The only work that we hired out for this project was the rough-in plumbing for the bathroom. I did not want to risk doing all of the tile work only to find out there is a leak in the floor or wall due to a bad copper or PVC connection. The photo below shows the rough-in for the double vanity. We made sure to get at least 2" of solid insulation board behind all of the pipes as this bathroom was along an exterior wall.... Otherwise the pipes will most likely freeze in the winter. Also you will notice the stack vent for the sink had to be routed in such a way that did not interfere with the mirror locations.
We framed the wall such that there would be one long ledge aligned with the window sill. The bottom framing is 2x6's while the top is 2x3's. This allowed us the space we needed for the vanity drain pipes and mounting area for the wall-mounted faucets. (above)
We bought three countertop brackets from countertopbracket.com for the granite top and floating vanity. We spaced our studs to align with where the brackets needed to meet the countertop. We decided to put the outlets underneath the countertop in the drawer area of the vanity. We didn't want to see an outlet on the tile backsplash. (above)
The new toilet is in a different location than the existing so there was some new piping that needed to be added to slope back to the stack under the floor. We also replaced the case iron stack vent. (above)
This is the framing I did for the shower / toilet wall. We added a niche above the toilet and additional 2x6 blocking at the base of the shower for additional support. (above)
For the tile substrate we used a Kerdi waterproof membrane over cement board. Here is a photo of the vanity with the membrane complete. Unfortunately I didn't take a photo of the cement board without the membrane. The hardest part about installing the membrane was that the mortar would dry fast so you had to be quick about troweling the mortar on the cement board and then applying the membrane. You will also see the pipe penetrations had kerdi membrane pipe seals with rubber gaskets. I'm a huge fane of the kerdi system. All of the tile backer materials and supplies were kerdi products bought from a local tile distributor.
This is the shower area with the sloped kerdi shower base. The shower is 72" wide and will slope to a tilable (is that a word?) linear drain. The drain is called Kerdi-Line.
Here is a photo of the drain we bought.
The niche above the toilet (above) for indoor plants and extra storage.
One of the best products in the tile industry: the kerdi membrane!
We went through numerous design iterations for the 3rd floor bathroom. Below is the floor plan and elevations for the final design.
The design features 8" hex tile, a toto toilet, a 72" kerdi-line drain, a honed granite integral dual basin sink on a floating spalted maple wood vanity and built-in birch linen cabinets.
We decided to use what's known as the "Cut-n-Cobble" method for insulating our attic ceiling. The Cut-n-Cobble method is an insulation technique where you cut strips of rigid foam boards to fit in-between your roof rafters or wall studs and fills the gaps between the boards and the rafters/studs with spray can insulation. Ideally, there would be a 1/2" - 1" gap between the boards and the wood to fit a spray nozzle to fill the gaps. There a few reasons why we chose to insulate our roof / attic ceiling this way. Perhaps the most important reason is that it was less than half the cost of doing spray foam. We spent some time reaching calculating the cost of doing spray foam vs. cut-and-cobble method, ultimately we decided to save the money and do the work ourselves (with spray foam there was no way we could do this ourselves--although i definitely looked into it!) Be forewarned though: this method is very time consuming. Contractor's don't provide this method as an option for a reason! It was especially time consuming for us because each and every rafter was spaced at a different dimension, so each rafter spacing had to be measured and each insulation board had to be custom cut to fit the opening. This by far was probably the longest stage of this renovation. I want to say it lasted 3-4 months!! Needless to say, if it's in your budget, go with hiring a spray foam contractor to do your insulation. Otherwise, be prepared to put in some sweat equity!
You can see from the above photo that we used 3/4" wood furring strips to bring the dimension from the underside of the roof sheathing to the face of the furring to 6-1/4". This allowed for approximately 6" of Rigid Insulation. We used three layers of 2" rigid pink Owens Corning Foamular 150 rigid insulation. I can't even tell you how many boards i bought.... 500, 1000? A lot! I had home depot make two separate deliveries to our house with two pallets full both times. In addition to about a half dozen trips to home depot for a full truck load. It was crazy! Also, for the spray foam, we bought the spray gun and the industrial size cans. It was quite the endeavor.
We used small strips of wood fastened with temporary screws to keep the boards in place until we spray foamed with the spray gun. The foam took about a day to dry completely before we could remove the temporary strips.
