Living Room Reno Continues

Category: Restore & Repair

After our disappointing discovery about the living room fireplace we were a bit taken aback.  We'd obviously hoped to find something better back there.  It wasn't the worst we've see in this house, though, so we've pressed on.  We're determined to bring the fireplace back to (at least) it's original glory.

With some extra time off due to the holidays we've made good progress toward that goal.  First off, the ceiling was heavily damaged due to inadequate joists and some water damage from the radiator above.  We tackled that and after some quick demo it's now stripped out.

With additional free time this week (thanks to our helpful parents who babysat Grace!) we were able to work on those shallow joists.  Since this was a structural project, we've decided to bring in some expertise--our neighbor Jay (who previously helped us with our skylights) had some free time!

We're glad we asked for his help.

Jay has experience as a carpenter so his approach to reinforcing the joists included ideas we would have never considered.  His toolbox had cool stuff we don't have, too!

The main idea he had was to correct the sag in the joists to eliminate the slope in the master bedroom floor.  This was something we'd thought about for a long time but I assumed that it was a lost cause at this point.  (This was no small dip--it was 2 1/4" over an 18' span!)  I'd heard that jacking up a floor could risk structural damage to the walls above and I couldn't imagine harming our newly finished bedroom. 

After assuring us that damage to the walls was unlikely we agreed to proceed and Jay jacked up the center of the floor. 


Bottom line: we're glad we agreed to his idea.  After two days work the floor in our bedroom is now straighter than we'd thought possible--nearly 1 1/4" was taken out of the dip overall.  It barely squeeks when I get up to feed Grace a bottle at 1 am (something Jeanne and I both appreciate)!  It's especially amazing how relaxing it is to fix something you'd previously resigned yourself to living with forever.

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Wow! 1 1/4"!! That is amazing! But how does that work? Do you have to leave the post in the middle of your living room now?

What size are the joists that are in there now? 2X8? What size lumber will you sister them with? 2X10? Just curious.


The joists that have been there for 90+ years are 2 x 6. Which totally blows our minds. There is no way that anyone today would be allowed to span 18' with 2x6 joists.

The original joists were sistered with 2 x 12s that deflect more of the weight of the floor above to the load bearing walls that flank the room. Once the new joists were attached to the old ones, the post was removed. (There was also a temporary post put in the basement to carry the weight of the post on the first floor so that would not stress the joists of the first floor. Lots of calculations. Lots of checking and rechecking for safety. Slow and careful was the motto of the day.)

Ah, Ok. The home my wife and I just bought is similar that way. Built in 1920. 2 x 6 joists for the 2nd floor. Some are on a 17.5 foot span, some on a 14.5 foot span. But ours are on about 21" centers. Are yours closer together? They appear to be from the pics.


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