Sunday, May 30, 2010

More Housewrap Done

I finished up a bit more housewrap on the weekend.  One thing I didn't mention before was how I was attaching the housewrap to the ICFs.  For plywood sheathing, housewrap is normally just stapled to the wall.  However, staples won't work on the styrofoam. 

I've read about screws with oversize plastic heads that are designed for this, but I've been unable to find a supplier for them.  So, I'm improvising by using a large flat washer... called a fender washer... with normal screws.  I drive the screw into the web of the ICF, and the washer holds the housewrap tight to the wall.  Then I cover it with a piece of the red housewrap tape.  I'm putting them in every four feet, staggered in rows about three feet apart. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ICF Construction and Housewrap

I've had a couple of people ask me why I am installing housewrap on a house built with ICFs.  It's certainly a valid question. 

Simply put, the main purpose of housewrap is to keep wind and water out.  Even though you may have exterior siding on your house (wood, vinyl, etc.), water can, and does, get behind the siding.  Housewrap will prevent that water from getting any further.  It also helps to prevent air intrusion around framing members in conventional construction.

When you build a house with ICFs, you don't need housewrap.  The outside layer of styrofoam serves as the moisture barrier, and the concrete does a fine job of keeping the wind out.

On my house, the only parts of the house that really need housewrap are the parts that are built using standard framing methods... the dormers and the tops of the gable end walls.  So... why would I install housewrap on the rest of the house?

When I rub my hand over the outside of the house, my hand gets covered in a very fine white powder... similar to chalk dust.  The styrofoam is starting to deteriorate from UV exposure.  It isn't anything to be concerned about at this point, but it is starting to happen. 

That's why I'm installing the housewrap.  I'd like to think otherwise, but realistically it'll be at least another year before I'm ready to install the exterior siding.  By installing the housewrap now, I'll prevent any further UV damage to the ICFs. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Favorite Place To Work

Today I put up some housewrap on the east wall of the house.  The housewrap comes in a 9' wide roll, but I cut it into smaller sheets and installed it around the windows... rather than hanging one long piece across the entire wall and then cutting out the window openings afterwards. 

There are pros and cons for both methods I suppose.  Hanging it in one long piece would be neater, but there's less waste doing it the way I did. Also, being that I'm doing it by myself, it would be quite cumbersome trying to work with a piece 9' high and 16' wide; especially up on a ladder.  I'll have to think about that some more though, because I've got lots more to hang.

On one trip up the ladder, I reached up to grab one of the lookout rafters to steady myself.  My fingers brushed something that didn't feel like lumber.  When I leaned over to look, I got a big surprise.... it was a fairly large wasp's nest... about 5" across.  Fortunately this must have been a nest from last year because there was nobody home.  You can see another smaller nest on the next rafter up as well.

Okay, working way up in the air is not my favorite place to work, but it has to be done... so I do it. I've learned that if I stop thinking about where I am (but at the same time be mindful of it) and concentrate on the work at hand... it's really not that bad.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bedroom Windows Installed

I installed the bedroom windows this weekend.  These were the last windows I had left to install.

The toughest one was the arched window.  In order to build the rough window opening the same shape as the window, I measured the height of the window at six inch intervals along the bottom of the window, then used those measurements to draw the arch on the inside of the plywood sheathing that covered the existing opening.

You can see the pencil lines I've drawn on the plywood in the photo below. (Click on it to enlarge it.)

Once I had the arch drawn out, I cut the plywood out and then built up the arched top with 2x6's glued and screwed together.  In this case, the rough window opening itself doesn't really support any weight; all it has to do is hold the window in place.  The header above the window, which is supported by 2x6's beside the window, is what bears the weight of the wall above. 

The finished product.  

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Kitchen Windows Installed

I've installed the second of two kitchen windows. It was a pretty straightforward installation; using the same techniques I used for all the other windows.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Octagonal Front Window

I recently finished installing the small octagonal window at the front of the house.  I had to use a lot of peel-and-stick flashing on this one because I had to flash the entire square rough opening as well as the actual window itself.  As with the other windows, I was careful to install the flashing so that upper pieces always overlapped lower pieces.  That ensures that water is shed properly and doesn't get behind the flashing.

The corner pieces are built up with five layers of 5/8" plywood glued and screwed together.  For each corner, I started by joining three triangular pieces of plywood together to make a "block".  I cut the blocks so that they fit snugly between the window and the window buck.  I then glued and screwed those triangular blocks to the window bucks.

Then I added two more, slightly smaller pieces of plywood on the inside of each corner.  That gives me a surface to use for attaching drywall when I finish out the corners on the inside.  I also left a gap between the smaller triangles and the window buck so that I can seal the corners with spray foam.