Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Making that floor shine

Principle 5: Use and value renewable resources and services

All of the timber flooring used in the house is recycled. The Baltic pine flooring from the original house has been reused in the bedrooms and second hand hardwood flooring has been used elsewhere.
Nail hole gaps and imperfections were filled, but gaps between floorboards generally not. This is because the filler can pop out as the boards expand and contract with the seasons.
The boards were sanded using an ancient floor sander borrowed from a friend in several stages. A 30 grit paper was criss-crossed over the room, followed by a 40 grit and an 80 grit which ran with the grain of the boards. A hand belt sander and small orbital sander were used to sand the edges using 80 and 100 grit paper. The process took a very long time, was exhausting and very dusty.
Skirting was installed and primed along with the floor using a linseed based Bio Priming Oil. The floor was then mopped using a lambswool pad with Bio Floor Varnish. Painting with non-toxic paints was not unpleasent. Having good lighting was a must when using varnish so that you can see where you have been.


Study floor before sanding

After a criss-cross run over with a floor sander using 30 grit paper

Floor sander in study after 40 and 80 grit sand with skirting installed

Author (Richard) paints study floor with Bio Varnish, while Kai looks cool under spotlight

Bedroom one baltic pine floor before sanding

Floor after 30 grit sand

Bedroom one floor after 40 grit sand with nail holes filled

Batic pine floor, recycled from original house, painted by mop using Bio Varnish

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The final grind

Principle 2: Catch and store energy

One of the philosophies that I have embraced in the building is to expose the materials that are being used. Concrete, which can be quite an ugly product, can be cut back and 'polished' to expose the aggregate that lies within it. It's a beautiful finish that means that the insulated slab floor can be left uncovered to do its job of catching and storing the sun's energy... or the cool of the earth during the hottest months.
I did the first roguh cut of the concrete floor grinding myself, using a hired machine. The final cut was done by the pro's. A mob called Smoothstone from Shepparton.
An industrial vacuum attachment was fixed to the grinder to remove the dust, rather than using water like I did, which would have been very messy. Edges and tricky bits were done with a small hand grinder, similar to an angle grinder. Small holes were filled with a black putty before grinding commenced and ended up looking like cut stones. The floor was given a final vacuum before painting began.

Fine floor grinding with vacuum attachment, taking out small scratches and stains.

A polyurethane high gloss paint called Tuff Coat for concrete was used. The edges were cut-in using a disposable paint brush, with the micro-fibre roller close behind. The first coat had a catalyst added to it to speed up the drying process. It took only one hour for the floor to be dry enough for second coat to be added. This meant that the guys could have the job done in half a day, instead of coming back down from Sheparton again (75km north) to finish it off.
The second coat had a satin additive included that give the floor a duller finish than the high gloss, which is difficult to keep clean (so I'm told). The floor was left to dry overnight before it could be walked on, but wouldn't be fully cured until 10 days later.
It's best not to wear shoes on the floor (as stones caught in the soles can sctach the surface), an electrotatic mop can be used to clean the floor and 3 monthly wipe with 5% metho and water will help protect it. A maintenance coat every few years is recommended.

The first gloss coat soaks right in, binding to the concrete

The satin finish knocks back the full-on gloss effect, making dust and dirt less obvious