Fascia Confusion

Before the temperature dropped too low, I knew I had to get out to stain my fascia boards, which are already on the house. Dealing with the fascia boards has not been straightforward. I didn’t even know what the word fascia meant before I started researching for the build, and there’s several different ways to install fascia and no obvious “right” way. When I pictured them, I assumed they would be the fourth edge that the roof sheathing would land on, so that’s how I installed mine. But that meant that they had to be installed back in June, before I was ready to do any staining. Tiny Nest (in B.C.) stained their fascia before putting it up, but I think they’re a bit more organized than me.πŸ˜› Coincidentally, I ended up with the same brand of stain they used! I love following Canadian builds.

My overhang is only about 4.5″ instead of 6″ as I planned, in case I needed to add another board on top of the fascia. Some houses have a sub-fascia and then a decorative fascia on top. But I kinda forgot about all that when I was installing the drip edges and my roofing, so I can’t put a board on top of those. It’s probably better to have the house a little skinnier than the maximum, but it does mean that the rain drips off the roof onto my wheel well boxes and it’s loud.

I used butt joints for my fascia (with metal plates and nails holding them together), even though it probably would’ve been better to cut them at angles to account for expansion and contraction, like Tiny Nest did.πŸ˜›

The fascia is part of the exterior that was required for the rough building stages, but will show in the end, so I should’ve taken more care with it. There’s a twisty board end (which I’ve tried to fix, but it’s stubborn) and a gouge in another spot, but it looks good from a distance!

When I put the boards up, I figured I’d deal with staining later. Well, now it’s later, and of course it would’ve been easier to stain them before I put them up. Too late! In addition to that, they’ve also been rained on over the past several months, and have started to go a little grey. At the recommendation of the kind staff at the hardware store, I mixed up a solution of water, bleach, and TSP to clean the fascia (my parents used the same thing on our shed before staining). I spent a day up on a ladder scrubbing the fascia and thinking about how I’m a homeowner, now that I’m spending my free time on home maintenance.πŸ˜›

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When I was picking out the stain, I was trying to find a brown and a purple that went well together, but I forgot to match the brown to the roofing. When I first started staining the fascia on the side, I was a little nervous about the colour. On the front, where there’s no white drip edge separating the colours, I think it looks great! I’ll have to take some more pictures on a sunnier day.

It took about 3 hours to scrub the fascia clean, then an hour to sand it all, and another 4 hours moving the ladder and carrying the stain bucket up and down, up and down to stain it all. It was worth it though. So far I’m happy with the stain I picked and I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with staining while I was trying to get my roof on in June. See my previous post for details about staining my siding!

Stain Splatters

After installing all the windows, it was time to pick a stain colour for my siding! Which I was avoiding, because it’s a big decision! I’m doing pine beveled siding, and the colour I choose is going to be the colour of the entire exterior of my house! I also looked at paint colours for my door, post, and exterior trim, but I’m not revealing those yet.πŸ˜‰

I wanted a stain that would still show the grain of the wood. Some people don’t like how many knots pine has, but I don’t mind at all – which is convenient, because pine is one of the cheapest and lightest wood types.πŸ˜› I like the personality in wood grain, and I’m so happy to be able to use real wood for my house instead of plastics and particle board.πŸ™‚ There weren’t that many options for semi-transparent stains, so it didn’t take me long to choose…

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I was aiming for not too red/orange and not too grey, and this seemed like the best one!

I’ve been going to a different hardware store, and the staff have been really helpful and gave me a great price on the stain.πŸ™‚ I started staining on November 7th, in the heated garage (thanks parents!), and I’ve been staining almost every day and sometimes twice a day since! I learned that the wood fibers on the smooth side of the siding get heated while the wood is being cut, creating what’s called “mill glaze”. This closes the grain of the wood from accepting stain, so I have spent several days sanding my siding as well. It’s been a process!

