Tag Archives: floor

A Nearly Finished Home

Our nearly finished home

Our home

Gage, the super, is checking my every move.

We now have a nearly finished home. It has been a bit of a strain on this old body but we were able to move in before winter. There is still quite a bit to do but the pressure is off.

Changing seasons

The scenery changing with the seasons

For those of you who live in more moderate climes, we had our first snowfall a few days ago (Oct.28). The temperatures at night are fairly consistently below freezing, with the lowest to date about minus 14 celsius. That is about 7 degrees fahrenheit. Our somewhat unconventional heating system worked perfectly through this first test. Of course, the house is super tight, and super insulated, so it requires very little heat. In fact, we were heating with only a small electric heater until we had our gas hooked up, less than 2 weeks ago. It was always comfortably warm.


We have a bed room

Our bedroom is nearly finished. We went outside the box a bit, and installed a chandelier.

We had one of our unforeseen delays in acquiring our gas service. Apparently, the gas company had a major outage and were short of staff. It took nearly two weeks, from the time I requested service, until the meter was installed. It was fortunate that everything worked when we started it up.

I promised to report on the results of my ceiling stippling job. I thinned drywall mud to the consistency of thick paint, and applied it in about 5 ft squares with a long nap roller. Stippling was done by pushing a special brush into the mud. After a few days drying, I primed and painted. The end result was satisfactory but not as perfect as I would have liked. The drywall joints should have been finished just a little better. The  joints are slightly visible when some lights are on, and should have been finished to nearly the same degree as required for painting. It is obvious that this is not a method to hide large flaws in your finish. It does, however, avoid the problems inherent in painting a large flat ceiling. Overall I am happy with the results, of this, my first attempt

A stipple ceiling

My stipple job

Stomping brush used for stipple

Stomping brush used for stipple

The brush used for stippling is sometimes known as a stomping brush. They are available in a few different configurations, such as rosebud or crowfoot, which can be double or single. I had a little difficulty finding one in Canada, as this is a method seldom used in this area.  Lowes was the only retailer I could find that stocked one. I was able to order via the internet. They may be more available from drywall distributors.

Most of my final inspections have been done. Everything passed with only a few minor changes.

I had originally planned on two water heaters for potable and heating, but research, and a few other concerns, convinced me to use one heater with a heat exchanger instead. Since the Navien NP-240(A) I am using is rated at an input BTU of about 200,000, there is no shortage of capacity.Because of a lack of experience, I chose to oversize the heat exchanger. The extra cost was insignificant. Unlike other types of heating, the over sizing of components has an insignificant  effect on fuel efficiency. I will dedicate a future post exclusively to this type of heating. I will add that I am sitting at my computer this morning with bare feet. Very comfortable.

Heating and hot water

This provide all our heat and hot water

I installed a circulator in my potable hot water system. This provides almost instant hot water to sinks and showers. This allowed me to use 3/4 inch water lines to all branch offs. This means that if you are in the shower, and somebody opens a faucet, there will not be a shocking change in water temperature. Although there is some energy cost ( reduced by insulating all hot water lines), there are significant reductions in water wastage.

Heat exchanger and watercirculators

A look at part of our system

Gage has a girlfriend who comes to visit and to go for a walk everyday. That’s her staring at the camera. Her name is Lulu, and the only things she likes better than Gage, is her “Mom” and food.



Gage the supers girlfriend



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Raising Walls


We have progressed as far as raising the walls.

Heating coils

With help from son Wayne and wife Bobbi, I was able to run the heating coils for the floor.. This is a much larger, and more difficult, job than it appears.

You will notice that I used cross bracing, instead of blocking,  between the floor joists. This avoids pulling pipe through holes drilled in the blocking. When installing this type of bracing, fasten the top only, until after the floor deck is down. This allows you to adjust joist spacing as you fasten the sub-floor. We used construction glue (PL400) and spiral nails to fasten the deck. Neighbor Bill helped me and this was only a short days work.

When framing, I use two air nailers. A coil framing nailer holds more 2 inch nails for applying sheathing. It saves time by not having to change nails in your gun. I have a Paslode coil nailer that I purchased used for 50 dollars. My Mastercraft nailer is a new one purchased at a yard sale for 40 dollars. I am pretty certain that I can get my money back when the project is finished, if I so desire.

