Retrospective #11: The Mud Room

This week and next  I’ll wrap up the discussion of how to make a home warm, dry, healthy and energy-efficient on a budget with a small-scale case study of our “mud room.” In the process of shifting the kitchen, bath, toilet and laundry around the lean-to section of our villa, we created a small room at the existing back door. The room measures roughly two metres by two metres, with a hot water cupboard taking up about one quarter. Both the door and the floor were anything but weather-tight.
 Before: Smashed glass in back door.
 Before: Natural ventilation.

As a mud room – where you take off your boots when entering a home – I decided that we ought to put vinyl on the floor. My wife disagreed, so I waited until she went away for the weekend and then put down the vinyl. But first I had to level out the floor, which was cupped and split. We had some painted hardboard formerly known as the kitchen ceiling in various hues of white and neon green. I reused the hardboard to cover the gaps and level the floor, and then laid the vinyl end-of-role that I bought at a great low price from a local flooring shop that sells small pieces for small jobs. This took care of the draft coming through the floor, and sometime soon I’ll get around to installing the under-floor insulation. The next element to tackle was the bruised and broken door.
A ceiling becomes a floor.
My approach to replacing the door was to do it twice. That is with two doors. In most parts of North America two doors are better than one. The second (outer) door comes in two flavors: screen and storm. A screen door features in the opening line of one of the greatest rock n’ roll songs ever written: Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road. 
The screen door slams; 
Mary’s dress sways; 
Like a vision she dances across the porch; 
As the radio plays.
A storm door is neither as lyrical nor as romantic. Screen doors conger images of summer and pretty girls in sun dresses. Storm doors conger images of…storms. But we get storms in Wanganui, and our back door is to the prevailing winds. 
After: Two new doors.
I bought two second-hand doors: one from an online auction ($40) and one from a local building materials reseller ($100). I hung the dearer four-pane rimu door on the inside to replace the one that had been smashed, and hung the cheaper two-pane door on the outside to serve as the storm door, being careful to flash the top to keep out blowing rain. I attached draft excluders to the bottom of both doors and installed foam window and door seal around the frame of the inner door. 
After: Two new doors.
For a total under $300 I was able to seal up all of the air gaps, put in a new floor and achieve a version of eco-thrifty double-glazing, which lets sunlight in to warm our home but also insulates against heat escaping. But that’s not all, I’ll continue this story next week. 
Peace, Estwing

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