Tags: ‘weep holes’

Flooring…Now or Later?

Upon the completion of the sheetrock phase, installation of some of your flooring may begin.

floor-333165_1280If you select natural hardwood flooring, the wood must acclimate to the environmental conditions of your new home. Delivery of the product you selected ten days to two weeks ahead of installation is absolutely necessary. Natural wood will expand and contract with current weather conditions, more or less moisture in the home causes the wood to expand (more moisture) or contract (less moisture). Imagine the result of installing moist wood when you turn the heat on in your new home…the drying out will cause gaps between the planks. The opposite occurs if you install dry wood in your new home…the moisturizing of the planks will cause them to expand, forcing the gaps to buckle up and cause “cupping”. A number of alternatives now available in pre-finished wood flooring allow for installation at a later date, but acclimation must still be included in the process.

That brings us back to decisions, decisions, decisions! If you elect to use natural hardwood, installation takes place prior to the trim phase. Following acclimation, a subcontractor will cover the subfloor with black felt paper that acts as a moisture barrier and then staples the hardwood planks in place. Once again, the flooring needs to rest before sanding and the application of the first coat of stain and polyurethane. During the initial sanding and application of stain phase, other activities in the home are curtailed. The resumption of other activities may resume when the floors have completely dried, after a protective cover of paper is placed over them. The last coats of polyurethane are applied near the end of completion of your new home.

Ceramic TileIf you have decided to use any tile flooring in your new home, installation begins while newly delivered hardwood acclimates. The first step includes installation of cementitious board in the tile areas, including walls for showers and tub surrounds. This board creates a hard, solid surface under the tile, and insures that grout joints will not crack. The tile you selected will then be set in place with mortar, allowed to dry, and grouted. Covering finished tile floors prevents grout from becoming dirty before the application of sealer.

Carpet

The installation of carpeting and sheet linoleum occurs during the end phase of completion, but before the final coat of polyurethane on natural hardwood floors.

 

The order of the building process prevents accidental damage to floor surfaces and costly repairs. Have questions? Drop me a note, and I will be more than happy to try to help you.

Drywall…a muddy process!

After insulation installation is completed and inspected, drywall installation and finish begins.

house1Large boom trucks pull up on your lot and hoist sheetrock through an upstairs window designed to open and allow this process to take place (both sashes are designed for removal). Specialty sheetrock designed to repel moisture will line the bathroom areas, and the rest of your rooms will take shape with the hanging of the sheetrock. The majority of the sheetrock in your new home will be ½” thick, on both walls and ceilings.

Building codes do require some walls use a fire resistant sheetrock which will be 5/8” thick. The walls in a garage that are common to living areas should be covered with 5/8” thick sheetrock.

Sheetrock hung with screws requires a maximum spacing of 12” between screws, while sheetrock hung with nails requires a maximum spacing of 7” between nails on ceilings, and a maximum spacing of 8” on walls. As a home dries and settles, nails can back out causing “nail pops” and necessitating repairs. I strongly urge you to require screws of the proper length be used to hang all of the sheetrock in your new home.

hanging_sheetsProperly hung sheetrock will have the joints staggered so that they do not line up over the top of each other. Much like a brick pattern, you should see joints staggered over the walls. Note that sheetrock comes in different lengths and widths. To minimize waste, sheetrock should be ordered as close to the size of a room as possible. A very simple example follows – your room is 12’ x 12’ with a 9’ ceiling, so two sheets 54-1/2” x 12’ will cover one wall without waste. In a perfect world, all of your rooms would be sized to minimize sheetrock waste. If your General Contractor is on site, minimizing waste should not be an issue.

Upon the completion of hanging, the taping and floating process begins. Specialty paper tape is applied over all joints in a generous bed of sheetrock mud. The excess mud blends the edge of the tape into the wall surface and create a smooth wall. After the initial coat of mud dries, an additional coat is applied, allowed to dry, and then sanded to a smooth finish.

Years of experience have shown me that the majority of repairs, required after a final walk-thru on your completed home, emanate from drywall repairs. Following the application of the prime coat of paint, shine a bright light over all drywall surfaces, identify, and repair imperfections before the final coat of paint. This is important because repairs and paint touchup will never blend as well as a full coat of paint on your wall.

Upon completion, the plywood subfloors in your home need a good cleaning to scrape up and remove excess mud, and you are ready to begin tile and hardwood flooring.

Insulation

Most of us know insulation installed in wall cavities, overhead in our attics, and under a home constructed over a crawlspace, contributes to the control of temperature in our homes. In the winter, insulation keeps heated air in our homes; and in the summer, insulation keeps cool air in our homes. End of story, right? If you desire an energy and cost efficient home, new products brought to market in recent years to combat the ever increasing costs of heating and cooling a home warrant some exploration.

Types of insulation vary and building codes only set a minimum standard. The U. S. Department of Energy sets a minimum standard for walls, attics, and crawlspaces defined as a “resistance” value, commonly referred to as an “R” value. For instance, building codes require exterior wood frame walls be insulated to an R-13 value in a home built in Williamson County, Tennessee. When we talk about an R value, our goal is to set a resistance value to inhibit the natural process of heat seeking cold. We use more or less insulation to inhibit heated air from reaching cold air. The higher the R value, the longer it takes heat to transfer to cold. The following chart represents energy code requirements set by the U.S. Department of Energy by zone.

DOE-INSULATION-MAP

Three common insulation methods used in our climate include batts, blown, and spray foam forms. The most common method of insulating used in middle Tennessee utilizes batts in walls and between floor joists in crawlspaces, and blown insulation in attics. Minimum requirements may be attained using these mediums; however, additional efficiency may be realized by using a combination of spray foam and batts in wall cavities, crawlspaces, and attics. A method referred to as “flash and batt” utilizes spray foam to seal seams and joints in cavities before installing batts. This method costs more than standard batts only, but less than a full spray foam application. Keep in mind that areas in a home that incorporate many windows have less wall space, and spray foam used in these areas provides the best insulation.

An experienced General Contractor will guide you through the selection process when you consider all of the insulation possibilities available.

Exterior Finishes – Brick, Siding, Stone, Fascia

The building process does not always occur one phase at a time. For instance, while the mechanical rough-ins proceed on the interior of your new home, exterior finishes progress concurrently. Foundations receive a water repellent coating, the installation of a curtain drain occurs, and exterior fascia begins.

Homes may receive a brick foundation with siding, or they may feature a mix of brick, siding and stone. If the exterior finishes on your home are predominantly masonry (brick and/or stone), watch for a few key items during application – weep holes to allow for airflow between brick or stone and wood on exterior walls, proper slant on door and window sills to allow for water shed, adequate usage of brick ties to hold the exterior finish to the walls, and appropriate sizing of lentils to support the weight of the masonry product you chose for your home.

Wall ties, weep holes, flashing

A one inch to two inch cavity exists between the brick veneer wall and the framed wall. A brick tie holds the brick veneer to the wall. This is a thin piece of metal, approximately eight inches long and one inch wide nailed to the framed wall every 16” horizontally and vertically. If you use a queen-sized brick, insert brick ties at least every five courses. Note that brick comes in many different sizes, and the amount of brick, brick ties, mortar, and sand required will vary depending on the size of the brick you select for your new home.

Ventilation between the brick veneer and the framed wall allows moisture to escape and keep your home dry and sound. Weep holes placed around your foundation and over windows and doors allow air to circulate and keep the interior framed wall dry. While a mason builds the brick veneer, he can easily apply cotton cording from the wall through the mortar joints which will create a cavity for moisture to wick away from the brick.  The application of stone veneer also requires the same ventilation and flashing that brick veneer employs.

A wide variety of siding products might be used on the exterior of your home, and those products may be aluminum, vinyl, or masonry in nature.  A popular product that became available a few years ago, manufactured by James Hardie, is a fiber cement siding called Hardie Plank.  These products do not require special consideration to allow for air circulation between the veneer and the framed wall, and come in a wide variety of styles and colors.

Let us know if we can be of assistance in building your next home.