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Old 01-24-2012, 02:35 PM   #46
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Hey man,

This is fantastic. I find it amusing when I read a post and it says it took x amount of weeks to complete. It just shows the kind of time and effort it takes one to diy. You must feel enormous accomplishment. The radiant floor heating is something that has always intrigued me. Question: how long is the system supposed to last, as in, until the tubes deteriorate. I would guess with materials these days could be 100 years and won't be your problem. In contrast, how to you cool the space?

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Old 01-24-2012, 03:04 PM   #47
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Hey man,

This is fantastic. I find it amusing when I read a post and it says it took x amount of weeks to complete. It just shows the kind of time and effort it takes one to diy. You must feel enormous accomplishment. The radiant floor heating is something that has always intrigued me. Question: how long is the system supposed to last, as in, until the tubes deteriorate. I would guess with materials these days could be 100 years and won't be your problem. In contrast, how to you cool the space?

Thanks. Now it certainly feels like an awesome accomplishment (and that's why I want to share it with you all, so someone besides my wife sees all the hard work I put into it!!!). I gotta tell you though, I don't know if I would do all this work again if I could go back in time. Not because it isn' totally awesome ( loved doing this stuff, obviously), but because of just how much time and effort it took. My wife told me several times that she felt like she was married to a contractor who had dinner with her. I basically worked a 10-14hr day at work, came home, went straight to the basement for 2-4 hrs every day, maybe ate something, went to sleep, dreamt about what I would build next and often woke up in to the middle of the night to plan out the next step, then got up and repeated the process. On the weekends, I usually spent at least 1 of the 2 days in the basement for 12-14 hrs. Sometimes both days (depending on what needed to get done). Halfway through this project, I realized just how much this was costing my personal time, but I couldn't abandon 1/2 way through and leave a mess. Maybe it wasn't all that bad though. I did love planning and doing all this work... there are just not enough hours in the day for me.

Re: the radiant heat system- it should last forever. There is nothing in the tubing to corrode. As long as the pipes are not exposed to UV radiation, they should hold up. The primary circuit (you will see later) has metal components and a boiler that will eventually have to be replaced. I hope the system makes the house livable for another 102 years.

As for cooling, I installed that new energy-efficient Lenox A/C. It does a good job, although in the heat of the summer you still have a difference in temperature between the 1st and 2nd floors of the house. It's not bad (compared to the old system) because I added returns in the basement and have the fan run, even when the A/C is off, equilibrating the temperature in the house.
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Old 01-24-2012, 05:03 PM   #48
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Thanks. Now it certainly feels like an awesome accomplishment (and that's why I want to share it with you all, so someone besides my wife sees all the hard work I put into it!!!). I gotta tell you though, I don't know if I would do all this work again if I could go back in time. Not because it isn' totally awesome ( loved doing this stuff, obviously), but because of just how much time and effort it took. My wife told me several times that she felt like she was married to a contractor who had dinner with her. I basically worked a 10-14hr day at work, came home, went straight to the basement for 2-4 hrs every day, maybe ate something, went to sleep, dreamt about what I would build next and often woke up in to the middle of the night to plan out the next step, then got up and repeated the process. On the weekends, I usually spent at least 1 of the 2 days in the basement for 12-14 hrs. Sometimes both days (depending on what needed to get done). Halfway through this project, I realized just how much this was costing my personal time, but I couldn't abandon 1/2 way through and leave a mess. Maybe it wasn't all that bad though. I did love planning and doing all this work... there are just not enough hours in the day for me.

Re: the radiant heat system- it should last forever. There is nothing in the tubing to corrode. As long as the pipes are not exposed to UV radiation, they should hold up. The primary circuit (you will see later) has metal components and a boiler that will eventually have to be replaced. I hope the system makes the house livable for another 102 years.

As for cooling, I installed that new energy-efficient Lenox A/C. It does a good job, although in the heat of the summer you still have a difference in temperature between the 1st and 2nd floors of the house. It's not bad (compared to the old system) because I added returns in the basement and have the fan run, even when the A/C is off, equilibrating the temperature in the house.
Regarding the time and effort, I know the feeling, albeit, on a much smaller scale. Definately know the feeling of going to bed thinking of the next step and not being able to sleep just thinking of it.

