Putting Up the Dome: Part Three

With the foundation completed, we were ready to lay down the flooring. The plans call for simply laying plywood, but we wanted the floor to be more finished and thought the plywood would have too many gaps to let drafts in. We debated whether to put down insulation first, as we hear it can get down to freezing in the winter. Instead, we decided to put down 2×6 tongue-and-groove Douglas fir floorboards. That way, they would work as our flooring for now, and if wool carpets weren’t warm enough, we could always add a layer of insulation and some kind of finished flooring on top after the dome was up. Because we needed very specific lengths and amounts of wood for the tongue-and-groove, we found a floor plan online for a 24′ yurt and modified it for our dome.

The limits of my visual-spatial abilities were revealed when I ordered the wood and Mauricio went to pick it up. Only half of the pieces would fit in the pickup. It never occurred to me that the 16-footers would be way too long to fit. We managed to get half of the wood, and then found a used rack on Craigslist to add to the pickup in order to load up the rest. Another weekend lost. Luckily, we had our work crew to help with the unloading. At the same time, they got their math lesson for the day, as they estimated lengths of boards and sorted them into piles. They now all can hand you a 2×6, not the 2×4, and have the visual-spatial ability to eyeball 6′, 8′ 10′ and 16′, which is more than I could say at the start of this.

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We laid down the wood and screwed it in with some fancy deck screws. Who knew you could spend so much money on screws? The first ones we got were crap and kept spinning in place after getting them in. So we sprung for proper (expensive) ones that made the job so much easier. Mauricio pre-drilled the holes with a countersink bit and I drilled them in. This process took, once again, so much longer than we thought, and ended up stretching over several weekday evenings and the following weekend. In the mean time, we got a bout of rain, so early one morning, I had to quickly scrounge around the debris pile left by the previous owners for every spare tarp.

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Finally, with the floorboards screwed down, we had our wood putty specialist fill in the screw holes. Then I sanded it with a rented floor sander. The plans weren’t clear about whether the floor should be flush or if it should have some overhang, so we laid down the perimeter of the dome struts just to be sure. Flush. Mauricio and our new neighbor Farrel cut down the overhang. Check out the generator running the whole program.

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(An aside about neighbors. We have over nine acres and not another home in sight. And yet, we have some of the best neighbors we’ve ever had. Seems like life up here calls for neighborliness, and everyone seems to watch out for each other. Farrel came by to see how it was going, and ended up going for his better circular saw, then sticking around to help. One of the countless ways the neighbors have helped in the short four months we’ve been here.)

With the floor laid, cut and sanded, we just had to prep it for the finish. Our floor prep specialist thought the hands-and-knees method of wiping down with tack cloth was too laborious, so she came up with a better method.

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Finally, I was able to put on the sealer. We used a low-VOC water-based polyurethane—a base coat and three top coats. Thought we could pour and squeegee it on in a day, but the boards are not perfectly planed, so it ended up pooling all over. The good old paintbrush method ended up being the best way, and, once again, taking way longer than we thought.

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On the other hand, the whole point of all of this is slowing down to appreciate life. This is view from the platform of the sunset that was waiting for me as I brushed on the last stroke.

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