You can see the major thermal bridging occurring in the rafters / gap from the above photo. This is a thermal scanner we borrowed to test the thermal transmittance. The 6" of rigid foam gave us an insulation value of about R-30. In addition, we were going to provide 5/8" drywall and 3/4" wood below the insulation, so we assume the total R-vale would be a little higher to meet code requirements in Northern Ohio.
This is in the midst of adding all the canned spray foam. We found that we had to do the spray foam over the course of multiple days... We would fill the gap with 2"-3" of foam, allow it to expand and dry, and then come back and do the remaining 3" or so of foam. If we did it all at once it would either expand too much or not enough and would be a huge waste of expensive material.
Once the spray foam was dry we used a foam saw to cut the foam so that it was flush with the furring strips. You can buy these at your local big box hardware store for about $10.
We also had to fur-out the bathroom ceiling with additional furring because there was a vent stack running along the ceiling. We used salvaged lumber from the old walls that once framed the attic partitions!
Here is a photo of the front exterior wall, with new cut-n-cobbled insulation in place between the wall studs. We added additional 2x4 framing to the existing wall framing to improve the energy performance of this wall. I also added a new header and window sill.
Another advantage of using rigid foam and spray foam is it has a better energy performance than batt insulation. The above photo shows new plumbing along the exterior wall. The likelihood that there would be freezing pipes would be much greater if batt insulation was installed. I hate batt insulation in exterior walls. There's always going to be thermal bridging with batt insulation. The small gaps between the insulation and the studs allows hot/cold air to transfer.
Another reason why we chose to do this method is it allowed us to do the framing and insulation simultaneously. If we were framing a wall, and had to bridge between rafters, we could do so without having to cut away dense spray foam.
One additional point I would like to make: if possible, the best option for insulating your ceiling / roof is to provide continuous insulation above your roof deck. This is because your roof rafters are a major thermal "bridge" for hot/cold air. However, in our case, we had a 120 year old slate roof that we are planning to keep for the next 120 years. Replacing the roof was just not an option.
One additional thing to note, I lot of people choose to vent their roofs. There's a lot of debate about doing a vented roof vs. unvented roof that I don't want to get into. Obviously, we chose to do an unvented / "hot" roof assembly. For a new construction home, that is basically "air-tight", I would not recommend this approach.
Ultimately, this method was very time consuming and labor intensive but I feel very comfortable now knowing that there is a full 6" of closed cell insulation in our ceiling and ceiling with a perm rating of zero (basically). After the drywall was installed, which ill get into next... we made sure to seal all the gaps with tape to create a true air barrier. I'm confident that the R-value combined with the sealing will leave us moisture-free and comfortable in this attic space for a long time (knock on wood!).
Notice to all readers: I am not a structural engineer. The statements made below is based on extensive research online and not made by an engineer professional. I am an architect with some basic understanding of structural engineering. Do not make design decisions based on this post without first doing your own research and speaking with an engineer.
With that being said, let's talk about collar ties.
The above picture shows one of the "collar ties" that was original to the construction of our home. These were installed every 4 or so rafters. My original intention was to keep these and wrap them in trim but i decided to remove them. Here is why.
First off, let me clarify what collar ties are exactly. Sometimes engineers design collar ties to prevent separation of the roof at the ridge due to wind uplift. Collar ties should only be required when there are no ceiling joists or structural ridge beam to serve the function. When collar ties are properly designed to resist wind uplift, the engineer usually will specify through bolts and spike grids anchored to the roof rafters. The hardware is required in order to properly connect the collar tie to the rafter; a few nails, as was the case in our house, won't do the job. Plus the "collar ties" were 2x4's. In order for it to be substantial to function as a true collar tie it would need to be a much larger member.
Most of the codebooks and construction textbooks today dont require collar ties or show them in details anymore. However, building codes do require that the rafters themselves 1.) need to be properly sized to accommodate roof load requirements and 2.) that the ceiling joists be fastened at lap joints to resist outward thrust from the weight of the roof.
If the design of roof framing does not allow for the roof rafters to be connected to ceiling joists, then collar ties and/or rafter ties would be required to resist the forces caused by gravity loads that otherwise cause the roof to pancake and push the exterior walls outwards. Rafter ties are required by code, unless the engineer designed the house so that there is a ridge beam that carries the load of the roof.