I’ve really learned how to manage my time better and fit staining into my day, more than any other part of the build so far. With other tasks, I’ve usually been doing things for the first time so I never know how long it’s going to take. Then when I get the hang of it, I’m done and move on to another new thing. With the staining, it’s easy work, and I’ve already gotten plenty of practice, so I know exactly what to do and how long it’s going to take me. Instead of wondering how long it will take or having to wait until a day off, I know I need about two hours and I can get a decent amount done. That knowledge takes away the uncertainty that makes me hesitate. It’s easier to get out there and work on it, no matter my mood or the time of day, because I know exactly what I’m doing. I can blast my music, take the time to think, and go out to the garage rain or shine, day or night. It’s great!

The one thing limiting me is space. The garage is filled with stuff for renovations in my parents’ house, and I only have so much room on the sawhorses. At first, I decided I would stain 6 boards a day. I have room for five on the sawhorses, and one more on a stack of wood. And since I’d be staining every day, I didn’t want to allot too much. I have to stain the front and back in case water gets behind the siding, so that’s a lot of staining! Doing 6 boards a day and giving them 24 hours to dry before stacking them meant that it would take me 32 days to stain all of my siding. At first, I was okay with that because I had expected it to take a long time. Plus I was probably going to get someone else to install it for me later, so my work would be done when I finished the staining.

After about a week, I started doing a little more research, and any day I didn’t stain meant one more day into December I would need to stain. So I decided to start staining 12 boards a day, 6 during the day and 6 after work (I’m working 6 nights a week right now). I found more stacks in the garage to put boards on, and made room underneath the sawhorses for 3-4 boards. I also started to think about installing the siding myself. The only thing stopping me was a lack of help, and a few people offered theirs recently. I really didn’t want to spend the money and the more I thought about it, the less I wanted some stranger doing a mediocre job (or worse) on my house! I’ve done everything on it, except the welding and insulation, and I’m reluctant to let anyone else touch my house.

I’ve gotten faster at staining, and I’m usually pretty tired and/or cranky after work, so I switched to staining 12 boards during the day time. It is a bit of a musical chairs game with the boards but it’s working out so far. I’m 47% finished staining, and I hope to be done within the first few days of December. Take a look at my work so far, and remember, as always, I’ve never done this before!πŸ˜›

Aaaand this is why I no longer stain at night:

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Don’t kick your stain bucket.πŸ˜›

All is well, and I’m getting this done as fast as I can! It’s getting colder outside…

 

Sunshine Portals!

All my windows are now installed! After the initial learning curve, and a bit of a mess with some caulking, everything went smoothly.πŸ™‚ Prepare for pictures! Here we go:

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The bathroom and entrance windows

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The living/dining room window and the kitchen window

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The front window for the window seatπŸ™‚

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And of course, my octagon!

This is how I installed my windows, based on the instructions that came with them (and influenced by some online research). Different brands have different installation instructions. My windows are Peter Kohler brand.

Step 1: Cut an upside down martini glass shape in the house wrap.

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Step 2: Trim the house wrap and tape the edges down (sides and bottom).

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Step 3: Cut a flap in the house wrap above the window, 45Β° angles from the corners and high enough to fit the width of the window flashing underneath. Tape it up.

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Step 4: Cut squares of flashing and add them to the bottom corners of the window.

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This is how the Peter Kohler instructions showed to cut the pieces for the corners, but I have seen multiple different ways of doing this part. I only did it this way for my first window because I found it doesn’t adequately seal the corner even after you put the sill flashing on, and I didn’t like how little flashing was below the window in the end. For the rest of my windows, I did a full piece of flashing like the picture below, and then put the sill flashing on as well.

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Step 5: Cut a piece 12″ longer than the sill, and apply it with 6″ up the side of the window.

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You can see in this picture that I added a little rectangle of flashing to the corners, similar to what I did with any weak spots in the skylight flashing.

