I chose reclaimed oak flooring for most of the main level. The floorboards are 1.7 cms (3/4 inch) thick solid oak from old wine casks. They have been flattened, tongue-and-grooved, and brushed on the obverse for a weathered look. Sample here:
I signed the fabrication contract in January with Jesús, who together with his brother runs an operation that produces traditional Catalan terra cotta bricks and pavers, as well as flooring and furniture from recovered hardwood . We agreed that the first delivery of 25 square meters would occur in mid-March, in order to facilitate kitchen installation in April.
I called Jesús the second week of March and learned that he had not started fabrication yet. Apparently, he got sidetracked. Jordi, Jordi and Jordi told me the this was in fact my fault because I had not called repeatedly in the interim to remind Jesús that I was expecting the material. Because we had a contract.
Jesús got to work and delivered the first lot by the end of March. Here is what that delivery looked like.
The planks are milled at varied widths from 5 cm to 17 cm, which complicates the installation. Once you pick a width, you have to stay with that width for the whole row. Organization is key–all the planks here are sorted according to width.
I spent two weeks getting to this point:
and I was out of time and out of material. The kitchen needed to go in and I needed to wait for more boards. Towards the end of the lot, you are left with odd sizes that cannot be matched together to make an entire row.
In May came the next delivery. How much, Jesús? “All of it.” A hundred square meters of hardwood planks, which, once unpacked and sorted and hauled up stairs on a warm day, looked like this:
I stacked the planks in the master bedroom, with the idea that I would lay floor there last. So I got to work on making more meters of finished house:
And trying to keep things clean and tidy. When I finished the ballroom-sized common area, I got to work on the hallway, which leads from the common area to back bedrooms.
Little trick with the hallway. The planks are visible from below, so you can see the black “x” marks that Jesús used to keep track of the “wrong side” of each plank. I noticed this phenom when installation was over half done. I had to pull all the planks up and shave them with my electric plane to get rid of the “x” marks. (I LOVE my electric plane, btw.)
To get a smooth transition where the planks change direction at the start of the hallway, I installed the common-room planks too long and then used a hand-held circular saw to cut the sides of all the planks in one go, while kneeling on the ledger that guided the cut. I’m happy with the results.
At this point I pulled all of the remaining planks out of the bedroom and organized them in the common room.
You can see that there are a lot of short planks And quite a few long ones too that overshot the distance between the runners. I hate to waste material, so I decided to opt for a different install technique. I started with shorter runners than normal (6 cm x 6cm) and added an intermediating layer of plywood. I screwed the planks to the plywood instead of the runners, which allowed me to achieve a truly random plank layout and avoid cutting every plank strictly at 40/80/120 cms to meet the runners. The result: less waste and no need to order more hardwood to finish the job.
Once summer was over and I had re-established my perfect solitude on a Catalan mountaintop, I was able to finish the parquet install. The tricky final hurdle was a landing at the end of the hallway. Behold an aluminum door leading to the Goatshed. This is a provisional (that means temporary) door that is common at Spanish construction sites.
The bottom of the door is below the level of the new hardwood floor, so it had to go before I could finish the floor. This had to happen when it was cool enough to close the windows (to avoid a dust cyclone) but warm enough to have a hole in the house. First the demo, then the installation of the runners:
And finally the installation of new door. Toni is coming in March to touch up the plaster.
Next time we’ll finish the stairs!