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Volume 5 Issue 8“Building Confidence”August 2007



Welcome to another newsletter. I've enjoyed answering your emails during the summer. Thanks for your patience, if I didn't get back to you right away. Retired life finds me fishing with the grand kids, doing a bit of travelling and camping/boating.

What's New

Well, Fall is approaching quickly, time to checkout the ole homestead for the Fall. Here is a copy of our seasonal reminder from the website:

Seasonal 1: Fall

With the coming of winter, a homeowner should prepare a To Do List. Here are some ideas:

1. Change the furnace filter.
2. Seal up any leaking windows and doors with weatherstrip.
3. Install plastic over any windows that are not thermopane.
4. Clean out range hood and bathroom fans.
5. Caulk up any exterior cracks in the siding or stucco where moisture can get in and do its evil deed.
6. Any outdoor painting should be done before the temperature reaches 10° C (50° F) or below.

I won't even mention what you should do in the garden at this time of year.

Fall is a busy time of year.

I also wrote a new article on building wheelchair ramps, which you can find at: Remodeling 21: Dimensions of Wheelchair Ramps According to the Building Code

Ask Away!

The following are some of the email questions I have answered this month.

I am taking out a picture window and replacing with a bay window.
Can you give me some pointers on how to install it and build the roof
over the top of the window?

Hi Lorne,

A bay or bow window is usually cantilevered out 18" past the wall. The rule is that for every 1 foot of cantilever, the floor joists must be 6' long. So for an 1.5' cantilever the floor joists should be 9' long. You can either cantilever the floor joists or support the ends with posts and beam down to footings and columns.

Is your basement or crawlspace accessible to add 10' floor joists? If not, you may want to support the bay floor with posts and beams or a corbel, as shown:

The options for the roof is either a straight half gable or hip roof.

So tell me what options you want with the joists and roof and I'll give you the instructions. Also I should have the dimensions of the existing picture window.



I am building a shed 24'x16' and am not sure about how long to make the
wall sections for the 24' sides.  Since I can't make them the full 24'
and raise them with just my wife and I to lift them into place.  Is there
a general rule for the length of the sections in such a case, and if so
what is it?  I am also making the walls with 9' studs so they will be
even heavier.
thanks, Kimett

Hi Kimett,

There is no hard and fast rule about breaking a wall, but if you don't have a door or window in the way, I would break it in the center. I always sheath the walls laying flat on the floor. This ensures that the wall is square and true.

I hope you read this article: How to Frame a Wall

The only thing to do differently when breaking a wall is to add a stud at each section of the wall where the break is. When the two walls are stood up, you can nail these two studs together, which will strengthen the wall at the break. Also, either fasten the double plate on before and allow for at least an 8' length of plate over the joint - 4' on each side. This is required by the code. If sheathing on the floor, square and straighten the wall as mentioned in the above article.

Build the wall in place full length, that is 24'. Layout the double stud at 12' and make a joint in the top and bottom plates there, also. I would start with a full sheet along the bottom of the wall and continue with a full sheet over the joint and onto the next 12' section of wall. Just tack this sheet into place, it will be removed to stand up the wall. Add the third sheet on the bottom row. Be sure to leave spacing between sheets of OSB, if that is your sheathing. Cut a full sheet in half and fasten it in place at the start of the second row alternating the joints of the sheets. Another full sheet will bring you to the end of the first 12' section. Continue with the sheathing. For the double plate start with an 8' - 2x4, remember to allow for the overlaps on the corners, temporarily tack another 8' - 2x4 next to the first and finally fasten the last 8' double plate into position. Now you can remove the center 8' double plate over the wall joint, as well as the middle sheet over the wall joint on the bottom row. Nail up the sheathing as specified in the article, remove the temporary nails holding the wall on the floor. Stand up and brace the walls into position, re-attach the double plate, nail the double stud together and replace the sheathing.

Hope this helps,


Hi Dave, I am using your basic design for the 12 x 16 shed, gable roof.
I am going to be using it for a 7 x 14 pop-up tent trailer so the front
door opening needs to be about 9'.  I have three walls up and am now
trying to finalize the design for the front wall and door.  I plan on
having two 4 1/2' doors.

My question is, is this gable wall weight bearing and do I need a header
above for these two 4 1/2' doors?  I have an old LVL sitting around that
is about 10' long (I think  it's a 10' -er).  I can use it if I need it,
though my walls are only 7' and this would drop the entrance down to 6'.
That's not a major problem, just wondering whether I need a header for
Thanks, George

Hi George,

Good question!!

The gable end wall is a bearing wall if you use rafters for the roof and need support for the ridge. For a truss roof it is not a bearing wall, since the support of the trusses are on the outside walls.


