Building Confidence

Volume 13 Issue 4
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 New

Be sure to check out our ebooks! We have finished 6 of the 10 eBooks in our Building Confidence series and are being told how helpful they are to do it yourselfers! Let your friends know about them!

Tip of the Month

To remove stains on a stainless steel sink and restore its luster, use the product called Bar Keepers Friend, a powered cleanser and polish. Wear gloves and form a paste right in the sink with a scour cloth, rinse with water and buff with a dry cloth. As always, follow the instructions on the label.

And a Bonus Tip:

To clean a stainless steel thermos bottle, pour boiling water within 1 inch of the top. Pour in 1 heaping teaspoon of powder dishwasher detergent (Cascade or Electrosol). Replace cap, let stand for 1 hour while gently agitating, periodically. Remove cap and pour out most of the liquid except for about 3" from the bottom. Gently, insert a bottle brush cleaning the sides well. When removing the brush, be careful not to splash any liquid in the eyes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Ask Dave!

Hi Dave, Can you tell me the correct way to finish vinyl siding around my windows, especially the bottom? It appears I certainly have not done it right and I do want to make it look good and also keep out the weather. Kindest regards, Dennis

Hi Dennis,

Here is how I did my windows with vinyl siding:

Photo of an outside window trim.

This window is under a 24" overhang, so doesn't need a drip cap.

Photo of exterior patio door trim.

This Patio door has a drip cap over the door as well as over the trim board.

You need to put a wood trim around a window if installing vinyl siding. The trim is caulked to the window and not to the J-molding.

There is a correct way of installing the trim around a window. Start at the bottom with the trim board flush with the window on the ends. Then install the sides flush with the top of the window and bypassing the bottom trim board, flush to the bottom, Then put in the top trim over the sides.

Here is a drawing of the trim around a window:

Drawing of typical 1x4 window trim.

Here is a link to my article on Vinyl siding:

Hope this helps,


Four years ago we moved to this old farm house in central Maine. I've done a great deal of work here, including much plumbing, heating system, electrical and so on. The house is attached to a three bay, 1/2 story garage which partially adjoins the kitchen. To accommodate my wife's back condition which makes stair climbing problematic going forward, I intend to finish the garage into a master bedroom and bath starting this summer. The garage has a two bedroom one bath seasonal guest apartment on the second floor so water and septic lines are in place. Here's the overview and I would appreciate any comment you might make: The concrete floor of the garage is approximately 8 1/2" lower than the abutting kitchen floor. To raise this I intend to first cover the concrete with 4mil poly, then with three inches of rigid foam insulation. The only walls in this section of the garage...10'X24' will be petitions for the bathroom, plus I will need to relocate the stairs to the second floor to the center of the long span. In order to relocate the stairs and to fit them properly, the stairs will need to come about four treads to a landing, then turn 90 degrees to the floor. I will frame this stair well directly from the second floor to the concrete floor. The new bathroom will be installed in the further end of this bay of the garage, and will be framed at this time also. Once the framing is done, I will lay the foam insulation and frame with 2X6 on top of the foam, placing the subfloor on the 2X6 subfloor. My intention is to create a thermal break over as much of the concrete as possible. The space is defined by two posts down the 24' width of the building, so 10X24 is the only space I have to work with. Once that is completed, I will insulate the exterior wall, framed 2X4, with 3 1/2" of wool insulation and then with 2" of rigid foam over the studs, strapping that, and then applying sheetrock. The exterior wall of the garage is 1" shiplapped boards which I do not want to disturb and although spray foam would provide the best sealant for the exterior, the cost makes foam not feasible for this project. When this project is completed, I will have one bay that is fully enclosed with the new bathroom in one end, a stair well in the center and a mud room of sorts from the remainder of the garage. This will complete this season's project and we will continue to use the garage until the next phase which will include expanding the garage out the side of the mudroom later. My questions here: Is 4 mil poly sufficient for a vapor/thermal break on this old floor? Secondly, I intend to frame the floor with 2X6 over the rigid foam, pinning the cross pieces to the studs on the walls on either side. I am not entirely comfortable framing directly over the foam insulation and am concerned that there might be some "give" in the center of this ten foot span. A friend who is a retired builder said this will not be an issue, but I thought I'd ask for your opinion. I have used your stair calculator previously for an exterior stair that I built to give access to the second floor of the small barn on the rear of the property. I am fairly comfortable with the idea of moving the stairs and building them onto a new landing. The main issue here will be the need to cut three or four rafters in the open ceiling above in order to make the stairwell itself. The two posts that define the width of the space support double 2X8's and I believe that these should not be cut, so I am assuming my position for the new stair well must be between these two members. Do you agree? Any comments you can make will be appreciated.

Hi Roger,

You have been busy!

I would go with the 6 mil vapor barrier poly. This has UV protection. I know it seems weird when you need UV in the dark, but that is what the code requires and it stands up much better.

Your friend is correct - the 2x6 floor joists are good for a 9'-4" span at 16" centers. That is good to secure the joists on the studs on the sides. I would extend the joist into the studs on the ends, as well, to keep them up right. Also, I would put a row of 2x6 solid bridging down the center of the span and nail/screw and glue the subfloor to the joists. This really helps it become 1 unit. Use sub-floor adhesive in a tube, following the instructions on the tube.

One more tip, when framing the landing for the stairs to turn 90 degrees, calculate the height of the landing as 1 of the steps in the stairs. Take into consideration the thickness of insulation and joists and subfloor in your calculations. The code does not require the rises to be the same above and below the landing, but I prefer to do this. I go into this in more depth in this article:

Hope this helps,


Dave, I'm building a soffit around some plumbing along the ceiling, it'll be appx 13ft long x 10" high. I'm planning on building it with some 1x2 to save space, need to get the sheet rock as close to some pipes as possible. What screws are the best for the smaller wood, to prevent splitting and so on. Thanks, Greg

Hi Greg,

Use the standard drywall screw that is #6 x 1 1/4". Go with a 2x2 where possible, especially on the outside corner. This makes it easier to screw from both sides of the corner.


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Jigs 7: Woodworking Compass

In my woodworking career there have been numerous times I needed to scribe an arc or a complete circle, usually full size. For example, scribing the trim for a 6' wide circle head window with a 3' radius or making a template for rounding off the corners of a curved archway.

A handy idea to use for a large woodworking compass in the field, is to make a... Read more at Jigs 7: Woodworking Compass.

Almost the End

Hope you enjoy the Newsletter this month.

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(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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