Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Drip Cap....The Devil is in the Details

We installed the vinyl drip cap just in time for it to snow.  I was hoping for rain so we could test drive the drip cap (you don't have to shovel rain) and rain has never knocked down my mail box when the county snow plow has gone by the house.

Yesterday (Tuesday) we worked on shingle installation above the drip cap until it was dark.  So dark that when I tried to take a photo I had to use my flash but when I used the flash it reflected off the foil on the insulation and resulted in a photo that looked like someone was shining a flashlight at the camera.  I did get a 'after' drip cap install photo but not an after shingle install photo.
We cut the drip cap to the same length as the width of the top of the window trim.  The drip cap is then nailed onto the top of the trim.  We used our pneumatic nailer and made sure to angle the gun towards the house so that the nail would not come through the front of the trim.

The shingles rest  on top of the drip cap like this or you can install the under shingle on top of the little raised area and then the top shingle like what is shown in the photo.  I installed both shingles in front of the raised area because that is how the original drip cap was installed on this house.  6 of one half dozen of another.
There is actually a double row of shingles on the drip cap.  The under shingle is just the thin top part of a shingle.  The top shingle is a full size shingle.
The drip cap has a groove on the bottom.  This groove is there so that it breaks the surface tension and the drip doesn't wick around the edge and then behind the trim and window.  You will find these drip breaks under some window sills if the sill doesn't have enough of a slope to readily shed water.  FYI our new windows and our old windows have quite a slope so that isn't a problem.
Before we shingled we also needed to fill in the area above the window with rigid foam insulation. We cut a piece to fit and nailed it in place using a long nail and a fender washer.  You can buy speciality nails that have a plastic washer already attached.  The smallest container was $6.98 for 1 lb which was about about 30 pieces.

I needed maybe 8...10 at the most.  So I bought a small package of fender washers at 6 pieces for 98 cents.  I sprung for two packages and made my own .

After nailing the insulation in place we taped all the seams with a special wide foil tape that they sell to eliminate any air infiltration between sheets of insulation.  The original rigid foam install did not use tape, so as we come across seams we will tape them.  Cost $21.78.

Here is the after drip cap install but before shingle install.  Not only does the drip cap serve a preventive purpose but it also adds just a tiny bit more of detail to the window trim. Which reminds me that..... The devil is in the details


Devil is in the details 

The idiom the devil is in the details means that mistakes are usually made in the small details of a project. Usually it is a caution to pay attention to avoid failure.
An older, and slightly more common, phrase God is in the detail means that attention paid to small things has big rewards, or that details are important.
The devil version of the idiom is a variation on the God phrase, though the exact origin of both is uncertain.
So in a nutshell...if you do not install the small detail of a drip cap above your window trim you will find yourself down the road with a bigger problem of rotted windows and window trim.
 Notice the insulation installed above the window in the photo above.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cedar Shingles

Some people like cedar shingles and others don't.  They are not everyone's cup of tea.  I love the look but it is a tedious and slow procedure when it comes to installing them.  We are a lot faster now than when we first started reshingling our home but fast we are not.

But today was ssssllllloooooooooow going.  Why?  Because every shingle in this bundle was cut crooked.  Not one of them was square.  It's important to have the shingles butt up against each other without a gap.  Even if you immediately prime and paint, the shingle will still shrink as it dries out. If you start with a gap and then the shingle shrinks, you will have a Donald Trump size huuuuuuuge gap.

Installing cedar shingles does not require a lot of expensive tools.  You will probably already have these tools somewhere in your tool arsenal.  Chop saw or miter saw, hammer, sand paper, level, square, pencil, lots and lots of shingle nails (not roof nails), ladder, tape measure, maybe even a small hand plane to fine tune the edge of the shingle, scrap length of board to use as a ledge, tweezers for pulling out slivers in your fingers (no lie, I have one right now that is bugging the heck out of me), and lots and lots of patience.

Shingles can be installed with various exposures.  Our house has a shingle exposure of 10 inches and we stayed with that. I've noticed that houses with wider shingles tend to have the larger exposures and those that use just the smaller width shingles have the narrower smaller exposures.  This might just be my personal opinion but wider shingles and larger exposures look more casual than the smaller shingles.  Our house is a Cape Cod style home which is more casual than say a Victorian.

It is important that your rows are level.  We've tried several methods and have found that the easiest method is to nail a ledger board to the house.  We use a thin nail at each end of the board and do not drive the nail completely into the wood.  Drive the nail just enough to secure the board.  After placing your board at the correct location, drive in one nail.  Then place a long level on the board to insure that your ledger board is indeed level and then drive in a nail at the other end.
If you use various width shingles make sure you do not develope a pattern.  You want the shingles to look like they are random without a pattern.  Sometimes it is easy to grab those wide shingles because you can cover more ground with a wide shingle but I have found that a bundle of shingles will have maybe 6 really wide shingles with the vast majority of the shingles being 5 inches wide.  Try to use those wide shingles wisely.  Also keep your edges staggered so that one shingle's edge does not line up exactly with the edge of the shingle below it.  Allow at least an inch overlap and I always try my best to get two inches.

