tue, 10-aug-2010, 06:07

Bathroom vinyl

Bathroom vinyl

We got all the flooring for the cabin on Sunday. We had planned on sheet vinyl for most of the areas that could get wet, but a remarkably helpful employee at Home Depot suggested we use “vinyl plank flooring” instead. It’s similar to laminate flooring in that it comes in pieces that fit together to form a solid, floating floor. In this case, the individual planks have top and bottom glue strips on the edges so that they stick to each other. The glue is pressure activated and once the pieces have been fused together, it’s waterproof. The stuff is also quite thick and stiff, so it’ll go right over variations and defects in the subfloor.

I did the bathroom installation last night. It’s difficult to get the seams completely tight, but when you’re not up close to the floor the variation in seams isn’t obvious. It’s also very difficult to cut, and I went through quite a few knife blades on this small room. Still, it’s much easier to install than getting a big sheet of vinyl to fit, and it’s so thick that it seems much more durable than even high quality vinyl.

We got two different tile patterns for the bathroom and entry area, and a simulated teak for the kitchen. The rest of the place gets laminate flooring in a simulated oak. It’s not really high quality stuff, but good enough for a rental and will look a lot nicer than the old carpeting I pulled up a month ago.

fri, 06-aug-2010, 19:07

Nice light

The cabin renovation continues. I’ve been working every evening, all weekend, and I’ve started taking Fridays off so I can get everything done before the summer is over. For the past eternity I’ve been painting. Once again, I rediscover how unpleasant it is to paint textured walls. Rolling on the paint isn’t so bad, but cutting in is brutal because you have to go over the same area over and over again with the brush to get all sides of each stupid frigging pebble of drywall mud covered with paint. The good news is I’ve gotten the entire place primed, and have completed the final coat on the ceilings, bathroom, and the two main rooms. Tomorrow I hope to finish with the rest, assuming I don’t run out of paint. And then I’ll finally be able to do something fun: tiling the hearth, linoleum, and laminate flooring.

We still need to pick out the flooring. I’m thinking we’ll use two or three different styles of linoleum or thick vinyl for the bathroom, entry, and kitchen. Then a medium-light colored laminate flooring for the bedroom and living room. Hopefully we’ll be able to get all this stuff on Sunday. By then I should be done with the walls and can move on to the floor. The roof still looms in my mind, but I’m trying not to think about it until the interior is all done.

I’ve been riding my mountain bike back and forth between the cabin and home, and the top image was what I saw on my way home tonight. The new property is on the right side of the road in the photo. The photo below was taken off the deck at the new place.

View from the deck

sat, 10-jul-2010, 19:52

Subfloor, hearth, carpet removal

Subfloor, hearth, carpet removal

I started on the cabin renovation today, and I think I got most of the nasty stuff taken care of. The cabin was moved onto the site many years ago and was either built or transported in two pieces. The blue colored section in the image above (containing the bedroom and the living room) is fused with the light colored section that houses the kitchen, breakfast nook, entry area and bathroom. Before we bought the place we noticed a strange lumpiness at the intersection between the two structures, and we were a little apprehensive over what we’d find when we peeled back the carpeting. As it turns out, the gap between the buildings is actually quite close to being level and secure—it’s the section of floor between the kitchen and the gap that’s a problem. This is the dark colored (very dirty plywood and tar paper…) flooring section in the image above.

Underneath the first layer of carpeting was a 54" wide section of plywood that had been ineffectually shimmed in an attempt to make the transition from the carpeted living room to the kitchen approximately level. You can see the lath that formed the shims in the image above. The consequence of this was that the transition to the kitchen was more or less even, but the gap between structures wasn’t. I also discovered that the hearth under the wood stove was built right on top of the existing carpet, and once I removed that, I found two more layers of carpeting buried under the top layer. The back bedroom was thankfully uneventful, beyond the usual unpleasantness of pulling up decades-old carpeting and releasing the foreign, dried fluids and solids contained within.

The plan from here is to re-shim the space between the gap and the kitchen with tapered shims cut from 2x4 material such that when a new layer of ½” plywood 5/8” OSB is laid down over the entire cabin interior, the floor will be reasonably even. An alternative to shimming would be to use a floor leveling compound, but this would require approximately 42 gallons of material (15’ x 54” x 1” average height difference = 9,720 cubic inches = 42 gallons). That’d be expensive, and might also put more load on the edge of the building than what it was designed for.

One continuing debate is whether we should plywood over the gap between structures, making the connection more secure, or leave a split in the subfloor such that if the two buildings move, there’s a place to accept the changes. I’m leaning toward leaving a saw kerfs width along the gap, since the cabin is build on permafrost and we’re in earthquake country. A cut would allow movement where there might otherwise be greater damage if such shifting was restricted.

