Wednesday, 2 October 2013

My Floor was Held Together with Woodworm Poo!

I know it was poo, and not them holding hands (who said that?!?! possibly a surveyor) as they were all long dead, I checked religiously for days and days crumbling the weetabix wood to see if I could see fresh signs or larvae...luckily none to be found as it had been treated some time in the past.

We knew our downstairs flooring was bad in some places, left to rot due to damp, woodworm, and neglect.  We figured it was a patch up job, it became apparent when we took up the edges of the floor to let the damp proof people in to inject the walls that perhaps the damage was a little worse than we thought, we took our estimated budget from £300 to £600...Wrong again as this happened!

Almost 80% of the boards & joists were shot to bits...not only that, the walls the joists were stood on were no longer walls, they were random piles of bricks stuffed under there to patch up the floor...There goes that £600.

We sucked it up, raided the piggy bank and brought in the big guns (John our awesome bathroom & kitchen guy, who is amazeballs at everything else too, the hubby was being the coffee maker and labourer) - I was working in India again, so, 5* hotel for me).  

First everything out.  Dump outside for wood burner, bonfire and chimenea use for the rest of the year!  Well here's hoping we get a wood burner at some stage, those prices be redonkulous (I am clearly not very street as just had to Google the spelling)!

I've got wood!
I've got wood!
Tons of it!

Don't forget when you enter the room there is just a nice ankle breaking drop behind the door...the husband left it open just in case he forgot when going to the bathroom in the dark.

Second task, dig out 100+ years of rubbish and building waste that was sucking the groundwater up over the damp proof course.  

Dump that outside too, as your house really couldn't look any worse, and your neighbours are all awesome so they don't mind the temporary eyesore, even though they too hear the zeros dropping off their property value.  

Fast forward from May to a couple of weeks ago, when we finally got the giant pile of crap removed from the front of our house...Sorry it took so long lovely neighbours, you're all invited for mince pies and mulled wine at ours this Christmas!  All except you angry neighbour bloke, trying to start a fight with the husband during said rubbish removal...if you had pulled that stunt a few years ago, he'd of knocked the white off of your teeth... Glad your moving, don't come back now you hear!

How's that for curb appeal?

Next up, rebuilding the floor.  Now, if you are a better DIYer than Matthew and I, this is totally do-able without help, it's basically just a big frame set on top of bricks.  

First the dwarf walls were rebuilt, they are only a few courses of brick, and as long as they are level, the rest of it doesn't need to be neat.  

Next comes the damp membrane, it comes in rolls almost the exact width of a brick, you lay that on top of the dwarf walls, then some more mortar to set the wooden plates into to get it all level, make sure you check those levels in all directions.  Also, ensure there is a small gap (a couple of mm is fine) between the new wood (all pretreated, kiln dried and seasoned for some time in the room they are going to be laid) and any outside walls, your damp proof membrane will be above the level of the plates and joists, so this will keep them dry, and well away from the water that comes up the first few brick courses on the house when it rains.  You will notice in the pictures, the new plaster also doesn't go below the damp course, if it does it will suck that water up the wall quicker than I can hoover up a crisp glass of Chardonnay.


Next, it's time for the joists to be cut and placed at right angles to the plates, these get nailed in with with huge 10 inch nails, just like this.  Don't forget to keep checking your levels.


When that's all done, get your offcuts and get some noggins in between the joists to get them nice and sturdy. 

Next up is framing out any odd bits, ensuring the floor boards will be fully supported, when they are laid, we had some awkward bits in the bay window, and in the alcoves formed by the chimney breasts.  Remember, MORE IS MORE, go to town!

Finally, before the floor was laid, the chimneys which had been dug out as they were damp, needed to be re-filled with a new membrane, followed by hardcore and cement.  

Who can resist drawing in wet concrete?

So there you have it, a sort of step by step guide to rebuilding a suspended floor.  I will be providing a cost breakdown, and details of the all important floor laying very soon.  


  1. Wow! It's so much work - I had no idea! I can't wait to see the finished floor!

    1. Hahaha, I know we didn't know how much work this would be either...Doh! Oh well, on the plus side, the painting is starting this bathroom is finally in upstairs, so we can paint...which is nice as there was a slug in the sink this morning in the downstairs bathroom...Nice! We have yet more damp issues to sort out in that area of the house next year...JOY! Think I am going to be having wedi board or tanking membrane fun when we finally get round to that.

  2. Arg! That reminds me of the floor in the apartment my husband was living in when I met him. The owners had decided to lay the laminate directly on the joists without doing anything to prevent damp. Then, as soft spots and holes would appear, they would just do patch jobs. I was constantly in fear of falling through the floor. At least you are taking care of yours once and for all.

    1. Wow, some people's DIY ineptitude stuns me...laminate is nowhere near strong enough without a subfloor under it...that's crazy dangerous.


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