Building Confidence

Volume 19 Issue 11
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

Tip of the Month

When working by yourself, use a nail or spike (a nail 3 inches or longer) as your third hand to hold the end of a long board up.

If requiring a straight line to start in the middle of a board, rather than the edge, drive in a nail to hold one end of the chalk line.

Ask Dave!

Hi Dave, The outside walls of my daughters basement has 1 1/2" DOW Thermax foil backed and faced insulation on the walls. It is Glued and screwed to the block with Tapcons and washers. The joints are foil taped. ( I must say whoever did it did a great job) We would like to finish the walls with drywall. To save expense of framing i would like to glue and sporadic screw the moisture resistant drywall to the foil insulation. Did a test on a sheet of foil insulation see pic most adheasives worked well. Loctite landscape adhesive seemed the best tho most of them when pulled off would rip the paper off the drywall then when trying to remove glue the foil would come off the insulation with some work. House was built in 2014. Basement is dry. Most articles I have read on gluing to metal said it worked but to use dabs or dots instead of lines of glue. Most said it pulled paper off drywall similar to gluing to wood. Just checking to get your thoughts on this method? Thank you Wayne

Hi Wayne,

I'm not into gluing the drywall on. I would build a light framed wall, 2x3 or 2x4 econo, with a 1" space. With 2x4 econo, you can insulate with fibreglass and poly vapour barrier. Then screw the drywall on. This would give you a good strong wall and well insulated.


Not too much going on this month, so I went back a few years to select a question or two that may be of interest to our readers. I found this one from November 2014, from our good friends and loyal subscribers, Pat & Pete:

At some point during or after we installed windows, Pete went around on the sides of the house and the back where he could get to it and caulked the seam at the OSB and bottom plate. He was unable to do the front of the house because it has the brick facade. That, together with the window installation made the house quite cozy with no drafts and it was quieter as well. Today we had a serendipitous discovery of an icky situation... (as in - so glad we found it before it got worse scenario) The far corner in the front room (our house is brick front and this corner is the front left corner of the house, looking at it from the street) seemed like I felt a draft. Well, actually, the first thing I noticed was a small dried "puddle" that made me think the dog had gotten sick at some point and I somehow had missed it. But when I went to clean it up, I thought I felt a slight draft coming from somewhere. Keep in mind this is one of the first rooms where I laid tile about 9 years ago. I saw a couple tiny dark "streaks" further down the tile near the dried puddle. So, not being bashful, I pulled the baseboard off the wall. Back when I finished tiling the floor, I had taped the floor/wall seam with duct tape, just to be double sure no air leaks. Well, much to my surprise, there were a couple small pinhole leaks caused by wind (?) air being sucked in due to difference in outside/inside temperature. I know I'm probably not describing this very well. Pete pulled the rest of the baseboard off the walls. That's when we saw the moldy area. Long story a little shorter, the main problem had been caused by the builder not installing any insulation in an area approximately 10" X 2', under one of the windows. Outside air was drawn into this void through the unsealed seam of the OSB at the bottom plate. This caused the drywall to begin to mold and condensation to puddle near the area. Lucy's (our dog) chair sits right in front of the window. Although I move the chair to dust mop and vac, I never noticed the dried puddle until a couple days ago. Pete undercut the drywall on the front and the side walls. The outside wall where he had previously caulked that seam was fine. The inside wall (porch) was dry but the nail heads were rusted. Pete cleaned and caulked all the seams and cracks. In some areas he used foam - for instance in the space where there was no insulation, there was a chunk of wood missing out of part of the top board of the bottom plate, so he foamed that area with extra foam then he installed insulation. And Dave, after having you listen to this entire story, my question is this - do you think we should wipe down the bottom plate with a bleach solution where the mold had been on the drywall? It doesn't look especially dark, just looks like pt wood. Hi to Frances and next time you see Dan, please give him my regards - I'm always wondering what he's up to. By the way, I went on Amazon and got your 3 ebooks. In about a week I will go back on and give you some (well deserved) rave reviews! Hope your ebooks take off for you like a rocket!! Pat

Hi Pat,

I saw your situation many times around our area, being so humid most of the year. Yes, about 10% bleach; 90% water is a good solution to cleanup and prevent more mold. After cleaning it, you can dry the area well with a hair dryer. I'm glad Pete filled the void with the foam - which expands and fills the area well. I've seen the plate and studs just like black mush, which I had to remove and reinforce with new stuff. Try to caulk the outside where the water was coming in, when the weather cooperates. Sometimes these thing happen only during a strong windy rain coming from a different direction than normal.

