Strawbale House

Building Progress of Our Strawbale House

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10 January 2013

Yesteryear’s tools

At long last another update. We’ve moved in just over a year ago but still have quite a bit of work to do.

I am currently working on my office so that I can actually move into it. For the last few days I have been installing the wooden floor and thought I share some pictures of some yesteryear’s tools I was lucky enough to find on ebay.

You might recall how we used clamps to push the floor boards together in the other rooms. This time I am using old floorboard tensioners that I found online. When I got them initially they were quite corroded and some didn’t want to move any longer. See the image below for one of the untreated ones that still moves. You can see how it’s quite corroded.

Corroded old floor board tensioner

Corroded old floor board tensioner

It didn’t actually take a lot of work to to get the ones that didn’t want to move any more to move. Just sprayed lots of CRC on to them and they are not moving nice as. CRC has removed most of the corrosion as you can see in the picture below of a treated tensioner. This tensioner was corroded worse then the one above.

Treated floor board tensioner

Floor board tensioner after treating with CRC

These tensioners are quite nice to work with considering their age and condition. The teeth on the bottom (see picture below) are spring loaded and grip the slat under floor board which then lets you push against the floor boards by working the long handle.

Gripping teeth on bottom of floor board tensioner.

Gripping teeth on bottom of floor board tensioner.

I managed to get 5 of these tensioners for $60. The seller was actually disappointed as he thought they would sell for way more as an antique on ebay. Didn’t actually think anyone in their right mind would actually use them… But hey, who says I am in my right mind 🙂

Yesteryear's tools in use

Yesteryear’s floor board tensioner in use.


12 December 2011

Shellac and painted walls

While Mark was working on the spring boards, Rosalba was applying shellac to the timber floor. The shellac comes in flake form and needs to be dissolved in methylated spirits and then brushed on the floor. Certainly made for interesting times for Rosalba with the metho fumes. Applying shellac is certainly something you only want to do in a well ventilated room.
The result is certainly worth it as you can see in the picture.

Rosalba also put the first coat of paint on the plaster walls. Looking great as well but I dare you to asks Rosalba about the sneak of the paint.

12 December 2011

Skirting boards

We decided to use one of the trees that we had to chop down to make our own skirting boards. We had a local with a portable timber mill cut the trees into boards and Mark has been busy cutting the boards to size and fit them to the walls.

We decided to keep the bark edge as a natural top edge of the skirting board. To start with Mark cut the board to the right width, in or case we used 100mm. Next the boards needed to be plained to give them a smooth surface. And lastly the needed to be attached to the wall.

Check out the pictures for step by step visual progress.

3 December 2011

Wooden floor in Bedroom laid and sanded back.

This week Mark finished laying the wooden floor in our bedroom and the walk in wardrobe. He has also done the inital sanding to remove the old floor polish and get the floor ready for puttying.

Floor sanding is very dusty as you can see in the image below. That pile of sanding dust gets generated in less than 10 minutes. I filled our wheelie bin halfway with all the sanding dust.


Mark couldn’t find a face mask to protect his lungs. A dish cloth did the trick just as well though… 🙂


The first picture below is the floor after being laid but before sanding. The second picture shows the floor sanded back and the natural colours of the wood. Just gorgeous.


10 November 2011

Toilet roll holder and towel ring

We found some really nice toilet roll holders and towel rings. They are made out of 100% recycled steel and look just gorgeuous.

They arrive yesterday and Mark put them up today.


22 October 2011

Tiling, grouting, cornices and outside laundry

It’s been a while since the last update. Rosalba and Mark have been hard at work on the ensuite. We have finished with the tiles and grouting and have just this week put up the cornices as well with the kind help of Nick.

We have also installed the outside laundry sink, ready for the plumber to connect and Rosalba has given the firewall behind the woodstove an awesome finish with a green clay render and white tiles on top.

Our goal is to have the kitchen, bedroom and ensuite finished by middle of November so that we can move in.
We are starting to feel the pressure building now as there are still a few things to be finished

7 September 2011

Balustrades on front steps

Last week, Mark has been working on the balustrades for the front steps.

Not quite finished yet, it’s going to get a top board yet, but the balustrades are already looking great.

Check for yourself on the pictures.


7 September 2011

Paved area for outside laundry

As you might already be aware, we have decided to have an outside laundry as we couldn’t see the point of using up indoor space for our laundary. In the place we are renting now, we have got an outside laundry and it has been working really well for us.

Over the last few days Mark has been working on a concrete slab with pavers on top for our outside laundry. It’s been hard work, with a lot of shoveling, leveling and paving. To finish it all up, Mark mixed up a cement slurry containing and oxide to tint the slurry an ocre colour. Mark used this slurry to fill in all the gaps between the pavers and give the pavers a lick of colour as well.

Check out the pictures below of the finished product.


7 September 2011

Why just tile when you can be artistic

When the guy at the tiling shop said I could break up the grey tiles by running a strip of blue glass tiles though the middle, he did not allow for my imagination. I decided it should be a stylized waterfall from a mosaic lake. For $20 I picked up a box of assorted glass tiles from Reverse Garbage. Sorted them out on Saturday night and here I go. By the way the waterfall becomes a river on the floor that meanders across (not shown).

7 September 2011

Hidden frogs

Mark prepared moved some pavers today to get ready to pour a concrete slab with paver top for our outside loundry.

While moving the pavers, he found dozens of tiny frogs hidding in amongst the pavers. Had to be really carefull not to hurt them moving the pavers.