LP Smartside Installation

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This weekends weather was warm and sunny.  It was an excellent weekend to start installing my siding install.  The only downside is that the warm weather bring small flies we call “may flies”….I guess because they hatch in May?  In any case they are huge this year (think I say that every year), and were a constant annoyance to Ajax and I.

In this post I will describe the method that I use to install the LP Smartside lap siding.  Last weekend, the siding was painted with a single coat of acrylic paint in light grey.  A second coat will be applied after installation.  The siding has been sitting under a tarp for the past week waiting to be installed.

The tools you need are:

  • Chop saw some method to support a 16ft length of siding
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Speed square
  • Clear silicone caulk and caulk gun (I use GE)
  • Stainless steel or coated screws
  • Solo Siders
  • Impact driver or drill (I use two, one for screws and one for pre-drilling)
  • Misc drive bits and drills

Disclaimer: I am installing this siding over four inches of rigid foam and fastening it into 3/4″ strapping.  This is not an “approved” installation by LP and if things don’t work out, they will probably deny warranty coverage….its prorated anyway, and I really don’t give a crap.

I’ll share my thinking on the installation method I picked.  LP does approve this siding for use on SIP panels.  SIP panels are 7/16 OSB outer shell with a XPS foam core.  My installation is 3/4″ wood over a foam core.  LP says to use #8 coated (or SS) screws spaced at 12 inches on SIP panels.  My strapping is spaced at 12-16 inches with most being closer to 12 than 16.  My feeling is that this is close enough.  I’ll find out in a few years.

Lets Get Started…

You begin by setting the Solo Siders to a 1.5 inch overlap (or whatever overlap you decide) and hanging them on the siding.  Make sure they sit flush or your overlap will shrink.

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I like to apply a dab of silicone on the head of each screw.  This accomplishes two things.  First it seals the screw head from moisture.  Second it provides a bit of holding to the bottom of the siding.

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You are installing fasteners “blind”, meaning they are concealed under the overlap and can’t be seen.  With this fastening method, the bottom has no fasteners and the silicone provides just a bit of additional holding power.

Cut a piece of LP Smartside to length leaving 3/16″ gap at each end.  The 3/16″ inch gap gets caulked and painted later.   Then carefully coat the cut end with paint.  This is very important since wood absorbs water from the ends and you also want a nice primed surface for caulking to adhere to.  You do not need to wait for the paint to dry, just set your piece on the Solo Siders.

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I like to drill a hole on one end so I can set the 3/16 gap and hold the siding in place.  Next I pre-drill the rest of holes since this stuff is a bitch to get screws started in.  I then drive the screw at the other end of the siding and remove the Solo Siders.  To remove them you simply turn two clicks counterclockwise, push up, pry the siding out a bit, and pull them out.  Short pieces you may need to loosen the screws quite a bit to get the Solo Siders out.

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Next step is to drive the rest of the screws in.  You may encounter an issue where your wall is wavy.  In my case the rigid foam insulation created quite a bit of waviness.  You can prevent your siding from looking wavy by placing a small shim behind screws where needed.  After the screw is tight cut the “tail” off the shim with a sharp knife or multitool (which works better for thick shims).

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Rinse Repeat until you are done!  I managed to get one side complete and started on the back of the house as you can see from the beauty shots.  This stuff is very straight and easy to work with.  The 16ft lengths means that there are very few seams.  In fact my end wall will have no seams since the house is only 14ft wide!

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Time For Some Re-Branding

creative-juice-boxMy attendance at the Tumbleweed workshop has gotten my creative juices flowing (well trickling anyway).  I realize that I have become very detached from the average person thinking about tiny homes and their construction.

For example, one question I got was about the best generator to use for off-grid living.  My initial thought was well duh….the Honda EU2000i.  A few seconds later realized that the people at this conference do not “travel” in the same circuit of blogs and message boards that I do.  In my online world these things are the accepted standard, outside my world its a mystery.

As my tiny home build gets closer to completion, I think will continue to write this blog so I can expose new tiny home builders to the methods, systems, and tools that I take for granted.  Hopefully this will save an aspiring tiny home builder some headaches as they strive for the tiny lifestyle.

Going forward you will see more technical articles on topics such as off grid power systems.  I will do reviews on every major tool that I own and have been using for the past 7 years.

I am looking forward to developing Tiny Homebuilding into a valuable resource for the tiny house community.  If you have an article idea, or would like to submit an article, email me at tinyhomebuilding@gmail.com.  You can still navigate here with the old http://bodegabuild.wordpress.com, but the new domain will be http://TinyHomebuilding.com.

