Monday, March 08, 2010

Choosing The Right Type Of Residential Doors-Entry Doors

There are many types of exterior and interior doors to choose from when building a house. These include the front entry door, back door, sliding and french patio doors, garage service doors, bedroom, bathroom, closet and pocket doors.

Entry Doors

Entry doors are often the focal point of a house. They are available in a variety of materials and styles. The most popular doors are made of steel or fiberglass. Wood entry doors are being used less often due to being susceptible to rot, seasonal movement, warpage and weathering. Wood exterior doors also need more maintenance than  steel or fiberglass doors.

Styles that were once available in wood can now be found in steel and fiberglass. Six panel doors are often the style chosen by most buyers. Fiberglass doors are made with simulated woodgrain and can often be mistaken for a wood door.

A front door can be made more attractive by adding a number of components to it. One item that can be added to an entry door to make it more elegant are sidelights. Transoms are often added above a front door.  These can be square windows, but more often can be in the form of a half round or an elipsce.

This is the first in a series of articles about residential doors. Next up, patio and back doors.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Homebuilding Lumber Checklist

Where do you start when figuring the lumber you need to build a house? For a lot of people doing a lumber takeoff from a blueprint could be a daunting task. By taking logical steps anyone with basic knowledge of how a house is built can make a lumber checklist.

The easiest way to figure lumber amounts to build a house is to start at the beginning. By this I mean figure the lumber in the order you would build it. Start with the sill plates and finish with the plywood on the roof.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Cost Of Building A Garage

I was recently ask by a friend to work up a cost estimate for a 24 x 30 garage. The estimate was for a high school and they wanted to determine if it was in their budget. The items I would have to price for the estimate would be, the concrete slab, building materials, carpentry labor and electrical. All of this would be done without the aid of a blueprint as that would bean unnecessary expense if it was found to be beyond their budget. Normally this is an easy thing to do, but I only had two days to get this all together.

My friend had already gotten a price for materials from one of the big box stores. This made my estimate easier and saved me a lot of time, but I still like to double check their list to make sure they did not miss anything. This materials list included:

-all the lumber to frame the walls
-plywood to sheet the walls and roof
-roof trusses
-vinyl siding
-aluminum soffit and fascia materials
-felt paper and shingles
-a service door and an overhead door

Based on my building experience and the number of garages I have built, I was able to come up with a labor figure to build the shell. It would include building the garage using all of the materials listed above. The school would also supply some volunteer labor for the project.

Using my contacts, I called a couple of concrete contractors to give an estimate on material and labor to pour a 24 x 30 concrete slab. Without a blueprint with the specs. the village would want, their estimate would be based on what is normal and usaul building practices. This included a thickened 12" x 24" slab around the perimeter, 4 thick floor reinforced with steel mesh, a curb, the floor sloped 3" back to front, and a 5' wide apron across the front of the garage. I called two contractors and they both got back to me in a day.

The electric was a tough one to determine. I was able to get in touch with only one electrical contractor. He had a hard time nailing down a figure for his work without seeing the project site.
The things that would determine his cost were, how far would he have to trench in the electric, How far away was the main electric panel, and how much room was available in that panel for additional circuits. After much debate I came up with a figure that should be close to what it would cost.

There are other costs that should be considered. First,there should be a blueprint. This will need to be submitted to the village for approval. The cost of drawing the blueprint will need to be figured in the budget. Secondly, if the project is a go, permits will have to be pulled with the village. There may also be the cost of a dumpster for construction waste.

This is a pretty basic construction project for someone familiar with the trades. There are variables to every situation but for anyone not familiar with a project this size this is basically a road map as to what needs to be done.

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Mike Merisko (C)2009

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hanging Drywall On Curved Walls

Recently, the question came up on how do you bend drywall around curved or radius walls. One might not have to apply drywall to a curved surface very often, but its good information to have when you do.

Depending on the size of the curve or radius that is being covered, will determine what thickness of drywall will be used. A radius of 2 foot or smaller may require multiple layers of 1/4" thick drywall. Normal residential drywall applications use 1/2" drywall to finish walls. In this case two layers of 1/4" would be used.

The trick is to get the drywall to bend. To do this the drywall needs to be wet. The best way I have found is to put water on the drywall is with a garden sprayer. The easiest way to control the bending of the drywall is to lay it in a form matching the radius of the wall, soffit, ceiling or whatever the application might be.

The last drywall bend I did I had the benefit of using the actual wall section to use as a form. It was an eight foot high wall, framed to a three foot radius. Only one side of the wall was being covered, the inside radius. We decided to cover the radius with one layer of 1/4" plywood and one layer of 1/4" drywall to match the 1/2" on the straight walls.

