Friday, September 23, 2011

Home addition: Flooring gone bad, flooring made good.

Remember when we had the pre-finished oak flooring installed way back last November?  Well, we got a good two months out of it anyway. Yup, that's right, the finish on the brand new flooring started showing wear only a couple of months after it was laid and by this spring we were down to bare wood in a few places.  It was inexpensive flooring, so I didn't really expect the finish to last a lifetime, but 2 months?  So we had the supplier (ProSource of Utah) come take a look at it to see if they would warranty it.  You know what they said? "Adhesive." The bare spots on our floor were adhesive left from installation.  What a royal line of bull!   ProSource is really being quite stupid about this.  We purchased this (and our more expensive master bedroom flooring) through our contractor Ryan, who has ordered about $20,000 worth of product through that store over the last several years.  This is the third time ProSource has not stood by a product they have sold him.  We had an estimate of $450 to fix the problem. All ProSource would have had to do is throw us a few hundred bucks and they could have kept their good name and kept Ryan as a buyer.  But they chose to fabricate a reason as to why they would not warranty their product and in the process get on Ryan's and our bad sides.  I'll bet they don't know that I keep a blog read by hundreds of potential customers.  Well, I am here to tell you, ProSource of Utah is a bad outfit and it is not in your best interest to do business with them. If you do you will regret it.

Well OK then, after that rant about how awful ProSource is, I will come back to my usual happy positive tones, finish my story, and share some pictures of the new floors.

We had arranged for the pre-finished oak to be sanded lightly and a new, more durable finish put on it the day before we went to race the Galena Grinder.  So we moved all the furniture out of the kitchen and new office area in anticipation for the arrival of Elegant Hardwood Floors, the new contractor.

Just before he started, we had a discussion about what it would look like afterward.  There were quite a few pieces of flooring that had small but noticeable raised snags on the edges, the fault of the original installer, M.G.McKee Construction.  (So first we purchased a faulty product and then the original contractor installed it improperly. 0 for 2 on the floors.) When we had the estimate, Elegant said those boards would be removed and replaced before the finish was redone.  But on the day that the work was supposed to start, he said those replaced boards would likely be just a little higher than the surrounding boards and wouldn't look good.  Our alternatives were to pay $450 to do the re-coat and still have an imperfect floor, or sand the whole finish off (for a lot more money) and get a traditional finish on the hardwood floor. Now, being the glutton for punishment that I am, right then and there, I convinced Drew that we should bag the re-coat idea (seemed like a waste of money to me) and do the whole house at one time.  The living and dining room have very old oak flooring that was in sore need of refinishing.  Our plan had been to get the new addition done, finish stripping the woodwork in the living and dining room, paint the walls, and then redo the floors.  But having the floors sanded, sealed, and two coats of oil-based polyurethane put on is a major inconvenience that I only wanted to do once.  So if we were going to do the new floors, why not tack on the rest of the wood floors too?  So we set the date to have the living room, dining room, kitchen, office area, and two stair landings all redone the week after Galena Grinder.

I blogged/whined all about the inconvenience of me (Drew was off on a mancation at the Osh Kosh Air Show) having to camp out in the garage in the hottest part of the summer with the cats,

sleeping on a cot,

cooking on a camp stove, and crawling in through the spare bedroom window to use the bathroom in this post.  It was a rough few days. Besides the acrobatics of using the bathroom, I only stepped foot in the house to take a few pictures during the business. Here is the floor sanded and being filled.

Even after the floors were finished, I couldn't sleep in the house because the fumes were so strong as to produce instant headaches and make you wonder how many brain cells you could really spare.

But eventually, the house was habitable again and have come to realize that doing all the floors in one shot was the right thing to do.  Elegant Hardwood Floors did an excellent job and the floors look amazing! Before, the living and dining room floors had gray boards where the finish had worn off and dirt was ground into the wood.  Now they are a beautiful rich warm honey color and are as smooth as a kitten's fur.

 You can see in the picture above through the back door the pile of furniture with a tarp over it on our back deck.  We were lucky and only had a light rain shower that week.

The new addition floor is now super smooth like a true wood floor, without the beveled edge of a pre-finished floor.  It is hard to tell the difference in pictures, but if you look carefully at this picture of when the pre-finished was first installed, you can tell there is a little seam or bevel between each piece. 

Now, the bevel is gone and we have silky smooth floors.

