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Basement Remodel

Let’s get this out of the way first: spray paint itself isn’t eco-friendly. You’re left with that pesky steel bottle and it’s rather stinky stuff, too. There, I said it.  Now that we’ve agreed on  that, let’s move on to the idea that spray paint does have green value in that it can impart new life to things that otherwise might just get dumped into a landfill. Here are five ways that we have used spray paint for home improvements:

1. Our old fireplace doors went from smoke-stained and outdated  to simple and lovely.

2. Our retro kitchen cabinet doors had layers of chipping paint and lacquer, loads of decorative trim, and possibly lead paint on them, meaning that sanding was out of the question. Textured spray paint was an easy way give them a new lease on life until we have a more defined plan for the kitchen.

 

 

 

3. When we bought our house, we had to refinish every single thing (as everything was covered in filth and roach droppings). To minimize cost and waste, we decided to wash and spray paint hinges and hardware rather than buying a whole-house’s worth of new ones.

Leftover floral foam works well for holding screws.

4. For the basement remodel, we freshened up old door handles purchased at ReStore so they would match our oil-rubbed bronze vibe. (We would have been wise to add a coat of lacquer.) (Painting helpers: a shipping pallet and the same trusty piece of floral foam, three years later.)

5. Going with flush-mount lights rather than recessed was one way we could save money on the basement remodel. Finding six matching, attractive, amply-bright lights for cheap was tough, though. Enter Craigslist. We found a lot of lights with a nice motif for a mere $35, but they were a terracotta orange-ish. Once again, spray paint came to the rescue.

 
 
There you have it: five ideas from our home. But, there are tons of other possibilities. What is something you saved with spray paint?
 
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Normally I have a lot to say, and over time I’ll come back to some details I haven’t covered yet. But, for today I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Cards and Brownies for Final Inspection Day

Stairs

Craft Closet

Main Room



Around the Bend

Walk-In Closet (color is off)

Bathroom Door

Bathroom

Tub & Shower

Other Direction in Main Room (and playing baby)



Floor Shot

 What a difference six weeks makes!

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Basement Paint Palette–Brand and Colors

As if choosing paint colors isn’t hard enough, there’s the whole question of which brand of paint to choose. Most of our main floor is done with Olympic from Lowe’s. This is a zero VOC paint that is very affordable (under $20 per gallon) and can match any color. That said, it is only zero VOC in the base paint, the pigment does contain VOCs.  For the basement project, we wanted to something with  zero VOC base and pigment, and optimally a paint that was overall less chemical and formaldehyde-laden. There are options like milk paint, but that is the kind of product I would want to experiment with myself on a small job before spending big bucks to have professionals paint it over a large area.  So, we looked at what Amicus sells to start our search, but decided to go with a brand that was available closer to our home so if our team needed to run out and get more, it wouldn’t be a long, gas-expending hassle. One brand that Amicus sells is American Pride. It turns out that Mythic Paint is also made by the same company, and Mythic is available at Ace Hardware, which is just down the road from us. From looking at the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each, they seems to be the same product, just marketed differently. We loved that Mythic can  match any color while still remaining zero VOC in the base and pigment.

At about $50 a gallon or $215 for five gallons for the Mythic Classic line, this is no bargain paint. But, we felt that it was worth it. Our team is well underway with painting and we have so appreciated that there is almost no smell. Not only will this benefit our family’s indoor air quality both now and down the line, we are happy that it facilitates a pleasant and safe working environment for our crew . I should ask them how they think application and coverage compares to other brands.

To help us pick colors, we checked out a fan deck from Ace Hardware so we could look at Mythic’s 1,232 colors in our own space. To check it out, we bought it, but we can use it and then return it for all of our money back. I am so grateful that Ace offers this service!

Now, on to the colors!

Click to see a larger image
 

Main Room:
We decided to pick a wool rug as our starting point and then design the wall colors around that. After looking at over 9,000 wool rugs online (yes, I am picky when it comes to rugs), we settled on an orange one from Overstock.

