Archive for the 'Sheetrock' Category

First floor sheetrock

Last week Warren and crew sheetrocked the main room on the first floor. Before they could do this, gaskets were installed along the exterior walls and furring nailed on the ceiling, same as the second floor. The main objective of the gaskets was to seal the exterior walls from air leakage originating from inside the house.

The only remaining areas to sheetrock are the two small rooms off the main space (pantry and study), the window returns and the 1st floor stair area. Hopefully Howie will begin taping later this week. We’re in a race to finish taping and painting the first floor before the wood floor and kitchen cabinets arrive in 2 weeks.

September Updates

Lot’s going on this month. If you follow us on twitter (@uphillhouse) you’ll know that we now have running water! Gould & Sons came out to install the pump and water pressure tank. They drilled the well a little over a year ago in June. See the post, Drill baby, drill!. They set the pump at 300′ which should give us 12-15 gallons per minute.

Last week also saw the installation of sheetrock on the 2nd floor and basement. Taping should be completed by the end of the week in those two areas so we can start priming and painting. As soon as we get the basement primed, we can move all the tools from the first floor to the basement. Then we can finish insulating and sheetrocking the first floor.

This weekend I was able to install the shower pan mortar base and drain. We’ll be using Kerdi-Drain and Kerdi membrane, a waterproofing material from Schluter, to water seal the shower enclosure. I’m hoping to get started with the membrane this week.

We also received several deliveries last week. Our water heater arrived. It’s a 50 gallon Marathon. It’s a very efficient electric water heater and well insulated. We decided not to go with the Hybrid heat pump approach, which is a great idea but not for our cold climate and dry basement. We decided against tankless hot water approaches because we’re all electric. I haven’t done a huge amount of research but it looks like the electric tankless approach is getting better over time. This may be a good approach in the future.

And our gutters finally arrived. Warren started putting up the front side gutters today. I’m working on a post about how we’re connecting the downspouts to the rain filter and cistern under the porch. It has taken quite a bit of research to figure it all out.

Tomorrow the tub surround will be installed. And hopefully the rain will hold off long enough tomorrow to finish installing the gutters and downspouts.

We’re trying to finish as much as we can for the Green Building Open House / National Solar Tour this Saturday. Many thanks to Paul and Joanne Coons from Clifton Parks for stopping by last weekend and dropping off the open house sign. You can find their house and lots of other amazing houses on the tour at the NESEA Green Buildings or the National Solar Tour sites. Stop by to visit.

Attic and 2nd floor insulated

Our insulator, Don Patton, has been blowing cellulose in the attic and second floors for the last 2 days. He’s blown 24 inches in the attic thus far. This will require some topping up a few extra inches to account for settling. We want a settled depth of 24″ for an average value of R-75. He also completed the second floor insulation today. It was a good time to be insulating, considering the temperature this morning dipped into the lower 30’s.

Next items on the schedule, finish sheetrocking the second floor and basement., then the priming begins. The gutters should arrive next week and we have siding to finish on the west, south and east sides. We also had the tub surround template measured this week and the shower base is ready to install.

In addition to all the normally scheduled activities, we’re trying to make the house and site presentable for the October 1st Green Buildings Open House Tour sponsored by the NESEA and the National Solar Tour. You’re all invited.

Bathroom is sheetrocked

It’s the first full room to be sheetrocked. We had to wait till the exterior wall next to the tub was insulated before installing the last pieces of sheetrock. Now we can start some of the more detailed work, like getting the marble slab for the tub surround measured and fitted, and preparing the shower and floor for tile.

Today is forecasted to be the first clear day in a week. So we’re finishing off the roof over the porch. Then hopefully we can finally finish off the siding on the south and west sides.

More sheetrock: gaskets and taping

Thought I would share a few more sheetrock progress photos. The entire second floor ceiling is now sheetrocked and taped. This means we’re ready to foam the intersection of the walls with the ceiling, from the attic side. Then we just have to install the east door before we’re ready for the blower door test, sometime in the next week or two.

In the meantime I’ve been stapling gaskets to the exterior walls on the 2nd floor. Our primary air seal is at the exterior of the shell, but we’re also trying to seal the interior shell to prevent any warm moist air from circulating near the cellulose. The gaskets are important in 3 areas, ceiling, floor and at the intersections with interior walls.

Ceiling: The ceiling gasket is redundant with the foam that will be applied from the attic space. Basically, I don’t trust the foam or the gasket on their own, but I’m hoping both together will catch any spots we miss.

Bottom: The gasket at the bottom of the wall, together with the gasket under the wall that we installed during framing, keeps interior air from entering the exterior wall space at the intersection with the floor.

Intersection with interior walls: The vertical gasket at the intersection with interior walls keeps interior air from slipping into the exterior wall through the corner stud.

Problem area

The stairwell is adjacent to the north exterior wall and penetrates the floor planes to pass from the basement to the first and second floors. Following the approach described above, I should run gaskets around the exterior wall and at the ceiling and floor, but what about the truss area between the 1st and second floors?

The ceiling over the 1st floor is open all the way to the exterior sheathing, and to the exterior wall behind the stair. I think we’re going to need to block the area at the trusses, so air from the 1st floor ceiling can’t pass into the exterior wall behind the stair.

It’s little details like this that are rarely documented in most air sealing guides (because they are less typical) and easy to miss. I’ve been going back over all our details to make doubly sure we haven’t missed something silly.

Let the sheetrocking begin!

Well, at least for the 2nd floor ceiling.

Normally, you wouldn’t start the sheetrock till the walls are insulated. But in order to test how well (or poorly) we’ve sealed the house with a blower door test, we need to complete the air barrier, and that means the 2nd floor ceiling. This is the area where the air barrier transitions from the exterior of the house to the interior. It will be one of the trickiest areas to seal properly.

We installed gaskets around the top edges of the walls, but because we’re using strapping, it made it difficult to close all the gaps. So we’ve decided to use 2-part foam only around the edges where the ceiling meets the walls. This should ensure that we have all possible gaps sealed.

Lessons Learned

We used poly boxes at all exterior wall electrical box penetrations, but we totally forgot to do this at the 2nd floor ceiling. We’ll have to use a combination of tape and foam to seal light fixture electric boxes in the ceiling.

I think I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that a smarter way to air seal the top of the enclosure would have been to extend the exterior sheathing and air barrier over the ceiling joists. Then pile the roof insulation on top of the sheathing. This method has been used by Marc Rosenbaum, although the air barrier in this case was the roof.* This approach would necessitate raising the roof up a bit to ensure proper insulation levels at the eves. The extra expense of sheathing the top of the ceiling joists would have likely been offset by the extra labor and material costs spent sealing all the gaps with foam.


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