You will also find some damaged shingles in every bundle.  I like to sort my shingles by width when I open a new bundle.  I set aside split or broken shingles for those spots where I need a narrow shingle.  Why cut down a perfectly good shingle when you can use an imperfect shingle to cut down to size.

There is also the paint or not to paint question.  I love a weathered grey look but I have found that I do not have the patience to wait the decades for that even grey weathered look.  In my experience I found that my shingles were streaky brown and black, and not grey.  I also love the look of new cedar but that color doesn't last for very long.  So painting the shingles was a no brainer for us.  We chose a very good primer (1 coat) and use a satin sheen exterior paint which I apply in two coats.  I would stay away from semi or high gloss and use those sheens for the trim and doors.

Cedar shingles have a texture both from the grain and the saw blade used to cut them.  This is part of their charm.  If you want smooth then maybe a clapboard would work better for you.  I like the texture of the shingle up against the smooth trim painted in semi gloss.  I think it makes the trim look even more crisp.
You can see how much the shingles that are already painted have shrunk over the winter.  They are just 8 months old and already have a larger gap than the newly installed shingles.  Also, I do not know why those shingles on the bottom look like they are loose but they are not.  It's just the angle of the sun and the texture of the shingle.

Today was great weather for working outdoors.  We had quite the wind storm last night and it brought down a lot of small limbs and larger broken limbs that have been hanging out in the tops of our trees since the ice storm two years ago.  Tomorrow is forecasted to be about 20 degrees cooler with rain in the forecast for Wednesday.  We want to have at least two rows installed above the windows before the rain comes.  It's not realistic to think that we can finish this entire side of the house in the next three days.  The front of the house has about 1 hour of work left before it is finished.  R actually has already cut the top row of shingles but they are not nailed in place (just tucked under the fascia board) because he couldn't find the drip cap and the drip cap needs to be installed first.  I had placed the drip caps in the living room so that the window guys wouldn't have to step around them.
You may have noticed that we haven't installed the final row under the sill.  This is because we need to wait until the window boxes arrive.  When we get ready to install the window boxes we can determine if we need to add a wedge behind the window box or if a shingle will work.  Since a shingle is thicker at the bottom, depending on where the bottom of the shingle is located on the back of the window box it will either tilt the window box out at the bottom or keep the window box straight up and down.

Tomorrow I'll fill you in on where I buy my window boxes.  They are also made out of cedar. The window boxes that we already have are 10 years old and still in perfect condition.  We have been very happy with them.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Correct Style of Window....

......makes all the difference.
I'll write a more detailed post when my mother gets out of the hospital and into rehab.  She's back in the hospital with an infection in her lung, bladder, and kidneys.  Looks like the infection started in the area of her chest tube after her lung surgery.  She is on the mend but at 82 it takes a little longer.

Until then JUST LOOK AT THESE WINDOWS!!!  They look correct and like they have been there all along.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Update Post

I have been busy with my mother's health problems.  She's 82 and a former smoker who quit during the 1980's.  A tumor was detected during a yearly physical. They attempted surgery but once the surgeon got inside with the camera he saw that the tumor was position on the branch that connected all three lobes.  Her breathing is such that if he took the entire lung it would have left her with a lung that only has 45% so he took biopies and some nodes and sewed her back up.

Since she is 82 years old the pain meds really kicked her butt mentally.  She was a handful in the hospital.  They were so good with her.  She has since sent notes to U of M (University of Michigan) Hospital naming all the staff and how wonderful they were to her.  We laugh about it now, but oh my gosh she was like an 82 year old toddler during the terrible twos.  I guess she had the terrible eighty twos.  She left the hospital after 7 days.

It has been one appointment after another but we are now down to her radiation prep appointment this week.  She has decided on just radiation because the nodes came back negative and at her age chemo would just be too much for her to handle.

So there really hasn't been much time to work on the house.  R has been busy running all my errands and catching up on basic maintenance of equipment and such.  But the big news is that the windows will be delivered on Friday and installed the following Monday or Tuesday.  The sooner that those non original windows are gone, the better.  I ordered the solid vinyl drip cap that we have been installing as we reshingle.  R has to pick that up at the Home Depot in Fenton because our Home Depot was out of stock.
So that is where we are at currently.  The good news is that we haven't had to endure the snowfall totals that we had the last two years.  I couldn't do a third year of that kind of snow.  What snow we do get comes in spurts of 3 inches or less and then quickly melts.

I'm off to sleep so I can dream about great windows replacing ugly windows.......double hung, true divided lites, wood sashes, wide casings.....ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh