Tiny House Porch Complete!

My goal for this long weekend was 1) to get my porch walls covered, 2) install my wood stove, and 3) clean up the crap that has collected over the past 2 months.

I managed to get 2.8 of my tasks completed despite the rather crappy weather.  There was a constant threat of rain so I could not set tools and material outside.  With all the crap I have inside it was a bit of a maze to get around.

Porch

I procured 11 bundles of 1/4 x 3 1/2 inch pine boards for the walls.  I wanted to use cedar which cost about $5 per bundle more, but there was no stock anywhere.  For the window trim I used 1 1/2 inch cedar strips cut from wide pieces since the local stock was pretty much crap.

In order to avoid cutting in stain next to the painted window sills I pre-stained the trim.  Using an air nailer and stainless steel nails (very important) I first installed the trim everywhere.

Once the trim was installed it was pretty easy but time-consuming to install the 1/4 inch pine on the walls and ceiling.  As you would expect the ceiling took a long time and the walls went pretty fast.

I took care to match the corners so I would not have to use corner trim.  The only place corner trim was needed is on the sloped part of the ceiling where getting a perfect fit is more trouble than its worth.

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Once installed the pine was covered in my Cabot natural cedar colored stain.  I screwed up a bit and got some blotchy areas.  This forced me to apply a second coat to even things out.  You want to paint this stuff one row at a time lengthwise rather than across multiple row for best results.  You might also look into wood conditioner which I’m told helps even things out on soft wood.

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Wood Stove Pipes

The stove pipe installation was pretty easy.  I had 6ft of class A chimney pipe and then another 3ft of double wall stove pipe with adapters and a damper.

The class A pipe comes in silver which looks like crap so I painted it with stove bright paint in flat black.  To prepare the pipes, peel off the stickers and clean with denatured alcohol.  Then apply light coats of paint until the surface looks smooth and even.  This paint has *really* bad fumes so working outside is a must.  I was lucky and dodged just enough rain drops on Saturday to get my pipes painted.

Once painted, the pipes get attached to one another and “hung” off the chimney stub that I installed with the roof.  Be sure and use 4 screws per joint….no reason to skimp. The class A pipe has special locking rings, make sure they are tight.

Wood Stove Repairs

The used stove I bought had a cracked back plate and needed to be torn apart for repair.  I ordered a replacement back plate from Woodmans Parts Plus for about $130 which brings the total cost of the stove to $330 which I don’t think is too bad.

Since this was used stove I knew it would be messy.  I vacuumed all the ashes out and got to work.  There are 4 bolts inside the stove that hold the top on.  A 10mm socket and penetrating oil got one of them off easily.  The other 3 broke off without much effort at all.  I suspect they had degraded quite a bit and were weak.

After breaking the seal on the stove top with a rubber mallet (its cemented on) I had 3 bolt stumps to remove.  After 15 minutes of work, two of the bolts sheared off flush and the other came out with a little persuasion.  I’m going to slot the heads of the stuck bolts and try an impact gun with heat.  If that does not work, i’ll just drill and tap it there’s plenty of metal there.

Replacing the back panel required me to scrape out all the stove cement with an old chisel.  The replacement part fits perfectly in place.  Once I get my stuck bolts out, the final assembly should be a snap.

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Whats Next?

Stove final assembly.  Pipe trim on the pipes as they exit the house.  Longer downrod for the ceiling fan.  Prepping for the final visit by the plumber.

Tiny house trim work…man am I tired!

A great weekend for tiny home building.  Had 2 perfect days of weather.  Weekend started off with a trip to Bingham Lumber for cabinet door materials.  They recently remodeled their showroom and lumberyard and all I can say is WOW!  If you need new or reclaimed lumber do check them out.

Heres the gallery for the week:

Next week is a 3 day weekend and I plan to finish the porch, rebuild my wood stove, and hopefully install it.  Stay tuned.

More Finish Work

Had three days this weekend to get stuff done.  It was a lot of work but I’m more than halfway thru the trim.

This weekend will be cabinet doors and laundry nook finishing.  I will also unpack my vanity and toilet so I can get ready for the plumber.  I also have a contractor lined up to install the driveway apron required by the DPW.

Looks like a September move in date is going to be possible!

Interior Paint Complete

This weekend I completed the interior walls less a few things I need to go back and patch up.

Painting
Nothing too exciting here, I used a roller and put on a coating of drywall primer and then Navajo white.  I used about 3.5 gallons of primer and 3.2 gallons of the top coat.

Ceiling Fan
Once the paint dried, I installed my RCH Fanworks 12V ceiling fan.  I have decided to use flat black as accents since my wood stove is that color.  The body of this particular fan was black plastic so it was not a stretch to paint the whole thing flat black.