Tumbleweed Workshop Boston Review

The folks from Tumbleweed Tiny Homes were kind enough to let me speak (read: babble) at their Boston workshop. So I woke up bright and early Saturday morning, and asked Siri to take me to the Holiday Inn on beacon St. Oddly enough, the directions were to drive down Rt 2 for 50 miles and take a right.

I expected a crowd of about 20 granola eating back to the earth types, but I could not have been more wrong. There were over 100 people from all walks of life all with different ideas on what they wanted to do with tiny homes.  It was pretty cool to see.

The main presenters Ella and Paul (mostly Ella) were both really really good. I attend mostly tech conferences, the only presenters I have seen better than Ella was steve jobs at WWDC! The presentation materials have been thru many levels of revision and are well put together and polished.

Frankly, I was pretty bored waiting to go on since I’ve been doing this stuff for some time now. If it were 4 years ago I would not have been bored at all, in fact I would have learned quite a lot.  If you are a tiny house newb, I think you can learn a lot at one of these workshops.

The attendees were all pretty excited and were asking questions that tell me they have all been doing some reading. If this workshop is any indication, I would say that the tiny house community is alive, well, and growing!

If you have been thinking about attending a workshop, I would say its money well spent.

Full Disclosure: I was not paid to speak at the conference or to review it….zero shenanigans here 😉

Exterior paint

The weekend started out cold and rainy but improved dramatically.  Mornings were especially cold (as in below freezing) but warmed to the mid 50’s as the day went on.

My goal was to get a coat of paint on my batch of LP Smartside and paint the trim.  Things took longer than expected and I was only able to get one coat of paint on everything.  During the week I will complete the second coat of trim paint.  The second coat on the siding will be applied after installation since there will be a lot of caulking that needs paint.

Paint

I used Sherwin Williams resilience paint in satin finish (man has paint gotten expensive!).  I picked a medium white and darker gray.  The dark paint covered very well, but I was disappointed with the white which seemed to have trouble covering light grey primer.  When the white dried it did look much better than I expected but it was still blotchy in some areas.

Siding

To paint the siding I selected a roller with a decent thickness (nap?) in order to get into the nooks and crannies of the Smartside grain.  You really need to pay close attention and use the right amount of paint or else you end up with light coverage areas.

My method of getting the right paint was to dunk the roller 3/4 in paint, and wipe off the end.  I then put blobs of paint along the length of the siding and rolled them out.  With the face rolled out, I would then roll the edges which IMO are more important than the face.

When Tim arrived, we were processing one 16 foot length in about 2 minutes.  It took about a minute to paint and another minute to put it aside for drying and load the next piece.  With lunch it took a pretty full day of painting to get 136 pieces painted, dried, and stacked.

Progress Video

Rather than pics, I decided to do a short video of the weekends work:

Exterior Trim Almost Done

This weekend was pretty crappy for the middle of April, clouds and cold dominated the weekend.  My primary goal was to get the trim completed so I can start on siding.

Siding
My siding arrived on the job site early Friday morning right on time.  Something I never realized is that the fork trucks they use to deliver lumber have the ability to drive at right angles!  My delivery was a pallet of 16ft long siding and I was worried that my driveway was not wide enough.  After pulling the siding from the truck the driver just turned the wheels sideways and drove straight in.

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Trim
The bodega uses typical the typical trim package on all windows, roof edges, and corners.  Since I have a screened porch, I have additional details that need to be dealt with.

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Trim is cut to length on my dewalt miter saw and attached with trim screws.  I prefer using stainless trim screws because I think they hold the trim tighter than nails.  I also think they are easier to patch the heads.  You simply overdrive them about 1/8 inch and cover with wood filler (I use Elmers).

I had an interesting issue around the windows since the foam compresses and the window buck does not.  This makes the underlying wood slope away from the window.  You will see the shims I used to keep the trim in position.

Another area where the “squishyness” of the foam causes issues is the corners.  I guess if you want to install trim over foam you will need a supply of shims so you don’t end up with poorly fitting trim.

Porch Notes
The porch was challenging because much of the trim was not a standard width.  I started with 1×5 stock and typically cut off about 1/2 inch depending on the location.  A good table saw is essential to complete this work and have it come out looking good.

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Sills are 2X lumber and trims is 1X, note wood filler to cover screws

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This week I will be sanding off the filler and doing a final QA on the trim.  When I’m done I will apply 2 coats of top coat and then the trim will be complete.