Step 6: Put shims on the sill and check them with a level. I ended up taping mine so they would stay, and I planned to cut the ends off later. My instructions also had specific locations for shims on the sides, 3 on the hinge side and 2 on the other side. I almost quit at this point. Even if I could lift the window by myself, how was I supposed to put it in without having someone on the inside to help guide me? Other tiny housers installed their windows as a team: one person inside and one person outside.

I took a breather, went back to the window opening, and taped the side shims in place as well. That would help me center the window as I put it in.

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Step 7: First, have fasteners ready to go. The fasteners should be long enough to go an inch into the framing, so at least 1 3/4″ if you have 1/2″ sheathing because that accounts for the thickness of the vinyl. I also wanted something that had more gripping power than a smooth nail, considering all the vibration the house will go through on the road. But the hardware store only had 1 1/2″ nails with a rough finish, and 2″ smooth shank nails. So I went with a mix of the two.

Apply a bead of caulking closely around the opening, leaving gaps at the bottom.

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I was way better at a continuous, even bead of caulking on the later windows.πŸ˜› This was the first!

Steps 8/9/10?: Put the window in (some say to tilt it in, I ended up trying to carefully set the window in in a way that it didn’t disturb the shims). Hammer a nail in part way in, 4-6″ down from a top corner. Check that the window operates smoothly. Personally, I added two more nails in random places, then I checked the operation of the window again, just to be sure.

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This window went in pretty smoothly, but when I did the bathroom window, I accidentally lifted the window too high, and unknowingly got caulking all over the inside of the window. When I went inside to check the operation, I saw the mess, and my parents helped me find some mineral spirits to get it off.πŸ™‚

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Also check that there’s a gap all the way around the window, that the window is centered in the rough opening. The instructions for these windows called for a 5/8″ gap. Do NOT shim above the window. There should be no load transfer onto a window. This window doesn’t have a large header because it’s only 18″ wide, but normally there would be a header made of 2x4s on their side with a piece of 1/2″ ply in between.

Step 11: Hammer the first few nails all the way in, then fill the rest of the pre-punched holes with nails.

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On one of my windows, there was a gap between the sheathing and the nailing flange in one spot, even though the window was pressed tight to the house. I ended up shimming behind a couple of nails after the first nail started to pull the nailing flange away from the window.

Step 12: Apply flashing to the sides of the window, covering the nails and reaching at least a half inch past the bottom flashing and 2-3″ above the top of the window.

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Maybe I should’ve taken the step-by-step pictures after I’d gotten better at placing the flashing.πŸ˜›

Step 13: Apply flashing to the top of the window, reaching one inch past the edges of the side flashing.

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Always apply any flashing, tape, house wrap, etc. starting at the bottom. That way, water will run down the layers, rather than having the potential to sneak in behind an edge.

Step 14: Flip down the flap, trim it, and tape it. The instructions didn’t say to trim or tape it, they were very vague for this part, but it’s my understanding that it’s best to tape every edge of the house wrap so it preforms better. So that’s what I did.

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You’re not supposed to flash the bottom of the window, so any water or condensation that gets into the sill can drain out. Notice how little flashing there is showing underneath? For the rest of the windows, I put the first piece of flashing lower just so I felt more comfortable with it.

My mum helped me lift the two bigger windows into place, and my grandpa helped me with my kitchen window! Honestly, the windows were a bit easier than expected. Yay! Enjoy some more window-installation and family pictures below:

 

 

I also flashed around my front door so there’s no longer a drafty gap there:

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I love my lil porch!

Phew, that was a post and a half, huh? Stay tuned, I have more things to share!

A Door and a Ridge!

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My short lil front door.

I think doors and windows are their own category of difficulty. Installing a door feels more over my head than any other part of the build so far. Even though the door is in and seems correct, I still worry I’ve done it wrong. It’s continuously mind-boggling to build something or cut a hole, learn how to install a door or a skylight, install it, and then boom, it’s done. It’s there, and I put it there.