 In fact, that was a month and a half ago and they still look so good that I am cleaning them regularly. You know, like how when you have something nice and new you want to keep it clean and nice and new-looking. Yeah, the floors are like that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Glorious, happy, luxurious SOD!

How happy can having a patch of soft, cool, green, lush, verdant grass in one's backyard make one?  Exceptionally, exuberantly, extra happy.

Today, I am giddy. Today, I am giddy because Drew and I laid 250 square feet of wonderful, beautiful sod in our yard.  I am giddy not only because grass is a beautiful thing, but because we have not had grass in the backyard since never.  When Drew bought the house in 2001, he said the backyard was knee-high weeds. By the time I came into the picture in 2005, it was still pretty bleak.

We killed pretty much everything back there that summer so that we could have a "blank slate", onto which we planted some trees.

From there, our ambition for home remodeling got out of hand.  A new garage and a big addition to the back of the house bulldozed any plans I had for the American patch of green grass.  Before I could really focus on installing a lawn, there was an irrigation system to install the bones of last fall and finish this spring.  Now, finally this summer, we got down to the business of grass.

Earlier this summer I tilled the entire future lawn space.  In doing so, I broke a line in the new sprinkler system.  Fixed that. Then it got hot and we turned our attention to finishing the addition. (We're almost there, and I know I have a lot of posts to get caught up on.)  For the past week I have been intensively preparing for the sod.  I dug holes under the only partially supported deck stair stingers

so that I could retrofit the posts with a galvanized support and concrete pillar.

Then yesterday we laid out all the landscape edging and weed-barrier fabric.
 And did the final grading and loosened up the top bit of soil. 

Still, there was more work to be done. Our final step, after nightfall mind you, was to move some of the leftover large boulders out of the main backyard flower bed that were left there when we pulled the boulders out from under the vinyl fence last year during the excavation work for the addition. The boulders didn't look as big and heavy in this morning's light.
 After all that hard work yesterday, we were ready to pre-fertilize and go get the sod! My poor truck.

I deliberated for months about what type of grass to grow.  We have native buffalo grass (cultivar=Legacy) in our front yard.  It is slow to green up in the spring but is a nice soft gray-green color.  It looks very natural, but not like the quintessential "lawn". We watered it about 5 times this summer and mowed about the same number of times, plus it doesn't like to get fertilized! How is that for water-wise and low maintenance?  It is a good lawn for our front yard, but in the back we wanted something lush. Kentucky bluegrass is soft and fine and deep green and cool. It is the typical lawn everyone has.  It is part of the American dream for goodness sake!  It is also thirsty and requires regular fertilization and mowing.  A better alternative to bluegrass might be tall fescue.  It can use up to 25% less water then KBG, has similar color, and does better in shade but is coarser in texture.  I was all set to get fescue sod, but then I read in a few different places that if you have heavy soil or soil with hardpans, tall fescue can't put down its roots as deep as it would do naturally, and therefore you don't get the water savings that a fescue offers.  We have heavy clay soil and almost zero shade to contend with.  In the end, I chose to purchase BioBlue from BioGrass Sod Farm, a local dealer in Sandy, Utah. BioBlue is a mix of three different KBG varieties (Nu Destiny, Moonlight, and Prosperity) that have been chosen for Utah's climate to withstand drought and use less water. I think our much-reduced-since-2005 lawn area partially justifies the old thirsty KBG standby.

With Drew and me working, actual sod laying took us only about 2 hours and was way easier than I expected.  Maybe the 80-pound bags of cement I lifted last week was a good pre-sod workout.  Our two hours is condensed in this little time-lapse movie into a happy 17 seconds.

I estimated that we would need 230 square feet, so I ordered 250, just to be safe.  I guess I was off a bit in my estimation because this is the sod we ended up with at the end of the day. No waste here.

So now it is all in and dang it looks good!

Next project: do the flagstone path and add gravel at the lawn edges at the edge of the deck, but for a couple of day I'm just going to be elated in our happy lawn and enjoy the massage I earned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Work trip

A couple of weeks ago I make a 3-day trip out to the West Desert to check on all 10 surface water flow monitoring sites. 

It has been a very wet year in Utah.  There is standing water in the Sevier Desert.  That's wet!

The new ramp flume we installed early this spring is working well.

 One of the ranches has new goats.

Best part of the trip was camping at Baker Creek campground in Great Basin National Park.  Beautiful, cool, secluded.

It was good to get out there.