Patrick's Barn: Siding Is Just Around the Corner - Fine Homebuilding

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Editor's Notepad

Editor's Notepad


Patrick's Barn: Siding Is Just Around the Corner

comments (5) December 6th, 2011 in Blogs
patrick_mccombe Patrick McCombe, Associate editor

Ive been trying real hard to prevent barn building from becoming an excuse to buy new tools and gear, but seeing the need for this new 32-ft. extension ladder ($300) wasnt a stretch. I could have used it months ago, but I finally decided I couldnt do vertical siding without it. 
If youve never used a pro-duty foam gun, you really owe yourself the pleasure. It lays down a precise bead that you can dial down to about 1/8 in. when necessary. It made sealing between the polyiso insulation and girts relatively easy and fast. I plan to be equally fastideous about air-sealing the second and third layers of foam. 
Despite having a shiny new ladder to play on, I opted for a different approach on the front side of the barn. Our trusty 99 Chevy Tracker finally bought the farm, but it makes an ideal low-budget man lift. Two neighbors offered extension ladders when they saw my rig. I had to tell them I already had one but preferred the extra working space on top of our compact SUV.
My wife, who could be described as a building-science wonk, learned that cooking spray prevents a build-up of foam on a foam gun nozzle and prevents dislodging foam as you move the nozzle in and out of cracks and holes. This is why our nearly 10-year-old foam gun still looks and works like new.
This is the front elevation with insulation and felt paper. I still need to frame above the carriage door opening on the lean-to side of the barn. Presently, Im out of lumber, but Im hoping Ill have enough once I disassemble the infeed and outfeed table I built for milling siding. 
This is the front elevation with the north side showing. We opted for the two large windows on the north side because they provide the most consistent light, which is an important consideration for my wifes artists space.
This is the back, which faces our home. The barn provides us with a lot more privacy, and it creates a natural courtyard. Eventually, we hope to put a deck and porch roof on this elevation for a better outdoor entertaining space and a possible outdoor kitchen.
Ive been trying real hard to prevent barn building from becoming an excuse to buy new tools and gear, but seeing the need for this new 32-ft. extension ladder ($300) wasnt a stretch. I could have used it months ago, but I finally decided I couldnt do vertical siding without it. Click To Enlarge

I've been trying real hard to prevent barn building from becoming an excuse to buy new tools and gear, but seeing the need for this new 32-ft. extension ladder ($300) wasn't a stretch. I could have used it months ago, but I finally decided I couldn't do vertical siding without it. 

Photo: Carol Collins

With unseasonably great weather the end of last week, I used a pair of vacation days to work on the barn. It's amazing how much work you can get done in a four-day weekend. I started on Thursday by installing foam between the girts and covering the girts and foam with a layer of #30 felt paper. This work continued on Friday. By the end of the day Friday, with my wife's help, we had felt and two layers of foam on everything but the gable ends.

I put felt on one of the gables Saturday and on the other on Sunday. Even with the advantages of modern housewrap, including 9-ft.-wide rolls and great tear resistance, I'm a huge fan of felt. Unlike plastic housewrap, felt's vapor permeability increases as it gets wet, which boosts drying potential when you need it.     

There was a big rush to get the insulation covered because as I learned from one of the reader comments in my last post, polyiso insulation should not get wet, as it takes forever to dry and starts deteriorating quickly with prolonged exposure to water. The reader who supplied this important information is Dyami Plotke, whose family business, Roof Services, is commercial roofing, so he knows what he's talking about. Coincidentally, Roof Services recently completed the garage roof on Fine Homebuilding's Project House.

I've been cutting the foam to width on the tablesaw. The stuff cuts like butter, but it leaves a lot of airborne fiberglass fibers from the facing. Nailing the panels to the building stirs up the fibers too, so for both tasks I've been wearing a HEPA respirator at all times. 

Despite the progress, there's still a lot of work to do, but we're getting close to my original goal of having the building dried-in by winter. If I can get the back door installed and the openings in the shed-roof lean-to buttoned up, we'll be golden.

You can read more about my barn here.


posted in: Blogs, patrick's barn

Comments (5)

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: Thanks for the feedback Doc. I believe my gun was the forerunner to the Dow Pro 14, but it's essentially the same tool.

As far as taking care of it:
I always spray the tip and nozzle with som Pam before use and when I start to notice the dispensed form is sticking to the end. Periodically (once or twice a day with heavy use) I gently scrape the tip clean with a utility knife.

The most important thing is to always keep a can on the gun. Most recently, I left a can on there for more than a year. The gun was fine, but the foam wouldn't hold it's shape once dispensed, so I tossed the can. When I read the instructions, it said to use up foam within 30 days.
Posted: 10:58 am on December 19th

doctoratomo doctoratomo writes: Thanks for the tip on the Pro Foam Dispensing gun. It looks like a great tool! I didn't even know they made them. After reading your article I did some research on them. Which one are you using, is it the Dow Pro 14? Can you give any detailed maintenance tips? How long can you leave a can on without it clogging the gun? Thanks!






Posted: 10:06 pm on December 16th

res res writes: I'm a DIY guy so materials vs labor helps me understand what is involved in such a project. I'm thinking of a similar Berg barn build soon.
Posted: 11:37 am on December 12th

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: I was planning to, Res and thanks for your comment and interest. However, I'm expecting this to be a multi-step project, so "done" is somewhat of a moving target. Once the barn is weather tight, we'll move inside for aditional insulation and mechanicals.

In the spring, we'll likely start with the rain garden that we agreed to build as part of the town's wetlands permit. The barn is in the "buffer" area of a small stream, so a storm water management plan is part of the permitting process.

If we have enough cash remaining, we'll build a deck and porch roof on the back of the building after that.

This is strictly a cash project; we haven't borrowed any money and we don't plan to. Although, I'm planning to seek refinacing for our home mortgage to get a lower rate, once we have the additional equity of the barn. The barn will have to be completed to the degree that it's an asset to the property and not a liability, as I suspect it is now.

Would you be interested in what it has cost so far? Anybody else curious how much we've spent?
Posted: 8:46 am on December 9th

res res writes: Will you be doing a detailed total materials/serivce cost analysis after it's done?
Posted: 8:15 am on December 9th

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