We laid the wall framing inside radius down, on the floor. The overall length of the radius was just under eight feet. We laid two sheets face down over our form. We then started spraying the back side of the drywall with water. As we applied the water, the drywall started bending immediately. It didn't take very much water or time to get the ends of the drywall to droop down and touch the form.

We let the dampened drywall lay on the form overnight to dry. The next day when we lifted the drywall from the form, it kept the shape of the radius. When it came time to glue and screw the drywall to the curved framing, it fit like a glove with very little if any stress to the material.

Its not very often that one gets to hang drywall on a curved wall, but with a little knowledge, you'll look like a professional.

Mike Merisko (C)2008

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Installing Vinyl Siding

Of all the available exterior finishes, vinyl siding is probably the easiest to install. By following a few basic rules to the installation of vinyl siding, almost anyone can do it.

The first rule is to start out level and straight. The starter strip that holds the first course of siding must be installed level and straight. This helps insure that the following courses are also level and straight. It also helps if other siding accessories are also installed properly. Outside corners must be installed plumb and straight. Inside corners, undersill and j-channel accessories must also be correctly nailed in place.

The second rule is to NOT nail the vinyl siding tight to the wall. Because vinyl siding expands and contracts with variations in temperature, it must be allowed to move. Vinyl siding has a nailing strip with slots for nailing. Nails must be placed in the center of these slots. The nails must also not be nailed home. The nail head must be driven about an eighth of an inch short of the nailing strip. After nailing the siding must be able to slide to the left and right.

The third rule is to cut the siding to the proper length. Vinyl siding must not fit tight in corners or J-channels. Again this is to allow movement for temperature change. In cold weather, siding must be cut 3/8 inch short of the insides of corners and J-channels. In warm weather this measurement is 1/4 inch. When siding ends lap in a course, the siding must overlap a minimum of 3/4 of an inch.

By following the three basic rules one can have a professional looking vinyl siding installation job. It should look straight and level and be free of waves and "oil canning".

Mike Merisko (C)2008
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Solar Power Solutions At Home

With energy sources depleting at a rate faster than they are being built, it is only wise that we use the abundant energy available for free – the solar energy. Apart from the easy availability, solar energy helps control environmental pollution. Most of us shy away from installing solar power solutions at home thinking them to be expensive and cumbersome. You will, however, be surprised to know how easy it is to employ these power solutions. Moreover, these will help cut down your power bills. Finally, you will be delighted to know tat you are doing your bit to save power for the future generations.

This article will explore the various solar power options available for home use.

Solar cooker: A solar cooker is a cooking utensil that uses absolutely no fuel for cooking. You can cook food for up to five people in the small box. If you are thinking that using a solar cooker will reduce your chances of spreading up a varied platter on the dining table, you will be surprised to know that you can not only boil food items in the cooker but also roast and bake! The only limitation with the solar cooker is the time it takes to cook. However, given the free source of energy it uses, this is a great option for cutting down those sky-rocketing bills and saving some power.

Solar home lighting: A solar home lighting system converts solar energy into electrical energy for your home. This is done via cells that are charged with solar energy. So, in the night, if you wonder how the lights are on in the house, it is because of the solar energy stored in the solar cells. You can install the solar home lighting system in your house and not worry about the electricity bills anymore.

Solar heating system: Installing a solar heating system in your home helps cutting down your electricity bill along with saving the world’s quickly-exhausting power. If you are worried that a solar heating system will turn your sweet home into a gadget house or that it will be an expensive investment, your concerns are misplaced. Companies providing solar power solutions for homes make it a point to install aesthetically-pleasing heating systems in your house. As per as expenditure is concerned, investing in a solar heating system is wise because you get a return on your investment within 3-4 years, giving you absolutely free service after that.

Make power at home with solar and wind energy to eliminate your power bill. Get our complete guide at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What Nails To Use To Build A House

What nails do you use to build a house? There are not that many different kinds of nails that are used to construct a home. The two most used nails to rough in a house are the 8 penny and 16 penny nail (8d and 16d).

Eight penny nails are used to nail down plywood or OSB (oriented strand board). This includes the sheet goods for the deck, the walls and the roof. Each sheet of plywood or OSB will take at least 80 nails to nail it down. A 2000 square foot house will use about 5,000 8d nails just for the plywood floors.

Sixteen penny nails are used to nail the homes framing members. These nails connect the joists to the sill plates and rim joists, top and bottom plates to studs,ceiling joists to top plates and rafters to top plates, ceiling joists and ridge board. Sixteen penny nails are also used to build headers and fly rafters. These nails also get used to nail wall bracing in place till other components like second floors, ceiling joists and rafters are nailed in place.

Other nails that play a part in building a house are 4d nails for cross bridging, cap nails for foam sheathing, roofing nails for shingles and galvinized splitless nails for wood siding. Depending on other finishes there are still other nails that are used, but the ones mentioned here are the ones used the most.

Mike Merisko(C)2008