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high desert. small house.

Days 62-63: Subfloor Education Continues

Last night we began to overlap the original [center] clock face from another angle, hoping to wrap up our first corner.   Whereas our first overlap seemed to more or less agree with the center clock face, this one did not.  According to our [lying bastard] 8′ aluminum beam straight edge, a board that seemed dead flat needed to be sanded down and the adjacent area needed little or no roofing felt fill-in, despite having been previously marked for 3 layers.

Our system had proven itself to be inconsistent, which is not what you want for a tile floor.  We’ve decided to blame the aluminum beam for being misleadingly flexible and short.  That night our minds [just Brian’s, really] spun through every conceivable alternate approach to this confounding flattening situation, and settled upon a revised double-string system with water leveling calibration before descending into a jagged and fitful half-sleep.  Chelsea, an expert sleeper, declared that she was not participating in any construction conversations and immediately passed out.


This is the first area of overlap.  The sun rays from the center of the house are the ones running almost left-right.  We then initiated a new center point (the point were all these lines are converging near the top right) and began a new sun ray.  The black shape is the area that needs 1 layer of felt; the red shape is a second layer.

Brian researched water leveling devices and longer straight edges for awhile, then called some local flooring contractors to see if they’d be willing to come in and knock down the high spots with their 200 lb Clark mega-sanders.  The only contractor that answered was a 30 year veteran who took a surprisingly holistic approach to the subject of floor flattening.  Instead of ‘git er done’ band-aiding, he wanted to address root problems, and therefore the first thing to do, he said, is look at the joists.

The Arched Cabin crew should’ve carefully checked and power-planed the tops of the joists to dead-level before a single sheet of subflooring was installed but it seems that may not have happened.  The 30-year veteran said to take out the shims and use the accursed aluminum straight edge against the bottom of the joists to find out if any were high or low.  Then bring them into line, using shims to push them up or clamps to pull them down as needed.   Additionally, since the joists overlapped 4′ in the middle of the floor, and there were noticeable subfloor rises on either side of the overlap, it might be good to cut the overlap back to only 6″ past where the joists sat on the center steel i-beam.

Once the joists are sorted out, the only remaining high spots should be the waterlogged seams which can be sanded down.  He also recommended using a 2×6 as a straight edge after snapping a chalk line on one edge and shaving off whatever was over the line.  2×6’s come up to 24′ long so that sounds promising.

The floor veteran had phrased our first task something like, “Go spend two hours under the house and ….(follow advice described above)”.  When Brian passed along this message, I thought to myself, “pfffttt, our house is small.  There’s no way we’re going to need 2 hours under there.”  I then shared aloud, “Don’t plan on me spending time with you in that spider hole.  I’ll assist from well outside the perimeter.”

We started under the house around 5:30 and wrapped up as the mosquito feast began around 7:45.  I guess it did take 2 hours!  [The featured image at the top is the data we gathered on the joists.  A more organized image will be posted later.]

We noted the height of each joist as __________

We noted the height of each joist relative to its six neighbors.

Brian did a lot of scooting last night - on his back, on his side, on hands and knees...not an easy task.

Brian did a lot of scooting that night – on his back, on his side, on hands and knees…not an easy task. Luckily, he was wearing his gravel-resistant T-shirt.

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

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