Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rather than adding another layer of finish flooring over the slab, we decided to polish and stain the concrete itself (doesn't it make more sense to work with what we've already got?) So before the brick pathway is mortared in place, Keith was kind enough to set me up with his grinding/polishing equipment so I could get the job done. First, the floor was leveled by coarse grinding, then polished to a 200-grit finish using successively finer sanding pads in the polishing machine.

It took three days of polishing to get to this point, which doesn't look all that much different than the unpolished floor (but believe me, it is!).

Next, several samples of stain were applied in the utility room area to experiment with the color and get the shade we were looking for. Originally, I had planned to use a soy-based stain called Soycrete, but this product was not penetrating the polished floor very well during our test samples. In the end, we went with a more traditional acid stain instead. The adobe-colored stain was sprayed onto the floor, worked in with a brush, then allowed to penetrate overnight. The next day, I washed the floor with a baking soda/water solution to neutralize the reaction, then went over the surface one more time with a 220 grit final polish. Done!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Eat my Dust.

Back to the job at hand. Armed with a circular saw, I attacked the pile of salvaged bricks that we removed from the original barn floor. After a couple days of cutting and fitting (and breathing through a respirator), I got them all set into their new home. Once the concrete floor is polished, the bricks will be leveled and mortared into place, forming a pathway through the barn.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Last week, Lisa took those awesome photos one cold, frosty morning, and I posted them along with some thought about 'renovating' our other guesthouse. It got me thinking (and my thinking usually results in tremendous amounts of work) that maybe the idea wasn't so crazy- I mean, this little one-room shack is perched right on the edge of a very steep, very beautiful riverbank. I took the above photo yesterday while skiing down the Mesabi Bike Trail at a spot where the trees part enough to yield a view of the little shack from the opposing bank. Can you beat this? I think not! So, even though I already stay awake at night thinking of how to finish the barn, or how to build another off-grid one, or how to renovate our century-old farmhouse to Passive House standards, or when I can put up a garage and workshop, or even more importantly- how to swim, bike and run my way back into Ironman shape, now maybe I'm adding this project to the list as well...Focus, shawn, FOOOOCUS!!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Our tough little tree: Its early March and we're still enjoying temps of -20 F in the mornings. The soles of my new running shoes cracked from the cold the other day. Winter is long, harsh, but spectacular around here! Did we mention that there is another "guesthouse" on our property? This one is currently unheated and occupied by a variety of small rodents. But, the view is incredible (it sits on the edge of field, overlooking the river below). Free room and board to anyone who wants to renovate it....

Saturday, March 01, 2008

With the electrical wiring finished and the misc. framing in place, the guys from GNB came back and insulated the rest of the structure. We now have a nice warm cocoon of Icynene foam to keep the little barn warm and airtight for the rest of the winter. Finally, the time has come to get to the decorative interior work...