For as long as I can remember we’ve been stepping around the issue. The issue being the soft spot in the kitchen floor in front of the sink, where my mom spends about 75% of her time. It’s her zone. Well, it finally happened, she almost ended up in the basement, and not using the stairs, if you catch my drift.

DISCLAIMER: This is one of those home repairs that had to made in like one night, using what was around, and I’m ok with the finished product, especially since I didn’t want to rip the kitchen off the house, remove all the cabinets, sink, floor, dig out the entire basement, repour the foundation, restructure the entire floor with i-beams and lay an entire new joist and subfloor system. Sorry, Mike Holmes, sometimes you have to put on a band-aid. And even though I am pretty anal about trying to do stuff right, my dad said the words that took off a lot of pressure, “Fix it tonight, any way you can. No matter what you do it will outlast us and the house, and it will still be the strongest part of the house”.

Here’s the problem, it doesn’t look THAT bad, right? It’s just a spongey hole spot right in front of the sink that you just got used to straddling.

The soft spot. It's been covered by a rug for like 10 years. Those are 12"x12" squares so it's about a 14" soft spot.

So the floor finally gave. No one put their foot through the floor or anything, but something was about to give. Things like this always have a way of knowing the worst possible time to happen, like this did, a day before my niece’s high school graduation party at my parent’s house where there would be 50 people.

This floor needed to be fixed tonight, using what we had.

First we investigate.

The bad thing is, this isn’t a floor of individual vinyl tiles, this is one giant piece of vinyl, like 400 sq ft, so I cut carefully along the lines (using my handy drywall square seen here on merrypad.com) to expose the area.

My dad poking his finger into the hole.

OK, no biggie right? we can cut that out, put some new underlayment down, done, right? Um, not quite.

Turns out his finger can go all the way through, into the basement.

There's the hole in the basement.

I think the job just grew. 

That’s a hole through 1/4″ underlayment, 5/8″ OSB, AND 5/8″ tongue and groove subfloor. If not for the vinyl, my mom would probably be straddling that beam up there on the left.

Oh, and a cool, quick little side-note, the beams in their house, an 1800-something country house, are trees, with bark, like that pic.

 

And the job grew a little more.

When I started really looking in the basement and saw that almost all the flooring looked a little water damaged. Maybe from 100 years of leaky pipes, but no matter what the issue, the job was growing (now I’m starting to feel like Mike Holmes when one little problem leads to him gutting an entire house. Except like Mike Holmes I am not going to “Make it Right” I’m going to “Make it Right-enough”).

The rest of the rotting floor and the plumbing. And lots of band-aided solutions from previous years of fixes (not by me).

You may be saying, “How did you not see all that, don’t you ever inspect?”. The answer is, kinda. You may not know this, but 200 years ago, basements were not build to be rec rooms with kegerators and pool tables. This is a REAL man cave, as in, it’s dark, damp, and stinky, like a cave. There aren’t a lot of instances when you decide to climb down into the basement for a look-about. But I digress.

I decided the first part of the solution would be to build up to the underside of the floor with as much pressure treated wood I could find lying around the house at 10pm so that i could work on the rest from above.

Since this was somewhat of a quick-fix, it was at night, and since I don’t have a bunch of PVC and PVC Cement lying around, I needed to go around the plumbing.

Another shot of the plumbing and rotten floor.

So I got all that other lame supporting stuff out of there. and went wood-hunting. What d’ya know. There was a full sheet of 3/4″ plywood out by the tool shed. Country livin’.

I did my measuring, figuring, sketching, and cutting. I ended up with this.

Nice, a large piece of 3/4" plywood trimmed to fit around the plumbing like a puzzle.

 

I got it fitted around the plumbing, up next to the beam that I sistered (glued and screwed) a joist to, and supported best I could using scrap 2x4s from the shed and left over from… I’m not sure what they’re left over from, but I’m a wood hoarder, and this is one of those times when I don’t feel so ashamed to have a stack of 3- and 4-foot long 2x4s lying around.

I want to mention this is all going on in an area about as big as the foot room under the dashboard of your car, standing on an upside-down 5-gallon bucket because the basement is not high enough for a ladder, but tall enough so you can’t really reach to work.

The fitted plywood under-floor support.

 

OK, now I head upstairs for more investigation.

I knew the underlayment and OSB was bad, and I knew the subfloor had a problem. SO I set the circular saw to 3/4″, sawed and removed the underlayment and OSB… Say it with me… OY VEY. That’s the tongue and groove and you can see the beam and my plywood I just installed in the basement.

The very rotten floor. Way bigger than I imagined. Yes I straightened out that cut at some point.

 

The job just got bigger.

What you’re looking at right there extends 3 feet under the cabinets and about 6 inches past the wrong side of the beam. I thought it ended on the beam. Alright then, MOM, DAD, it’s all coming out. (Right about now imagine your mom sighing and saying Peterrrrrrr. I don’t know why your mom’s calling you Peter, but that’s what my mom calls me when she’s exasperated.)

Set the saw to 3/4″ now. Out comes all the wet, rotty, wood.

Rotten wood removed.

 

Yeah, that’s a view of the basement next to the beam with the bark on the left, and my plywood platform to the right..

Luckily I STILL have deck boards left over (wood hoarder) from ripping out Emily’s old deck (some of which I used to build Julia a sweet treehouse). I know, not tongue and groove, not approved sub floor material, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

BLAM!

Uh, recycled/reclaimed deck wood from treehouse project.

 

I had to tie the deck boards into the old tongue and groove flooring. A 2×6 and two screws in each board should do it for now.

Tying the new floor into the old floor.

 

I DID have some constructions adhesive around so now I began gluing and screwing. First, 5/8″ plywood. I’d prefer thicker but I’m trying to match the existing floor here.

3/4" subfloor

 

Then some 1/4″ underlayment, glued and screwed. Brought it right up to the before floor level. Not sure how it happened. Just lucky I had what I had, I guess.

1/4" underlayment. Glued and screwed.

 

There was a little bit of messing around with some wood filler and filling and tapering the old floor with the new, but I have no pics of that.

Now this IS the most solid part of the house.

And since it’s going to be covered by carpet anyway, my parents found this chunk of vinyl a while later to fit in the area to be covered by that kitchen mat carpet you see there. Not close, but there was no match for that old floor. My dad had some vinyl floor adhesive and he went to town one day and boom goes the dynamite, floor’s done.

A perfect match?

 

We’re still trained like dogs.

This happened around a month ago and we are STILL straddling the area where the hole USED to be. Even when I walk through the kitchen I still find myself avoiding stepping on the place that used to be the soft spot.

This is an entry for PartSelect’s $5000 GE Giveaway contest.

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