Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Installing vinyl roll flooring in a moderately complex room

The new vinyl flooring (slate tile look) is finally complete. It took about a week longer than I had originally thought it would (almost like a software development project!)

For those of you who might be thinking of replacing your flooring in the kitchen or perhaps a laundry area, here is what we went through to DIY this:

We started by removing the old carpet, which was well glued down. Ironically, our carpet installer remembered installing this carpet in the kitchen a few years back. He did a very thorough job of it, using plenty of glue.

This is the old flooring - carpet with 1960's era tiles.

Next we peeled off the tiles. Opinions vary on this and it appears that most professionals will opt to level the existing tiles in place if they are pretty solid. This is partly a cost thing and partly because the old tiles and adhesive may contain asbestos, which requires special removal gear and permits. I am pretty sure our tiles do contain asbestos, so I was careful not to break them where possible. Here is a website that will help you identify if your tiles contain asbestos (isn't the Internet great!: http://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Asbestos_Floor_Tile_ID.php)

I used Rani's iron to get each tile nice and warm to melt the adhesive enough to lift. It takes about 2 minutes per 1 ft square tile - 16 seconds at 6 different iron positions. The iron is at a cotton setting and I put a piece of newspaper between it and the tile to avoid marring the base of the iron or melting the tile. Fumes weren't an issue unless I got bored and let the iron sit for too long in one spot.

Iron set on Cotton. Note scraper used to get things started. The grey area has already been leveled (I did the tile lifting in stages and leveling the sticky black areas allowed me to move around the kitchen without getting stuck in the tarpit.

Half way through the tile removal and leveling process.

The 'cutback adhesive' is a black gooey tar compound, which may also have asbestos fibers in it. The reason I did not worry too much about this is that these fibers are pretty well trapped and unlikely to get airborne. This adhesive must be either removed (tricky and potentially messy) or covered completely to prevent any bleed-through into the vinyl flooring that will sit on top. To do this and to level the floor I used Planipatch with Planipatch Plus additive. The latter is used in place of water and apparently makes the whole thing more flexible and also a better sealer. It is certainly an expensive gallon of liquid - about $30 and appears to be a dilute white glue. I used close to a gallon and about 10 lbs of the patching compound to level the floor. It is applied thin in a slurry - much thinner than plaster and then spread with a trowel. Then you sand it (not too bad as it does not kick up a lot of dust) and then fill in the bits you missed to make the floor level. I did this a few times in selected areas where the plywood sheets did not quite meet evenly or there were defects in the wood.

When the floor is level and all baseboards and appliances removed, it is time to measure the room. Pros no doubt do this on the fly and dispense with a template, but I chose to make a giant paper template out of butcher paper taped together because the room is quite complex with two closets, a few doorways, and a jutting counter. The triangles in the picture are where the template is stuck down to the floor to prevent shifting.
Templating the first half of the room.

The room is just over 12 feet across and about 21 feet long, so to make things simpler, I decided to lay two pieces about 11 feet by 12.5 feet each and join them down the middle with a seam. This is tricky stuff to get just right, so I was quite good at procrastinating over the 2 or 3 days before I cut into the vinyl!

Vinyl roll laid out to template and mark on our living room carpet.

For marking and cutting, you need to lay out the vinyl on a large flat surface. Some people use their driveways but ours is quite wonky, so I used the living room floor. Ideally we would have taken up the carpet and done this on the plywood, but I was not ready to do this yet, so I very carefully traced the template outline on the vinyl  leaving lots of allowance for trimming later. It turned out that I should have trusted the template because in almost all cases I ended up trimming back to the template lines and this trimming added hours to the job.

 Here us the first half dry fitted. There is a closet around the right corner and one on the near right.

Try to do this with a real slate or ceramic tile!

The second piece was rough cut based on tape measurements and then laid over the first piece to cut the seam along a shared 'grout' line. The finished seam is shown below.

Seam is along the horizontal line nearest the top of the picture.

I then templated the second half by lining up the butcher paper with the first half and covering the rest of the room. I also allowed some tolerance here and did much trimming back to make the vinyl fit around counters and corners.

Ready to glue - the seam runs right down the middle of the room, so I was very careful when I cut and aligned it!

The next step was to apply the adhesive. This is done in two goes for each half, rolling back the bit to be glued and then rolling it out over the glue using a rolling pin and hands to work out bubbles and spread the glue. 

Installing adhesive. This tub cost about $40 or $50 dollars - yikes! The tile to the left is the 2nd piece that has been dry fitted.

And voila - here is the finished result:

Rani enjoying our 'new' kitchen.

View into the dining area. The air conditioner still has to go - a project for next month.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

10 things to know before sailing to Mexico from Canada and/or the Pacific Northwest

We just visited a couple who are leaving from Comox on a Coast 34 to sail to Mexico. Before the visit, I tried to think of a short list of things I wished we had known before we sailed. Here it is, admittedly incomplete and uneven in importance :)

1. Checking in to the US. The coast is divided into different jurisdictional areas. If from Canada, you must check in to US customs and immigration (obviously), but you also need to phone in to each new area as you proceed down the coast. You can get a list of phone numbers and names for each area to call when you first check in. Carrying a cell phone is useful because otherwise you have to land and find a land line to call from.

2. Liability insurance is required in Mexico by marinas and storage yards. It is quite inexpensive and we have been told you only need the minimum (costs about $200) because the Mexican legal system is not supportive of huge law suits. You can buy liability insurance beforehand via phone or online. http://www.bajabound.com/boat/faq.php

3. When you sign in to Mexico and get a temporary import permit (TIP) you will need your engine serial numbers. You can also buy a TIP online, we have heard.

4. Almost all the paper and electronic charts are very inaccurate in Mexico - especially in the Sea of Cortez and south. They are off by miles and not consistent in their inaccuracy. Some newer GPSs allow you to correct for this and there are some electronic charts that have been corrected, but do not rely on your GPS position corresponding with the chart without verifying this. The detailed chart for Ensenada in the chart book we used was off by 2 miles!

5. You will need to clean your hull much more often in the warm, rich waters, particularly near river mouths. You can hire local divers who use compressors at marinas for about 1 US dollar per foot of boat length (or water line length in some cases). If you do it yourself, plan on becoming very good at holding your breath or use compressed air.

6. In some places small jelly fish are an issue while snorkeling. Wearing leggings and long sleeve shirts helps or you can use a full wet suit or lycra jelly fish suit.

7. Dental work and medical work is cheap and of decent quality. We had our teeth cleaned for $35 by a dentist who did a thorough job. We talked to cruisers who had mole removal and other minor operations for far less than they would cost up north. Quality of care varies so ask local cruisers for advice.

8. A reliable autopilot with back up or in addition to a wind vane make the long downwind sail less stressful. We were always worried that our little wheel pilot would fail.

9. There is an excellent newer guide to cruising the Sea of Cortez available from a lovely cruising couple who publish it themselves in Washington state:  See http://www.exploringcortez.com/  It is hard to buy in Canada, but can be picked up along the way (Downwind Marine in San Diego has them) or you can order it online. It is far superior to the other guides we bought that are more general (Raines, Charlies Charts).

10. There are a few food/drink things that are hard to get or very expensive in Mexico: Nuts, good chocolate (Trader Joes is a good place to stock up in California), good inexpensive wines (buy in California), black tea (the Mexicans seem to mainly drink herbal teas and coffee), sharp cheeses (most Mexican cheeses are softer and have a milder flavour).