Have you ever wondered, as I once did, what one hundred and thirty-six square metres of tongue and groove chestnut looks like?
Well, wonder no longer.
After extensive research we identified a commercial wood yard in Ribadeo which could provide us with luxurious 150mm wide aged chestnut tongue and groove, both sides planed smooth within an inch of their lives, and in almost flawless planks of up to two and a half metres. A vast sum of money moved between our bank and theirs, and after a wait of about a fortnight a wagon wound its way to us from the coast with our new upstairs flooring.
Half a dozen planks were sealed together with strapping and after we manhandled them off the wagon onto pallets by the roadside, the next two hours were spent carrying them into the house and up into the only bedroom with a concrete floor over the top of duck boards precariously placed across the top of the ancient beams which were to form the flooring of a future corridor. Thank goodness it wasn’t raining, it would have been a disaster. As it was the wood now needed to acclimatise to the house for six weeks to minimise any future movement.
Once the ‘quarantine’ was over the next month was spent flat out working with a friend, and coincidentally a master shipwright, to fit together a massive double skinned and insulated upstairs floor in the two large rooms which would later be subdivided using 120 plasterboard sheets (but that’s another story).
It was a massive undertaking which used over 24 tubes of Sika, four hundred 40mm screws, 68m2 of heat and sound insulation, and eventually four large tins of hard-wearing polyurethane floor varnish. There was a short interlude between the skins to allow the plumbers and electricians to do their stuff and fit all of the services out of sight.
The fitted floor was then treated for woodworm, lightly stained using a natural product derived from the walnut tree (called nogalina which sounds more like you should spread it on your toast), and varnished four times (the first being a 50:50 mix with thinners, and the final one coming after a fine sanding and washdown).
I’ve lost count of the man hours which went into it, but it was worth all the effort and I’m delighted with the results although we didn’t escape without injury. There were several splinters, sore knees and plenty of hands from which the sticky black Sika, which gets everywhere, had to be chemically cleaned. The air was often blue, but in the end it was all worth it.
All we’ve got to do now is keep it clean and polished until the arrival of our first guests.