Sanding the super-sealed subfloor seams sucks moisture-resistant dust
By Mark Rutledge
Saturday, January 26, 2019
My buddy Joe Talbert tells a story about seeing a crew in Seattle cutting grass in a steady rain. A local explained that if one does not mow in the rain in Seattle, one does not mow.
They obviously build houses in Seattle. How? That’s what I’d like to know.
My wife and I have spent the rainiest East Tennessee year on record trying to build a house. The Tennessee River Valley took 67.1 inches of rain during 2018. Compare that to Seattle’s mere 35.5 inches.
My unscientific research indicates that Seattle is known for its rainy weather more because of a higher average number of rainy days than for the average rainfall amount.
For instance, Seattle averages 38 inches of rainfall per year but 154 days with measurable rain. New Orleans, by comparison, averages 64 inches of yearly rainfall but just 56 days with measurable rain.
In other words, Seattle has many days that are misty, and New Orleans sees more than a few full-on frog stranglers.
I could not find a statistic for the number of measurable-rain days during 2018 for Gray, Tenn., but I would bet the soggy farm that we topped Seattle on that note, too.
While it was raining more days than not on our construction project, I thought about calling a random contractor in Seattle to ask about circus tent rentals. That must be how they do it.
Because we don’t have a big top, our jobsite since May has been, for the most part, either flooded or soggy. It was particularly agonizing to see the subfloor submerged for the better part of two months before the roof could go on.
So anxious was I to see it in the dry, I nailed on the roof shingles myself. (Actually, I did that to save money. But I was anxious just the same.)
The subfloor of our new house is made from a wood composite material engineered to resist moisture damage. That did not stop me from buying a squeegee and using it until blisters formed on my blisters.
The subflooring manufacturer guarantees its material against any need for sanding. But rather than debate the details of that warranty, I spent a recent weekend on my knees leaning into a belt sander.
I wore safety glasses and a breathing mask, of course. But my eyes and nose still took a heavy dusting.
Thinking about the chemicals that must be in that dust for the wood to mostly hold up under the largest amount of rainfall ever recorded in East Tennessee — or even Seattle, for that matter — I’ll throw this thought in for my kids:
If you see a late-night television commercial about a class-action lawsuit over deadly particles emitted during the sanding of sand-free flooring, pay attention. Especially if Daddy has bought the proverbial farm early.
That TV ad might come in handy for paying off the actual farm.
Contact Mark Rutledge at email@example.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.