To complement it, we chose:
Banister Beige (Eggshell) – Walls
Navale (Eggshell) – Accent Wall
Trim (Semi-Gloss) – Warm Welcome

Bathroom
Our inspiration for the bathroom was the glass accent tile we selected for the shower (which deserves a whole post of its own): Piedmont from Florida Tile’s Harmony line as well as the Jovi Home Woodland shower curtain and rug we’ve already purchased.

For paint, we went with:
Antiqua (Semi-Gloss) – Walls
Warm Welcome (Semi-Gloss) – Trim

Walk-In Closets
Pale Blossom (Eggshell) – Walls
This was originally our trim color for the main room and bathroom, but it turned out looking like a very pale electric green in our space. It was odd out there, but we kept it in the walk-in closets hoping that it will keep them looking bright and cheery.

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Basement Insulation Options: Rockwool Rocks!

Last week we got insulation. Not only were we thrilled about not having cold feet anymore (the empty ceiling in the basement leads to a chilly floor upstairs), but this also was a huge milestone because it meant that we’d passed some big inspections. Since insulation (and then drywall) covers up the plumbing, electrical, and framing work, the fire inspector had to come and approve everything done so far, first.
The boys celebrate insulation day
Choosing a green insulation was a decision that flummoxed us. While soil is nature’s built-in insulator for basements, and the cinder block that our house is made of also contributes R-value (measure of thermal resistance), we wanted additional insulation  to make our space cozy. Choosing insulation proved to be a challenging decision, as there are differing opinions on what  is greenest that works for a subgrade basement. Our research led us to these finalists:

Fiberglass- This “pink stuff” is all I knew of when I started. This is bad stuff to breathe in, but the continuous roll version, for use in walls, comes lined with paper that makes it cleaner. Plus, I learned that there are some greener options that are very low VOC and are partially made from recycled materials. Owens Corning EcoTouch is formaldehyde free, 58% post-consumer recycled content, comes in many great R-values, and is very affordable. I felt good about going this route as long as we used this brand. Alas, at the DC Green Festival, I heard the owner of Amicus Green Building Center speak and he pointed out that while some fiberglass may be greener, it is not green. It’s that whole idea that not bad and good are two different things. It was a wake up call to me that in terms of cubic inch, insulation will be the highest volume of a single product that we have in our basement. I decided that this needed to be a splurge area in not only for indoor air quality but also in terms of production. Fiberglass was out.

