family room. it’s happening!

Hello All!  Those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook know what we’ve been up to these past few weeks, and for those that don’t, here is the update!

I have decided to post more progress reports on the renovations happening here.  I have been getting a lot of questions about how we did what, and this blog is all about helping YOU achieve any of the things we do here, in your own home.  Keep in mind, I am NOT a professional contractor (of course).  I am educated, trained and working in Interior Design, and my husband has years of experience working in trades and the fact that his father was a carpenter certainly doesn’t hurt!  This is some serious DIY, people! Indulge at your own risk!  Take what you can from us, and don’t forget how knowledgeable your local Home Depot or Rona associates are.

As mentioned here, we are on a mission to remove ALL carpeting from this house.  For us, it is nothing but a mecca for allergens, and with our pal Brian roaming around, eliminating places for dander and dust mites to hide is a must.

This is how the room looked just before we moved in:

Yes. Oh goodie. Panelling.  FLOOR TO CEILING.  We knew this was going to be our main family room, and besides the kitchen, the room we would likely be spending the most of our waking hours in. So, of course, we wanted this room to be fantastic.  In my mind that means no panelling.  I think that panelling can have its place, especially if you are trying to achieve that beach-y, cottage look.  But for our family room?  Hell no!  Definitely not my first choice.  SO!  We debated our options:

1.) Is there drywall beneath the panelling?  Not likely.   Even if there is? the panelling is probably not only nailed, but glued to it, which means it will be a mess to remedy.  Much like the shape the walls were in when we demoed the dining room.  Ok, not the end of the world, but lots of work.

2.)  Can we simply cover the panelling?  Hubby suggested skim coating the panelling with drywall compound, much the same way you would mud a crack or hole in your drywall…..except all over every wall…..Ummm, maybe NO.  We did some research into this before completely discounting it as an option.  Mudding over wood is NOT recommended.  It can crack and crumble easily.  This is no good for the long term solution we are looking for.

3.)  Hang new drywall.  We quickly discovered while removing the baseboards, that there was NO drywall beneath the panelling.  Which leads to option #3:  hang new drywall.  Kind of a pain, more expensive than the other two ‘options’, and definitely time consuming.  When you remove something as thin as panelling and replace it with something thicker like drywall you then have to move your switch and outlet boxes out slightly, otherwise they end up sunken into the wall.  And then there’s the drywall dust….I just love that stuff, doesn’t it just have a fantastic way of getting everywhere?

HMMMM, no obvious choice in sight.  With summer creeping up quickly and the space leading directly out to the patio and yard we really wanted this room to be functional before the first of June.  And so I did the UNTHINKABLE.  I decided to simply paint the panelling…..

PAINT: Benjamin Moore custom tint. Lighter version of BM Wickham Grey

I know, I know, not really a big deal.  The focus of the room will ultimately be the built-in unit that will span the entire length of the fireplace wall.  With this being our WOW factor I hope the painted panelling fades into the background.  I used a very light blue/grey color (a custom BM tint) and this lightness helps to hide the wood grain.  The more prominent grooves are still evident, but all in all it doesn’t look half bad, and we are happy to have avoided another messy demo job.  We removed the chair rail that ran around the space and I painted the panelling a consistant color from floor to ceiling.  When it comes to renovating on a budget, and maintaining a family life, sacrifices are made.  We saved a lot of time and a significant amount of money by leaving the panelling in place and simply painting it.

Next step?  Removing the very old carpet and replacing it with the hardwood we purchased when we moved……6 months ago.  You know, sometimes it takes awhile to get to a project around here, but we always get there!

Hubby started by cutting and rolling up the old carpet, taking it and its underpad all out of the room.  We then went through with our pliers and removed ALL staples that were still stuck into the sub-floor, along with the tack strips around the perimeter.  We then took 5/8″ sheets of tongue and groove plywood to reinforce the existing subfloor.  We didn’t remove what was there, we simply reinforced by adding another layer of plywood.  We measured and cut to fit, covering the entire floor, making sure not to mimic the same cuts of the existing subfloor.  If you have a decent subfloor you will not need to include this step.  Ours seemed kinda flimsy to hubby, and this caused squeaking.  The new layer will eliminate both these problems.

squeaky floors drive hubby CRAZY.

We installed the new subfloor using construction adhesive and 2″ flooring screws secured every 8″ or so along the flooring joist.  NOTE: sometimes it take a few tries to find the joist beneath all that subfloor, but you will know when you hit it as the plywood will tighten down to the floor when the screw bites into the joist.  Once you find the joist just follow the line all the way across.

When all your subfloor installed, roll out rows of craft paper over top.  This paper serves a few purposes as far as I can tell.  It acts as a ‘vapor retarder’ or a ‘permeable membrane’ which means if there is any moisture coming from below, the paper helps to lessen the impact of this on the hardwood.  You would not put a impermeable barrier beneath hardwood as it can trap moisture beneath and cause you more problems.  As we don’t have any moisture problems in this area the craft paper mainly serves to allow independent slippage of the hardwood and plywood over time, and it also eases the installation process as it creates a more smooth surface to run your hardwood over.  Install using a staple nailer.

Hubby loooooves it when I’m taking photos and he’s doing all the work.

When you have all these layers installed it looks something like this:

LOTS of prep work!! But now the fun part: installing the hardwood.  Always follow the manufacturers instructions of course, but really its a fairly simply procedure.  The right tools definitely help.  We have an air compressor which means we use pneumatic tools.  For this job we used; a floor nailer, and a finishing nailer with 2″ 16 gauge nails.

Starting with your finishing nailer you have to ‘top nail’ the first row, as shown above.  When you install your baseboard after you finish your floor, it should cover these nails.  You continue to use the finishing nailer at an angle for the first few rows.  The floor nailer packs a punch, and will shoot the first row out if you use it to install your second row.

After you have your first few rows installed you can switch over to using the floor nailer.  These tools are definitely expensive, and probably not an option if you are only doing a small space.  We managed to score one when we moved in 6 months ago on sale %65 off.  Even still it was a $100 investment.  Because we had soooo much new flooring to install throughout the whole house it was worth it to us.

be warned!  they are not quiet little things! so LOUD!

……that is until the thing decided to give out half way through the flooring job!! UGH.  We cursed and swore hummed and hawed for days over what to do.  Turns out, you can rent floor nailers through your local Home Depot.  We knew we didn’t have much to go so, without a sale in sight, we will finish by renting a nailer.  Renting is definitely a viable option if you are doing a reasonable sized space in your home.  It is about $50 a day, but with professional floor nailers running about $500 I’d say its worth it.  If you know you can get it done in two days it’s worth the rental 🙂

the hard part is nearly done!

That is what we have been up to around here.  We are nearly done with the hardwood, and will soon move on to refacing the fireplace and constructing our built-ins around it.  I’ll keep you posted as we get further along!  Thanks for checking in, friends!



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