Sooooo, with the radiant heating have you worked out when the system will pay itself off for you, savings vs. capital upfront costs, comparing to a traditional forced air system, considering that you put one in for the air conditioning anyways? Just curious if you knew. At times I think of going solar on my home but can't justify the expense with an approx. 20 year break even point.
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:04 PM   #49
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Sooooo, with the radiant heating have you worked out when the system will pay itself off for you, savings vs. capital upfront costs, comparing to a traditional forced air system, considering that you put one in for the air conditioning anyways? Just curious if you knew. At times I think of going solar on my home but can't justify the expense with an approx. 20 year break even point.
Good point. I did not do these calculations because the furnace alone was never going to be sufficient to heat the house comfortably. It was survivable on forced air, but never comfortable. The options really would have been to add a second unit of forced air for the downstairs (probably $10K for a complete system, and lose basement space for it, etc.), or keep the existing boiler/radiant heat system, leaving those pipes running all over the place. I guess I was thinking I would be saving roughly $500/winter, so probably 15 years. But that's not why I did it- I WANTED to do it. Some people buy sports cars- I build things. Plus, I hope that it becomes an attractive selling point for this house, should I leave before then.
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:36 PM   #50
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STEP 9: Acid stain mania

Now that the floor had cured, it was time to fancy it up.

Because of the in-floor heat system, it did not make sense to cover the floors with anything, thereby reducing the efficiency of the system. On the other hand, who wants an ugly concrete floor? No one, that's who. The only sensible plan then was to make the concrete look like anything other than what it actually is.

And here, really, is where I made the biggest mistake in this project. I figured that the subsequent work in the basement may make it difficult to acid stain later (stains and such can ruin the concrete for this purpose). I also thought that if I framed out and finished the walls, I may damage them with the acid, and that it would be more work than just acid staining now- everything, all at once, and build the walls over it. I should have waited until the walls were done, and you will see why later.

I decided that I wanted to make the floors look like natural stone. To do this I got acid stains from Direct Colors- an online company that charges roughly half of what Lowe's does, for a better product. I ordered a sample kit from them, and made test squares in an area that would be under the future stair landing. I decided on the color Cola, and I wanted to make it look like the stone had veins of copper or other metals running through it.

To do this, I "painted" acid using greens like Avocado and Seagrass, added blue highlights to it with Azure and some other color I can't remember, in the general pattern of what i imagined such veins would look like. I'm no miner, but I did my best. This layer has to go down first, and would later "pop" against a background coat of Cola.

Here's a few examples of what the veins looked like...


These were done with a syringe. I found that the best way to be percise with this stuff.


This is the workshop space.

I even hid my initials and the date this way in one corner to "sign" my artwork using this method... Maybe 100 years from now someone will say "hey, some jerk wrote his name on your floor!"

Once these had had their time to etch into the concrete (~4 hrs), I added the first of two coats of Cola using a plastic sprayer ($20 from home depot). I had the wife help with this, I would spray and she would then use a large broom to even out the color.

Here is the sart of the first pass...


The process continues...


You can see the veins really stand out after the Cola is applied.

Although this process was rather simple, you have to be careful with proper handling of this stuff. You also need a respirator, because although you can't tell, it's airsolizing and you are breathing it in... You can tell in the below picture how the flash of my camera catches the fine, acid mist....


When it was all sprayed, the floor looked dark and wet...



Once it dried and finished reacting with the concrete, it looked great. Here are some pictures. I also added some touches of black and other browns here and there to vary the color. After all was completed, I added 5 coats of wax, which was supposed to protect the floor. I even bout the "commercial" wax. I'd hate to know the strength of the residential wax...

Anyway, here are some pics of the finished floor...






Worshop and gym


Media room/BR

This whole process probably took a few weeks. It took a 3-4 days to do the samples and then wait for the ordered product, and then 3 days for the coats of stain and washes and sealer, and another 2-3 days for all the coats of wax.

Once the floors were done, I called the building inspector (who was waiting for me to finish the slab before he'd even come out to the house). I then had the OK to start framing some walls. The most obvious place to start would be on STEP 10: building the staircase. Especially because ever since I removed the other staircase and sealed the entrance, the only way in and out was through the exterior door.
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:22 AM   #51
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That looks great!
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:32 AM   #52
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We acid stained the concrete in our basement in our previous house. The house had a sizeable indoor lap pool of 44' (which interestingly made it radioactive to most prospective buyers but not to my wife who is a distance swimmer...I cleverly lowballed the sellers thinking they would reject the offer and solve the problem of my star-struck wife but much to my horror they accepted).