Foam- Foam insulation can be sprayed in or installed in sheets. I was leery of these from the start as they are made from polyurethane and thus petrochemicals. Since we live a minimal-plastic/synthetics lifestyle, this just was contrary to all that we’ve already worked for in our house. Production and disposal are red flags; in the case of a fire, foam is toxic if burned. In terms of indoor air quality, foam is a mixed bag. Open cell vs. closed cell foam still confuses me a bit, but here is what I think I’ve got right from asking loads of questions to contractors and the Amicus folks. Open cell foam is better in terms of off-gassing because it only off-gasses ammonia. However, it takes longer to off-gas than closed-cell foam does, and it is not a popular choice for subgrade spaces. Closed-cell foam has an initial burst of off-gassing, but then it is done. It also has a better r-value per square inch than open-cell. In our brief foray into considering foam, we looked at GreenGuard certified Owen Cornings Foamular (rigid closed-cell foam boards) as well as spray foam. Ultimately, I just couldn’t get on board with this, despite talking about it with vendors at the DC Green Festival and talking to a green contractor who closed cell spray foam in his own basement.
Wool- Yes, the stuff from sheep. We are a bit wool-obsessed at our house right now: wool rugs, wool dryer walls, wool sweaters, wool pants, wool diaper covers. So, why not wool insulation? Just like how wool clothing keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, wool insulation does the same for a house. It can absorb a huge amount of moisture (though hopefully a house isn’t very moist) without any thermal change. It is fire-safe, like all insulation must be, and it is inhospitable to vermin. This is a very attractive option, but we didn’t feel like we knew enough about it for a sub-grade space and, even with splurging on insulation, we wanted a cheaper option. I would consider it for our attic, someday, though! Learn more about it, here.
Rockwool- This innovative insulation is made from volcanic basalt rock, abundant in the earth, and slag, a byproduct of the steel and copper industry. The materials are spun into fibers that resemble wool and made into batts or boards. (The boards are brand new to the US.) It is breathable (yay for good air quality), but cannot absorb moisture. If it gets wet, the water just drips right off. Mold cannot grow on rockwool. Rockwool does not off-gas and they are non-combustible, in the case of fire. Its R-value is competitive with fiberglass, but it shines above it because of the eco-friendliness of production. It also provides better sound-proofing than synthetic insulations. While it is more expensive than fiberglass, it is not prohibitively expensive. This was our winning material! Check it out in our house:
We were expecting Roxul Comfort Batt, but our contractor’s supplier sent Roxul Acoustical Fire Batt (AFB)  instead. I only noticed the alternative product when posting the picture below to this blog entry and then freaked out because the insulation had already been encased by drywall, which had already been mudded and sanded. Needless to say, we had a very stressful 16  hours before we got in touch with the supplier, the inspector, and  Roxul‘s customer service. I learned that Comfort Batt is more commonly used for residential projects these days, as it is a newer product better sized for the way US houses are framed. AFB is the same material, it just needs to be cut more to fit interior framing widths. Comfort Batt placed on exterior walls typically gets a vapor barrier on the interior wall, but the AFB does not include that in their instructions. Because the Northern Virginia climate does not get frigidly cold, we are comfortable with having no vapor barrier.  Our contractor learned that the inspectors had also been held up on this issue and talked with Roxul before issuing approval. Ah, the joys of using products that aren’t rare, but aren’t common either.

 

The picture that struck fear in our hearts.

AFB has an R-value of 4.1 per inch of thickness. That is a well-insulated basement when you add up all the components, which is a good thing since putting in ample ductwork for HVAC wasn’t in the budget.


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Tackling the Ugliest Stairs in History

OK, so maybe they aren’t the ugliest stairs, but they are pretty bad. Long ago, a carpet runner most have been glued and nailed down. When someone pulled it up, they left the old adhesive to collect dirt and the nails to catch our socks.

Several contractors suggested that these stairs were a lost cause and simply needed to be rebuilt. There were several problems with this idea: tearing down something that should still have life, cost, and code issues.  See, a new staircase would have to meet current building codes. Our stairs are steep and some of the steps are different heights and widths, there is low headroom at the bottom, the railing is snug to the wall without ample hand space. The staircase would have to get longer and the headroom higher: we’d lose space in the basement as well as the main floor coat closet. We decided that new stairs were not an option, and we hoped that a simple sanding and a fresh coat of paint would make a big difference.

As our contractors began to work, the way the paint sanded off sent up a red flag that the steps were painted with lead-based paint. We all agreed that they could not go on sanding them. Not only would releasing the lead be bad for the workers, it makes disposal trickier, and with young children in the house, we have to avoid any chance of that dust spreading through the air. I had a moment of freak-out that our stairs were resigned to be ugly, then I started looking for ideas to cover the ugliness.

We could tack down a jute runner, like this:

 

We could buy solid wood Retrotreads.

 
 
 
 
 

We could buy synthetic runners.

 

Source: plowhearth.com via Pa on Pinterest

Or we could buy wool runners.

Then, our contractor had a brilliant idea we’d never considered. He suggested we flip each stair upside down. The backside (which creates the ceiling of a storage closet) had never been finished–it was raw wood. We found it hard to believe that this would work, but we told them to go ahead. We loved that this would use the materials already in our house. Plus, it would save us the cost of a runner and it would mean the stairs really could look good, rather than being just bandaged.

You know what? It worked! Here’s a side-by-side shot, so you don’t have to scroll up and down. You can also see that the left side of the stairs now has full knotty pine-paneling and the right side is a half-wall.

