Renovation: Gutting the Floor

The apartment has a feature that might not be apparent right away, but it was very striking at it’s time. It has an underfloor heating system. These systems were very popular in the Tapiola, Espoo in the 50s and 60s, when the original Garden City was built (my building is from 1958). Underfloor heating fit the architectural ideals, because there was no need for visible radiators.

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The original floor was linoleum, which was also popular during that time. And later (in the 80s, judging from the materials) someone put a parquet floor over the original linoleum. The original lino, a cardboard and cork-fragment underlay and the parquet are visible on the top photo, taken after I removed the AAC kitchen wall.

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That parquet was now in a pretty bad state. It seemed to have been put together from odds and ends to begin with, since some of the pieces were just 5 or 10 cm long at places.

I pondered the pros and cons of having the original parquet sanded and refinished or replacing it with something else. In the end the replacing won – the parquet was cheap quality with a thin top layer (about 2 mm), and the sanding and finishing process could have ended up costing more than replacing the floor. The underfloor heating would also work more efficiently with fewer layers.

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So the scrapping began. First I ripped of the parquet, which was glued together. It didn’t go without a fight, but I emerged victorious! It’s unbelievable how much scrap material ripping the floor produces… You’d never think there’s so much volume there! You can see the original lino on the hallway floor, and the concrete underneath. The lists were also original, visible in the hallway. The parquet had been laid next to them.

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The problem for me was that taking the lists out also removed the layer of plaster covering the concrete. The outer walls of my apartment are weight-bearing, regular concrete cast on site, while the internal walls are that lightweigh AAC. The outer walls thus have a layer of plaster to smooth the ridges left by the casting mold. That plaster had gone soft behind the lists in the course of the 50+ years since the building was built. Had the floors been washed and the water got behind the lists? Who’s to know…

So, I took a hammer and lightly tapped the plaster until all of the loose plaster came off and I was left with stuff that was still sticking firmly. You can hear and feel the difference easily. Luckily, this wasn’t too far from the floor – I didn’t really want to have to redo the whole plaster as that’s a major PITA.

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Here we go with the floor gutted to the concrete and the first layers of new plaster applied to the areas it was missing from. That blotch on the wall is from the beam. At this stage I painted all the ceilings and walls except the ones I knew were going to get covered with something else. No need to protect the floor from paint splatter now! 🙂

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Renovation: the Before

layout of the apartment

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The place didn’t look bad to begin with, not at first glance anyway. It had seen better days, but it was in totally livable condition. Very much like my previous rentals!

The apartment is 41 sqm, but the walls and especially the beams separating the living room from the alcove and kitchen made it feel smaller. The parquet was probably made from spare ends, as a lot of the pieces were just a couple cm long… and it was very, very worn.

The kitchen wasn’t that bad, having been updated in 2008. There was space for a small dining table, but it also felt very cramped, and I hated that if I put my table there, I would need to go around it to reach the fridge… the layout just wasn’t working out for me.

But there was a yard and a big terrace, and the windows were huge. I really liked the place and knew I could make it better! 🙂