The Subfloor Chronicles….Part 1

Last Friday was the first real day of get-in-the-dirt-work.  And let me just start by saying, all those who do this for a living…you’re amazing.  It is not easy drilling in to metal and keeping everything straight.

So this is how it all started….a bare trailer frame.  8.5 feet wide by 22 feet long
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Then I had to mark where all the flashing is going to go.  Galvanized flashing is usually used for roofs (or so I’m told)…turns out it works like a champ as a moisture barrier on the underside of the trailer.  I’m building my subfloor into the frame (as opposed to on top) so the flashing is screwed in to the beams on the underside, rigid insulation goes in between the beams, and finally OSB is glued to the top of the beams…

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I found a paint marker in my desk and it worked AMAZINGLY well to make all those marks for the flashing.  I bought 20″ x 50′ flashing, so I needed to cut it to fit the inside square you see in the picture.  The outside of the frame won’t be flashed….I don’t think.DSC00506[1]

Each piece of flashing was cut to 20’1″ long…so in the middle square that is 81″ wide, the plan is to have 4 pieces laying side by side.

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Measuring takes two people….

DSC00516[1]So does cutting.  But fun fact: flashing is soft enough to cut with tin snips.  I just learned that.  So take your metal-cutting jigsaw blades back to Lowe’s and save yourself $6…you don’t need them.

DSC00518[1]Once the flashing was cut, I threaded it underneath the beams.  It’s a little squirrelly and unless you have some good clamps (or an extra set of hands), it doesn’t want to play nice.  Also, WEAR GLOVES when moving flashing around.  You may be tempted to say, “Nah…it’s not that heavy,” or “I got this,” or “I’ll just be really careful ’cause I can’t remember where I set my gloves.”  No.  I made that unfortunate mistake and sliced my thumb open.  And at the time I didn’t have bandaids on me.  It stung.  Blood was everywhere.  There was wailing and gnashing of teeth.

DSC00517[1]Getting it started is probably the hardest part.  There is a lip next to the side beam and it took a LOT of wrastling to get it in place.

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I started out drilling holes and putting screws, nuts, and then washers later when I was advised that it would be a good idea.  I’ve since switched to self-drilling screws.  It took me 3.5 hours to get one 20′ sheet attached and glued with the first method.  With the self-drillers I was able to attach the flashing 3x faster.

And yes, I squirted a healthy dose of Liquid Nails to the seam just to have another attachment point.  I’m a safety girl.  Bonus points if you can name that movie 🙂

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One side done.DSC00524[1]My “little helpers.”  Seriously, the clamps are the best $20 I’ve spent so far…

DSC00531[1]On a side note, when you see this ^ happen to your screws…JUST STOP.  I ripped the heads off 3 screws.  Guys, I’m not that strong.  Turned out I had the torque too high on my screwdriver and when the screws got heated up (as they do when drilling through 1/4″ steel) they pop right off.

DSC00534[1]So I decided to fill the holes with the extra adhesive that was eeking out the caulking gun.  I don’t know if it was the right thing to do or not, but whatever.  My house, my rules.

DSC00535[1]Then I decided to add more because no one will see it so it doesn’t matter if it isn’t pretty.  Also, I’ve seen other methods of attaching such as drilling through the top of the beam and letting the pointy end of the screw stick out underneath.  I wasn’t a fan of that for a few reasons:  1) I like this look better, 2) I know I won’t see it per say, but I’ll know, and 3) I want to put in drain pipes, water lines, and propane pipes under the trailer and I don’t want to be dodging a gauntlet of spikes.

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After I screwed in where the clamps held, I squeezed myself up through the beams and then high-kneed it down the line to reattach the clamps, and wiggle down under the trailer to do it all again…

DSC00542[1]This is why it takes me so long.  I have exactly 18″ of clearance under the trailer.  That picture is me worming my way through the axles and holding extra flashing up with my knees.

DSC00543[1]I try not to think about the fact that I’m mildly claustrophobic and just get it done.  That, and I’ve learned that I don’t like wallowing in the dirt, so the less time spent shimmying on my back, the better.

I’ve gotta say though, yoga has really come in handy so far.  I’ve had to contort my arms and legs up and around and through the beams and if I wasn’t bendy it wouldn’t work!  So all you yoga people will have a leg up when building in tight spaces!  HA!  That one is for you, Nevada Laura… 🙂

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At the end of yesterday, I had 3.5 rows done (I forgot to take a final picture, but just imagine that last piece on the left threaded under the beams and attached to the middle axle).  I couldn’t finish because my screwdriver pooped out on me.  And my extra battery didn’t work.  It only had a little juice.  Ok, I didn’t plug it in to the charger right.

After inspecting the rows, it turns out I’m off my original markings.  I’m either going to have to take out screws and adjust the flashing or patch it with my leftovers.  Guaranteed the first one won’t happen.  We’ll see if I don’t just tape over the gaps.  I’m so tired and sore right now I don’t think I’m fit to make any decisions.  At any rate, my first statement stands:  all you construction folks, much respect.  It’s HARD getting those lines straight when you’re doing it yourself.

I’ll try not to be too annoyed with myself that I didn’t get it perfect and just take it a day at a time.  This weekend’s official count:  16 hours of work…14 hours of actual work if you don’t count the back and forth to Lowe’s, the odd Chipotle run, and a few breaks.  I’m hoping to have the subfloor done by next weekend!  WOO!

For now, Aleve has become a part of my diet.  I’m focusing on being not sore and thoroughly enjoying not being covered in dirt.

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