"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 8 December 2012

At floor level

Even though we asked the builder nicely to be careful, our existing clay tile floors took a hammering, especially in our bathroom.  This is because they had to remove the temporary IBR (corrugated iron) roof which entailed knocking down part of the walls to remove the supporting beams.  Knocking down wall means falling bricks and debris.  Falling bricks and debris on a sealed clay floor means the seal is scratched / broken.

They did make the effort of placing gunplas (builders plastic) on the floors, but basically all that did was catch the mess.  Heavy bricks laughed at the gunplas.  And chipped a number of the floor tiles too.  Nothing I can do about them, as replacing them is not an option.  The tiles are embedded in 40cms (roughly 2 inches) of cement.
Sad, sad floors that ook nothing like
they should
And, of course, the demolition / cement / rain water mess found it's way under the gunplas.  Then the constant walking on that mess during the completion of Phase 2 stripped the seal on the raw clay tiles.

My poor tiles were a mess, and I wondered if we would ever be able to get them back to their previous state.
Unfortunately my camera isn't clear enough
to properly show you the damage, but
trust me, these floors were not a pretty
8 hours later, 2 pot scrubbers, an aching back and knees, no fingers left and I had the last of the dripped cement and cretestone off the floors.  Then it was time to try and reseal the floors.
Thank goodness for pot scourers
I'm happy to say that my efforts paid off.
All better now :)
We're both happy with the finished result :)

Then - upstairs.

The builder initially talked us into laying deck board as our floor.  Not knowing any better, we agreed.  Big mistake.

MKid's room / the office:
A laborious job - each plank is laid
and carefully nailed in the "join"
area - roughly 8 - 10 nails / plank.
My back is aching for them just looking
at this photo LOL
... we had to purchase tongue and groove which was laid on a membrane to prevent "knocking" and "squeaking" where the two woods met.
Front guest bedroom.  Visible is the membrane
we used to try and prevent the two woods
from squeaking / knocking
Our double glazed window order was horribly delayed, so  "hierdie boers het ʼn plan gemaak" (these farmers made a plan :) ) ...

The floor was well laid, and although we had some headaches / heart attacks when it rained, thankfully, hanging builders plastic at the windows may not have looked all that attractive, and may have crackled terribly with each tiny gust of wind, but it prevented too much damage to the wood.  

But, we got through that OK, the windows and floors are in, and all we have to do now is sand, stain and seal the wood.  However, it's Christmas shortly, we have family / guests arriving next weekend, so instead of rushing the job, we're going to let it lie as it is until we have the "space" to do it properly.

No rush.  After all, we have loose carpets, and the floor still has to be properly sanded...


  1. Oh Dani, my knees and fingers (and back!) ached in sympathy for your tile scrubbing marathon. I can't believe you kept at it for 8 hours, you brave girl. But look how you saved those tiles! They are beautiful!

    Glad you have the time (and wisdom) to let the floorboards go for now. The wood needs to acclimate to the temp and settle anyway. Time to rest and enjoy the holidays. :-D

    1. Kris - Thank you - yeah, also reckon it was worth the time and trouble. Now, we only have the 8 X 6 mtrs kitchen / dining / lounge area to do...

      S'funny you should say that about the wood floors - I heard that somewhere too. Thanks for reminding me - and giving me an excuse... ;)

    2. Your tiles now have the cherished and loved patina of age, not bling new, but the finish on a concert grand piano! Or an old Cape Dutch homestead that has seen generations come and go.

    3. Diana - I know :) And that is exactly the look we were aiming for when we bought "seconds" tiles.

      You put it so eloquently - thank you :)

  2. Dani, Wonderful job ! I had momentarily forgotten how hard construction is, on anything that has already been completed. The tiles look lovely now.

    1. Jane - Thank you. Moving into ready-made has it's positives, but so does building new. And both have their downs LOL

  3. Dani,

    Everything looks great. I especially love the tile. We tiled our back porch in mosaic which made it difficult to grout. It took us 2 weekends of scrubbing to get it all off. I used a wire brush & paint scraper. All said, to let you know I understand how hard a job it was & yes very hard on the back & knees.

