The Front Hall Is Finished

December 31st, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

This is another project that has dragged on way too long. As part of the renovation and restoration of the front hall and staircase the existing carpet was removed and plywood was laid down on the subfloor. We’ve lived with this plywood for about 4 years and now that The Lovely Christina is a permanent resident I figured it was time to cover it up with something respectable.

In the above picture you can see the top of my head as I lay out some thinset to complete the third quadrant of the tile floor.

The buildup of the finished floor is as follows:
1) 2″ tongue and groove pine (subfloor/original finished floor).
2) 3/8″ plywood glued and screwed in a 6″ grid (with additional screws in problematic areas).
3) Thinset.
4) Schluter ditra uncoupling membrane.
5) Flat-fill with thinset.
6) Tile.

The tile came in 12″ x 12″ sheets but because of the pattern we wanted almost every sheet had to be custom cut. It took us a full week with exacto knives, cutting mats, and a reference pattern to cut all the tiles and assemble them in place on the floor. As a result there are only six full, uncut sheets in the entire floor – they are in the middle of the border.

The tiles were then transferred and reassembled in a staging area on the dining room floor so that the base for the tiles (plywood, ditra) could be prepared. Each partial sheet of tile was marked with registration marks to avoid any problems when I installed the tile. As I laid down small patches of thinset Dad would hand me the partial sheets for those areas. It was a very slow and time-consuming process but I think the results justify the headache.

With some advice from our local flooring store the initial installation was only a portion of the floor to form a cross. This cross was painstakingly laid out and with the help of lasers was aligned perfectly with the three bordering walls, the foot of the staircase, the cold air return duct, the front door, and the prime meridian. Once the cross had been installed and had set Dad and I proceeded to fill in the four quadrants.

The tile/pattern we settled on after much discussion (arguing) is a classic 1″ ceramic hexagonal tile with a flower and dot border in the main area and a dot border in the closet. We’ve seen similar patterns in old homes for years and figured it would be fitting for our old home.

We chose a dark gray grout to avoid dirty grout lines. My fingers were stained for about a week afterward.

Only half of the floor in this room was tiled. The remainder will (one day) have hardwood installed. As an interim measure we chose a laminate floor from the Christmas cash-and-carry sale at the local flooring store. The nice thing about the laminate is that it will un-install very easily when the time comes.

Here is the finished product, with shoe moulding installed and painted and laminate floor in place. You can see part of the refinished staircase on the left side of the picture. This is one of the smallest, least-used rooms in the house but it has had the most time spent on it. It has been more than 5 years altogether. I’m looking forward to putting my energy into another room for a change.

Here is a view of the new flooring from the top of the staircase. In this photo you can see the refinished heating and return grates. The grates/grilles were spray painted gloss black while the interior of the ducts were painted matte black.

…just in time for Christmas.

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