Epic fail – Our damaged living room floor

In the interest of keeping it real, I bring you our biggest fail to date. The floor in our living room is f*cked.

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That light gray spot… yeah that’s not supposed to be there.

It’s no secret that we’ve been using the downstairs living room and dining room as renovation central. We’re storing ALL the tools on the floor (it’s a great method that allows us to easily find anything we need… NOT!) and miscellaneous building materials in this space. That included eight sheets of treated plywood we needed to finish the walls of the workshop. We dropped it in the living room several months ago because those sheets are heavy and we were in the midst of another huge project.

When we moved the plywood to the basement to make space for working on the trailer components, we uncovered this.

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We hoped it was a stain and instantly tried some citrus cleaner and wire brush, which did next to nothing. Which led to lots of anger and curse words. This is an epoxy floor! It’s supposed to be indestructible!

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So now we think it was probably some sort of chemical reaction between the chemicals in the plywood and the epoxy floor. A little internet research revealed that this can happen when an epoxy floor isn’t installed properly. What? Something in this place wasn’t done correctly? I’m shocked (sarcasm).

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We have one more heavy duty cleaner to try, but we’re not holding our breath. So we’re probably going to have to strip the top layer of floor and paint it with a heavy duty coating, like we did in the studio (although that was on top of concrete, not an epoxy floor.) Oh, and did I mention that this flooring runs throughout our downstairs living room, dining room and bathroom? Hello extra work we weren’t expecting. Ugh.

This is our one appeal to the interwebs to see if anyone out there knows whether this can be fixed or has experience removing epoxy floors OR scuffing them for paint/recoating.

Trailer overhaul – Interior

(Get some background on our trailer project here and check out the first exterior post.)

Removing the kitchenette
Immediately after purchasing the trailer, we took advantage of being so far north (we bought it in Iowa) and made the relatively short drive to make our inaugural trip to Ikea. We wanted to pick up some material for the trailer, including a new counter top and flooring. We struck out on the floors, but took home a length of butcher block. Once we started work, we realized that the counter top couldn’t be removed from kitchenette. It was basically one solid piece. We didn’t want to remove ANOTHER piece of the trailer, but at this point we were all in. What’s one more project on top of all the other projects? Sure! Let’s build a new kitchenette from scratch.

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Thankfully there was no water damage behind it.003trailerinterior

 

Interior walls
To replace the missing sections of wall, we opted for hardboard wall panels, because of the moisture resistant prefinished coating (on one side) and the flexibility of the panels.

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Painting the walls
Everything got a good coat of primer and then many, many coats of white paint. Here’s the view looking in from the back.007trailerinterior

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Looking in from the front.009trailerinterior

 

New flooring
Then it was time to lay the floors. We bought TrafficMaster Allure Commercial Plank, Modern Oak in Broadway. I have never loved a resilient vinyl tile more.010trailerinterior 011trailerinterior

 

New bed and benches
We ultimately decided to scrap the original wood for the bed/couch and dinette seating, opting to build new versions. This allowed us to raise the bed/couch in order to store (from left to right) a water tank, battery and HVAC beneath. 012trailerinterior

Everything will be accessible from above. The HVAC is meant to sit outside. It got a door so we can easily slide it out.

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In the back, Aaron created new benches using the former ones as a guide.014trailerinterior

 

Wiring and lighting
The lighting also got an upgrade in the form of LED pucks and new sconces by the bed/couch. 015trailerinterior 016trailerinterior 017trailerinterior 018trailerinterior 019trailerinterior 020trailerinterior 021trailerinterior

 

Trailer overhaul – Exterior part 1

(Get some background on our trailer project here.)

Framing
The good thing about taking out SO much of the trailer is that we were able to re-engineer the whole thing to make it much stronger. Aaron used the curve of the metal skin to shape the wood for the front, adding additional cross beans for more stability. The frame is bolted to the under carriage, so it’s not going anywhere.

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Much better!

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He went through the same process in the back. For some reason, this is the only shot I have of the back with the framing completely removed. It also gives you a nice window into the dank, damp tunnel he was working in. It had electricity, but no overhead lights.005trailerexterior1

Here’s the new, much stronger framing.

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On the side of the trailer we found some additional wood rot in the wheel wells.009trailerexterior1 010trailerexterior1

He also added a new cross beam for additional support.011trailerexterior1

The trailer included a heater, which we had zero plans to keep. It vented through a hole to the left of the door.012trailerexterior1 013trailerexterior1

This was a quick fix.014trailerexterior1

 

Undercarriage
In the quest to make this trailer as water tight as possible, Aaron decided to address the undercarriage. It wasn’t in bad shape, but a some sanding, priming and painting would offer a little extra protection. First he sanded the undercarriage to remove as much surface rust as possible. Then all the metal got a coat of Rust-oleum Auto Primer, followed by Rust-oleum Semi-Gloss Protective Enamel.

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Windows
The single most arduous task, which remains unfinished to this day, is refurbishing all of the windows. It’s a 6-part process for each of the ELEVEN windows.

– Disassemble
– Clean all of the glass and metal
– Sand the metal to give it a brushed aluminum look
– Reglaze the glass seals
– Replace the rubber seals
– Reassemble

They go from looking like this:

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to looking like this:020trailerexterior1

If we could hire magical elves to complete one part of this trailer overhaul, we would vote for the windows. Hands down.

The winter in which we finish the trailer

A little more than two years ago, we decided that a vintage camping trailer would be the perfect gateway to cheap, stateside getaways. It was a notion borne out of one part falling in love with our fire pit (more here), one part missing the relaxation that comes with unplugging in nature and one part restlessness (our rented condo was done from a design standpoint and we were a little bored on our occasional free weekend.) We searched high and low, bought two trailers that we quickly sold and finally settled on a 13-foot 1967 Trailblazer.

