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March 7, 2010
One faux wall

There is a six-inch gap between the middle landing of the stairs (right) and the wall of the alcove (left). This space needs to be covered by building a faux (false) wall.

On Friday, March 5, Russell drove up to our mountain home construction site for the third weekend in a row. Unlike the previous two weekends, he was not joined by Gail, and the weather was not rainy. Instead he was joined by Dirk, who drove up early Friday morning, and Steve, who drove up Friday afternoon (Russell was actually the last to arrive).

Dirk spent two days continuing his wiring work before departing Saturday evening. His current task is to install non-powered “media wires” throughout the house, including Internet and phone lines. Unfortunately, this means having to remove a lot of the insulation and drywall that Gail has installed, as well as drilling into a lot of joists and studs.

One of Dirk’s many ingenious devices is this long, flexible drill bit (several feet long) that can be used to drill into difficult-to-access places (Dirk uses it to drill through multiple joists/studs in succession)

As usual, Dirk has put together a detailed plan after consulting with Gail and Russell.

As usual, Dirk was also overly optimistic in his time calculations. He will need at least one more trip up here. Fortunately (for us), that gives Gail at least one more opportunity to pull him into other odd jobs suitable for a renaissance do-it-yourselfer.

Dirk at work – in this case, at the center chase downstairs

Steve worked outside for the entire weekend. He was finally able to get a burn pile going on Friday evening, which kept him outside until 9:00 pm. He was able to get one more pile going on Saturday before the fog and humidity reached the point that the wood would no longer stay lit. After Dirk departed on Saturday evening, Steve and Russell were finally able to watch the season six opening of “Lost.”

Steve eats his dinner while tending to an after-dark burn pile

Russell’s task for the weekend involved the stairs once again. Our stair plans call for a six-inch gap between the middle landing and the actual wall of the stair alcove. This is due to the way the treads and landings measured out, as well as the need for the upper flight to clear a glu-lam beam.

Dirk had suggested that we install a six-inch deep bookcase in this space, but Gail viewed that as “one more thing to dust.” Instead, Russell decided to install a faux wall from the middle stair landing all the way up to the second-story floor.

Another decision point was what to do about the open space on the far side of the third (highest) stair flight, which runs parallel to the faux wall. The original idea was to keep that space open for additional air and light. However, our building inspector informed us that we would need to install another stair railing if we did that. After looking at the structure from all angles, Gail decided that the potential for open space was not enough to worry about. “Go ahead and cover it up,” she decided.

We debated about whether to keep this open space in the upper stair flight; it would require an extra railing. “Go ahead and cover it up,” Gail decided.

Russell’s main challenge was to construct the faux wall so it could be drywalled seamlessly behind the upper flight and across the landing. He ended up using a piece of OSB plywood, to give the drywall something to attach to on both sides. The project took all weekend, but it is now ready for drywall. (But he did make the space a little too tight, so we will have to use 1/4” drywall instead of the usual 1/2”.)

The building of the faux wall:

  1. The six-inch gap.
  2. A stud frame is built next to the landing. In addition, mini cross-joists are installed to support a new double-joist at the edge of the second-story floor.
  3. The new double-joist is hung. Russell learned from his previous experiences that this must to be a double joist and it must be secured with joist hangers.
  4. OSB plywood is installed vertically to cover the gap next to the stair flight. Ultimately, drywall will be attached to either side of this OSB. (Note also the OSB scraps installed over the landing studs – this will enable the finished drywall to be uniform across the flight and landing.)
  5. Finally, OSB plywood is installed horizontally to create a new second-floor sub-floor.

Russell has now reached the point in stair construction where the next step is to begin the finished wood work. We are still trying to figure out if we can re-use the wood from Gail’s salvaged oak stairs. It may be a while before the next step actually begins.

We also carried in five doors that Gail had picked up on craigslist.
During a break, Russell hung one of the doors in the upstairs hall bathroom.


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