Hi Dave,

Thanks for the great info. I bought a log cabin in Idaho and since
it wasn't lived in for 20 years, it's taking some work to get it habitable.
I used your instructions to do quite a few things. I'm in my 60's, female
and haven't really done much wood working. I even made my stringers for
stairs and they're great! It was quite a challenge without a decent saw
or even workspace. Anyway, I finally have indoor plumbing with a hot
shower and that's a treat. Each visit sees great progress.

I found your instructions for the stud wall confusing until I realized
you build it on the floor, flat and not upright like it is at the end.
My daughter said "build a stud wall" so I went to your instr first and
spent a small amount of time to get the message.

When I built the stairs, I left a little space for the sheet rock, like
you suggested. Several people didn't like that and I defended your
reasoning and that made them madder (I don't know why). Anyway, since it
looks like I'm doing the sheet rock myself, I appreciate the tip. thanks.
Thanks for all the tips and I enjoyed your trip reviews.

Hi Georgia,

Thanks for the nice email.

I find it interesting your friends' reaction to the space in the stringers for the drywall. In construction we work with a lot of different trades. Carpenters are required to layout many things for some of the trades, so we get to work closely together. Anything we can do to help the sub-trades will increase the profit of the general contractor and decrease the bottom line of the owner. You can imagine the extra work involved for the drywall applicator to notch each step going down the stairs instead of just slipping a sloped piece into a space. This is an example of your friends not really understanding the procedure. I'm glad you took my advice and left the space, you will appreciate the consideration doing the drywall yourself.

Thanks again for the email, I love to hear success stories like yours.


hello dave I was looking at a bathroom that has laminate covered vanity
I would like to change the laminate because the customer really likes
the vanity set-up what is the process for this
You can do this in two ways, remove the arborite or glue on top of the
old laminate.

If the laminate is loose at all, usually you can start lifting it up at a corner and get a handsaw under it and cut the glue as you pry it up. Try not to break it off. If it does break, use a 6" drywall knife (trowel) and slip it underneath until you have enough to pry up again. Old laminate comes off easier than you may think.

If the laminate is stuck really well, I rough up the top and edges of the laminate with my belt sander. After all the gloss is removed the new laminate will stick well to the layer under it.

I've used both methods before, depending on its age and how well the laminate is glued on.


Hey Dave-
Quick question for you. We're continuing our renovation and are getting
close to re-doing the plaster. I've ripped out all of the old plaster
and lath on the walls but don't want to tear down the ceiling plaster
and lath or I'll have to deal with the insulation and rebuilding the
ceiling. Is there a popular method for finishing the plaster so that it
looks good? Should I drywall over the plaster? Should I use plaster or
drywall compound that I coat on the old surface? It's generally in good
shape. It was just finished to be a utility room and doesn't look like
it was finished as nicely as the rest of the house. Also, my house was
built in 1927 and the studs tend to be uneven and, at points, chiseled
away to have rough services. Is there a method of making sure that the
drywall is perfectly flat in these situations or do I need to raise the
surfaces as level as possible (this may in fact be a stupid question,
but I thought there might be a method that would help).


Hi Brian,

Sounds like you are coming along fine!!

My main concern for removing plaster and lath during a reno, like this, is to either get to the plumbing or electrical to fix it up or to insulate on outside walls. If the walls are interior and the plaster is bad, I just remove the plaster and leave the lath. In the ceiling, if the existing plaster is okay, just repair it with drywall compound, after sanding any gloss off. Better still staple up vapor barrier and install new drywall. Remember to add vapor barrier and insulation in the walls, too.

Yes, the studs are not uniform, they were full size rough studs and joists in those days. They evened out the walls and ceiling with the plaster. Usually, if you put new drywall on top of the existing plaster it will be even enough. If it is really bad, rip up some shims on the table saw and install them right over the existing ceiling joists to even things up. I rip them from 2" material, (2x4, 2x6, etc.) so they are 1 1/2" wide. These should make the ceiling level as well as straight and true.

Hope this helps,


Dave - Could you please tell me how you build headers for closet
bi-fold doors that are 6'0" wide on non-bearing walls?
Do you just build them out of 2x4's?  thank you! - Trish

Hi Trish,

A non-bearing wall doesn't need a header, as such. You only need a single horizontal plate with studs up to the top plate. Here is a drawing to clarify:

Remember that the opening for your bi-fold is 6'-0" x 6'-8" finished, that is including drywall.

Hope this helps,


Well, the end of Summer and the end of another newsletter. How time marches on, as they say. Thanks for the nice comments in your emails and I hope this newsletter motivates you to try to do a project you have never done before. Checkout our website and services, hopefully we can Build Confidence out there to do the job yourself.


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