Podcast 226: Framing Details, Fasteners Sizes, and Fire Safety
Patrick, Kiley, and Matt answer questions about how to frame a roof with I-joists, a confusing code requirement for framing nails, and how different types of floor joists hold up in a fire.
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The FHB editors start off the episode with listener feedback about cutting concrete and remodeling big houses before they each share their personal experiences with home wiring projects. Matt points out that 3 out of 4 of this week’s emails include I-joists: one debating whether or not a solid joist would be more fire-safe than an I-joist, one asking if it’s OK to use thinner framing nails than specified in the code (gun nails are a few thousandths of an inch thinner than the common nails the code was based on), and one asking for details to build and air-seal a vented roof framed with I-joists. The last email questions the logic of referencing national climate-zone maps when choosing construction details.
Listener feedback #1
Eldon from Carbondale, IL writes, Guys, Fun podcast. Listen every week. Seriously why would you cut a hole in a concrete block wall with a saw? A hammer of most any size will work just fine. Just hit the blocks to be removed anywhere between the webs and it will breakup easily. No dust. Add a masonry chisel to clean up the edges and remove mortar. Insert new blocks if the hole needs to be closed up.
Listener feedback #2
Nelson from Winnipeg, MB writes, Hello, First off, thanks so much for entertaining my question about tearing apart the house chasing potential water damage (podcast #206). Update: I opened up the wall as part of my kitchen reno, and discovered that there is in fact no insulation, and mostly just water staining. I think I will forego further exploration, and I have a quote to blow in dense packed cellulose in the cavities.
However, the main reason for my email is to share my thoughts on the 9000 ft2 deep energy retrofit. At a fundamental level I think a house that huge is somewhat immoral. But as you have also called for more design questions for Kylie, I wonder if we could redirect the conversation to the design realm, rather than retrofit. In my own experience (and according to current psychological research), the best way to make good decisions (in life and everything else), is to remove as much friction as possible that prevents those good choices. In that light, it strikes me that problematic building practices also fall into this category – including energy efficiency, house size, functional layout, etc. I have seen some monstrous, brand new houses that I think are a. grossly oversized, but b. not well designed and not very pleasant to be in.
The question is this: what are important design principles to think about to reign in our temptations? How do we decide how much space will be functional and satisfying, but not more than we need? How do we make more restrained design more attractive to the masses?
I look forward to your conversation!
Listener feedback #3
Kevin writes, Hey FHB Podcast Team, Longtime listener here, I’m a huge fan of the podcast. Listening to your remodeling problems really helps me cope with mine. After listening to your podcast while mowing the lawn, my wife always asks me how my “therapy session” went. I normally just curse about someone tiling in a dishwasher or an orphaned water heater. I’m sure it’s just incoherent babbling to her, but she doesn’t have to feign interest in waterproofing details, so on behalf of my wife, keep up the good work.
I was listening to Matt’s light saga on episode 216. As much as I love cutting out plaster and steel lathe and fishing wire through vermiculite filled wall cavities, once I discovered the GREENCYCLE Smart Wireless Wall Light Switch, I stopped doing it. It’s just a rocker switch that you can stick on the wall that controls a wireless receiver relay that you can mount in your ceiling light junction box. You can have one switch control 2 relays, so Matt could replace his existing receptacle switch with a relay and turn on all of the lights with one switch. I have 3 installed at my house and they have never missed a signal.
They are cheap enough and quick enough to install that I would give it a shot before cutting apart the storage platforms in the attic. Here’s a link to it on Amazon.
Matt’s light fixture
Kiley’s light fixture
Patrick’s light fixture
Question 1: Would framing made of dimensional lumber hold up longer than I-joists in a house fire?
Mikee from Silicon Valley writes, Hello FHB Podcast Team, I love your show and the fantastic discussion on general building and high performance homes (air seal air seal air seal!) coupled with wildly entertaining social interactions!
I’d appreciate any thoughts on the selection of I-Joists/Trusses vs. dimensional lumber for new construction, given how framing fares in a fire.
This news clip is a good example and I’ve heard similar comments from architects/firefighters out here.
I can see that I-Joists/Trusses certainly offer design and time/cost benefits given higher building costs out here but in a fire situation, however rare it may be, dimensional lumber hardiness seems pretty compelling, and potentially may offer greater safety for firefighters themselves. Then again, maybe a fire situation would probably be catastrophic for both occupants/structure if the fire burns long enough to compromise the framing and structural integrity?
Question 2: Are the nails in my framing gun too narrow to meet code?
Bill from Colorado writes, Hi folks, I enjoy the podcast. Keep up the good work.
I’m planning on using I Joists in my cabin project. The Fastening specification says that I need to use .135 X 3 1/2 inch nails for the plate nail. (See fastening guide below)
My question: .135 nails are not commonly available, especially in that length.
I note that .131 nails are commonly available, as are .162 nails.
So, can I get away with .131 nails? If not, can I use the bigger (.162 nails) with no problem?
Thanks for your help?
Question 3: Can you recommend construction details for a vented roof framed with I joists as rafters?
Ben from Iowa writes, Hi FHB folks!
Thanks for all of the insight that you all deliver weekly in a form that many of us trades people can consume while working! I am in the process of building a new workshop and have a couple questions.
First I have chosen a monoslope/ shed roof and in order to clear span 22’ I decided to enlist wooden i joists as rafters, which Justin talked about several time in the early days of this podcast. My first question is how to vent this roof, if I should, would you tuck vents into the eaves on the to and bottom, and use foam to create the channel the entire way? I thought in this case I would do a layer of foam that returned to the eaves and fluffy insulation behind that.
My second question is, in a vented roof assembly where is the air barrier? I have read a lot of people online suggesting plywood or osb sheathing with taped seams as an air barrier, but if the roof is vented below this then that can’t be an air barrier, right?!
My third question is about a wood stove chimney. I intend to use ag panels as roofing, hoping to keep the snow load minimal, and being in rural Iowa the aesthetic will fit. But It seems like sealing a boot for a chimney may be difficult on metal roofing, so should I go for a less efficient, through wall assembly?
Question 4: Does it really make sense to design and build houses based on the national climate zone map?
Joe writes, Hey FHB Crew, I had a thought that might make a good topic for discussion… There have been several small discussions on the show regarding climate change (in the immortal words of Brian: “science.”). But there is much more discussion regarding building climate-specific homes as well as building homes designed to last hundreds of years. Am I the only one who thinks that to build a home that lasts hundreds of years in a world with a changing climate one must build in a way which is suitable for any climate? This also leads into the climate zone map that Building Science Corp is so fond of, but which I myself find a degradation. Someone looking at that map would think that Big Bear, CA is obviously in a hot dry climate, because microclimates are not taken into account.
California alone has 16 separate microclimates, which are established in state building codes. Building a home for a hot dry climate in Big Bear would be akin to building a house out of dirt in Seattle. Thoughts?
From Carol: Stars of HGTV’s ‘Windy City Rehab’ Sued for Fraud.
Show co-host Donovan Eckhardt is also being sued by his subcontractor for missed payments.
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