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Volume 4 Issue 6“Building Confidence”June 2006



Well Summer is definitely here. I hope your renovations are going well. Welcome new readers to our Newsletter. Thanks to you loyal subscribers for hanging in there with us.

What's New

Dan and I will be enjoying our Summer with the odd time away from home. Please bear with us if you can't get hold of us for a week or so. We both have laptops so as long as we can hook up to the Internet, we are not too far away.

Ask Away!

Here are some of the questions during the month and my response:

Dave, I am refinishing a floor board on a All American Soap Box Racer Kit.
I'm now putting the 4th coat of Tong Oil on the bottom side of the race
car floor. The question I have is on my last coat, do I do a final rub
down with 0000 steel wool, or 320 grit sand paper, or what would you use
before putting the 1st coat of wax on this board, or better yet how would
you finalize this board to get the slickest finish known to man, thus
giving the least amount of wind drag. All American Soap Box rules says
that we can't use Poly Urathene on any type of a plastic coating on this
board. But we can finish the Tong Oil or Danish Oil with some sort of wax,
and which would you use if this was your project. If we loose the race I
promise not to hold "U" to fault Dave!.... Thanks in advance Brandy!

Hi Brandy,

Well as long as you don't hold me responsible!! If you are using the real tung oil you want to put a wax finish on it. Wipe down with extra fine steel wool, don't use sand paper, then start waxing and polishing. Any old paste floor wax around?

Good Luck!!


I'll be building a deck in the near future and it's 10-12 feet out from
the house and 35 feet long. It will be off the second floor (approx 10
feet from the ground). Are 4x4 posts adequate and should I build it
with 2x8 joists? Also I'm wondering what the best concrete base for the
posts is - 10" sono tube with a saddle? And what is the spacing?
Thanks Pamela

Hi Pamela,

You need 2x8 joists on 16" centers; 2 - 2x10 beams on 11.67' centers - that is 3 beams in 35'; 10" sonotube with post saddle and 6x6 posts.


Hi Dave,
I live in a split level home about 35 years old and in the process of
a do it yourself renovation. I need to put new treads and risers on my
indoor entry stairs. How do I remove the existing skirt boards? Or do
I just veneer the old ones. Your thoughts would be appreciated


Some times the skirt board is installed attached to the stringer, so it may not be easy to remove. Regardless, I would keep the skirt there and veneer it with about 1/8" or 1/4" plywood and add a solid wood cap. Do this first, before adding the new risers and treads. The skirt is not the easiest thing to veneer, so it is easier to cut the risers and treads tight to the skirt than vice versa.

Make a pattern from cardboard. Cut these strips a bit wider than the skirt board to allow for scribing against the existing tread and riser. Once you are happy with the fit, trim the veneer off flush with the top of the skirt board and finish it with a piece of oak, or whatever choice of wood, running on the top of the skirt, acting as a cap to cover the end grain of the veneer and top edge of the old skirt. Then fit the new treads and risers to the skirt. Watch the height of the risers. You don't want to change these too much - your risers should be consistent in height from floor to floor.


I want to build a basement under a 22x24 addition that I am adding to
my existing home. How much deeper will my hole need to be than the
actual basement? I have 8' basement forms. How far should I space my
rebar verticals and horizontals? Is it 2'? Is 1/2" rebar ok? Are 2'
wide by 10" deep footers sufficient? Should I put horizontal rebar in
my footers?

Diagram showing foundation height.Your depth is determined by the depth of your house footings. You don't want to undermine your house foundation by going deeper than the footings unless you are prepared to reinforce them. If starting from scratch and you want a full basement underground, the footings are 6" deep x 16" wide. The concrete slab for the basement is 4" thick. This slab usually rests on top of the footings. The foundation wall should extend above the finished grade by at least 6".

For 8' walls the re-bar should be at 12" centers both for the horizontals and verticals using 1/2" bar. The footings for an 8" wall should be 16" wide and 6" deep. I put 3 horizontal bars in my footings. My house I built was engineered and he gave me these specs for the re-bar.



I have a customer who wants to use vinyl (if possible) replacement
windows in her condo. The only issue is that the other units all have
Benjamin Moore - MooreGuard - Navajo White (OC-95) paint on the
current wooden windows. Replacement windows in wood seem to be
running $700 or so in price so she wanted to do something cheaper in
vinyl or aluminum clad. Do you know of any companies that would match
the exterior finish to this color?