 

Next up: the risers will get painted, the treads will get stained, and we’ll get the banister up.
 
Addition: here is a picture of the stairs at the end of the project.
 
 
 
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Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Highs and Lows

We hoped to get as many supplies as possible for our basement remodel from Habitat for Humanity ReStore. ReStore is like a thrift store for building supplies, selling  new and used building materials at 50-90% off retail prices. In my area, we’ve got the  Habitat for Humanity ReStores of Northern Virginia in Chantilly and Alexandria, VA as well as the Manassas ReStore.

Here are the highs and lows from our ReStore visits…

The last day of 2012, armed with an end-of-the-year 20% off coupon, my father-in-law’s van (plus trailer), a list of supplies and specs, tile samples, and baby Elden, we headed to the Chantilly ReStore. We were particularly interested in their large tile selection, which we’d scoped out on an earlier visit. We also hoped to find a vanity, medicine cabinet, light fixtures, and whatever else could work.
These stores are not luxury stores. They can be cluttered, smelly, overly hot or cold, etc. While the deals are amazing, you have to be prepared to work to unearth some of the gems. It is very much a self-help environment and you do have to know what you are looking for and pay attention to details. If you have a smart phone or tablet, bring it so you can look up any needed details (e.g., a user’s manual for a dishwasher, if the lightbulbs that a old light fixture needs are still made, etc.) Looking through the tile was tedious work. We spent about 45-minutes moving boxes, looking through stacks of open tile, scrutinizing thickness and color, and making calculations.  





While we love incorporating our kids in all kinds of projects, we were glad that Vaughn was hanging out with his grandparents for this part. If sorting through tile tested my patience, it definitely would’ve tested the patience of a toddler. On the other hand, Elden was in a wrap and pretty happy as long as I kept bouncing.

Thank you, Kindercoat, for keeping us both warm! The store was chilly with the big bay doors open.



We ended up finding a close match for the tile we brought in with us (scavenged from the shed of random things that conveyed with the house) and managed to gather up about 80% of what we needed.
After the tile hunt, things moved faster. We found a medicine cabinet that had some retro appeal as well as enough door handles for the entire basement. While brass doesn’t fit in with what we have in mind, these have some style to them. At a mere $2 a pop, we can afford to spray paint them to create the oil-rubbed bronze finish we’re planning.
As we walked around, we were struck by the idea of a deep bathtub (with our without jets). Dave loves a good soak and our beloved turquoise 1950s tub on the main floor doesn’t quite cut it in terms of size.  But, in a house with a mere 1,100 square foot footprint, a big tub doesn’t really fit. We hemmed and hawed.  We moved tubs out of the way to get to other tubs.  We measured. We squabbled. We walked away. We walked back. 
Finally, we agreed on a small Jacuzzi tub that is a standard length, but is a bit wider and deeper than a normal tub. With our coupon, it would cost us just $64 (down from $80). At that price, we wouldn’t be out much if it didn’t work out.
After paying our tab (about $110), we loaded up and headed out. Victory was ours!
The following weekend, we borrowed the van and trailer again and visited the Alexandra ReStore. The big thing at this store is cabinetry. There is tons of it. We found several things that we sort-of liked–a bathroom vanity as well as cabinets to create a small wet bar (i.e., green cleaner creation station) but neither had a counter top. After much debate, we decided that we were not up to dealing with obtaining those on top of all of the other decisions we needed to make. So, we walked away empty-handed, which was deflating. On the up-side, we had both boys with us for that trip. Vaughn had lots of fun being worn on Dave’s back and trying to saw anything he could reach with his toy saw.

