Thursday, April 29, 2010

Slate Floor

*This project took place last fall, but part of it will become relevant in later posts.

The room where we spend about 80% of our time started off as a bedroom that was expanded on. It has a vaulted ceiling, an almost all glass wall that provides a great view of our back yard and it lofts up into our bedroom. This was all done by the previous owner, and it was a major selling point for the house.

The downside is that it had white carpeting. And we have two black dogs. And even though the rest of the house has easy to maintain hardwood floors, this is the room that they run to when they have to throw up (or perform even less attractive bodily functions). Long story short, the carpet just wasn't working out.

After discussing some options, Teener and I decided on a slate tile floor. This seemed simple enough.

Teener found a supplier from Jersey that had exactly the tile we wanted, and at a good price. My mom recommended we put in a heated floor, which seemed like a good idea. So pretty soon, supplies started to arrive.

We ripped the carpet up, and it was pretty obvious where the old room ended and the addition started. There was the original hardwood for about half the floor, and particle board for the rest. We decided that we didn't want to put the tile in the particle board, so that had to come up. And it didn't come up easy:

The previous owner (and I don't want it to seem like I am shitting on him, he does good work) went a little crazy with the nail gun, and it sucked pulling this out. I ended up running a circular saw over it to make smaller sections and then tearing it up with a fubar. I can't recommend this tool enough for demolition:

Stanley Fubar Product Page

After getting it up we realized we were going to have to lower the joists to get the floors to line up. This was made more interesting by the fact that it sat on a slab that I am guessing was once a patio. And it was graded away from the house. So we had to rip the joists on the table saw to get them just right. This proved to be more art than science.

Oh yeah, we also didn't get started on this project till early December. A great time to tear out part of your house in Michigan. The fire in the background is where I was burning various scraps and debris.

The new joists are in, as well as insulation. There wasn't really any insulation under the old floor, and it was drafty as hell. The room used to be real cold in the winter. We would often have ice crystals on the back windows and doors. We hoped the new heated floor and insulation would change that.

I don't know about you, but one of the things I love most about a big project is the excuse it provides to buy more tools. And since this was so close to christmas, shit was on sale. Nice. Behold my new drill/driver combo. Since everything in this post happened a few months ago, I can report that the Bosch combo is a quality set. I am very happy with them.

The impact driver was awesome. It fits perfectly in between joists, and the impact action really cuts back on the amount of downward force you need to apply. It's a noisy bugger though. Also, both have an LED to illuminate what you are working on, or as my buddy Rob put it: "So you can see what you are doing for once."

Once we got the sub-floor put down on the new section and tore up the hardwood from the old floor, we realized we should probably tear up the old sub-floor as well. It might have been okay to use, but once you have this much time and money invested, why start cutting corners.

Tearing the floor up did make it easier to run the power to the new floor. We also used the opportunity to run some network cables and repair some duct work. Notice the nice tear in the drywall from where the molding came off? I was thrilled with myself for doing that.

Brand spankin' new sub-floor! Notice the cheep kneepads on Teener. About $3 at Lowes. Totally worth it. My only regret is that we went a couple days without them.

Next came the backer board. This step went incredibly smoothly. As did laying the electric matting.

We were hoping for the new tile floor to be within a quarter inch in height to the adjacent hardwood. Miraculously, it was perfectly level. Laying the floor took longer than we thought (just like every other step in this project), but it went smoothly.

Here is the the sealer being applied.

Now, a few words about grout. That shit is expensive. It cost about $200 to grout the floor. I don't know what goes into making grout, I am guessing ground unicorn horn. The grout was also the one step that didn't go too well for us as a couple. We managed to play nicely together through all the other setbacks. And this project took a lot longer, and cost a lot more than we even began to suspect at the beginning. So I was pretty proud of us...until the grouting. That was where we snapped. Which, upon looking back was pretty hilarious. Teener actually threw a sponge at me. That was a first.

Anyway, we bitterly grouted in silence for a few hours, which explains why there are no pictures of this step.

Here is a close up of some of the tiles. We are really happy with the tiles we chose. The are all pretty uniform in color, and each has nice, unique character.

And now with the furniture back in:

It's been a couple months now, and I couldn't be happier with the floor. It was a long road to get here, but it looks great. The heated floor is awesome. This room was so warm and pleasant this last winter, and the animals loved it.


  1. Wow nice floor design in your blog.State floor title is good for this blog.Really nice blog.
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  2. Thanks for the share. Great stuff, just nice!

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  3. As the blog progresses the floors looks amazing.This is trully a great design.
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