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The motor in the fan is a 90V DC motor that spins 1800 RPM when powered at full voltage.  Since I am powering it at 12V it spins at about 60 RPM’s.  If I were powering it from 24 it would spin twice as fast.

After powering it up, the airflow is next to nothing.  In fact I would say it is a worthless piece of blue monkey poo.  Since I can’t imagine that these people are selling worthless fans there must be something in my setup that is causing issues.  I have it mounted in a vaulted ceiling very close to the top.  After reading a bit online, it seems that this configuration might lead to poor circulation around the fan blades.  I will be adding an 18 inch down-rod to the fan to see if it makes a difference….stay tuned!

Tile
The next task will be installing bathroom and wood stove tile.  In preparation for this task I needed to install cement wall board in the shower and behind the stove.  Cement wall board comes in 3×5 sheets and cuts similar to sheetrock with rougher edges.  A word of caution when using it as wood stove backer.  There are several types of cement board.  Some of them have little foam balls embedded in the cement to reduce weight.  This type of cement board is NOT suitable for use with a wood stove.  I used the Durock brand which is rated for use with stoves.

My wall protection starts with a single sheet of 1/2 inch cement board attached over sheetrock.  I cut 3 inch wide strips that are used to create a 1 inch air gap.  Attached to these strips are 2 full sheets of cement board.  The entire assembly is attached to the framing with a dozen or so 4 inch long drywall screws.  The air gap provides excellent insulation for the wall and will create air circulation as the warm air rises thru the gap.  Stove makers typically specify a steel plate with 1 inch air gap, I have decided to use cement board so I can attach tiles.  Prior to long-term use, I will insert a small thermometer to make sure that the temperature in the air gap is safe.

Video Update:

 

Update From Hell

Not a ton of new things to show this week.  Tim and I spent Saturday in a dusty hell that some day will be my house.  I spent much of Sunday cleaning up dust and patching areas where there were defects in the mud.

Sanding
There were 3 tools that I can recommend for sanding drywall.  First is a wooden pole that has a swivel head with sand paper.  Second, is a handheld sanding block about the same size as the pole swivel unit.  Last, a sanding sponge which looks like a sponge you might use to clean pots and pans but has sand glued on the outside.

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The sand paper I use is a grid/mesh that allows for the dust to flow thru and not clog.  I use a corse grit on the pole and then a fine grit on the handheld sanding block.  My sanding sponges were a fine grit that I used to clean up minor defects and get into corners.

Dealing with Dust
Theres not much you can do about the dust it just gets everywhere!  Wear a dust mask and deal with it I guess.  I opened all the windows and doors.  In one window I installed a fan to suck the dust outside.  The fan did help quite a bit, if I hade more fans I would have used them.

Patching
I’m no professional drywaller.  Some of my joints were really good and some sucked donkey balls and required a lot of sanding.  When the sanding is done you end up with a few spots that need to be patched.  Many screws needed a second application and there were areas where debris in the drywall compound created lines.

At some point everything is a blur and you can’t remember what you patched and what you didn’t.  A trick I use it to add some food coloring to your drywall compound.  I used yellow so as not to show very much thru the paint.  When looking to sand your patches, just look for the yellow spots and sand away.

Priming
In order to do a proper paint job, you want to prime your walls with a primer made for drywall.  Your wall has two distinct surfaces, one is paper and the other is smooth drywall compound.  The primer attaches to both and make them into a uniform neutral surface to apply the final coat of paint.

Sheetrock in mobile Tiny Homes
Several have asked it its ok to use sheetrock in a trailer based tiny home.  I would say yes with some exceptions and expectations.  If you only plan to move your home a few times, and are ok with the possibility of minor cracking during transport then its ok to use.  If you plan to move every week then don’t even think about it!

Some tips:

  1. use construction adhesive on the studs behind the sheetrock
  2. Use only paper faced metal corner bead in outside corners
  3. keep some jars of paint around so you can fix any cracks as they occur.

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You can see the yellow spots where I patched defects here

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The exterior corner with no visible defects…

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Another view

Whats Next?I will be priming the drywall and one coat of paint.  I also need to install my ceiling fan while I still have the staging set up.  I bought a nifty 12V DC ceiling fan that only uses 6 watts…pics to come.

Drywall Coat 1 Complete

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The 4th of July weekend was very hot and humid.  I managed to wrangle about 3.5 days to do drywall work on the Bodega.

The first order of business was to put the finishing touches on hanging the sheetrock.  The upstairs closets needed some small finishing pieces installed.  Details like the closets require a lot more time as there are many pieces to cut.  The loft in a tiny house is hot and the quarters are cramped.

In these cramped quarters, you will discover that it becomes difficult to use normal sized tools.  You will also discover that large sheets often times need to be cut into several pieces to get them into the space they need to go.