For our trip to the Manassas ReStore, we decided to forgo borrowin the van and trailer since that adds at least an hour. Late one Friday afternoon, we packed up the kids in the Matrix and headed out on a whim. We figured if we found something we liked, we’d send out contractor back for it within 24 hours. The Manassas store is really well organized and the staff and volunteers were exceptionally friendly. This is a two-level store. The main level is all kinds of things: cabinets, lights, vanities, etc. The basement is flooring and doors. There was loads of modern looking, new, in-the-box tile–enough to do a whole small project. There also was loads and loads of  plain 4×4 square tiles. Unfortunately for us, there was nothing that matched the other elements we’d already selected for the bathroom. So, we passed. But, someone else is going to be thrilled with those finds. We saw several folks carrying around things that we would’ve bought, had we been just a few minutes earlier to snag them first. We got there only 30 minutes before closing time, which was very stressful. This is the kind of store that I like to have lots of contemplation time in (let alone time for making calculations, measuring, etc.). Plus, it was almost dinner time and our boys were melting down.

The days we walk away empty-handed are a bit deflating, but as with any secondhand shopping trip: you win some and you lose some. That said, at prices with that huge of a discount, it is worth an attempt (or two, or three). Inventory at these stores changes rapidly, so we know to keep on checking back. We also follow the various ReStore locations on Facebook because they post a few pictures of new items each month.

If we end up with a free day to drive up to Baltimore, I’d love to check out Second Chance, which has an impressive 200,000 square feet of architectural salvage retail space. Baltimore has so many old homes that they get in really unique things as well as modern stuff.

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Navigating Second-Hand Construction Materials

One of the top ways that my family lives more green for less green is through the wonder of second-hand items. We love used things because they come to us without concerns about responsible raw material usage or ethical production. Plus, we are keeping something out of a landfill. Also, those select plastic or composite things that we do bring into the house are typically done off-gassing. Win, win, win, win!

Between Freecycle, Craigslist, household item swaps, yard and consignment sales, and thrift stores, we don’t have to buy much new.  But, is this strategy possible with construction materials? We’re sure trying! Here’s how:

Salvage: Unfortunately, old water damage, cockroach infestation, and general neglect rendered most things in our basement unsalvagable. We are still contemplating rebuilding the toilet innards and reusing that, but we may splurge on a dual-flush toilet instead. The biggest thing we can save is our stairs. We will reuse the knotty pine panels to spruce up the stair walls (they will be painted) and the stairs will be sanded and painted rather than being demolished and rebuilt.

Scavenge: I sent hubby out to the shed to look through the random things that the previous owners of our house left behind. Sure enough, we found several boxes of wall tile to use around the bathtub. There is not enough for the entire area, but we  hope to supplement with similar tile from other sources to create a look like this:

ReStore: Habitat for Humanity runs the ReStore, which is like a thrift store for home improvement materials. There are retro things, modern used things, as well as some brand new materials. I plan to do a whole post on our ReStore adventures, but I will share that we found tile to supplement what we found in the shed (though we still will have to buy a smidge more, new)

Craigslist: The materials section on Craiglist is loaded with a variety of items. Just like ReStore, there is a mix of new and used, retro and modern. We bought a new bathroom vanity for a mere $50 from a guy who bought in on close-out at Home Depot, brought it home and his wife didn’t like it, so he put it in a storage facility to sit.
Freecycle: Over the summer, someone in our community listed brand new tile flooring that they had never gotten around to using on Freecycle. We knew it would be enough to floor the entire bathroom and perhaps a closet, too.
When using reclaimed items  from many sources, it is key to go in with an open mind and aim for mostly neutral items. Now that we’ve managed to piece together neutral flooring, neutral wall tile, and a neutral vanity, we can start thinking about pepping things up. For example, buying a bit of new tile to create an accent stripe around the bathtub stall, or using bright paint, or refinishing the vanity with a color.



Vanity Inspiration



Accent Tile Inspiration
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Demolition Has Started!