Electrical, Trim, and Siding

This week I will update my progress on the electrical and trim work on the Bodega

Electrical

The outlets and switches in the Bodega are wired like any others with a few exceptions.  First I am using 10AWG romex with the black conductor being the positive (+) side of 12V and the white being the minus (-) side.  The uninsulated ground conductor is wired to all the green screws on each receptacle and switch.  Switches and receptacles are a bit different. I am using a 6-20P style receptacle and switches rated for DC loads.

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The load center is where things get a bit interesting.  I am using a six slot QO series load center which is available at Home Depot.  The breakers are also QO series which are DC rated to 48V.  Load centers have 4 input connections: L1, L2, Neutral, and Ground.  L1 and L2 in a DC setup are connected to the (+) side of the battery.  I am running these two legs thru a fused DC disconnect.  The neutral (-) connection will be run thru a 500 amp shunt that my system monitor will use to measure the current into and out of the battery bank.  The ground is connected to the neutral bar with a short length of wire and then to the ground rod.

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Back Door Switches Installed

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Main Disconnect

I have added a second panel below the load center that will house a charge controller and pump controller and whatever misc electrical crap that I may need to install.

Trim

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Made drying racks by screwing scrap boards to the wall studs

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I measured and cut plywood that will be used to cover the soffit areas.  I used 3/8 thick sanded plywood for this.  Each piece was given a coat of primer before installation so the trim paint will stick well.  I have decided to keep my soffits flush to the roof rafters rather than meeting the wall at 90 degrees.  There is a very tight corner to be dealt with in this configuration.  I installed some 1×4 trim in this corner to give it a finished look.  This joint is caulked and smoothed to give a nice finished appearance.

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Plywood soffit without trim board

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Trim board installed and caulked

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The corners have been fitted with 1×4 trim as well.  I was going to use 1×6 but decided that it would be too wide and look dumb.

Siding

I originally wanted to install cedar siding, but my concerns about it weathering properly made me change my mind.  Nearby homes with natural siding are not weathering well at all.  Being in the middle of the woods there are lots of mold spores that create black or green growth. I just didn’t want to deal with power washing the place every spring.

Anderson over at Tall Man Tiny Mansion turned me on to siding by LP called LP Smartside.  It’s an OSB product that comes with fake wood grain on one side and a coat of primer.  Its super rugged unlike the cement based siding products.  I do have concerns about water absorption and rotting but the product comes with a 50 year warranty.  If I manage the water runoff around the house and use a quality paint I think I can make it last.  I expect to paint the place every 5 years or so.  With only 800 square feet of area this should be a weekend project.

I ordered 136 pieces of 6″ x 16′ siding which will be delivered this coming weekend.  I will be setting up an assembly line to paint it prior to installation.  Here is the mockup of what a corner of the Bodega will look like.

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Paint is not 100% uniform since I used a rag to put it on

Mini Update

I have not posted a building update for a while because I have mostly been cleaning up odds and ends that are not that exciting.  I do have my electrical 95% complete at this point.  This weekend I will be installing trim and getting ready for siding.  I will post pics and a video tour early next week.

Stanley Fat Max Tools…Not That “Fat”

I am writing this post to warn my readers away from tools made by Stanley under the “Fat Max” brand.  These tools are marketed as professional grade tools and come with prices to match.

I have owned three Fat Max tools: 25′ Tape, chalk line, and hammer stapler and they are all now in the trash.

25′ Tape

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This tape is nice and wide which allows it to reach a long distance away without bending.  The problem is that if you reach more than about 10 feet it will not roll itself up without help.  I threw this item across the bodega breaking the lock off in the process….its working perfectly as landscape filler.

Chalk Line

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When I first started using this line I thought that the lines were coming out pretty light even full of chalk.  When I needed another line in red, I bought a Dewalt and guess what the lines were 2X darker.  Shortly after that, the reel mechanism kept jamming.  I unrolled all the line thinking it may be tangled internally, but it still kept jamming up.  This item spent the winter encased in ice next to the Bodega….it will join the tape in the landfill once the ice melts.

Hammer Stapler

stapler

This tool has pissed me off from day one!  It simply will not drive staples into anything reliability.  I thought the OSB that I was using was a bit hard and gave it the benefit of the doubt.  This weekend I needed it to tack building wrap to 2×4’s and it still did not work the way it should.  No problem…it will never again fail to drive another staple:

Conclusion

I don’t recommend any tools made by Stanley.  I have had good experience with tools made by Dewalt…I would try them.