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Make the ugly go away.

December 3, 2013

I’ve decided that one of the comments from the last post was the perfect theme for the whole kitchen renovation: MAKE THE UGLY GO AWAY.

Well, last week we finally arrived at the end of demolition and the beginning of construction. Honestly? It was exhausting to think that we were just about to start! It took two full weekends and several evenings totaling about 25 hours of ripping out the old kitchen to make way for the new plan. Basically, we made the room one big empty box, a blank slate to start new.


Original tongue and groove subfloor. You can see how low the floor is in relationship to the doorway.

Replace the subfloor: As I mentioned in the last post the old subfloor was 3/8″ plywood and bouncy like a trampoline. Once it, and the wood sleepers were gone, we had 2 3/4″ transition from the original tongue-and-groove oak subfloor to the height of the other floors to make up some how. To make it more tricky there were:

  • 2 exterior door transitions
  • 2 interior door transitions
  • 1 open transition where the floor from two different rooms met
  • ~1 inch of sagging in the middle of the floor

We knew for a good tile installation we needed to use:

  • 3/4″ exterior grade plywood (min. thickness)
  • 1/8″ Ditra uncoupling membrane (instead of cement board)
  • ~1/3″ porcelain tile  (happened to be the thickness of what we picked)
  • thickness of the mortar between the Ditra and the tile

Thank only added up to ~1.25 inches. The difference in height was ~2.75 inches, so we still had 1.5 inches to make up AND we needed to level the floor some how.

SO we thought about:

  • $$ – self lever, which is messy, sort of expensive, and would do nothing for the difference in floor height.
  • $$$$$$$$$ – Adding two more layers of 3/4″ plywood.
  • $ – putting sleepers back on top of the tongue-and-groove oak floor, and shimming up the low spots where the floor sagged. Which is what I think they originally tried to do, but failed.

We decided to go with sleepers because……..if we use a 2×4 on the flat, it is actually 1.5″ not 2″ (confusing enough but standard that milled wood is not the actually dimensions listed). Adding 1.5″ would get us a perfect transition to the existing doorways. Also it was the cheapest option, BUT not the least time consuming.

What we did looks kind of like this, minus the grass???…with a thicker subfloor…and not over concrete, but you get the idea.

Yikes, this post about the floor is going on and on. Fast forward past two days of:

  • crawling around on hands and knees
  • with a bundle of shims
  • 15 12′ 2x4s
  • a 4′ level
  • 2.5″ wood screws (for the sleepers)
  • 1.5″ exterior grade wood screws (for the plywood)
  • a kick-backing circular saw
  • 3 trips to Lowes
  • a truck rental to move all the -ish
  • sore knees
  • an achy lower back
  • occasional yelling
  • and a book on tape

After sleepers and plywood was installed.


Closing the gap on the transitions in the doorways.

The sleepers were installed perpendicular to the joists screwed into the tongue-and-groove oak subfloor and the new plywood subfloor was installed perpendicular to the sleepers with alternating seams to increase stability, avoid any weak spots, and hopefully provide additional uncoupling from the house’s floor structure.

We did a lot of research and this seemed like the best way to go and the right way to do it. If we did anything incorrectly – don’t tell me! It’s too late now and I am never doing it again. Haha…, but really, don’t say anything.

Well gosh, I was going to tell you about removing the wall and moving the plumbing/ duct work and all those shenanigans, but this post is already too long.

Next time. 🙂


6 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    March 1, 2014 7:55 PM

    Nice work, I have more or less the same ‘issue’… three additions to the house and no original floor level matches any of the others. my ‘sleepers’ will be 3/8” instead of your 1.5” but that’s about it. I was/am concerned about the overall weight of the floor on the joists so we’ll see how it goes. Total floor will be 3/4” shiplap, 3/8 sleepers, 3/4” ply, 1/2” hardwood… yeah… fun times! Glad to see someone else did the same! All the best.

    • March 5, 2014 7:59 AM

      I agree with the weight issue. The floor did have some sag in it once we completed the demo on the old one. The PO had done some cross bracing of the joists to fix this I think, because the floor had already been shimmed to sort of level.

      The additions on your house makes a little more sense to why there are different heights…for us, I’m not sure. It was definitely an original space.

      Who will ever know…

  2. December 17, 2013 12:35 AM

    Well I always install grass on top of my plywood, don’t you? That diagram made me laugh!


  1. Losing My Marble(s)… | A Home In College Hill
  2. Make the ugly go away – part II | A Home In College Hill
  3. Cabinet Selection and Kitchen Layout | A Home In College Hill

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