Building Confidence

Volume 9 Issue 3
ISSN 1923-7162

Welcome to Dave's Shop Talk's Home Improvement Newsletter of questions from our members on their construction projects, a Tip of the Month and a home remodeling article, both from our website at

What's Happening

I will be going to my Aunts' house, in a few days to install a laminate floor, for them. I plan to take some pictures for you and discuss this in our next newsletter.

My brother Dan's new site Free Choice Coupons is growing. The purpose of my brother's site is to make it possible for little companies to use the power of coupons to get new customers. The first coupon was made in 1888 by Coca Cola. It took 21 years before the next company, Post Cereals, started using coupons in 1909. Coupons became widely used during the 1930's, the period of the Great Depression. By the 1940's coupons were being used by the big companies to take business away from the little guys. That trend has continued right up to the present day. Dan and his partners worked out a way to level the playing field, so small companies and individual service people can use the pulling power of coupons to take back their local neighbourhood customers from the international corporations.

You can help by spreading the word to small companies and service people in your area. You can even collect a healthy reward for your good work! See Free Choice Coupons Commissions System for details.

Tip of the Month

When trimming off an asphalt shingle roof, use a utility knife with a hooked blade. You'll find it cuts easier than a straight blade and stays sharper longer.

Ask Dave!

Hi Dave, Robb here. Just a few questions about a bathroom I am remodeling. I have options in the plumbing of the toilets, one upstairs that will eventually be moved due to the current size of the small upper bathroom. My best option or most convenient and practical plan would have the plumbing running up an exterior wall. Is this possible considering WI winters are extremely cold? I don't want any chance that the pipes may freeze. The layout is mainly based on the lower baths, practicality and the current stack runs through a wall on the 2nd floor which I plan to eliminate in the future. Just planning ahead so that the layout meets both plans that I have envisioned.

Hi Robb,

It is best to not have a 3" or 4" drain in the outside wall, if you can get away without it. Try to have the drain stack go up an interior wall, if possible. You can have a toilet about 10 ft away from the stack, with the sink about 6' max so it gives you a bit of leeway. Definitely, don't have the supply lines in the outside wall. Most, builders will put a 4" stack in a 2x6 interior wall, a 2x4 wall is just not big enough to allow for the 4" pipe.

Hope this helps,

I can send a drawing, if you need one. I'm on a cruise ship right now, enjoying Hawaii for the first time.

Let me know if you need anything further,


Hello Dave, I have a question about how to use a chalk line before tiling. I'm new to renovations and I'm trying to do a big kitchen but I don't know how to snap a line with a chalk. Also, which material do you think is the best to use for flooring, hardy backer or wonder board. Should I use cement before i install the wonder board? i was looking on Google and they said to tape each one. I was just curious what steps I need to take before I tile the floors. Thanks, Abe

Hi Abe,

If you have a chalk line in the box, just fill it with chalk, pull the line out. Hook the end of the line onto a nail on the floor and pull the box, with the wind up lever in the straight down position, until you get to the mark on the opposite side of the floor. Hold the line tight and pull up on the string and let go. This leaves a chalk line along the floor. Now, if the chalk line is new, you need to pull about half the line out - tie it to a stump or something and walk away, until half is out. Add the chalk to the box, but don't fill it up, so you can have room for the line. The chalk line gets better with use. I was in Mexico, working and it was so dry there that the chalk would not stick to the line. I had to dampen the line from time to time.

I like the HardieBacker board. This is from their website:

Cutting HardieBacker® Board

  • Use a straight edge as a guide to score the board's face and snap upward along the score line. We recommend using a carbide-tipped scoring knife, but a utility knife may also be used. The use of shears (manual, electric or pneumatic) is also acceptable.
  • For cutouts and small holes, score around perimeter and break out from the face side with hammer.
  • NEVER use high-speed power tools (e.g. saws, grinders, etc.) to cut James Hardie® products indoors as they may generate excessive silica dust.
  • NEVER dry sweep. Use wet suppression methods or HEPA vacuum for clean-up.
  • To further limit respirable silica exposures, wear a properly-fi tted, NIOSH-approved dust mask or respirator (e.g. N-95) in accordance with applicable government regulations and manufacturer instructions.

Floor Installation

We recommend 1/4" HardieBacker® board for floor applications, unless 1/2" thickness is needed for transition.
  1. Ensure subfloor is structurally sound

      On existing structures:
    • Ensure subfloor is not damaged. Replace any loose, warped, uneven or damaged sections of floor.
    • Make certain subfloor is a clean and flat surface.

      For all floors:
    • Use minimum 5/8 exterior grade plywood or 23/32 OSB with Exposure 1 classification or better, complying with local building codes and ANSI A108.11.
    • Joist spacing not to exceed 24" on center.
    • The floor must be engineered not to exceed the L/360 deflection criteria (L/720 for natural stone), including live and dead design loads, for the specific joist spacing used.

  2. Determine layout of HardieBacker® cement board
    • Stagger all HardieBacker cement board joints. Do not align with subfloor joints.
    • Never allow all four corners of boards to meet at one point.
    • We recommend an 1/8" gap between board edges.
    • Keep sheet edges 1/8" back from walls and cabinet bases.
    • Score and snap boards to required sizes and make necessary cutouts.

  3. Attach HardieBacker® cement board to subfloor
    • Apply a supporting bed of mortar or modified thinset to subfloor using a 1/4" square-notched trowel.
    • Embed HardieBacker cement board firmly and evenly in the wet mortar.
    • Use the fastener pattern as a guide. Fasten HardieBacker cement board with specified nails or screws (as listed in "Materials Required") every 8" over the entire surface. Keep fasteners 3/8" from board edges and 2" in from board corners.
    • Set fastener heads flush with the surface without overdriving.

  4. Tape joints prior to tiling
    • Prior to setting the tile, fill all joints with the same mortar used to set the tiles.
    • Embed 2" wide high-strength alkali-resistant glass fiber tape in the mortar and level.

Materials Required For Floors

  • Latex or acrylic modified thinset (complying with ANSI A118.4).
  • Dry-set mortar for use between subfloor and cement board only (complying with ANSI A118.1).
  • 2" wide high-strength alkali-resistant glass fiber tape.
  • Minimum 1-1/4" long corrosion-resistant roofing nails.
  • Minimum 1-1/4" long No. 8 x 0.375" HD self-drilling corrosion-resistant ribbed waferhead screws.
  • If compliance with ANSI A108.11 is not required, minimum 1" long No. 8 x 0.323" HD self-drilling corrosion-resistant ribbed buglehead screws may be used for floors.
  • If applying HardieBacker® 500 cement board over gypsum, use minimum 1-3/4" long corrosion-resistant roofing nails.

Hope this helps,


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Remodeling 7: How to Install a Skylight in an Existing Roof

"Location, location, location!", is what they say in real estate, but it's just as important with skylights.

In this home improvement article, we will talk about a 2'x4' skylight, so if you have a larger skylight, just adjust the numbers.


With most skylights there are two locations to consider, the ... read more at

Almost the End

We hope you investigate our resources on our website:

Our site is a paid subscription site which has not only articles and plans, but a dictionary of common construction terms, tables on joist and rafter spans, converters and calculators, tips and jigs to make building projects easier and of course, this free monthly Newsletters.

Thanks for your continued questions and comments,


(Ask Dave) (About Dave)

Your source for building tips, woodworking & furniture plans, house plans and building advice directly from Dave...

Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.


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