With all the sheetrock installed I cleaned house and removed all the scraps for disposal.  The next job was to apply tape to all the seams and corners.  In simple terms, you slather on a bunch of drywall goo and then apply some paper tape.  You squeeze and scrape out all the excess goo to create a base that you apply a final (smooth) coating of goo.  The paper tapes job it to prevents cracks from forming in your walls as things settle.

I am not an expert so I suggest you watch some YouTube videos to learn from the contractors that do this work.  It takes some skill and you need to learn a few tips if you want your job to come out looking good.  I will share a few things that should help you get started.

Tools Needed
You will need tools.  You need a 6 inch drywall knife (putty knife) and a hawk to hold the drywall compound.  You should also pick up a 10 inch knife since you need it for the second application.  You will also need a mixing paddle to thin out the drywall compound.  To operated the mixing paddle you will need a drill with a 1/2 inch chuck.

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To begin add about 1.5 cups of water to your 5 gallon bucket of drywall compound and mix it until it looks like vanilla drywall pudding.  Then put a big dollop of compound on your hawk and go to town.

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Applying Tape

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You start by applying a very generous layer of compound to a section you want to tape.  If you are stingy with the compound you might accidentally get a dry spot behind the tape.  This is very bad as the tape bubbles and makes it look like a 4-year-old did your drywall job.
Theres nothing wrong will applying too much compound as you can always scrape it off.  A properly done tape job will have the tape adhered to the wall with zero excess compound showing.

The reality is that you will have a very very thin coating of compound on each side of the tape.  This happens because your knife touches sheetrock on one side, and the tape on the other.  It leaves behind a coating of drywall the thickness of the tape.

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For inside and outside corners I used metal trim coated in paper tape.  Some use nail on metal trim for outside corners and paper tape for inside corners.  The nail on metal tends to crack as the framing settles unlike the paper coated metal which is adhered to the sheetrock.  Paper tape in the inside corners works just fine, however it is real easy to get wrinkles when the tape is fully saturated.  I tried a piece of paper coated metal on an inside corner and decided that I was using it everywhere.  It’s a bit more money but it installs real nice.

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Outside Corner

You install corner trim just like tape.  Slather on a bunch of compound, set the trim into the compound and press it in real well.  The pro’s use a roller tool that makes sure the trim is set well….I just used my fingers.  Then you scrape off all the excess compound.

The Bodega required 5 gallons of drywall compound and about 300 feet of paper tape to complete the taping.  It also required about 130 feet of outside metal trim and about 180ft of inside trim.

I have done drywall in the past, but never at this scale so I was a bit shocked to be buying a second bucket of compound.  By the looks of the level in the second bucket, I expect to be buying a third one.  Fortunately, its only 16 bucks for 5 gallons of the stuff.  I was also surprised at how much work taping can be.  The hawk gets heavy and your arms get very tired.  I worked in 2-3 hour shifts taking long breaks in between sessions.  My finger joints are all a bit sore this morning…I’m getting old!

By The end of Sunday morning I had the taping complete and I began the application of a second coat.  I experimented a bit with a couple of seams just to get a feel for the 10 inch knife.  I discovered that its hard to work on adjacent seams as your knife messes up the drywall on the finished joint.  Near as I can tell, the best thing to do is not work joints next to each other….or get some skills.  Since I have no time for skills, this means working a joint, letting it dry and then working the one next to it.

I decided to work the outside corners on all my windows and doors first.  Then I worked one side on the inside corner next to the ceiling.  Today (24 hours later) I will work the other side of the ceiling corners and the joints that run into the windows and doors.

The last thing I will say about taping and mudding is that its messy.  The thin mud falls off your knife and you end up with cow patty looking dollops of mud everywhere.  The first day my shirt was covered in drywall compound.  Not to worry is washes off clothing easily and the cow patties can be scraped off the floor with a drywall knife.

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This pic shows the loft with completed taping.  I removed one set of scaffolding to make more room to work in the lower level.  The transition from sloped ceiling to flat was done with paper tape.  I used 4 foot sections and was super careful to keep things straight.  This was a very challenging part of the job.

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This section of wall is where I learned how to apply the second coat.  I hat lots of trouble not messing up my already finished joints while working others.  The corner bead around the window was done with a 6 inch knife and the other seams were done with a 10 inch knife.  The next coat I will use the 10 inch knife on the windows and a 12 inch on the other joints.

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Here is a closeup of a tapered joint.  Its got some imperfections that should sand out easily when the compound dries.  The dark blotchy areas are still damp.

Whats Next?

This week after work I will finish up my second coat.  After that I will lightly sand to remove ridges etc.  Then I will begin on a third coat.  My goal is to get the third coat applied by the end of next Sat, so I can paint on Sunday.