The sketch above shows the condition of our house. Typically, older homes had 2x8 or 2x6 roof rafters spaced 12"-24" o.c. Most newer homes nowadays have pre-manufactured roof trusses that don't allow for a vaulted ceiling.
The ceiling joists that run between the exterior walls alongside each rafter are being utilized to resist tension from the vertical forces, not collar ties. They are much better at resisting thrust provided they are fastened to the rafters as well as to the top plates of the exterior walls.
There should not be collar ties between rafters above the ceiling joists.... period!
The blue circles show the important connections between rafters and ceiling joists. The existing rafters were only being anchored to each other with long nails. I decided to buy 3" x 9" simpson gusset plates to nail to each rafter ridge connection. I used about 12 simpson nails at each pair of rafters. This was a small investment I decided to make for added strength / security. Ultimately, I don't know if this was actually required but it gave me piece of mind. You can also make the gusset plates out of plywood.
In addition, I fastened the rafters to top plates with additional nails. Any ceiling joists that were sistered together received additional nails and blocking. Again... piece of mind.
There's also the question about the actual weight of the roof from snow/wind/etc. causing the roof to sag. I've given this a lot of thought, but then I realized that our roof has been this way for 120 years. In addition, we were adding intermediate walls in the design that would be fastened to the rafters.
The next step was to insulate the roof... Stay tuned!
The process for designing our 3rd floor took a very long time. Mostly because my wife and I are both architects with strong design opinions. Our compromise for certain design elements is usually to go with the most expensive option. Needless to say this was a very costly renovation with no corners cut for materials and fixtures. With that being said, we decided to compromise by doing all. of. the. work. ourselves. It took about 9 months to complete.... but well worth it in the end.
The inspiration for the 3rd floor bathroom and master suite was to focus on contrasting, modern and well-built fixtures and hardware that would pop out against neutral natural materials. We knew we wanted the following:
-vault the ceiling to open the space. Big debate about whether or not we needed collar ties, a ridge beam, and what material the ceiling finish should be
-reroute and reframe the stairs to open the space up
-bathroom fixtures.... black or brass. no brushed nickel or chrome please and thank you! also no plastic parts
-built in warbrobe extended floor to ceiling. no soffits. no wasted space. need to figure out material, are these custom built, etc.
-tile floor to ceiling in the bathroom. no large format tile. no 12x24.... please.
-a huge shower with a linear drain and a prefab kerdi slope.
-a huge slim profile waterfall shower head. the biggest shower head on the market.
-custom linen cabinets. no melamine or MDF.
-insulated and rated ceiling
-heated bathroom floors
-built in book cabinets
-floating vanity with either soapstone or marble top
To name a few. Below are a few images we took inspiration from in the beginning.
Love the black shower hardware and the tub filler.
love the toilet, shower glass, shower fixtures, wall tile, mirror, pretty much everything...
love the tile... both the floor tile and wall tile
love the ledge near the tub
love everything is this photo
not sure why i chose this picture but i love the linens. is that parachute?
in this photo i was trying to see how people were exposed the collar ties.
the brushed nickel really kills this shower.
Maggie, at this point, did not know what she was getting into..... this is one of the first days of demo... and we are discussing everything that needs to be demo'd (which is everything)...
This is a photo of inside our closet after everything was cleared out. When we first bought our house we had the contractor run new shafts to the third floor--shown here--which we ended up completely re-routing for the third floor renovation. One of the temporary projects in this house was to install a partition wall with an access door into a separate space from our "closet"..... yeah, time to demo it all....
Our previous insulation in our ceiling / roof....... broad loom carpet scrap!!
Yes..... i saved every piece of bat insulation.... and trust me.... there was a lot of it!
Bathroom demo.... can wait to remove this raised floor. Why is it raised?? bout to find out.
Maggie demoing the shitty tile in the old bathroom....
The bathroom walls are gone.... and being stored in my garage....
This was a fun evening after work: stripping bat insulation from the roof rafters of the attic. Word of advice: wear a long sleeve shirt and gloves. Don't handle baby's afterwards.
Bathroom demo almost complete. Still have to remove the carpet, floor boards and collar tie.
