01 January 2012

Happy (First Project of the) New Year!

When last we saw the screened porch, it had started to come together but still needed some work to wrap up the installation of our new ipe (wood) flooring.

The long weekend seemed like a pretty good time to finally tackle all of the cuts we were going to need to make along two edges of the porch, so we brought all of the furniture into the great room and got started.

We knew that we were going to have to move all of the flooring about an inch so it would run under the door trim that we had undercut after laying out the tiles the first time.

And because we had also discovered that the porch isn't quite square (no room is, really, ever), we needed to realign everything to address the uneven gap along the long outside edge of the porch:

Let's back up. We're using 1'x2' tiles:

Each tile is made up of four slats of ipe (a very hard, very dense wood) arranged on a plastic grid:

The tiles connect with these little tabs on the grid:

To address the out-of-square-ness, we could have cut tiny triangular slivers off of the affected tiles, but that seemed like a dangerous, not to mention tedious, road to go down, so we decided to hide the gaps where they would be least visible -- mostly behind the grill (the vantage point from which I have taken most of the pictures, so there are no pictures of it, but imagine a ten-foot long wall mostly obscured by a grill, and you get the idea...).

We spent a really long time strategizing how best to cut the pieces to the exact dimensions of the porch. Eventually, we figured out that, because that would require us to cut slats of ipe down to about half an inch thick, and there are no screws through the first (or last) half-inch of the slats, there would be no good way to take the wood all the way to the edge. But that made our job waaaaay easier because, for half of the cuts (where the ipe ran parallel to the closest wall), we would only need to cut the grid in half using a plain old backsaw and then snap them into place.

Along the long wall, where the gap was just over 18", we used a full tile and a half tile (cut lengthwise), to make six 2' long planks:

Along the short wall, the gap was just over 6", so we just used a half tile, cut lengthwise:

That was the easy part.

Cutting the pieces that would run perpendicular to the nearest wall was trickier, but just like we were fortunate that the width of the porch was nearly perfect for simply cutting each tile in half lengthwise where they ran parallel to the wall, it also worked out for the perpendicular pieces that a single cut six inches from the end gave us the length we needed for the long side (18") and left enough for the short side (6"), so there was no waste. We used a miter saw for the cuts:

Fortunately, our cuts didn't fall on any of the screws in the grid (if they had, we would have taken them out before making the cuts). However, the placement of our cuts left just a few screws in the 6" pieces (all within a couple inches of one end), so the wood was prone to pulling away from the plastic grid.

Steve solved that problem by taking screws out of our handful of scraps and adding more to the 6" pieces (using holes that were already in the plastic for that very purpose; he pre-drilled holes in the wood so it wouldn't split):

With all of our cuts made, we laid out the remaining pieces:

We didn't snap them in yet, though. We still needed to seal the cut ends. According to the universal authority on all things woodworking-related (Google), paraffin would do the job. We got ours at Hobby Lobby, but I hear it's also available with the canning supplies at the grocery store. We put a chunk of paraffin in an improvised double boiler (consisting of a pot, a glass mixing bowl, and a tin can...does that make it a triple boiler?):

After a few minutes, the paraffin started melting (we put the C-clamps on the can to weigh it down so it would stay upright in the water bath):

We used an old paint brush to paint a thin layer on the cut ends:

Then we snapped the pieces in place and took it all in:

Just for a minute, though, because we still had to put all of the furniture back:

Although it looks unsatisfyingly like the "before" in this picture, it's definitely more finished in person, and it's soooo nice to have all of the cuts done.

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