Building Confidence

Volume 21 Issue 8
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 We are into our 21st year putting out this Newsletter. Dan and I would not be able to do this without your input every month. Thank you and keep the questions coming!

Tips of the Month

Both the sill plate and the bottom plate of a house frame should be either pressure treated wood or bedded down on top of a sill gasket or both.

When siding a house of various levels, start at the lowest elevation of the house.

Ask Dave!

My customer wants me to wrap the 6x6 treated posts on the deck I just built. Looking to see if you have an easy way to do that. Looking to use 1x8 pine. Thanks

Here is a drawing of what I have done before. I prefer mitering the corners, rather than over lap them. Notice some type of base around the bottom using extra packing to bring it out further than the rest.

Drawing of a cladding post showing molding, raised panel, cladding, cap, cover and packing.

Molding always helps. The raised panel is simply the 1x8 trimmed down to fit. You could go either way, with a raised panel or inset it. The price is what determines how fancy your customer wants.


Could I use MDF to box in a post on a front porch if all edges are painted with oil based paint.

Personally, I would not use MDF outside, even if it is painted. Inside, yes, except in a bathroom with tub or shower. MDF absorbs moisture and swells to the point of crumbling away. If you lived in a desert with no rain or high humidity, maybe. MDF is a very nice product to work with, but not in areas of any humidity in the air or moisture contact. Paint would protect it for a year or two, but then, once installed the humidity will get in behind where you can't re-paint and make the MDF go mushy.

I won't even use plywood outside if exposed, due to delamination of the veneers.


Hi Dave, I need to reseal the bathtub, the part where the walls meet the bathtub. I have done this before but just wanted to check with your excellent skills ie what brand is best...etc..I have always filled the tub with water etc. Thanks.

Any one of the 100% Silicone out there is good. I prefer a white or off coloured silicon, since the clear usually has no mildew resistant stuff in it because it is used for aquariums, etc. Some of the tubes say Kitchen and Bath on them which is good. I also prefer the 300ml tube which requires a gun to apply it, easier control.

If you find you are messy with the caulking, a trick is to put painter's masking tape on the wall and on the tub, leaving a 1/4" gap between the two. This way you can use your wetted finger to smooth the silicon into place and pull up the tape right away, before the silicon starts to set. Smoothing the silicon into the intersection of the wall and tub is an important part of the procedure. The silicon will not adhere properly by just applying it from the tube. Besides the finger gives it the smooth edge.

When cutting the end of the tube, try to cut the smallest part off, just enough to get a wire or the small rod attached to the caulking gun down into the tube. Most people apply way too much caulking, then find themselves smoothing it all off with the finger. So apply the least amount you need to fill the 1/4" gap. Wetting the finger with water helps the silicon not stick to your finger.

Hope this helps,


Hello Dave, I live in a modest, story and a half house with no particular design style, other than some faux tudor beams in stucco on a portion of the second story. Stained cedar siding covers the rest of the house. I had a contractor take a look at the weathered boards and white window frame pictured in the attachment. I asked him to replace any damaged wood with more of the same cedar, then I'd have it painted. To the left of the window is additional damage: one split board and several boards with holes about 2 1/2 " in diameter. Bluebirds and starlings are nesting in them. He was willing to replace the damage with cedar but recommended replacing all of the cedar on this side of the house with vinyl or Hardie board. He said vinyl would eliminate the need for further maintenance in the future. My question is one of aesthetics: Should a house that was designed with cedar, stay with cedar? Or, when the cedar needs replacing, it's ok to transition to vinyl. Something inside me is saying stick with the cedar, despite having to paint it every 10 years, because I fear the aesthetics police may view the mixture of vinyl and cedar on the same house as being in poor taste. Or, if I continue to replace siding with vinyl, be guilty of destroying the original, rustic beauty of a house designed to fit in nicely with the deep woods surrounding it. As you might be able to see from the cat house picture, the entire house needs painting again, so this seems like a good time to either have it painted or re-sided. What would you do? Thanks, Dave... Trace

Hi Trace,

Where I live, on the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada, we have gradually changed from cedar to Hardie plank. In some municipalities, they have actually banned vinyl siding on their houses. Locally, cedar is the most expensive, then Hardie Plank and vinyl being priced the lowest.