The door is a little tight at one corner and not as tight as it maybe should be in another corner. But it seems square and level and plumb, according to all the ways I could think of to check it. It doesn’t swing on its own, so the frame isn’t tilted. The gap between the door and the frame is even, although it’s wide on the strike side. And even though the holes on the door are lower than the holes in the frame on the strike side, the door and deadbolt still latch. I don’t know if something’s wrong with my installation, because I have no idea what would be. It swings and closes beautifully every time though, so maybe I should just stop worrying.

Oh, my one mistake: I installed the door flush with the outside walls, like you’re supposed to. But I failed to take into account the fact that there was no sheathing around the frame because it’s a weird spot. Soo, the door is a half inch deeper into the house than it should be, and creative trimming will definitely be required.

I ordered my door without brickmold because of how small the spot is. This way, I’ll be able to custom make and install my own trim to fit properly. As you can see, I added more wood to fill in the frame and give the trim a place to land. It took three or four days to prepare the opening, buy everything I needed, do more research, add more wood to the frame, and finally install the door, then the doorknob and deadbolt. It was a process and a whole bunch of things I had never done before! I’m glad I had my dad’s help.πŸ™‚

We installed the doorknob, and it was too low to latch at first, but Dad tapped the strike plate slightly lower, and now it latches no problem. We installed it without a plate on the door side, because the instructions give you the option of chiseling a rectangle out for the plate or simply using a circle of metal, so I chose the circle. But that allows way too much play in the latch, as you can see here:

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The metal circle doesn’t stay where it’s supposed to.

So I decided to chisel the rectangle for the plate. Due to the doorknob being on the low side, the rectangle I chiseled out held the latch too low and it wouldn’t latch. So I had to make the rectangle bigger at the top, and now there’s some exposed wood at the bottom of the plate. Sigh. I’ll have to cover that up. But now the latch stays where it’s supposed to.

As for the deadbolt, I thought I was going to have to return the whole set because the deadbolt didn’t fit the hole in my door! Why in the world would a standard deadbolt not fit a factory-cut hole? Who decided on this teeny hole for the deadbolt? Do they sell smaller deadbolts? After a trip to the hardware store, I went back and read through the instructions again, and the large metal ring was, in fact, removable:

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This was stopping the deadbolt from fitting.

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This set is exactly what I wanted.πŸ™‚

Phew! That was all way too complicated and annoying. Unlike my ridge caps! A few hours on the roof, and I had them all on, with their foam closures underneath!

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My baby’s now fully protected on top and no longer needs a blankie (aka a tarp :P)

So that’s what I’ve been up to, and now I have to make a new to-do list, because I’ve finished so many things!

The biggest task up next is windows! Oh goody, more shimming!πŸ˜›

Up on Ladders

I have the week off work and my dad’s home from Ottawa! With his help, I’ve been working away at my (not-so) tiny to-do list.

Goals for the week:

  • Fix the ridge
  • Finish the house wrap
  • Add the ridge caps (and foam closure strips)
  • And at Dad’s suggestion: install the door!

Sunday:

The collar ties didn’t seem to be doing their job after all, as the walls were spread wider at the top than they should’ve been. The collar ties would theoretically stop us from being able to pull the walls in, so Dad yanked the nails out and took them down.

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My dad, the happy camper

I made new, longer collar ties (and sanded them this time).

I had already bought 10′ 2x4s to jack up the ridge again (having used up all the long lumber I had) and Dad screwed two together in a “T” for strength. We used that and it was much sturdier than the previous time I did this. I shouldn’t have to do this again!

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We jacked the roof up to just slightly higher than where I wanted it, and installed two collar ties, lower this time. This also pulled the walls in to where they were supposed to be. We added some hurricane ties to the four rafters, tying them to the walls. Then we moved the jack to raise the roof in a second spot for the last two collar ties. Those ties are difficult to put into the corners with the roof on, and it was getting dark, so we called it a day.

We brought out a light, a little stove, and had supper together in my little house! We had soup and hot chocolate in my future living room.πŸ™‚

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The lights are on, somebody must be home!