Demolition started on Wednesday and has progressed very quickly.
Day 1-We’ve made some discoveries: the walls and ceiling actually have some insulation in them; behind the drywall we found old-school knotty pine walls (we’ll salvage some, but most is icky); there is indeed asbestos tile under the vinyl, as we suspected; we did not find any moisture on the exterior walls, however the wall near the bathroom is wet and one of the workers fell through the squishy subfloor (once we found out that he was not hurt, we had a good chuckle about what a surprise that must have been while using the…ahem…facilities). I couldn’t bring myself to ask how many cockroach bodies they found behind the drywall. By the time I came downstairs, it had been vacuumed.
Day 2- We’ve discovered all kinds of sketchy electrical wires hanging out in the walls and ceiling. Yikes! We’ve also discovered the source of the wet bathroom, the big, iron pipe that takes waste-water from the main floor bathroom to the sewer line has been leaking. Think about that for a moment. Yes, that kind of water has been leaking under the basement bathroom subfloor. So, so gross. I guess that explains the humidity and unpleasant smell down there. Shudder! On the up-side, this is fixable, and since we have identified the root of the odor, this may mean that the completed basement will be even more pleasant than we imagined.

Day 3- Our basement is a clean slate, in terms of design. (Though nothing about it is clean.) Next up is plumbing and electrical demo, then re-framing the exterior walls begins.

Come on downstairs and check out our progress so far.

(Illegal) Kitchen
 
When We Moved In
(Ugh, I forgot about those upper cabinets. They were filled with roaches.

  

Last Week



 
Day 1 Demo

  



Day 2 Demo



Main Room



Day 2: Knotty Pine Revealed



Old Damage From When The House Didn’t Have Gutters



Day 3: Bye, Bye Walls



Bathroom

 

Unfortunately, the house was so neglected before we bought it, that not much is salvageable. I’ve had some moments of freak-out about all of the waste, but what’s done is done. All we can do is move forward responsibly. We do plan to recycle the iron pipes that will be removed shortly (from plumbing and remnants from the old oil heat system) and we’re hoping that Habitat for Humanity Restore will take the old bathtub and any of the good knotty pine panels that we do not reuse. 


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Basement Flooring: Cork, Here We Come!

The current flooring in most of the basement is vinyl, but it is not in good enough condition that we would keep it exposed. Initially, we thought that we would go with the simple option of getting the floor down to concrete and then painting it. Painted concrete is affordable and more attractive than you might think. With an eco-friendly paint or stain, this is also a good choice in terms of indoor air quality.

But, that wasn’t meant to be. First off, we realized how cold the floor would be—not so pleasant in the winter. But, then the even bigger problem showed up. As we started to talk with contractors, we began to wonder if there might be asbestos tile under the vinyl (due to the age of the house and because we have some of the tell-tale 8 inch square black tiles in our laundry room). Removing the vinyl would risk disturbing any possible asbestos, which would then have to be removed at great cost and health risk. In contrast, intact, undisturbed asbestos tile is perfect harmless. So, the current floor (and whatever is under it), needs to stay.

So, what can we put down over top of the vinyl that is environmentally responsible, suitable for a sub-grade space, and won’t freeze our toes off when we hang out down there? It turns out there is no universally right answer. However, here is how we processed through the options to find the best fit for us:

Carpet? Synthetics off-gas. Wool costs a fortune. I am not a fan of wall-to-wall carpet in the name of minimizing dust, dirt, and lead. This is a concern in an older neighborhood like mine that has old paint flaking off houses, which then becomes part of the dirt again. Plus, it is a basement and there is always that “what if” worry about moisture.

Hardwood? Our main floor is original 1950 hardwood and we love it, but most hardwood is not a viable sub-grade flooring option. If we went with a floating option, I knew I would obsess over how the wood was sourced and finding something that met my standards would lead to blowing the budget.

Bamboo? A floating bamboo floor can be OK for basements, but it isn’t a great choice for sub-grade. Plus, it is pricey and it can be difficult to install (or so we’ve heard). We do love that bamboo is rapidly replaceable, though.

Vinyl? Being that we minimize plastics in our home we never really considered this one. I mean, the good news is that vinyl is cheap; but the bad news is that it has no redeeming value in terms of production or indoor air quality. It is probably the most popular basement option, but adding new vinyl is not the right choice for our green goals.

