Thursday, March 26, 2009

Floor Days: Part 1

Please enjoy this slideshow I took of our pour today. It's almost a time elapse series...thanks for the suggestion, Beth!

Concrete Truck Arrives on a Cloudy, Almost Drizzly Morning

The Pour in Progress

The Crew, Screeding and Troweling

Drew and I, With the Finished Slab Behind Us

After approximately five weeks of work (if you put them back to back), we were ready for the concrete trucks to arrive and pour the lower level of our floor. This is no small feat, as all the plumbing drains, supply lines, vents, some electrical, propane, and hydronic tubing needed to be in place and all hooked together just so. Once we pour the floor, there is no fixing it, or accessing it again, as you can in an above-the-ground house. Design and forethought has been our blessing and nemesis throughout this project, but ultimately, I am proud of all we've thought of and put together in preparation for today.

The crew arrived at about 8:30, and the first truck at around 9:00 AM. Never having seen a floor pour, I wasn't sure what the pace would be like. Our foundation was quick and crazy, the pumper squirting a soda-can-sized stream into the forms, while a crew of about 6 people worked behind him to screed it before it "went off" (for those of you new to concrete, that means when it sets up).

Today, by contrast, was relaxed in getting going, with the early delivery quite smooth, and the concrete appearing to be soft and easy to screed and work with. Our neighbor and local concrete pro Greg spent last week getting the screed boards set up just so, in sections, so the crew could pour, screed, float, and trowel. Once the guys got started, they worked as an interlocking team, everyone seemed very relaxed and confident of their roles. The pumper would fill an area, Greg and Josh would screed and hand trowel where necessary, and then Roy would follow with the float, a convex wood plank on the end of a long pole, working and jiggling the "cream" to the top. While Roy was doing this, the pumper would move on to the next section to repeat. After it had set up a little, someone would return to the floated area, and use a magnesium trowel to smooth out the wood-made finish. Even later, this was finished by hand and with a machine to further work the cream, which creates a durable slab floor.

All this went along quite nicely, until the day began to warm up, and the wind picked up, making the concrete dry faster. We were also getting to the bottom of the truckload. The guys became a bit more tense, and picked up the pace, and were scrambling to float the pour before it got too hard. They played it pretty cool, but in the end, they were stressed. With good reason...there are some areas of the floor that didn't get finished quite as nicely as all would have liked. But fortunately, Drew and I like it, and we think we can clean up some of the difficult spots with a ?buffing machine? We kind of like a more organic look, really, so in an unusual moment, we are actually in agreement about a cosmetic element of design. Or maybe we're feeling pragmatic that we can't possibly do too much about it, and so we are graciously going with the flow of the universe! In any event, I feel SO excited that half our floor is done, and that soon we can walk around on it, and experience flatness.

As a final touch, we each placed a hand print, Drew's and mine connected into the shape of a heart, and Ella's hand right next to ours, just inside the exterior door in our bedroom. I later inscribed "2009" next to it. I felt a little teary-eyed at all that, that we'd be looking at it for many years to come, even when Ella is grown up and moved away.

Our Family Hand Print, Once in a Lifetime

Tomorrow, we do the upper half, and then, the sky's the limit...

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