neighbor. This is important because since I am using reclaimed flooring – some of the pieces are bowed and warped. By hitting them into place and using some extra staples, the flooring will stay in place.
  • If you can at all avoid it – do not use two flat ends next to each other – make sure that every tongue fits into a groove.
  • When installing next to a wall (remember to leave your 1/2″ gap for the wood to expand & contract) – use a couple  of crow bars to earn leverage to hit the flooring in tight. Picture below:

You also have to consider the heater vent. We ended up having to order a piece online because an unfinished oak piece is too specialized for a Lowe’s or a Home Depot to carry.

This is what the piece will look like after you order it.

Here is what your vent will look like. As you can see, you will need to cut the rosin paper out and staple around the opening.

Bring the flooring as close as you can to the heater vent. Then make sure the tongue of the flooring meets the groove of the vent cover. Then shoot the nail gun at 100PSI from the inside of the vent so the finish nails will be covered from view.

If the nail doesn’t go in all the way (like it did for us several times!)  use a nail set and a hammer to lightly and carefully push in the nail the rest of the way without damaging the flooring.

Row after row – here is what you have to look forward to when you are all done!




Adventures in Target Clearance

January 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Sorry for the breakdown in the website content. I was having a really hard time and needed to get a friends help to keep on going. He was able to hep me – and here I am! Thanks Dan.

I’m not just crazy about saving money on my house, I’m also crazy about saving money on grocery’s and presents! I had to share with anyone who reads this – that you need to go to your Target store very soon. They have items in almost all of their departments that are 75% off. It’s not only Christmas themed items – it’s anything extra they have in the store from the busy shopping season. I also read on a Forum that there is a pattern to Target’s sales. But first… Check this out!

3 Baby Bibs Reg: $7.99 clearance to $1.98

Toddler Vest Reg: $19.99 clearance to $4.98

Digital Free-cell Reg: $14.99 clearance to $3.74

Othello MOD Reg: $9.99 clearance to $2.48

6pk Scotch Bright Sponges: Reg: $5.99 reduced to $1.48 (plus I had a $1.00 coupon making it $0.8 per sponge.)

Dilly Dally Dragon: Reg: $14.49 reduced to $3.62

Quick Draw Game: Reg: $9.99 to $2.48

Dora the Explorer Kitchen: Reg: $10.99 to 2.74

Dora the Explorer Bathroom: Reg: $10.99 reduced to $2.74

Dora the Explorer Diego: Reg: $6.59 to $1.64

Flipp’in Frogs game was $23.89  and I got it for  $5.97

=135.89 worth of product all for $33.85. That’s a little over 75% savings.

These toys will make great gifts for my friends kids throughout the year. :)  Which is great for two reasons. The first being I won’t have to scramble to think of a great gift last minute and the second being I won’t be spending an arm and a leg on gifts!

At the 75% off range I splurged and even got a little “As Seen on TV” gift pack for myself.

Pedi Egg: Reg: $9.99 clearanced to $2.48

Strap Perfect: Reg: $9.99 to $2.48

Turbo snake: Reg: $2.99 reduced to  $.74cents

That’s $22.97 worth of As Seen On TV gadgetry for a minor $5.70

So here is the beginning to the Rhyme and Reason behind these deep discounts:

Mark Downs are made on the following days in the following departments:

Monday – Electronics, Kids’ Clothing, Stationery, Cards, Gift wrap
Tuesday – Domestics, Women’s Clothing, Pets, Market Pantry
Wednesday – Men’s Clothing, Toys, Health and Beauty, Lawn & Garden
Thursday – Housewares, Lingerie, Shoes, Sporting Goods, Movies, Music, Books, Decor, Luggage
Friday – Automotive, Cosmetics, Hardware, Jewelry

After Holidays this is the markdown schedule:

50% off – marked down on the day after the holiday, usually lasts for three days
75% off – marked down on the fourth day after the holiday, usually lasts for three days
90% off – marked down on the seventh day after the holiday, usually lasts for 1-3 days

Other than Christmas, this is usually the schedule used for post-holiday clearance, including Valentine’s Day, Easter, Summerville, and Halloween, for at least the last few years. Christmas has its own clearance schedule since everything goes on sale the day following the Christmas holiday.