Linoleum? Yes, actually linoleum made from linseed oil is still around. It is a great, eco-friendly choice and comes in every color of the rainbow. We looked at Marmoleum and quite liked it, but were not convinced it was the best choice for a sub-grade space.

Tile? This is another one that is a natural for possibly damp spaces like basements, but it is too cold for the main part of the basement. Plus, the firmness is too hard on my back—I need a slightly springy floor. Plus, that whole obsessing over the source thing: where was the stone quarried, was it done responsibly, is it over-quarried, etc. That said, I know that tile is a good choice for the bathroom. Amazingly, someone posted 70 square feet of new tile on Freecycle and we got it. Yay for free. Plus, since we are repurposing cast-offs, I feel freed of ethical obligations about manufacturing.

Cork? The first thing that came to mind when we heard about cork was a floor that looked like a giant bulletin board—spongy and light brown. Ugh! But since cork naturally resists mildew and comes from a renewable source, we wanted to learn more. We went to Amicus Green Building Supply and checked out several brands. We knew that everything at Amicus was carefully vetted to meet high environmental standards. There, we saw that some brands look very much like hardwood, plank floors and come in many shades. We discovered that cork has a natural warmth to it and has a very gentle springiness but yet is quite sturdy. Finally, we had a winning material! Read more about how amazing cork is, here.

Cork floors (like any product) are not equally durable or green—some cut corners on the backing, others don’t protect the cork well with a coating (or use an off-gassing sealant), some must be installed with formaldehyde-laden adhesives. Ultimately, were impressed by USFloors/Natural Cork, which is the only US producer of cork flooring. (Bonus points: they use solar at their facilities). We went with their Greenguard Certified Almada line, which is click-together planks (so no glues to install it), comes with a solid warranty, and is lovely.  Here is the stock photo of the flooring we chose:

US Floors’ Almada line  in Marcas Areia

In terms of cost, a high-quality cork floor is more expensive than vinyl , basic carpet, or basic tile, but is less than hardwood or bamboo. Coming in at over 10% of our project budget, flooring is likely our highest cost material.

Final Flooring Verdict:

-Living areas of the basement (about 600 square feet) will have cork with QuietWalk Floating Floor Pad as the underlayment
-Bathroom will have tile that we got off Freecycle
-Closets will have tile or cork, depending on which material we have extra of
-Unfinished laundry room remains the same with vinyl and asbestos squares (the laundry room is not part of the renovation)

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The Big Basement Remodel Begins!

Life has been a little crazy since we entered the land of two kids under age two in August, but we’re still alive and kicking, and we’re about to embark on a basement remodel. We’ve redone most of the main level of our house on our own, but we knew that these days we couldn’t get the basement done ourselves in a safe, sane manner.

While we have cleaned up our basement since we bought our house as a roach-infested foreclosure in 2009, the space is not pleasant: the walls and floors are in disrepair (to put it mildly), there are remnants of an illegal kitchen, there is an illegal bedroom, and the bathroom subfloor is so squishy that we don’t even go in there.

Here is what it is like now:

We had some contractors out in May to give us bids, and it was a rough start. The first quote we got back was over double our budget amount. The second quote we got was high but workable, but then the company went out of business. We were deflated and shelved the project.

Fast-forward seven months. After thinking creatively, buying design software, prioritizing our project goals, and getting more bids (and re-bids), we are finally ready to go. Our contractor starts demolition next week!

Thanks to the fun program Home Designer Suite, we can share what we are envisioning with you.
(As a non-spacial person, this program is hugely helpful for me to.)

Drumroll please…

Illegal bedroom and kitchen are removed, creating a large open space.
Bathroom and closet are enlarged and reoriented.



A dfferent view of bathroom and walk-in closet.

Years down the line, we will add an egress window and wall to morph this section of the basement into a legal bedroom
(the largest one in the house)



Kitchen space is recaptured into the large room
(Albiet, we’ll reinstall a sink where one is now to be green cleaner-creation central.)



Stairs will get a new finish and a half-wall on one side. The walk-in craft closet will be rebuilt.

What do you think?

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