My wife had the incredibly annoying habit of occasionally overfilling the pool which would then overflow into the basement which had wall to wall carpeting. Well, at least it did until after the second or third time. We tore it out and needed some other floor treatment that was impervious to moisture and was easy to take care of. Acid staining was the obvious choice after a little research. We didn't even put wax down as I wanted a bulletproof, no maintenance floor...just stained it and polished it(as much as one can polish concrete, which is not a whole lot). Best thing we ever did in that house. It turned out to be everything we hoped it would be and it wore like iron.
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Old 01-25-2012, 01:08 PM   #53
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That floor looks absolutely insane man... can't wait to see the finish basement.
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:40 PM   #54
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The Framing experience could now begin. Obviously, the best place to start was going to be the new entrance to the basement- Part 10: The Staircase. The staircase was to mirror the set going from the first to the second floor. As it was, there was nothing but dead space under that staircase, and you know me- I'm all about efficiency and maximizing space. Plus, if I was going to have a kick-ass basement, I wasn't going to enter it through a midget closet. I was going to enter though a grown-up, adult-sized closet.

Well, here is that closet (from the 1st floor)...


Wife wasn't thrilled about losing the only closet in the 1st floor of the house...

So the plan was the following:

1. Build the walls that would serve as the bathroom walls and also the walls of the staircase. This had to be done first, because once I cut the hole for the staircase, the joists remaining would need to be supported by something.

2. Build the platform for the landing. This had to be done second, allowing me to essentially build 2 sets of stairs- one from the first floor to the landing, and the second from the landing to the basement floor. I calculated the stair dimensions as if it were one giant staircase, with a middle step that was just really big.

3. Demo the space under the existing staircase on the first floor and the closet that would serve as the entryway. Nothing to it, right? I didn't think this would take more than a few hours- just cut a joist or 2 and remove the subfloor there. What's the big deal? Right.....

4. Add the stringers. Brace them to the walls I placed in part 1, as well as the platform and the 1st floor.

5. Stain and finish the treads and risers, and install. I decided on using metal brackets for the treads instead of notching the stringers. I thought it would be easier, plus. if I messed up I could just move the bracket. Turned out to be an expensive lack of confidence in my abilities as a carpenter.

Nothing to it! Let's go!


Here the walls that flank the staircase are already up. You can see the joists I would have to remove or modify above the staircase. You can also see the fire damage I mentioned during the initial demo. You will se a lot more of it here in the followng pictures- it was likely the fire started in this space. Those squares on the bottom floor are my samples of acid stain I mentioned in part 10.


The landing is installed. The house has oak floors throughout, so I wanted the treads and landing to be oak. Do you know how expensive oak is? BTW if you are going to buy oak treads, get them at Lowe's. They were like 1/2 the price of Home Depot for some reason. But the landing- that's another issue. A sheet of 3/4" (or really, 1" oak) is prohibitively expensive. I decided to buy 3/4" pine plywood and add a 1/4" oak plywood sheet as a veneer. It turned out OK- only in the sense that you can't tell by looking at it. I am worried about it's durability though. You will see it in a bit.


Here, I've added the lower stringers to the walls and the platform. The pipe sticking out of the ground is the site of the future toilet.

Ok, that's enough work in the basement- now it was time to demo that closet....



This is a view looking into the entrance from the first floor after a lot of work- first ripping out the plaster walls, lathe and wood moulding. Then, I ripped out the oak floor, and then oak subfloor. This was not easy and required a lot of sawzall action. You can see here how most of these joists were ruined in the fire and were braced with another joist. You can also see that piece of black paper sticking out if the oak floor- they installed tar paper between the flooring parts to retard water. I heard from several people not to use in-floor heating systems because it would make the tar paper stink up your house. This was pure fantasy. I found lots of little goodies that fell under this space over the last 100 years. I found 2 dozen or so little puzzle pieces made of cardboard-like material. I didn't try to put them together because my wife thought it was disgusting and made me throw them away. She's no fun sometimes....(honey, I kid).


The demo continues. Actually, I put in the flooring to the landing before completing the demo, which was a mistake. I did not damage it, but it could have been a disaster. You can see all the black debris- all burnt wood from the fire.


With the demo complete, it was time to clean up. Then I installed the stingers to the 1st floor and brackets (you can see them on the right). The silver conduit fed the only working electrical outlet in the basement, so I could not move it yet.... That's an adventure for another day.


All the treads are added. I stained the oak with honey pecan and used an oil-based poly. I thought it would help "age" the wood to match the flooring throughout the house. It turned out pretty good. With the flash, you can really see the charred studs here. I had to brace these later before adding drywall. The bottom of the treads above were also charred. i left these, and I (or the next owner) will have to replace them someday.

So I don't have the best pictures of the finished staircase for you, but here's a few from a couple angles...



and


This view also shows the doorways to the bathroom that were added next, as well as a few other walls that are not yet worth mentioning.


With the stairs completed, I could now go up and down into the basement without risking life and limb by going outside. More importantly, the walls to the staircase and bathroom were complete- which not only began the process of framing out all the planned walls (which continued for some time) but also allowed me to address a more pressing concern: Step 11: updating the plumbing (part 2/supply-side).