Thanks for the interest in our books, looking forward to the reviews. Will give Dan your regards. I keep him busy on our website and now the 10 eBooks. Dan is involved in developing a website - for the past two years. He keeps pretty busy, which is good. Thanks for the good wishes.

All the best for you both,


Thanks Dave! I'm thinking that rain did not penetrate the wall, but it was condensation that formed in the space where the builder did not put any insulation. Since Pete's taken care of that, I think we will be OK now. Although we would LOVE to caulk that outside, we can't get to that seam because of the brick veneer. I felt pretty good about our situation after reading about the "black mush" you have encountered. I would have freaked out if we had found something like that!! LOL So glad our problem had not progressed to that point :) Another question popped up -- what do you use as weep hole inserts in the brick? We never thought about mice being able to get in through the weep holes... or snakes... I've seen a couple products on the web, but I'm just wondering what you might suggest. Live long and prosper my friend. Take care! Pat

We use the bottom part of the mortar joint in between the bricks, every few brick lengths, or so. If there is nothing there just drill a 3/8" hole, or less to fit the mortar joint. We usually don't screen the weep hole off. We just have garter snakes up here. There are little round metal/plastic vents that slide into a hole, but I don't think they come this small.


If you are reading this, Pat or Pete, how did you make out with the drip vents? Hope you both are doing well.

Dave & Dan

Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Deck 3: Deck Design

I built a backyard wood deck about 22" off the ground, off the back of our house. I didn't want to install handrails so I decided to install seats around the perimeter instead. This article is more about how to design a backyard wood deck than the structure of the deck. The structure is the same regardless of the height of the deck off the ground. A backyard wood deck still requires footings, posts, beams, joists and decking material. You can refer to the first article, Deck 1: Raised Backyard Wood Deck on how to construct a backyard wood deck.

Backyard Wood Deck

Photo of a backyard wood deck showing benches along sides and storage area underneath.

According to the building code, backyard decks lower than 24" from the ground do not require handrails around the deck. We don't want our guests to step off backwards either, so I put in seats around the perimeter of the deck. We've had many people sitting around chatting on our backyard deck.

Design Change

Where the herb box sits, I originally intended to build a set of deck stairs go down to the lower front of the house. I changed my mind, so the planter box filled in the gap nicely, and is quite functional.

Detail of backyard wood deck showing planter on edge of deck and gate into storage area under deck.

Deck Stairs

The steps coming off the backyard deck are very simple in their construction. I designed a box using treated 2x6s, ripped to the correct height of the first riser, less the treads. I attached another box on top of this one to provide support for the second step.

Photo of stairs on a backyard wood deck.

Deck Benches

The seats on the backyard deck are supported with 2x4 frames every 16" apart with 5/4 x4 rounded edged cedar decking material. These boards are a full 1" in thickness and are the same ones used for the deck surface itself. The boards are spaced 1/4" apart to allow rain water to pass through. I used the same boards for the skirt to keep wild critters out from under the backyard deck, as well as giving an aesthetically pleasing finish to the underside of the deck.

Photo of backyard wood deck showing the supports of the bench around the edge of the deck.

Deck Design Idea

An advantage of designing a deck like this yourself is adding extra options you may want. I always need storage space for construction materials, so I incorporated storage and an access under the deck, as shown below and in the top photo, as well.

Photo of the open gate into the storage area under the backyard wood deck.

I hope this article shows that designing a deck for your own use is not that difficult. Look at magazines and websites for articles and photos for various ideas to incorporate into your own design.

Almost the End

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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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