Long Term Home Remodel Project

Phase VIb - Finishing the Den, Part II / Floor, Laundry & Bar

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With the shed finished just before winter, we will be taking a break from construction to work on other projects until spring. At that time we will start this last step of the den remodel. We will raise the floor to match the new stem wall and the rest of the house, add the partition to separate it from the master bedroom closet and add the laundry and bar. Meanwhile, we found some nice laminate flooring at the Habitat for Humanity outlet that we really liked for the den and purchased it to be stored until ready for it.

. . . Another (Shorter) Long Pause . . .

As often happens, plans and reality don't necessarily match. Instead of "next spring" it was spring but a couple of years later. I finally determined that if we were ever going to have the room finished, now was the time to get it done. Working on the floor does not agree with my arthritis a lot these days so I would need a lot of help from my carpenter son.

The first step was to raise the floor to match the rest of the house. Remember in a previous phase we built a false stem wall around the perimeter to match the main foundation then rebuilt the walls on it. This is not part of the den, of course, but I also wanted to cut a hole through the south wall of the living room to construct an alcove for the piano that does encroach into the new walk-in closet that is part of the den remodel. A concrete slab for the alcove had to be done before we could raise the rest of the floor so it is mentioned here. The slab was poured first then the rest of the alcove was built after installing the sub floor for the den. It is described more fully here.

Plane Shavings All right, back to the den. The old slab floor was a porch so it had a slope to the back of about 2 inches. We would cut 2x4s to set on the slab, tapered to make their tops level and flush with the existing slab in the rest of the house. I figured we could measure the depth at both ends then cut a straight taper between the ends for the new sub floor to set on. Unfortunately, this was not the case. After preparing a couple of them we tested for fit. The slab also has a significant but unanticipated crown near the center that varies from one joist to the next. After custom shaping the first ones with a hand plane, I finally figured out that we could set a 2x4 on the slab, scribe it to fit the curve and cut it on the band saw for a nearly perfect fit. Then we could mark both ends and cut a straight line for the top and the sub flooring would fit perfectly. This was still a slow job but much better than the first attempts. The sub flooring material is rated for joists on 24 inch centers but I thought 16 inch spacing would give a more solid feel. At 32 feet, that is a lot of lumber to have to custom fit. There were some other challenges along the way too, like keeping everything flat and level and being sure we ended up at the right height for the patio door since we started at the other end. Finally, I always thought the room was 32 feet long by 10 feet wide so four sets long by 1-1/2 wide of 4x8 sub-flooring panels would be perfect. Actually, it turned out to be 32 feet, 3 inches. This photo shows the result on the floor of hand planing just one 2x4 joist. It was a tiring job and I do have a very good and sharp plane.

First Section Last Section After shaping the 2x4 floor joists to fit the existing slab, we glued and screwed them to the concrete. After completing each 8 foot section of joists, we then glued and screwed the tongue-and-groove sub flooring panels onto them. The room is just slightly under 10 feet wide so a sheet and a half fits with very little waste. The left photo shows the first section finished. We started at the east end which will be the master closet eventually rather than den but the floor needed to be continuous from end-to-end. The other is the last section, showing the custom fitted joists, ready for the sub flooring panels.

After finally finishing the sub-flooring, we took a break from the den and finished the piano alcove here.. Judy was tired of the living room being an unusable jumble.

Laundry Laundry The next step in the den was the laundry closet at the far end. Since we purchased this house, the laundry has been in the kitchen with the dryer venting into the garage. This, of course, causes not only a significant amount of lint in the garage, which doesn't look particularly good on a black car, but also raises the humidity in the garage to a high level. With my woodworking tools moving to the garage, that was not going to be acceptable. In Phase 6 we discussed the plumbing that was contracted for the new laundry. Now it was time to build the closet surrounding it. I built the walls and storage shelves and tiled the floor. Then my son helped move the machines. It has now been tested and works perfectly. The closet is a little tight for access to all the shelves but it is workable. Here it is first roughed-in then finished and ready with the machines and shelves installed. There will be louvered doors to close it in after the rest of the walls and floor are finished. The stackable Bosch washer and dryer are fine machines for sure. That area on the right with all the stacked moldings and the window air conditioner will eventually become another glass block window with a wet bar below. We are still "under construction" at this point.

Well, we got a break between other stuff and decided to install the glass block window for the bar before winter comes. Here it is seen from inside the den as well as outside. The last photo tries to show its relationship with the older three windows at the garage. Wall Inside Window Inside Window Outside Wall Outside

The next step is again not in the den but still had to be accomplished at the same time. The old laundry area in the kitchen had to be reconfigured for the secondary refrigerator that had been in the den since being displaced by the original kitchen remodel. That process is also described fully here.

Now, with those "aside projects" done maybe we can finally finish the den. Check back soon as we intend to finish as soon as practical.

Oh, wait! I almost forgot that there has to be a wall dividing the old 32 foot area and separating the "den" from the master bedroom walk-in closet. I have to do at least the major construction in the closet area before building that wall; otherwise, construction access will be much more difficult. Therefore, we will take yet another side-trip into the Master Bedroom & Walk-in closet phase.

Window Frame Door Frame Now with the closet, still not finished but at least usable, I can return to the den. Moving the large lowboy into the closet made room to move the exercise bicycle from the den to the bedroom. After moving more smaller tools to the garage, some other stuff to the shed and some others to the dumpster, I almost have room to work in the den. I started by sanding and finishing sheetrock joints that had not been done. I finished around the windows with a typical sheetrock face cut very carefully to fit tight to the window with metal outside corner where it meets the walls. This did not seem like a practical solution for the door, however. The distance from the door to the wall was just over an inch. Trying to cut that narrow a strip and then nail it to the frame so close to the door just seemed unlikely to succeed. I opted to use wood instead. That meant no metal corner was needed and I could use the brad nailer that close to the door frame without danger of damage to it. But I then had to scribe it to match the wall. These photos show the result with the blue painter's tape to protect the metal frame from sheetrock compound and left in place for later primer. With primer now on the raw sheetrock of the east and south walls, they are ready for the paneling. This will reduce some of the clutter and make more working space in the room.