Tuesday 27 January 2009

My Plan for the Bathroom Floor

I have decided that my life will now be a series of mini sagas. Our first saga was the roof - not so much getting it done, as arranging to get it done (it's all in here, somewhere). Still - that is now sorted. My next mini saga will be sorting out the bathroom floor. You may remember that last time you saw it, it looked like this. It now has to have new bearers and joists so I can lay a new floor.

I am too scared to touch any of the "beams" that are currently in the bathroom. I call them beams, because they appear to be doing more to hold up the ceiling downstairs than support the floor upstairs. All of them move alarmingly, and at least one of them in all 4 directions; up and down, front and back, side to side, AND it rotates. How to put in a bathroom floor without disturbing these has been playing on my mind since July, but now I have a plan.

At least, I think I have a plan.

The only way I can see of making the floor solid and stable will be to create a new floor bolted to the wall above what is already in place. What I will do is make a bearer (I think that is what it's called) out of 50mm x 150mm treated pine and bolt it to the external wall using 90mm long anchor bolts (goujons d'ancrage, apparently). This measurement may change, because I am not sure what that 90mm distance is - the wall is only one brick thick. The trick will be in making this piece absolutely level as it is quite likely I will be doing this on my own.

I will then attach another bearer to the bearer holding up the landing. This SHOULD be fairly simple (I hope I haven't just tempted fate there). Once that is done, I will put the lap jointed joists in place (spaced at 500mm centres), bolting the outside joists to the side walls. All this will be double measured and constantly checked with a spirit level. Everything is going to be screwed because I still can't hammer a nail in properly.

At this stage I will do the plumbing (or pay to have someone do the plumbing). Most of the pipework I should be able to do myself, but we will need a new connection to the egout (sewer) for a toilet and this will require a proper plumber.

Once they are plumbed a double layer of 9mm floor panels will be screwed to the joists, and we will almost have a new bathroom.

Albeit one missing a wall and without a door. We have chosen a door though, and typically, it isn't the cheapest door in the book. It's a nice sexy door with porthole! I would provide a link, but the Lapeyre website is now flash based (and therefore doesn't work properly), and I will not encourage that sort of behaviour.

You may wonder why I am writing this up before I do it, and there are two reasons. One is so that I have these little French hardware words written down somewhere, and the other is so that people who know about this building and carpentry stuff can critique my plans (please?) before I start. What I know about carpentry could be carved on the back of a postage stamp with a 4 inch chisel.



We are back to a classic Preuilly view. This is what our town looks like from the footbridge over the Claise on a clear February day.


wcs said...

At what level will the new floor finish out? Level with the existing first floor, or will there be a step up into the bathroom?

Simon said...

There will be a step up into the bathroom, but it will not be one of those nasty "door flush with the wall" type steps, but inset by a proper step. I am amending the last picture as we speak, because I realise it's slightly confusing

Anonymous said...

What I know about carpentry could be written in bold letters on the head of a pin. So I cannot help you there. The only thing I can say is GOOD LUCK!

Ken Broadhurst said...

Me too, I know nothing of any usefulness to you, Simon. Good luck to you. But I learned something: I never knew Molly was originally a brand name and never knew why those things were called Molly bolts, even though I have a vague idea of what they are.

My word verification is lethose. Is that related to lethal?

Anonymous said...

It's probably the terminal phase of an illness.

My own verification word is exursurb. Is that an excursion in the suburbs?

Simon said...

exusurb could be Franglais for Faubourg

Jenny said...

Hello Simon,

I have copied off your plans (only carpentry experience I have is in assisting my very capable hubby). David (husband) is a civil engineer and has worked in building construction for alot of his life. He said he will take a look and get back with you (if you like?). Is it best by comment or by e-mail (which i still have if it is the same as it was spring of 2008 when i was so kindly informed by Susan about the Loire and the French culture in general in anticipation of our wonderful trip this past June '08 when we regretably missed getting in touch with you both)? pause for breath. I hope we can repay y'all's kindness with some helpful professional advice or encouragement from my husband. Let me know.

Simon said...

Thanks so much. Yes the email is the same - you can always get us by clicking on our profile, and the email is on there.

Anonymous said...

This is in USA terminology.

I would suggest you look up some carpentry books & joist bearing tables to find the right design & size pieces for the length you need to span. I use an old book from the US Dept of Agriculture Forest Service from 1955 -- WOOD-FRAME HOUSE CONSTRUCTION, AGRICULTURE HANDBOOK NO 73.

I think there are two potential problems with the "headers" (you called them bearers) that your joists connect to.

One is that if possible they should be supported from below rather than just bolted into a thin brick wall. Perhaps you can extend them further at both ends onto better supports.

The other is that you show the joists notched into the headers. This will effectively reduce the strength of the joists dramatically. I have used metal "joist hangers" which attach to the header and form a "U" to hold the full depth of the joists. They are supposedly as strong as any other kind of connection between pieces of wood.

Don't worry that you don't nail well since screws are always much stronger than nails. Nails are used because they are fast, not because they are better than screws. One way to make driving screws in easier is to rub them against a bar of soap to lubricate them going into the wood.

Good luck,

Simon said...


Thanks for that - for some reason, although I had thought about using hangers directly on the brick - and then discounted the idea, for some reason it never occurred to me to use them on the header. That will save me sawing stuff (which alongside nailing is a weakness).

I would extend the header into the wall, as well - except I am not sure what is going on in there!! It's all a bit "jerry built" (can we say that these days?), having been built, rebuilt, adjusted modified and then rebuilt again any number of times during the past 400 years or so. At first look, it appears that there is no support for any of the the walls, it is just stones stacked on each other - some of them stacked on the floorboards! This is why I am trying to do this without disturbing what is there - the locals work on the "it has survived for 400 years like that, it will last another 400" philosophy, and I like the way they think...

I am contemplating taking support down to ground level (Someone suggested using accro posts and then boxing them into the wall. I am not sure about that!)

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