Adding a completely new subfloor will be expensive, but it also means we don’t have to be very particular about cleaning the existing flooring, and we don’t need to scrape up the vinyl flooring that covers the kitchen, entry area and bathroom. At this point, time is money. Once the subfloor is in, we’ll build a short pony wall along the right (entry) side of the gap to reduce the length of the gap that needs to stay even, replace the hearth and re-install the wood stove, patch the drywall, and paint. Finally, install laminate flooring in the bedroom, living room, and possibly the breakfast nook. The kitchen, entry, and bathroom will get new vinyl flooring.

It’s going to be a lot of work, but it is satisfying to have finally started and gotten a better idea of what the challenges are.

wed, 12-may-2010, 21:45

Hanging ice along Creek

Hanging ice along the Creek

The Creek has been flowing for what seems like months now, but up until a couple days ago it was a foot and a half of water flowing on top of a frozen Creek bed. Over the last two days the water level has dropped at least three feet, probably because the ice underneath crumbled and melted away. Now there’s a thick band of ice along the banks, hanging above the water flowing through the middle.

This is all very different from the past two years when the water and ice all broke up at the same time, resulting in a very rapidly moving Creek filled to the top of the banks with an enormous amount of water and crushed ice. I was looking forward to that this year, but it’s been such a mild breakup that seeing the Creek suddenly drop down to summer levels is a little disappointing.

Larch buds

Tamarack buds

At least it’s not snowing anymore and things are starting to get green. Most of the birch trees and shrubs have buds that are just beginning to open. There are also several large Tamarack (American larch, Larix laricina) around that are beginning to show signs of leafing out. Tamarack is one of my favorite trees; a deciduous conifer that looks like an evergreen tree in summer but drops it’s leaves in winter. I’d never looked carefully at the buds in the spring—the photo isn’t the greatest representation, but what you’re looking at are the bright green leaf buds, and purplish buds that I think will turn into cones. They’re a very striking tree once their bright green foliage comes out, and I’m eager to see what happens with the cool purple buds that dot the spindly branches right now.

The photo of the Creek at the top of the post (click on the image for a larger view) is a set of nine photos joined together by the AutoStitch iPhone app into a panorama. You can see that it should have been composed of ten photos so the lower left corner could be filled in. In my mind I’d envisioned a sort of running band of photos along the Creek, but it didn’t turn out quite the way I saw it.

tags: breakup  creek  ice  panorama 
fri, 23-apr-2010, 17:58


Piper, Kiva, Koidern

Kiva died today as a result of an inflammatory disease that we couldn’t bring under control, and the pain this was causing her. She was a little over seven years old.

We got Kiva from the Fairbanks Animal Shelter in November 2004 when she was only a year and a half old. She’d been abandoned because she “didn’t want to be a sled dog” by the same musher who had previously abandoned Piper. Throughout her life she was a super energetic dog that had a hard time staying still, loved sprint racing, and was the best fetching dog I’ve ever seen. She was great with people, and seemed to be completely in love with the cats (our old cats Ivan and Alexi and the new kittens we got late last year). We sometimes called her “devil dog” for her personality, dark coloration and bright blue eyes. Unfortunately, she didn’t get along with Piper, and started four major fights. The latest fight, two weeks ago, happened in the house, and we think it was because her pain was increasing. We finally decided that it was time to say goodbye.

As much as we love Kiva and all the energy she brought to our household, we struggled with her disease and her fighting. We agonized about euthanizing her for years, and even more over the last couple weeks since her latest fight, and we finally decided that it isn’t fair to her to be living with enough pain that she’s intolerant of the other dogs and can’t go to the bathroom normally, and it’s not fair to the other dogs (or us) to be placed in a situation where they might get injured or killed. I wish there had been something else we could have tried, some treatment or medication that would have made her happy and peaceful.

Some things I remember about her:

  • Whenever she was excited she’d run in counter-clockwise circles, over and over again.
  • She liked coming with me when I went out to the red cabin to get beer.
  • We played fetch with her using chunks of wood when we lived on Whistling Swan and bought a Chuck-It so we could throw it all the way down the dog yard or driveway here on Railroad Drive.
  • She loved it when we changed the kitchen garbage.
  • She was the only dog that would howl, usually before races.
  • She hated water and would go well out of her way to avoid stepping in puddles.
  • She went absolutely crazy when there were dogs outside the dog yard.
  • She got so excited before races that she’d chew the lines and would slam forward, rock back and slam forward the entire time at the line.
  • She was a nervous little dog that scared easily.

We miss her.

tags: Kiva  Koidern  memorial 

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