It is a fallacy to think that vinyl is maintenance free. I built my house in 1992 and installed vinyl siding with cedar trim. See attached. Every year I need to power wash the siding to remove mold that is built up on the North and East sides of the house. Granted, when the power washing is finished the siding looks like new. I was told by a painter friend of mine to stain the cedar, when new, then in a couple of years or so when the sun has bleached the color, go ahead and paint it with a solid color, house paint. I did that and it continues to look good.

If I was doing it again, I would go with Hardie Plank. You need to have it painted before you install it, on the back, front and all edges. Then after it is installed apply a final coat of paint. Most Building Supply Stores can arrange to have it painted a number of stock colors, then deliver it to your home.

You don't need to replace all the cedar at the same time, you can choose to do a wall or two at a time, then next year do the same.

I prefer the Hardie siding with cedar trim over it, around windows and doors and on the corners, as shown in my photo.

Photo of Dave's self-built house.


That's a beautiful home, Dave! Thank you for the Hardie Board endorsement. Your explanation of how to proceed gives me a plan I can have confidence in. Trace

Thanks, Trace


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Tables 1: Rafter Tables

Rafter tables are commonly imprinted on the steel square (carpenter square, rafter square, framing square). I've revised it a bit to include angles of the side cuts for hip and valley and the jack rafters.

For info on how to use these tables see Rafter Tables on the Framing Square.

The angles shown are to be used with the popular compound miter or cutoff saws.

Common Rafter

The common rafter is one of a series of lineal structures extending from the fascia of the overhang to the top of an exterior wall to the ridge board of a roof. The angle given for a common rafter is called the plumb cut, since the ends are vertical or plumb. The plumb cut on a common rafter is at the ridge, the bird's mouth on the wall and at the fascia.

Roof Pitch:Length per Foot of RunAngle of Plumb Cut in Degrees
2 in 1212.169 1/2
3 in 1212.3714
4 in 1212.6518 1/2
5 in 1213.0022 1/2
6 in 1213.4226 1/2
7 in 1213.8930 1/4
8 in 1214.4233 3/4
9 in 1215.0037
10 in 1215.6239 3/4
11 in 1216.2842 1/2
12 in 1216.9745

Hip & Valley Rafter

The hip rafter is the structural board which forms the hip at an outside corner of the roof and is installed between 2 common rafters at the ridge. The valley rafter is the structural board which forms the valley at an inside corner of the roof. Both the hip and valley rafters form a 45 degree angle, compounded with the slope of the roof. The angle or plumb cut for a hip or valley rafter, given in our table, is taken from the rafter square based on the slope of the roof and diagonal. If the common rafter has a slope of 5" in 12", the hip or valley rafter has a slope of 5" in 17". 17" is the diagonal of a 12" square. The compound angle for the hip or valley rafter is the plumb cut, given in the table, and the degree on each side of this cut, on both ends, as In the table.

Roof Pitch in InchesLength per Foot of RunAngle of Side Cut in DegreesAngle of Plumb Cut in Degrees
2 in 1217.0944.96.7
3 in 1217.2344.610
4 in 1217.4444.213.2
5 in 1217.6943.816.4
6 in 1218.0043.319.4
7 in 1218.3642.722.4
8 in 1218.7642.225.2
9 in 1219.2141.527.9
10 in 1219.7040.730.5
11 in 1220.224032.9
12 in 1220.7837.135.2

Jack Rafter

There are two types of jack rafters: the hip jack and the valley jack. The hip jack is a short rafter that spans from the wall plate to a hip rafter. The valley jack goes from a valley rafter to the roof ridge. Each jack rafter has the same side cut and plumb cut on the hip or valley rafter and the same angle as the common rafter at the ridge or fascia. The side cut is the angle given in the table, the plumb cut is the same angle as in the table for the hip or valley rafter.

Roof Pitch in InchesDifference in Length on 16" CentersDifference in Length on 24" CentersAngle of Side Cut in Degrees
2 in 1216 1/424 5/1644.6
3 in 1216 1/224 3/444.1
4 in 1216 7/825 3/1643.5
5 in 1217 5/162642.7
6 in 1217 7/826 7/841.9
7 in 1218 1/227 7/840.8
8 in 1219 1/428 7/839.8
9 in 12203038.7
10 in 1220 7/831 1/437.4
11 in 1221 3/432 5/836.5
12 in 1222 5/83435.9


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