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high desert. small house.

Day 64: Finding Flatness

The picture above is Trooponceles.  Before we met the floor guy Wednesday night, this is kind of how we were feeling.

The flooring expert had suggested we address the joists as a staring point for flattening the subfloor,  We [Brian] did the scoot-a-thon under the house and we made a map of the joists.

One thing that was immediately evident was that the bolts that secure the joists to the metal i-beams were sometimes holding the end of the joist up in the air over an 1/8 inch.  Their elevation might be pushing up the joists and creating high spots in the subfloor above. BUT it is possible this elevation is intentional and, if so, we should be cautious in messing with them.  The image below depicts the general chaos that is the subfloor.

Map of floor joists - the lightest area represents where the ____ is touching. The dark areas represent the greatest gap (>1/8"). Bolts and the number of shims are indicated where applicable. We were hoping this map would help us clarify distinct areas where a joist could be addressed and the floor fixed. But it kind of looks like a mess.

Map of floor joists – the lightest areas are where the straight edge touches. The dark areas represent the greatest joist height as seen from below (>1/8″). Bolts and shimming are indicated where applicable. We were hoping this map would help us clarify distinct areas where a joist could be addressed and the floor fixed. One thing we noticed is that the highest spots inside the house – where we have done the most sanding – are correlated with the dark spots in this image – where the joists are highest.

At some point this morning, while discussing our floor map and our options, we started throwing around the idea of a different flooring material.  What if we don’t go with tile?  Maybe then the subfloor would be fine and we could move on.  Ohhhh, how we want to move on.

Our reasons for wanting tile are – thermal mass for passive solar heating, durability, and ease of cleaning.  We don’t want to worry about the floor but we would like it to look nice.  Tile seemed like the obvious choice.  Other options that came up during the meeting included bamboo and natural hardwood.  Carpet, vinyl and laminate flooring are not being considered.

We called the flooring expert and shared with him our findings.  We were grateful to hear that the uneven joists did not mean doom and were not necessarily responsible for the high spots inside the house.  We also learned that self-leveling compound, which came up during our morning meeting, was likely not the solution and unless carefully implemented, could be trouble down the road.  He indicated that the easiest way forward was likely to reduce the center joist overlap from 4′ down to 6″ on either side of the steel beam.

Being Silver City, the land where nice people gather and cause more niceness, the floor guy agreed to meet us at the house and take a look-see.  It turned out the floor framing looked better than he thought it would.   He suspected our joist problems were 50% to do with out-of-dimension lumber and 50% to do with lax workmanship.  In any case, the way forward, he thought, was not to perform joist surgery, but rather to use his mega sander to flatten out our subfloor next week [YAY!].  We will construct a 16′ straight edge out of a 2×6, rent a massive generator and set nails and level check while his grocery cart sized machine finds the flatness.

We did discuss the option of hardwood floors with the floor guy.  In the end, however, we’re going to stick with our tile plan.

It’s been a week of revelations.  While we wait for the floor guy to be available, we’ll start work on a few other pending projects that aren’t related to the floor.  *sigh of relief*  We’re moving forward!


Ahhhh, it’s so nice when everything comes together.

For a full summary of our experience with Arched Cabins, please read Arched Cabin Summary.

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