Fast, Accurate Floor Sheathing
Working together, a four-person crew finishes a subfloor in an hour.
Synopsis: North Carolina builder Danny Kelly has figured out a way to install a subfloor on an average-size house in about an hour. With a four-person crew, two carpenters move and cut panels, and two place and nail the sheets to the joists. This article provides step-by-step instructions for both teams, as well as a list of dos and don’ts to follow. A key time-saving technique that Kelly’s crews follow is letting panels overhang the band joist until all of them are in place. They can then be cut flush with the band joist. Likewise, Kelly recommends cutting in place odd-sized panels such as the ones around a crawlspace opening. A sidebar by Massachusetts builder Brian McCarthy explains how to install a new subfloor in an old house that’s out of square.
As a carpenter turned general contractor, I’m always happy when we start installing the subfloor on the first level of a new house. Floor sheathing means that we can finally stop slogging around in the mud and will soon have a nice level surface for setting up tools and ladders. Sheathing a floor like the 1800-sq.-ft. one shown here can take all day with an inexperienced crew, but the guys I work with were able to bang out this floor in a little under an hour.
On most houses, the longest exterior wall perpendicular to the floor joists is the place to start sheathing a floor. With a four person crew, two carpenters move and cut panels, and two place and nail the sheets to the joists.
We cut the sheets to length after they’ve been nailed in place; this is faster and eliminates layout and measuring mistakes. We’re careful to cut floor sheathing flush with the band joist. Otherwise, overhanging pieces will…