Having as much fun paving the floor as much I have learnt

Hey this is Jiqiao back to work! I have looked forward paving the floor for several weeks before I left to South Island. And it just comes true! Nelson and I have spent three solid days working on it from sorting materials, calculating, cleaning, paving and screwing. The work, however, is still not done yet-we need polish and apply a layer of oil to protect the wooden floor.
Here is what the floor look like before. The cat is playing on it with these holes. She jumped up and down, making herself dirty and having so much fun! But we do not unfortunately. The holes leave cold air coming through under the house. During the winter, this poor insulation means we need more energy to heat up the house. Therefore, paving the floor is necessary considering sustainability.

Guided by sustainable renovation principle, we bought all of our wood on auction from a door factory off-cuts with only $80 for 91 blocks of wood in long and short. Their length range varies from ~60cm to ~180cm. We sorted all of them in the yard by different length. This is important preparation to make sure that we know our resource well to make decisions and also help the following work goes smoothly. And indeed, it turns out that, thank to the sorting, our work on the first day was highly productive.


After sorting all boards well, we recored average length of each pile and number of boards of it. Then calculation helped us make decision and maximize material use. We were thinking pave the floor in the dining room, including areas under refrigerater and oven, and a part of the hallway. But we were unsure if there is enough wood. There comes necessary calculation. Knowing the width and total length of all blocks by adding average length of each pile up, I calculated that the maximum area we can cover is 14.7 square meters, which was just a little extra over the desired areas. This means we need to be conservative, as we always be, on cutting boards.

The way we figured out to maximize the limited materials was to try to match up a pair so that the least off-cut is needed. While Nelson was cutting the wood and pave indoor, I was measuring the length of each piece to match them up in pairs. This working pattern was very efficient. We started from one side of the wall to the center.

As I said the insulation is very important to save energy, this is a good example of conservative life and insulation. We put used rags in the gap between the floor and stove to stop cold air coming up. This idea first comes from those frugal monks. They use cloth to clean face. After it gets too dirty and old, monks use it to mop the floor. Then when it turns to real rag, monks use them for insulation like what we are doing now! They perfectly showed how reusing thing are sustainable and helpful. As we always believe, one’s rubbish can be the other’s cherish.


We were surprisingly lucy that all boards fits in well with work to reshape the wood. Then I started to screw the floor into the joist so that it is stable and quiet when people walk on it.


And here we go! Beautiful new floor even without sanding and polish. You get natural luxury, aesthetic appreciation, and good insulation for only $80! Such good deal can never be found if you are not a sustainable builder. By the way, all the off-cuts from saw were put in composed pile to fertilize the garden. I was impressed by the huge pumpkin from Nelson’s organic garden~
Soon we will polish the floor and apply a layer of oil on it so that the wood will last long. Recently the materials used in kitchen such as PVC are popular and fashionable, but never last longer than wood nor being healthy. Reduction of using such non-recycle material will also reduce carbon footprint. The wood floor, after many years, will get to old and by the time we can burn it, making it true that dust to dust, ash to ash.

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