Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cloaked in the miracles of science

After realizing how thin the siding actually is, I changed my plan to include some sheathing over the framing. This warranted another trip to see Larry for some 4/4" by 8" pine boards. He is raising his price by $0.05 to $0.35 a board foot- still a steal. It would have cost me twice as much to use plywood, and I would have had a lot of unusable waste since I have so many window and door openings. The sheathing went up smoothly; it was relaxing work for two rainy days.

I used Tyvek for my housewrap. Housewrap prevents wind from howling through the house, it keeps any stray water that makes it through the siding off of the framing and it allows moisture in the walls to make it outside. Traditionally, builder's felt has been used for this purpose. It is basically heavy paper that is impregnated with asphalt. It had been used for a long time and we know how it performs over time. I decided to use Tyvek because I had a partial roll kicking around. It performs the same function as felt paper but is more expensive since it is made with "The Miracles of Science" as proclaimed by DuPont over every square foot of the stuff. I did a little research and found that the benefits of Tyvek over felt paper are questionable. It is much lighter and easier to install, but the durability may be worse. Unfortunately I ran out of Tyvek with one more wrap to go and had to buy a new roll anyway. So much for saving money. It feels strange to have my house branded with a company's name. It looks like a DuPont Company Christmas present. This is the first mass produced material I have used so far (and possibly the only). It will be nice to cover this miracle of science with some good old clapboard siding.
After the Tyvek, I moved onto windows and doors. I built one window frame months ago which set the size of my steel casement windows. It took a morning with coffee and some graph paper to work out all of the nitty gritty details of the steel casements so that I could move onto the other windows. The small window on the North side of the house will have two swinging casements while the bigger window on the East side will have four of the same casements. Once I had all of this figured out I built the second frame. It was really enjoyable to be sitting at my bench chiseling mortices on another rainy day. It seems I do most of my work on rainy days- or maybe it just rains a lot in New England. 

I primed the sills and frames all the way around to hinder rot, then installed them for good, shimming the frames to within a sixteenth inch of square across the diagonals. The big salvaged window is also installed permanently so that the casements all swing freely without binding. Hopefully this doesn't change when I move the house. One last thing I did was to trim down a salvaged door frame from the Firehouse and install it. The difference between 100 year old wood and modern wood is incredible. This door frame is so perfectly straight, the grain is tight and it still weighs more than a modern production frame, even after over 100 years of service. Measuring in at 6'2" by 28", this will be a very small front door.

Next, I need to finish painting a couple of bundles of siding, install the exterior trim and hang the siding!

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