Subfloor installed

Sub-floor done and ready for walls

One of our next steps was to apply waterproofing to the foundation. In this case it was likely not really necessary, considering soil conditions and the type of foundation, but it is always better to err on the side of caution. This is my son Wayne and myself preparing for the job. Needless to say, I let  Wayne get splattered with the tarry stuff.

Foundation waterproofing

Let the tarring begin

The rubber boots I am wearing has been a wardrobe necessity lately. With the historic floods occurring in Alberta right now, I am glad we are high and and a little drier.

I am beginning to need a haircut rather badly, but hate to take the time. I guess I am lucky to have hair at my age.

Once the waterproofing was done we began building walls

Building a wall

Building a wall

The two longest walls have been built and I am preparing to raise one. Notice that I am installing stops to prevent pushing the wall too far. Necessary when you have little help.

The bottom of the wall is toe nailed to the floor to prevent it sliding off. Just a few nails are necessary.

Preparing to raise a wall

Preparing to raise a wall

Nieghbor Bill helped to raise these two longer walls. With jacks, it is possible for one person to acomplish this but it is faster with two.

A wall is raised

A wall is raised

Don’t skimp on bracing. I have several times seen walls blown down, due to insufficient bracing.

These are the jacks that make raising a wall possible without help.

Tools to raise a wall

One person can raise a wall with these

The two side walls are up.

Raising walls

Side walls up and laying out the end walls

The headers over the window and door are two 2 x 10 and a 2 x 6 with insulation in the middle. These walls bear the weight of the roof, so adequate headers are essential. A bit of overkill doesn’t hurt here.

Window header in bearing wall

Window header in bearing wall

The end walls going up. You may note that the end walls are not completely sheathed. This allows for sheating to tie the walls together. Considerable strength is added. Sheathing is also applied to allow for tying the wall to the top foundation plate. Just a little more wind resistance.

Raising an end wall

End wall going up

Raising an end wall

Raising an end wall

The toe nails holding the wall were mostly pulled out and this wall was still threathening to slide so I put in a few more for insurance.

We acquired a supervisor this week.

Our cute dog helping out

Our new supervisor

Oh,oh, It is too hot out here. I think I will find some damp floor in the shade.

Puppy in the shade

It is hot. Must find shade

Headers are not really required in non bearing walls. I do like to add some strength without providing too much thermal bridging. This has been done here by ripping 2 x 6 to 5 inches and making a header box faced with 1/2 inch OSB. This allows for full insulation with the minimum of thermal bridges.

Header in non bearing wall

Header in non bearing wall

The walls are up and Bobbi is surveying her living room

Living room

Bobbi in her living room


A view from our bedroom window

By using our imagination, we can now get a little feel for what our house will be like.

I love this type of work. The results are so obvious.

I would like to do the backfill but it has been too wet to use equipment on site. I have not even been able to get the foundation drainage to inspection stage. Well, it is bound to quit raining eventually. There are always things that can be done in spite of the weather. This is one of the advantages of doing all your own work. You are seldom stalled for long. You are not likely to get any breaks at all, unless you just arbitrarily take one

Overall things have been going very well. I did fight with one of my nailers for half a day, until I realized it worked much better with the right brand of nails. No other real problems were encountered.

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Footing, Foundation and Floor Progress

The footing ,foundation and floor is in progress.

I have been very busy, and working this old body nearly to exhaustion. The progress has been very satisfying, though. Luck has been with me, and material has been arriving as needed, with no delays or need for make work.

I have had very little time for writing, but I will to try and update a little.

Footing forms

Ready to pour footing

Finished the footing forming with the help of my son, Wayne, and poured concrete on Monday. The crew consisted of myself, friend Don, niece Corrine and her son Cody. Bashaw Concrete Products Ltd. delivered the concrete. The driver was very considerate of our old and inexperienced people. It went quite well with only a couple of wheelbarrow spills.

Concrete footing

Pour finished

Note the keyway and reinforcing used to tie the foundation to the footing.

Delivery of forms

Forms delivered

Having a pleasant conversation withe the delivery driver. As with a lot of other folks, he had his own house building stories.

Installing foundation forms

Foundation forming

Foundation forms

All standing

These forms were all assembled the same evening they were delivered. There was a long days work ahead. The entry needed to be framed, corner and top bracing was installed, the forms were glued down with low exspansion foam, and the last of the re-bar was installed. Unfortunately I ran out of camera batteries and have no pictures of this. For some reason, we didn’t think to use the cell phone.