Hi Dick,

I don't know of any manufacturer that will match up a paint color like that. The best bet is to order a white vinyl window and paint it to match the others. Have the customer talk to the paint dealer and he will advise the correct paint to use over PVC.


I need to make Stringers for a 10' Rise
This will work out to the stringer being 18 to 20'
I can only find 16' 2 X 12's Is it O.K. to splice them to make them
long enough. if so HOW?
I really don't have the room for a landing and can not change
directions ( Outside deck )


Most building supply yards that deal with contractors sell dimension lumber to 20'. Home Depot, etc. only sell popular lengths to 16'.

You can build a set of stairs to a maximum total rise of 12' according to the code. You need a stringer of about 18', so I would get a stringer of 10' and 8' and splice them together with a 4' slice: 2' on each side of the joint, using a 2x12 as the splice. Put the splice on one side only and layout the opposite side. Just tack the splice in place until it is laid out. Then you can cut out the stringer and splice together. Then screw or nail the splice together well.

You should support the stringer with posts to take the bounce out, as mentioned in my stair articles.


Hi Dave, The home I am building is a 28x30 Chalet style home. I am
considering using metal roof sheeting. On a residential home, can the
sheeting be installed with purlins alone attached to the rafters,
without sheeting, or do I need both. Thanks, Rick

Hi Rick,

Usually with metal roofing we don't use solid sheathing. Use purlins on 12, 16 or 24 inch centers depending on the thickness of the metal. Your dealer should know the specs for the purlin centers.


I have a bit of a construction issue that I would like your input on.
I will try to be brief, but the question requires a certain amount of
I am in the process of renovating the 10 year old home that I live in.
It has first and second floor wrap-around porches on two levels.
The previous owners enclosed the lower level porch on the side of the
house, but they did a very poor job preventing water falling on the
second level porch from seeping into the now enclosed lower level.
I have removed the original tongue and grove fir and have given the
floor a slight pitch to allow water run-off. I then sealed the porch
with Carlisle Coatings and Waterproofing's Water and Ice Protection
(WIP) 300 High Temperature self-adhering roofing underlayment.
I would like to reuse the original fir flooring and this is the source
of my questions. What would be the best way to lay the floor in a
manner that will be durable and that will not cause failures in the
The manufacturer of the 300HT says that it can be nailed into without
problem. I, however, am worried about nailing a flooring that will
have the flex of foot traffic into the membrane.
A second concern is whether the fir flooring would rot being nailed to
the membrane without an air cavity separating them.
In essence, 1. should I nail the flooring through the membrane or
should I try to have the t & g flooring float? And 2. should I
separate the flooring and membrane with nailing strips or something to
allow air circulation?
Thank you for your time and consideration,


Hi Jerry,

Sorry for the delay in getting back with you, I was on a brief vacation.

First, I would like to say that fir flooring should be protected from rain or moisture. The porch should be covered.

I would use nailing strips on top of the membrane as my option. I would screw 1x4s along the existing floor joists at a minimum of 16" centers - for a 10 year old house, they should be.



Thanks for your response. I made a mistake in the earlier email. The
house is 100 years old. The porch has a roof over it but is open on the
side. It does get some rain and snow. Is coating the fir with varethane
or something similar sufficient?


Hi Jerry,

With the different age of the house, the floor joists may be on 20" centers. If that is the case, the nailing strips should be installed across the joists at 16" centers. The original porch floor was probably a 1x4 V-joint siding installed on the floor rather than a hardwood floor system. Maybe check this out before installing hardwood (fir) flooring. This stuff is not designed to take any moisture at all, with its tight joints. I don't know where you live and your climate, so recommend getting info from your local area.

There are other options for porch floors other than hardwood. I can see your desire to keep the original theme. Maybe checkout the use of V-joint flooring rather than T & G hardwood. With both types of flooring the finish is an important part of the overall waterproofing system.


Well, I hope your renos are going well. During the summer I will be out and about, as all of us will, I would hope, so bear with me if I don't get back to you right away with answers to your questions.

Enjoy the summer with your families!


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