Saturday, May 19, 2012

Demolition Derby

When northbound I-85 is backed up due to construction, I take a series of side streets to get home.  On the way is a beautiful house that will soon be torn down.  After several trips past it, wondering if there was anything inside I could use on my house, I peeked inside and saw the downstairs hardwood floors are the width I need to put in my bedroom.  They were filthy, so I couldn't determine the species.  Nonetheless, I wanted the flooring and contacted the demolition company for permission to remove it.

It's a shame that this house will be torn down but it's just as well, I guess.  Most of the inside had already been worked on by the demo crew, revealing that termites had been present for many, many years.  Even if it wasn't in the way of a new highway, it was no longer habitable.  The termite damage and rotten subfloors in a lot of places made it way beyond any restoration.  I tried checking tax maps to see how old it is, but there's no age listed.  I'd guess late 1800s.


Eight hours Monday and ten hours Tuesday were spent removing the flooring.  I'd sadly overestimated my ability to do this task alone.  The planks were tongue-and-groove oak, varied lengths, 2.25" wide, and put down with 'cut nails.' For those of you not familiar with that nail type, they're thick, flat and made of iron.  Here's a photo, only the ones I was dealing with were rusted and even more difficult to pull.

I used a rubber mallet and short pry bar ("gorilla bar"), first tapping the bar about 1/2" under the tongue side of the plank, pulling slightly upwards and towards the groove side to loosen it from the subfloor.  I worked my way across the room, loosening them, then worked my way back by angling the bar and pulling up the planks nail-by-nail.  This had to be done one row at a time.  Some of the nails pulled through the tongue, but most remained stuck in the plank.  Since time was a factor due to my days off from work combined with not knowing when the demolition order was coming through, the nails would have to be removed at my house.

Monday gripes:

1)  My kneepads quickly wore out since they were old.  I didn't want to go buy more and waste valuable time driving and shopping, so I kept working by scooting along on my behind, or else by standing up and bending over to hammer and pry.

2)  A few hours into the day, a small plank I was prying came loose unexpectedly and hit me near my left temple.  It hurt a little but was no big deal.  Later, while working hunched over behind a staircase, another piece I had put some serious force under did the same thing but hit me over my right eye.  I knew immediately it was probably kind of bad.  When I reached up, it was bleeding a little and a half dollar-size knot began to surface.  The only thing I had to get the swelling under control was a slightly cool bottle of water, so I sat down for a few minutes and held it to the knot.  It helped some.  By the end of the night, the knot took up most of the right side of my forehead.  It's pretty.  It's to the greenish-yellow stage today.

Right side.  Photo taken right after it happened.

3)  By evening, I was so exhausted and sore I could barely move and didn't get the trailer unloaded.

Tuesday gripes:

1)  Around 11am, after already working four hours, I was so tired I was almost in tears.  I texted several friends, asking if anyone had a friend who needed work.  Two people called me, but just after a nearby construction employee said he'd have someone there within the hour.  I turned down the other two offers.

2)  Over two hours later, with no-show no-call from Helper #1, I called back one of the original two people and explained I still needed help.  He said he'd be there in about an hour and a half.  In the meantime, helper #1 finally showed but I sent him home, explaining that (by that time) I'd been working an additional three hours alone and that he can't expect to show up that late for work and still be needed or wanted.  Helper #2 came over, and worked diligently for the next two hours until the trailer was (over)loaded and I was ready to go.

3)  I had to leave a 3'-4' x 12' section of flooring intact because it wouldn't fit on the trailer and honestly I was just too tired, even with assistance.

General gripe:

For the past two days, due to my muscles letting their inflammation and soreness go, I've turned into a water retaining sea cow.  I can barely bend my fingers.  I don't even consider taking off my shoes until the end of the day or I won't get them back on.  The skin across my knees feels like it will split at any moment.  I've had this type of swelling occur after overworking, and it will be gone in a few days.

Taken Wednesday morning.  I have sausage fingers.

Right hand not swollen as badly as left.  Tried to take it easy since this is the surgery hand.
Nice cankle.
This was when I got home from work yesterday.  You can see how my foot had retained the shape of my shoe.  From the red band to the tip of my toes is the size it's supposed to be.  My entire lower leg is swollen.

Huge positives:

1)  With reclaimed flooring selling in the area of $8/sf (and that's on the low side), I have $2,800.00 of free flooring even as-is.

2)  I started removing nails and cleaning each board last night, brushing away debris caught around the tongues and grooves.  It's slow work using a hammer and pliers to remove the nails, so I'll be buying an angle grinder and cut-off wheel to speed up the process.  The wood is cleaning up beautifully.  It will probably have to be dyed slightly to match the existing flooring it will butt up to in the dining room, but that's okay.

It will most likely take a few months to get the re-installation started, but I'll make new posts to chart the progress when it's time.

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