Concrete pumping truck

Preparing to pump concrete

A concrete pump makes the pour much easier.This type of forming would be very difficult to fill without it.

We poured with only a crew of three, myself, Don and sister Karen. The average age was over seventy. A bunch of tough old coyotes .It took less than two hours, but we hurt a bit when finished.

The boss

The boss is smiling

The boss looks scary enough when he is smiling. Imagine if he is upset.

Floor joists

Starting on the floor system

It is raining just a bit this morning, so I can take the time to write this post. I need a little break anyway, after working through the weekend.

The next week will be used to install  piping for underfloor heating and to build the floor system. I will attempt a better job of taking pictures. The footing, foundation and flooring is progressing as planned. And surprisingly well.

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Framing tips and techniques

Some degree of framing is required for every house

There are different methods of wood framing.  Balloon framing is rarely used today. We will not enter into detail, but the link is provided if you are interested. Post and beam construction is another alternative not often used in residential buildings. The method of choice for most residential projects today is platform framing.

Framing is a large subject and I will have to rely on links a great deal. I am including the best and easiest to understand that I could find. I may add more in the future if I accidently hit on good ones. Please Note: I do not link to commercial sites except in rare cases. The links provide valuable information or graphics. They are primarily to info sources or other blogs.

Doing your own framing is not terribly difficult, but if you do not have experience there are many places to go wrong. Consider hiring an experienced carpenter to help. This is particularily true if your house is complicated in any way.

a house in the framing stage
A house in the framing stagemugley / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Wood is commonly used for framing material in residential construction.

Wood is easily cut and fastened with ordinary tools. Strong and somewhat flexible, a wood frame house stands up well to many of the forces that may act upon it. Wood’s strength is not compromised by heat or cold. Although flammable, proper construction limits the risk from fire. If wood sheathing is used in the form of plywood or OSB, it becomes an integral part of the frame by acting as bracing. Wood is available in different grades suitable for different puposes.

Steel is sometimes used in interior walls for studs, bracing or beams. It is not flammable except at extreme temperatures and high levels of oxygen. Steel beams are very strong, and are used where long spans are desirable. Steel reinforcement is often used to achieve greater wind or siesmic resistance. If angle bracing is necessary, steel is a good choice for ease and speed. Steel interior studs can make walls that are truer and easier to finish.

Using steel studs The Family Handyman

The strength of steel decreases rapidly when heat is applied. For this reason, it is not a good choice for bearing walls in a house, as a structure may collapse quickly in a fire. Steel is also an excellent conductor, and it can create an undesirable thermal bridge if used in outside walls.

Even if the exterior walls are of a material that does not require framing, the interior walls, roof and ceiling will still need a framing system. Most builders today will use roof trusses. These provide the framing for both the ceiling and roof. No interior bearing walls will be necessary unless the structure is unusually complicated. Trusses are usually manufactured in a factory setting, so there is no point in going into detail on their framing. Trusses will need lateral bracing near the bottom or ceiling chord.

For this article, we are dealing primarily with wood framing.

Other types of walls such as straw bale construction require some framing as well, but  I have no experience. I will try to provide a link or two though. Some other types that require little framing are concrete, concrete block, log, or SIP (Structural Insulated Panel) walls.

framing material
—Framing material—Foter.com / GNU Free Documentation License

soon to be framing material

It Starts With LogsSeanMack / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Wood frame exterior walls in hot or cold regions are usually 2 x 6 construction to allow for more insulation. In moderate climates, 2 x 4 construction is adequate. 2 X 4 is used for interior walls, except where extra cavity space is needed for plumbing or ventilation. For metric conversions on nominal lumber sizes use this link.

Floor framing may be with dimension lumber, or with engineered members such as trusses.

Engineered wood floor joists can speed construction and allow for longer spans. They are economical in many situations, and can compare in final cost to conventional solid wood floor framing. Floor trusses can allow even longer clear spans. Floor trusses are constucted similarly to roof trusses. Steel cross members are sometimes used. Both are worth considering for uniformity and dimensional stability.

Floor joists need to be firmed up against twisting done by installing bridging or by furring strips attached to the underside. Bridging can be steel or wood cross braces, or they can be solid wood. The second joist from the end should be laddered with the end joist. Framing a floor.