Last edited by gbwillner; 01-26-2012 at 12:16 PM. Reason: fixin' typos
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:38 PM   #55
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Insane dude! Nice work!

Makes me feel like a slouch, all I did was gut my kitchen last weekend
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:51 PM   #56
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Once the bathroom was framed, the wall behind the future shower would be the location of the new plumbing sytem for the entire house.

Step 12: PEX parallel plumbing system

The old style plumbing systems- those that are in series- suffer from a number of problems. First, being in series, water must get to every fixture that is in the circuit before the one you turn on. This can especially problematic with hot water- the fixture furthest from the heat source can take longest to heat up, and if other fixtures call for heat, the last one is the red-headed stepchild of all the fixtures in the house. What I mean by that, obviously, is that it may not get as much hot water. Additionally, servicing the plumbing beyond the immediate fixture (can shut down a local valve) necessitates turning off water to the entire house. If you want to add any additional plumbing later on, this could be a major problem. Besides, my pipes were all rusted. As you saw, some idiot fixed a bunch of corroded galvanized steel pipe with copper- but hooked up the two directly together. Guess what- The pipes were completely corroded again. The 1st floor half bath hot and cold supply pipes were so corroded they began leaking- the water got under the tile (that was not properly installed) and caused the sub-floor to grow mold. When I discovered it it was everywhere- I spent another week just cleaning that (and demoing the entire bathroom, then doing it the right way- maybe I'll show you that in another thread!).

So what's the solution? Why. a parallel supply system, of course. And no more of this silly "gavanized steel" and "expensive copper" stuff either- This is the 21st century. I switched the entire house to PEX. It's much easier to install, is cheaper, is flexible, and can be easily repaired. Until I find out it causes cancer, I will stick with it for sure.

A parallel system with PEX uses a mainfold to direct all the water. Cold water goes to the maifold- and several 1/2" lines come off the manifold- and each can serve a unique fixture or group of fixtures. Same for hot water. Now each fixture gets basically the same pressure and temperature as every other one in the house. Also, each line has it's own valve, so you can shut off a single fixture or group from the mainfold. Genius!

The radiant heat system (you will see installed later) also uses lots of manifolds. I realized I had extra copper manifolds, so I was able to construct one for the hot water system. For the cold water, I purchased a 3/4" PEX inlet- 8 1/2" PEX outlet manifold, and added PEX valves. It cost about $60 to make it, but it was much easier to make than the copper one.

Here is my copper creation:


Working with copper is a lot of fun. It has all the necessary requirements for fun- heavy tools, metal, and fire. Testing that this was done correctly was not easy. I filled it with water- no problem. I hooked it up to the pressurized water supply- intant mess. I had to redo one of the couplings. In all, it took 4-6 hours to build this thing, probably because this was the first time I ever played with copper. I would do a LOT more later.


On the wall behind the shower I mounted a 1/2" sheet of plywood, and to this I added a manifold bracket. I then added the hot and cold manifolds...



I hooked up the 3/4" PEX from the street to a T-coupling- one end goes to the "cold" manifold, the other end to the direct hot water heater. The hot water heater would then go to the "hot" manifold. If you do this, remember NEVER to take PEX directly to the hot water heater! You need a flexible copper adapter.

I then replaced each galvanized steel/copper line, one by one, with PEX. This was easy to do, and I did it over a few days without disrupting water use in the house.

Finally, it looked like this...



You can see here, I have 4 hot water lines connected and 5 cold water lines. I The lines not in use are turned off at the valve, so when they were finally added, all that was needed was to turn the valves on. As I said, genius.

All the water lines ran to their destinations by going to that I beam, and running on the west side of it. All the electrical would run on the east side. Below is a preview of that...


you can see the Romex running with the PEX here, but that was just a temporary line. Eventually, there would be a lot of PEX tubing installed on this side (and a lot of electrical on the opposite side).

Well, that was a short entry. Next I will get to Step 13: finishing the framing.
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Old 01-27-2012, 11:51 PM   #57
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Great job. Keep it up
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:10 AM   #58
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More!
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:06 AM   #59
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More!

I will do the next installment tonight. Unfortunately, I put a bunch of the pictures of subsequent steps in my laptop- and it decided to die on me a few weeks ago before I could back them up. It may take me a few days to get the pictures of the hard drive.

Or I can just post the framing pictures and then the final pictures, skipping the electrical, drywall, mudding, and painting steps.

If you guys want it that way, I can do it, but the archive won't be "complete".
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:27 AM   #60
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I can wait. I just wanted you to know that you aren't talking to yourself.

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