    1. DFW - Thanks. Oh, sympathy on your job!

      Unfortunately, our tiles are baked raw clay, so a paint scraper and wire brush would completely annihilate them

  4. So glad you were able to get that tile back to what you wanted! When I saw the picture of the damage, I was afraid that part of your story was not going to have a happy ending. Whew!
    A friend had similar-looking tile installed in her showroom-type kitchen but apparently the installers never did the multiple coats of sealer required. The house was later sold (to new friends, as it turns out), and the kitchen floor now looks slightly grimy no matter what the owners have done to clean it. It's hard to live with something you would like to love but can't fix.

    1. quinn - I could NOT live with the floor the way it looked LOL

      Why not tell your friend to try and clean off the worst, and try and reseal the tiles. She may have to ask a tiling company what prep she needs prior to sealing.

  5. The tiles are beautiful. I can't imagine 8 hours of doing something so hard (hmmm, might not mind 8 hours on my big green zen machine but that's certainly not work, LOL). You brought the beauty back to them and I LOVE the nature of the clay, how some are darker and others lighter, it really brings out the natural look and feel of the floor. Hard work but worth it in the end right? Everything is really coming along nicely.

    1. 1st Man - We, too, love the mixed colour look of the handmade clay tiles. The truth behind that comment, though, is that when we went to purchase more tiles for our bedroom, the clay they were using was from a different source, and the tiles are much redder and darker. Not mad about them, but hey - they are from a local supplier (local labour = take home wages for the families) using local materials, and they don't have an international footprint... ;)

      Thanks :)

  6. oh Dani - looking at all of the posts with the pics of your beautiful house makes me soooooo green with envy....but then i remember what a lovely soul you are...and then i remember that i shouldn't be envious just because i live in a crap-ass cottage - bahahahahahahah! - and then i remember to be happy for everyone - especially beautiful souls who put into practice being beautiful (conscious of environmental impact, sharing experience and wisdom with others, writing solar oven cookbooks for the solar-oven impaired like myself - bahahahahah!. your house is coming along so beautifully and the work you put into those tiles is something that you can be proud of for the rest of your life - you did an amazing job!!!

    and Kris is right about letting the wood sit a bit and age. you can get back to that job after you enjoy Christmas with your relatives. wow - your place is really coming together and it is really beautiful! congrats for all of your hard work and living in dust with strangers around constantly - all of that takes quite the set of nerves!

    your friend,

    1. kymber - I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to live on an island :) Thank you for your lovely words - you made me blush.

      "Be happy for everyone" - reckon never a truer word has been written :)

      Btw, I'm waiting to read about yours and Jambaloney's solar cooking...

  7. Building a home is a lot of hard work .... living inside before it's completed must be a hair pulling experience. You have done well with remedies to fix problems. Good work.

    1. Mrs Mac - Oh yes indeedy LOL

      Thanks - RMan reckon's I should've been born a squatter - says I have those genes...

  8. Great job on those tiles Dani!! The hard work (and removal of your fingerprints) certainly paid off. and I'm sure the upstairs floor will look great once its done

    1. EB - Thanks

      Fingerprints LOL You've got that right!

  9. No matter how hard it seems now, building a dream home is short term discomfort for long term gain... Oneday you and RMan will be celebrating your 75th wedding aniversary and all these hard times will be nothing more that anecdotal memories. Even now you can walk through the rooms, touch the walls, stroke the paint work, hear the clonking of the wooden floors as you walk on them and marvel at the fact that all of that is an idea, a concept, a thought - made manifest... I for one am awed at the fact that we can take a intangible thought and turn it into a solid tangible 3D functional sculpture. I hope that you find your inspiration soon becasue this is your first christmas in your new house - it should be special - very special.

    1. Brat - Am I whinging too much? LOL

      75 years - that would make us 103 LOL Dunno if we're gonna make it that far.

      Yeah - we still can't believe what has been accomplished. And count our blessing every day. A sculpture - I like that :)

      And I do have inspiration - I am just "creatively" tired LOL Reckon I need to get into the garden more and split more nails digging in the earth.


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