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Monday:

I spent Monday doing a little shopping. I looked at flooring! I’m mostly decided on a dark brown hand-scraped engineered hardwood, but I’m nervous about picking something too dark. I like dark wood stains; I just don’t want a dark colour to make the tiny house seem small. I like the hand-scraped because it looks and feels a little worn in rather than shiny new, and when I inevitably dent or scratch it, it will blend in. I want engineered hardwood because it’s thinner (and lighter) than hardwood, and it expands/shrinks less than hardwood. But I don’t want laminate or anything cheap, because I enjoy walking around barefoot and I want something that feels real underfoot. It’s a small enough space so I can afford to get something that’s more expensive per square foot.

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A sample of stained hickory on top of a popular colour of laminate.

A lighter colour might be the safer choice, but I want a flooring I love.

As for the bathroom, I was thinking of doing cork, because it’s warm and cushy on the feet, it doesn’t absorb water, and it’s a renewable material. But I hadn’t found a style of cork I liked, until…

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White cork!?

The reason I went flooring shopping was to find out how thick of a flooring I’m going to get. I needed to know how much clearance I needed for the swing of my front door. I might not buy the flooring until after I’ve finished building my kitchen though.

Tuesday:

I got a massage as a treat to my poor shoulders, and then proceeded to spend the rest of the day (after a nap) hammering to finish adding the brackets to the rafters. So that might’ve defeated the purpose of the massage. Dad and I also went for a hike and had hot chocolate again, this time by a waterfall! Tiny houses, to me, are partly meant to encourage you to go outside more, and it’s already working!πŸ˜›

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Because the brackets had to go in tight corners, it was such a pain to get the nails in. I’d guess each bracket with its eight nails took about 100 hits, making that 2200 swings of a hammer to get all the brackets in. Oww.

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Wednesday:

I spent Wednesday working on the top strips of house wrap, so more hammering and more shin bruises from ladders.

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I’m enjoying just getting out there and getting to work. It’s not often we single task these days. Focusing on one physical task and doing only that thing makes me feel a lot less scattered and stressed. So did the yoga class Dad and I went to in the evening.πŸ™‚ It’s shaped up to be a great week!

Thursday:

I had a lot of little things on my to-do list for Thursday, including several trips to different hardware stores for buying and returning. And I managed to check everything off my list by the end of the day!

I finished the last piece of house wrap, took the support beam out – the collar ties are holding, and did some measuring especially for the door.

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I bought wood to frame the door (the rough opening is a lil bit big), shims, caulking, and a doorknob! I also returned some extra brackets. I brought back half of the plastic capped nails for a refund of $46! I don’t know what happened with numbers there, but I did not need them all!

I’ve been keeping my tiny house Excel document up to date with my spending and time log.

Then I spent my evening with friends.πŸ™‚

I’m taking the build one day at a time and trying to keep some balance.

Friday:

A source of stress (and nightmares) for me has been rain and my subfloor. I know that before the roof was up, water got below my subfloor. Water can be very bad for a house!

I tested the floor by cutting out a small puck of wood to see the underside:

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Dry, with no rot or mold! PHEW.

I will test another spot or two later. There is some water sitting on top of the insulation, unfortunately. Once the house in sealed for the winter, I’ll be able to heavily de-humidify the space. I’m very glad I chose spray foam and not wool or Roxul insulation, and plywood instead of OSB. It’s worth the money to not have your materials disintegrate or turn to mush!

With that little piece of mind, I worked on getting the door opening ready! I also added house wrap to my porch ceiling, which will get covered later by some art hopefully.πŸ™‚

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All taped up. I cut open the entrance window so I’ll be able to hop in and out when we’re installing the door.

I’ve worked after dark a few times, a consequence of sleeping in, but it gets dark earlier and earlier…

Cheers!

P.S. This is my 200th post!

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Quotes

"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult." - Seneca

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris