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24Sep/110

No longer a pit of dirt

What happens when you take 6 people, 2 wheelbarrows, 4 shovels, and 70 bags of concrete?  A new floor!  We're super excited to be done with the "holes in the floor and dirt everywhere" portion of the basement reno.  And we have to say a HUGE thanks to our friends from small group for being so willing to help, we're incredibly blessed!  Here's how the work looked.

We handed out dust masks and man were they necessary!  Everyone's mask was black by the end of the night... glad that wasn't in our lungs.  We made enough dust to cover everything in the basement and we didn't think to put a plastic sheet on the stairs so everything on the first level was covered with a similar coating of dust.  Good excuse to clean???  Yikes.

We used pre-mixed bags of concrete that just needed water.  If you don't use pre-mixed you have to add a combination of cement, sand, and gravel mixed with water.  These pre-mixed bags worked great, but they were heavy!  You can mix them in a bucket if you're desperate but a wheelbarrow is ideal.  We thought about renting a cement truck and running the concrete in through a window but our basement windows are above street level and it would have cost a fortune to pump it up to the windows.  Bags in a wheelbarrow worked for the 100 sqft or so that we had to do. We hooked a hose to the laundry hookup and away we went.

Once we had the concrete in the hole we leveled it off with a 2x4.  You just need a 2x4 longer than the hole so it's touching solid surface on each side.  We moved the board across the hole in a back-and-forth sawing motion.  This method takes any extra concrete off the top and also shakes up the concrete so the gravel sinks in further and the soft, more liquidy, stuff moves to the top.  It was then a lot easier to smooth out with a trowel.

Once the concrete was flat I went over it with a magnesium trowel.  The magnesium pulls the iron from the cement up toward the surface which again makes it softer and easier to smooth out.  I could have gone over it once more with a stiffer trowel after it firmed up a bit but since we'll add flooring over this, it doesn't need to be perfectly smooth.  Also, the more you play with concrete the weaker the top gets.

Here's how it all looked the next day.

We picked a spot that will eventually be the bottom of a linen closet and signed our initials to permanently mark our work.

Ahhh, it feels good to have a floor again.  Also, I know tearing up the floor was "progress" in the sense that it had to be done to move forward, but it still felt like a step backwards to us.  It's a good feeling to know we're done with all the demolition and everything we do from now on will be 100% forward progress!  We can't wait to start showing you more interesting things than dirt and holes in the floor.  Next steps?  Finishing the plumbing so we can have heat (MN is getting cold!) and then framing the rest of the walls.  Electrical after that and then....real drywalled walls.  We're getting giddy over here!

Check out the rest of our basement posts!

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