What we thought was a medium project quickly ballooned into a total tear down that dragged into the winter of 2012. And then the firehouse happened and, frankly, our lives turned upside down in the best possible way, leaving the trailer behind priorities like getting our studio up and running, creating a happier living room, fencing our yard and finishing our garage. And so, two entire years later the trailer has only been touched to move it from the front of the firehouse to the back and then from the back of the firehouse to the studio.

Yep, you read that right. The trailer is currently taking up residence IN the studio. It’s time. It’s time to get it done so we can use it or sell it. But most importantly, so it’s not hanging over our heads as some great, unfinished project. We’re finishers and this is bothersome.

So this is it – our big winter project. As such, we thought (in case we weren’t friends two years ago) you needed to get up to speed on our trailer project while we make a new “to do” list (the original was lost in a small fridge water line flood last year) and start the march toward the finish line.

Meet the trailer! We were looking for something small (under 15 feet) and inexpensive. This became “the one” thanks to the numerous windows. Obviously it still needed work.

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The front was riddled with hail damage and the ombre effect was caused by wear, not a desire to be on trend.

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We were buoyed by the inside, which didn’t have any sort of musty smell and looked to be in great condition. Obviously everything needed paint (white, naturally.)009trailerbuyanddemo

The dinette is at the rear of the trailer and folds down into a bed. To the left is a large storage cabinet, to the right a small kitchenette.010trailerbuyanddemo

The bigger bunk is in the front. It’s a couch that pulls out into a bed (seen here flat with the original cushions piled up.) There was also a small sleeping bunk above it. We plan to halve the depth and turn that into luggage storage. In this view the door is to the right and the kitchenette is to the left. 011trailerbuyanddemo

Here’s a better look at the kitchenette. 012trailerbuyanddemo

Once it was in a temporary home (a former train tunnel at the Lemp Brewery that we rented) we started strategically demoing, with an eye to keeping anything that we could still use. The goal was to clear out the space so we could paint the entire interior. We knew there was some water damage in the back, but we weren’t scared.

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This is the back (dinette) and you can see water damage in the bottom corners and around the windows (now that the frames are removed.)014trailerbuyanddemo

After pulling the interior panels, we realized the damage was more widespread than we anticipated. 015trailerbuyanddemo 016trailerbuyanddemo

The more we peeled, the more we wondered how this thing stayed together for the ride to St Louis. The outside skin basically popped off when we removed the trim. 017trailerbuyanddemo 018trailerbuyanddemo 019trailerbuyanddemo

All of the dark wood is rotten… yes, everything around the edge.020trailerbuyanddemo

The front wasn’t much better. There was a little rot near the bottom.021trailerbuyanddemo 022trailerbuyanddemo

And a lot of rot at the top left. 023trailerbuyanddemo 024trailerbuyanddemo 025trailerbuyanddemo 026trailerbuyanddemo 027trailerbuyanddemo

When it was all removed, we were left with this. Homey, right?  029trailerbuyanddemo

At this point the project had ballooned WAY beyond the original scope, but it had nowhere to go but up.

Trailer overhaul – Exterior part 2

(Get some background on our trailer project here. Don’t forget to check out the first exterior post and interior.)

Insulation
Once the new walls were in place, Aaron removed the old insulation and used aluminum foil tape to seal the paneling seems. This will also help keep water from damaging the interior.

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Then the framing got a coat of Kilz primer. 002trailerexterior2

Then he cut foam insulation to fit between all of the panels and sealed it in with more aluminum foil tape.

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This whole project sounds really easy, but it is incredibly tedious.

 

Exterior metal
The tongue and the bumper were showing quite a bit of wear… particularly the bumper, which we lost half of somewhere between Ikea and home. These got a good sanding, a coat of primer and then a coat of paint.005trailerexterior2 006trailerexterior2 007trailerexterior2 008trailerexterior2

The new jack also went from black to white before being installed. 009trailerexterior2 010trailerexterior2

 

Metal skin
Tackling the new metal skin for the trailer was something we both dreaded from the get go. The metal skin came in sections (basically two for each of the four sides of the trailer.) It was shipped in a tube so we had to lay it out in the back of the tunnel and weigh it down in an effort to remove the bend. It was only slightly successful. When it came time to attach the metal, I held a piece in place while Aaron traced the shape on the backside. Then we cut it, held it up and stapled it into place. The bend fought us, but we got the lower piece attached. The second (upper piece) didn’t play nice. Because of the bend and the sheer size of the piece, it was nearly impossible for me to hold it (along with some clamps) while Aaron stapled it in place. After it and the bottom piece popped off TWICE, we called in reinforcements.
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Thankfully my brother was in town and willing to lend a hand. Between the three of us, we were able to get the skin attached over the course of a weekend. Once the metal was up, Aaron used metal snips to cut out each window and the door. 012trailerexterior2 013trailerexterior2

And that is how the trailer sat while we negotiated and purchased the firehouse. When it came time to move it, we tossed in the door and a few windows to give it some extra stability. Then we woke up really early on a Sunday morning and pulled it the few miles to the firehouse, hoping that we wouldn’t pass a cop along the way considering it wasn’t exactly road worthy.

Since then it has waited patiently for us to find the time to finish it. We checked on it every few months, holding our breath as we unzipped the cover. It looks like it was mostly unscathed by the lack of attention. Aaron has a large list of mini projects to wrap this project up. So we’re getting back into real time blogging as he marches toward the finish line!