Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Switch/plug covers

There's been some faster progress these last two weekends (at least from my personal point of view ;P), and that is motivating!

Insulation delivery, a truckfull!

We received a large delivery of insulation. We decided to do the roof insulation ourselves instead of letting the roof workers do it, so they can focus on other roof tasks, and we can do the insulation the way we want it to be. We are using different materials, which turns out to be a little more expensive, but we will have a higher insulation value, and a finished interior too (we are again using an insulation foam with the plasterboard attached, plus extra insulation between the beams).

Very fat insulation boards with plasterboard attached, for the roof ceiling.

This weekend Pim placed most of the first layer of insulation between the beams.

First layer of insulation between the beams

Even though there are still some gaps here and there (which we started filling with canned foam until we ran out - messy stuff!), the temperature difference is already very noticeable, even when we turned the little heater off. I even found my very thick woolen sweater to be a bit excessive. We think we were working at about 15° C, which is a great improvement. It was much colder downstairs!

These days are unseasonably warm (rarely under 4° C at night), it is not nice of me to say, but it has been to our advantage. However it is raining quite a lot, so the plaster and paint doesn't dry very well! Saturday I forgot to wash my roller, and I found it all fresh and ready to be washed on Sunday…

White, bare, stained

Saturday I tinted the switch plates. These are a bit challenging since they are beech, a wood that takes stain rather blotchy. I had experienced that before when I dyed my workshop desk, but had mercifully forgotten about it… I diluted my alcohol-based oak-coloured stain to 50% and gave a subtle layer to the plates. After sanding a little bit, especially the end grain which gets a bit raised, it is not too bad.

I lacquered the bedroom plates in white and we really like it. With this lacquer you can still subtly see the wood grain. I had bought it for the staircase balusters, which are gonna have to wait indefinitely.  

For the oak-coloured plates, my plan was to tint, then varnish. The varnish we had bought doesn't satisfy though, so I want to try the same lacquer I used for white in an oak tone.

The two on the bottom right I varnished, this tinted varnish is the
right shade (the wooden swatch underneath is the same than the
windows), but I do not like at all the blotchiness and finish.
It is an outdoor shed varnish, so I guess that's no good for this.
Checking the fit. This wood is bare.
My friend says this is Wall-E.
Our electricity outlets and switches are
from the Catalan brand Fontini.

The wall (insulation + plasterboard) where the attic radiator wiIl be placed got painted (light grey for this room), Pim installed the brackets, and it'll get installed soon.

Progress by the end of the weekend. The brackets on the left are for the radiator.

I also started finishing around the plasterboard joins, corners and edges with plaster. The chimney in particular was very wonky (the attic was a hayloft made without a lot of attention to detail), so the boards went on a little wonky as well. Over a chimney, we attach the boards directly to the wall with sticky plaster. On a regular wall, Pim attaches some timber to the wall first, then the boards to the wood. This leaves extra space for pipes, cables and extra sound insulation.

We decided we didn't need this weird corner in our life.

I am trying to fix the unevenness with plaster, which is turning out better than I though! a lot of work to do, still.

Plaster patchwork.

Some metal bits were sticking out of the wall, so Pim cut them off:


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Roof, windowsills and more

Stuff has been happening, rather slowly due to, among other things, the cold. It is as good as winter and there is no heating at all in the house, apart from a little electric fan thing, and all the heat from it dissipates through the multiple holes all over.

As usual... excuse the quality of the pictures. These are taken in as light as it is gonna get here until spring, and in any case taking pictures towards a window in a dark room is never a good idea...

Finally something major happened, after months of rain and delays: the new roof.

The old roof was  not salvageable, rotten beams, roof tiles that pulverise with minimum pressure. Insulation, windows and other stuff still needs to happen. Looking forward to being able to warm up the place. The heating guy will come soon to have a look and start up our central heating installation.

Speaking of heating, we finally decided on a bathroom radiator, a spectacular one if I may say so ;) we ordered it from the UK, (we are going very international with our supplies... within the EU however) and had it delivered. It is still protectively packed, and much (wall, tiles, floor) needs to happen in the bathroom before we can install it. Hopefully but perhaps unlikely, before the rest of the heating is started up. Sneak peek:

Bathroom towel warmer radiator

(Full peek) It is white and brass. That's untreated brass :D the sort of thing that happens to you when your partner is an enameller, I guess. Our taps will also be untreated brass. Is this really happening?

Windowsills have also happened, three (or rather, 2 and 1+1):

White Carrara in the bathroom

White Carrara in the double windowsill of the bedroom, as well

Belgian bluestone in the staircase, 0.5 floor, covered in cement dust
The Belgian bluestone is the traditional choice here, a local type of limestone from Hainaut. I know it is difficult to believe, but there are some rocks in Belgium ;) in Wallonia anyway.

The bluestone is impregnated to be nearly black and less porous, and has little sea creature fossils all over. We've chosen this stone for all our windowsills except bedroom and bathroom, where it really wouldn't match at all. Instead we chose a not too fancy Carrara white with grey veins. The bedroom colour scheme is warm grey and white with a little black (and the old fireplace has some Carrara bits), and the bathroom mainly white with sage green and brass.

We installed two windowsills in the bedroom, we ordered the two stone slabs to touch at the center for one continuous windowsill. Like all windowsills we ordered, they are much deeper than usual. They would have anyway due to the extra width we are adding to the walls with the insulation + plasterboard, but we are having them stick out even further. This will probably give me a headache when it comes to curtains, especially in the extra deep and long bedroom one, which must block out the light (there is a street lamp just outside our window, attached to the façade!), but having as I do a plant addiction, and this being a very dark country during winter, plenty of space close to the windows wins every time.

Bedroom windowsill & isolation/plasterboards & cabling
It wasn't easy placing these huge windowsills, especially since one the windows turned out to be a couple of millimetres higher than the other (which is probably pretty impressive, in fact - coming from Spain I think these Belgians work very accurately ;P). We reinforced them with 4 strong metal L brackets, an absolute must in this case. I am proud of ourselves :D a corner chipped a little but hey ;P

We have been concentrating on the bedroom, which is a relatively simple room. We cannot focus exclusively on one room since pipes, electricity cables and so on have to cross many rooms, and the walls cannot be finished until that is in place. For the rest, we are focusing in the bedroom, next in line being the bathroom next door.

All the pipes and cables that pass through the bedroom, towards the bathroom and up into the attic are now in place, as are the cables and outlets from the bedroom itself, so the walls have gone up as well. Now there's a lot of finishing plaster and then paint to be done. Choosing the perfect grey for the walls is giving me a lot of trouble.

Bedroom windowsill & isolation/plasterboard
The floor will be last, and we cannot bring it in and install it until we have heated up the house, or else we'll have wood movement problems. We are quite decided that it'll be untreated solid oak planks, which I'll tint and oil myself. I guess wood is my weak spot and I simply must do something to it before installing it. Plus we like a deep oak tone, like our windows and antique furniture, that doesn't seem to be fashionable right now.

The entire first floor (bedroom + bathroom) will have continuous flooring, so yes, we are putting wood in the bathroom, gasp, and I am not using varnish... gasp!* I dislike the lay-on-top gloss of varnish, and I have found a waterproof oil treatment meant for kitchens and bathrooms. Wood is too beautiful to put a layer of polyurethane over it! call me crazy ;P

*We are however putting a waterproof membrane under it, because we are not completely crazy. We have considered tiles, but we would have had to remove the entire floor (plus ceiling downstairs...), replace the beams, pour a concrete floor... or else raise the floor an unacceptable lot... nah.