Openings for stairs need a double joist on either side and double cross joists at either end. Double stair openings should have further support underneath.

Floor joists are usually sheathed with 3/4 inch tongue and groove plywood or OSB. (Oriented Strand Board). Gluing and nailing is my favorite attachment method. Use a bead of construction adhesive on each joist. Nail with an air nailer loaded with nails specifically designed for floors, or use spiral nails.

Most walls are built laying flat on the floor platform, then lifted into place. They consist of studs placed 16 inches apart with a plate on the bottom and top. 24 inch spacing may be used for stud but does not provide as much support for interior drywall. A second plate is usually added to the top after the wall is raised. This is so trusses do not need to be placed directly over a stud and to tie the walls together

If plywood or OSB is used for sheathing, no further bracing should be needed in the exterior walls. Temporary interior bracing will be needed until the roof trusses are secured and interior sheathing is complete. If foam board or gypsum board is used for exterior sheathing, steel or wood bracing will be needed. If boards are used for some reason, they should be applied on an 45 degree angle. It has been many years since I have seen that done, but occasionally some one may saw their own lumber, and may not want to use more modern materials.

Said the stud to the drywall “I shouldn’t be in here. I’m innocent. I was framed.” Said the drywall “Quit complaining, you were nailed fair and square.”

Openings for doors and windows need headers and special framing techniques Provisions needs to be made for corners, and where interior walls meet exteriors. These are easiest explained with diagrams. Follow the link for a good explanation. There is more than one acceptable method.

Always consider the crown on the dimension wood (studs, plates and joists) when framing. Face all the crowns up on floor joists. They will sag to near level. If a few are extra high, you may have to plane them a bit. It is easier to nail a wall frame together if you keep the crowns up as they are laying on the floor, they won’t be rocking on you. Keep your straightest studs for kitchens and bathrooms where you have to hang cabinets. If you have an obviously bent stud in an interior wall you may be able to straighten it by cutting a saw kerf partly through it and scabbing a scrap piece alongside. When nailing on a top plate, place the crown opposite to the one underneath. You should be able to pull them straight if you work from one end.

TJ harvesteri
Log harvester16valve / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

You can save time by checking crowns ahead of time and marking with a v. Fasten the 2 bys with 3.5 inch coated nails or 3.25 with an air nailer. Length of nails for sheathing will depend on the thickness. 2 to 2.5 inch should be good, and spiral or ring nails are a good idea for sheathing, especially for the roof. Check your local codes for sizes and minimum spacings. I always put in a few extra to make up for unnoticed misses. It is sometimes hard to tell if you have hit the stud when using a nailing gun.

Caulk along the bottom plate after standing the wall. It would be better to caulk underneath, but this could make things slippery and dangerous when you stand the wall.

You can add a lot of strength against uplift if your sheathing laps over the rim joists and the top plate. If you feel this is too difficult, then use steel ties to hold things together. In some areas, this might be required by code anyway. I think steel hurricane ties should be used for trusses no matter where you are, and whether required by code or not.

Steel ties require special nails.

When laying out walls, always work from the same corner, so you will know where to find studs later, usually from left to right.

Blocking is required if a wall is over 8 feet in height.

If you are building on a slab, the bottom plate should be treated wood. A sill gasket should be added, or caulking should be applied beneath.

Felling a gumtree c1884-1917 Powerhouse Museum
The way it was doneCharles Kerry or Kerry and Co. via Tyrrell Photographic Collection, Powerhouse Museum / Foter.com / Public Domain Mark 1.0

Framing a preserved wood basement or stem wall is not much different from framing the rest of the house. Extra ties may be required at windows. Blocking will also be required. Definitely check codes and manufacturers recommendations.

You should consider advanced framing techniques. By using some or all of them, you can save considerable material. These methods also make a house easier to insulate well, with less thermal bridging.

Building stairs is also part of the framing if, you are building on a basement, or have more than one story. Most houses will have at least a few steps that need to be built. Building stairs is the subject for a whole article in itself,  so I am just going to include a few links on the subject.          Alternately you can purchase stairs ready made, or ready to assemble.

Building stairs 

Stairs: the next level by Skip Thomsen

Details for conventional wood frame construction–American Wood Council

Construction glossary–Home Building Manual

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