One of the blogs I read says that the best time of the whole year to buy toys is sometime around January 14-16 or whatever date in the middle of the month that falls on a Wednesday or a Thursday – the mark down will happen. Additionally, around the 19th or 20th of January is when all the Baby clearance gets marked down to it’s final 75% off.

Just like in saving money when remodeling a house by planning, the same is true with gifts; buy them with someone in mind and hold on to them so you are not paying full price when you need it.

Updated Lender Required Repairs

January 12th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

I posted a video of the house before photos of this house before the lender required repairs here. Here are images of the repairs that were made by the contractor. I’m happy that they were done – but I’m still not sure they were worth the headache.








**Imagine** gross linoleum floor with mold and mildew in all the corners. (This photo was stolen along with my stolen laptop)


Last but not least, Before:


(Majority of this tile flooring was found at the ReBuilding Center for $60.00… Love Them!!)


Installing a Dual Flush Toilet

January 11th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I got a new toilet! Not just any toilet. A Kohler. Dual Flush. Water Saving, Beautiful Toilet! Toilets are an under appreciate porcelain feature.

New plumbing technology means faucets, showers, and toilets can use significantly less water than older models and still deliver the rinse and flush you are used to. The EPA has a label (below) that you can look for to find the products that will deliver to your expectations but still conserve water and electricity. Check out this break down I found on the EPA’s Water Sense website:

All from changing out only three things in your bathrooms: Water faucets, toilets & shower heads!

Here are photos of my new, fantastic and shiny toilet:

This particular toilet’s features:

  • Dual Force technology allows the choice of .8 gallon flush for liquid or light waste. The 1.6 gallon flush is for bulk or solid waste
  • Dual Force technology can save the average family of 4 up to 24,000 gallons of water per year with the .8 gallon option
  • Two-button actuator provides easy-to-use flushing options
  • A sanitary guard helps prevent liquid from getting under the tank
  • Elongated bowl has an extended rim length for comfortable use by adults (niiiiiiiice)
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) compliant
  • Meets strict flushing performance guildlines established by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Water Sense Program

ok. Enough gushing. Get your own.

Installing a toilet turned out to be a lot easier than I expected. This is a step step process:

#1. The first step is to turn off the toilet’s water supply. Then flush the toilet to empty its tank, . Sop out any remaining water in the tank and bowl with a sponge–make sure they’re both empty

Drain the existing toilet of all the water. We turned off the toilet’s water supply (it was a lever on the wall right next to the toilet). Then we flushed the toilet a couple times and held the trip-lever down to let all the water run out. Then we used the plunger (As seen above) to push any water that was willing – down the pipes. Lastly, we used a sponge and a bucket to get all the water out from the tank and the bowl.

#2. Remove the bolts from the sides of the toilet base. Any wrench should do the trick.

#3. Remove the caulking around the base of the toilet. We used a metal scraper – the same one we used on the wallpaper fiasco. Once all the caulking is scraped off, you should be able to give a good ‘ole heave ho and pull the toilet away from the floor. You can also rock the toilet to help break the seal of the toilet flange. I don’t have a photo of removing my toilet because the space is too small…. but here is a photo of what the space looked like “sans” old toilet.

#4. Scrape off the old wax ring and clean the space. I used this opportunity to replace the molding in the entire bathroom and paint the wall where the toilet tank was. But all I needed for the toilet replacement was to remove the wax ring:

So it looks like this:

The rest of this installation is just far too easy.

#5. Place the new wax ring in place:

When you buy your new toilet – it should come with bolts and accessories. I pushed the bolt heads into the plastic flange and then pushed the bolt into the side of this wax ring just a little in order to help them stand straight up when the toilet gets put into place.
#6. Pause. The toilet will go straight down over the wax ring and bolts through the appropriate holes all in one placement. If you rock the bowl back and forth to make it fit correctly, you could get air bubbles in your wax ring that will lead to septic gasses and worst case, water, leaking into your house. I wish I had a picture, but my place is too small and I was overly worried about sewer gasses infiltrating my house.
#7. Ok. Go ahead and place your new porcelain, water saving wonder. This could be a two person job – one for stabilizing and the other for heavy lifting.
#8. Now all you have to do is tighten the nuts onto the bolts and cover both with the plastic cover that came with your new toilet and viola! A new toilet!