I Hate Drywall

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After the last project that involved drywall, I vowed that I would pay someone rather than do my own.  Then I spoke to a contractor that wanted $35 to $65 per sheet and I broke down and decided to do it myself.  Cheap is a powerful motivator ;).

My drywall job is 38 sheets at a cost of $9.75 per sheet or about $370.  Add to that a bucket of drywall compound, tape, and corner bead and the job will cost less than $500.  Compared to T&G pine I saved a ton of money using drywall (close to $3000).  The additional benefit of drywall was installation time.  My XS house took several days to hang all the T&G siding.  Tim and I installed 36 sheets in less than 18 hours.  I’m guessing that T&G in the Bodega would have taken a month of weekends to complete.

Stuff to know

Here are some things you should know about sheetrock.  First it has two edge types, one tapered and the other straight.  The tapered edged run the long way (8ft side) and the straight edges are on the short side.  The edges are hidden by application of drywall compound sold by the five gallon bucket.

The application of drywall compound is where skill is required.  When two tapered edges come together it forms a tapered joint.  Tapered joints are the easiest to fill and require very little skill.  You simply use a 10 inch knife and apply compound and with little practice you have a joint that looks great.  Needless to say you want all your joints to be tapered.

I found an article on Fine Home Building about invisible drywall joints.   Someone took the idea and made a commercial product from it called Rock Splicer  This product makes a straight joint into a tapered one and minimizes cuts in the process.

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Using the Rock Splicers and taper joints, I was able to only have one straight joint about 9 feet long and a couple short ones that are mostly in corners.  If I had one extra sheet of drywall I could have eliminated that joint.  Fortunately its up high and behind the stove pipe and won’t get noticed if I butcher it.

Another thing to watch for is rain.  Friday I had 10 sheets in the truck that got very wet because of a pop up shower.  Two of the sheets became landfill filler but the others dried off enough to use.  I marked them and made sure they went to less critical locations.

Whats Next?

As of this writing, I have 2 small closets to hang drywall in and a couple odd pieces here and there.  My goal is to be taping and mudding over the July 4th weekend.

Drywall Begins

Gypsum-Board

This weekend was one of those times when it feels like you worked really hard and have very little to show for it.  The weather was hot and humid with very little wind.  It was a perfect time to test out my insulation and AC.

I ran the AC unit on and off all day Saturday and Sunday.  It turns out that the table saw and AC unit do not play well on the same generator.  I have been using the battery box as a saw stand so its easy enough to use the disconnect switch to switch off the house while I run the table saw.

The AC unit was probably running half the time and it kept the place very cool. Even with the AC unit off the cold persisted for several hours.  My hope was that in the heat of the summer I could run the AC unit for a few hours each night and have the place stay cool all night.  Based on my very unscientific test, I think this idea is going to work out well.

Another Inspection

The building inspector wanted to see my insulation work before I cover it over….its a required inspection.  He’s looking for the correct R value in the walls, correct installation (no gaps etc).  He’s also looking to see that each wall cavity has fire blocking where wires run thru it.  Unfortunately, my inspector was tied up all weekend with other duties and could not come by for an inspection. I was only able to work on drywall that would not block the insulation.  Turns out this was not the problem I thought it would be.

Staging

In order to work in the cathedral part of the house, I rented two sets of staging and levelers.  The levelers give you an additional 18 inches of height so that your staging sits 8ft off the floor.  This height is perfect for attaching  sheetrock to the high ceilings.

Chimney

I needed to take some special insulation precautions around the chimney to maintain a 2 inch clearance.  Using some fencing material I made a 12 inch diameter tube (insulation shield) that could be fastened in place around the chimney.  At this point it was also important to make sure the chimney was vertical.  Since it was a little off, I spent some time tweaking things with wooden blocks to get the chimney positioned correctly.

With the chimney and insulation shield in place, additional insulation was stuffed into the areas around the chimney.

Windows

Each window has a 5 1/2 inch “lip” around it that needs to be covered in drywall.  The guy that installed the windows (me) did not put them all in exactly the same place.  That required me to cut different thickness shims for each side of every window. Thats 54 different sized shims.  Makes me wish I had taken more time installing the windows!

Bathroom

By late Sunday afternoon all the windows and doors openings had custom fitted drywall.  I also injected foam into the seams for some additional insulation.  The next step was drywall in the bathroom.  With the bathroom wall being a funky combination of kitchen cabinet, plumbing, and medicine cabinet there was a lot of detail framing that needed to be done.

In the end, the kitchen/bath wall has been configured for a medicine cabinet and small shelf over the toilet on the bathroom side.  On the kitchen side there are two large cabinets on either side of the sink and possibly a shelf or two between them.

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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