Saturday, 11 February 2012
By any way of reckoning the boys have the biggest week yet in terms of the amount of change brought to the house in a single week. In the 5, sometimes, long days they rip out the old floor of the main bedroom and replace it with new, and then having moved the stack of plaster board on the spare bedroom floor, they do the same to that end of the house so that by Friday all the old 1st floor is gone and there are new joists and floor boards throughout.
When Mum and Dad first had a look round this house they optimistically thought they'd need few joists here and there and some patching of floorboards but that it was basically sound. Fortunately as it turns out, Sparks was a bit dubious about this approach and when he found that joists were about a tenner each, he bought all 25 new and the floor boards to go with. Joist repairs are all well and good - you Accro prop the good joists up, then cut away bad wood, sticking a new joist end into the wall pocket and through bolting or doubling up. It's a good solution, Mr Silverwood told us, as long as there are only a few to do.
In our case though, we are stripping back to bare walls, so there was no point pussy-footing about.It was going to be quicker and easier to clear the decks, then rip up all the floor boards and chop through and drop to the ground each joist in turn, clear out the pockets and slot new joists home. The wall pockets for the joists are, you hope, at least 8 inches deep on one wall, four on the other, so you cut the joist at room width plus 8 inches, slot the end in 8 inches, swing the other end up to its opposite pocket and reverse out of the deep pocket 4 inches, giving you at least 4 inches embedded into each wall.
It's a good theory but doesn't always hold true. Some pockets are not deep enough and the joists must originally have been dropped onto their seats from above and brick or block work built up from there. On this old house the 'seats' are of some kind of soft wood which has long since rotted away to compost. This all has to be raked out and a new seat made with slivers of slate as the joists are levelled to one another and along their lengths.
I said earlier that it was fortunate that Sparks had gone for the complete replacement of joists and floor board. As the boys started to remove joists it became clear that the embedded inches of each joist were badly rotted and could not have been providing much support. In some cases it was probably just the floor boards holding the joist up. They went for a safety first technique of cutting alongside each joist, through every floor board so that if the joist came free and tried to fall it would not drag anything else down with it. There was also a minor drama on Wednesday when the removal of old joists exposed the fact that the inner lintels above dining room window and front door were only made of scraps of wood too, so that these were badly rotted also and there was a risk of some stonework caving in. But that's for another post. Enough for this one.