Here we are dismantling the old stair. I built this railing with blocking that allowed me to remove the railing balusters separately from the rails... this allowed me to move material and furniture easily up and down the stairs. Ultimately, this was all removed...
I would say this is my final demo photo before the new construction started. All that was left was to remove the rest of the framing for the ceiling.... and make the one million trips downstairs hauling lumber and trash into the garage.. We didnt rent a dumpster for this project.... so we spent the next 6 months or so taking 10 plus contractor bags of trash to the curb... which we stored in a full garage in the meantime. We saved every piece of insulation and framing for this project. We de-nailed every stud and re-used it for the new walls---crazy but saved us a lot of money in the end!
Design services for a friend in Raleigh who reached out to me looking for design options for a modern living room / kitchen addition to their home.
In May 2017 we decided to begin the renovation of the third floor of our Lakewood home. It had been a goal of ours when we bought our home in July 2013. In fact, the third floor was a big reason why we fell in love with our home. We saw huge potential in it after walking through it for the first time. Here are some before photos:
This project started last year when we decided that the layout of our living room was not functional and did not go well with the furniture arrangement we had in mind. We had a niche in the living room that im guessing was historically a closet. It was about a 4' x 5' space--about the size of a closet--that carved a little space out of the room. Initially we had many ideas for what this small space could be... a fireplace? a bookshelf nook? built in seating? But after much thought we decided to settle with none of the above... and to make it a flat wall... esentially a TV wall. And so thats what i did. I built out a 2x4 studded wall and drywalled over top to allow for a more simple floorplan for our living room. and for a little while... about a year.. we had a 4' x 5' dead space in between our office room and our living room.
Until this year... when I finally decided to tackle this dead space closet project. Here is the before photo:
Not really showing much here... but a blank wall right? Well stay tuned...
This is my office. and the closet on the left is a coat closet. Right behind the middle section of this blank wall is the "dead space" with the living room on the other side. The idea was to open the space into the office and create a closet that also functioned as a desk area with a desktop and shelving above. Let the demolition begin!
As you can see I had to remove some original studs and use a sawzall to tear away at the plaster and lathe in order to access the space. I tried to be careful and accurate with my demolition zone in order to minimize waste and extra repair work.
I used poplar wood for the trim of the cloffice. I had a difficult time matching the profiles of the original trim--especially with the header and trimwork above the door opening. I found that my local lumber store, Cleveland Lumber Company, had the best selection of wood to choose from and was the best option for me for this project. By the war, the black tube and cord you see in this photo is for the TV in the living room. It allows for a place for the cords and cables from the TV to go and connects to outlets below--it was a great find!
For this project i tried to salvage as much trim and material as I could. If I dont re-use it for this project, I know down the road I will probably re-use it for later projects.
For the desktop material we decided to use bowling alley wood. Butcher block is a material they would have used in our 1903 home and we wanted to remain true to the time period. I ended up finding salvaged bowling alley wood on craigslist. Here is a photo of me picking up the wood from the guys barn--very cool!
There was a lot of dirt and grime on the bowling alley wood that I had to use a planar to get off. I think the wood had been sitting in a barn for nearly 20 years! The planar was able to get through most of the layers of grime and I finished with several passes with my orbital sander. Finally, I coated in an oil based polyurethane and I think I did two coats.
I decided to use left over bead board from my front porch to use as the back wall for the cloffice. I painted it white and used a nail gun to mount it to the studs. I also found a drawing with the sliders attached online that i mounted to the underside of the bowling alley wood. I also added a grommet for cord access.
I found a 24" door from a local antique shop that matched the original panel doors in our house. I also found antique art nouveau hardware and copper hinges. The last thing I want to do is put up some modern bronze home depot door knob.
And here's the complete project once the finishing touches are added!
This past year I've taken on a number of interesting home projects. I’ve gotten to the point in my home renovation where the entire main floor is mostly complete… and so I’ve been able to work on other things like furniture and fixtures. One of my favorite projects thus far has been the construction of our dining room table. It took a rather long time (a few months) because I spent a lot of time looking for wood and a steel fabricator, but once that was selected the process was not that bad. First off, here was the initial design concept, which I modeled in sketchup:
I wanted to create an industrial piece, using C-channel steel and simple connections. The steel was custom made from a company called Blue Ridge Metal works, who conveniently sells and markets their products on etsy. The fabricator, Jon, was extremely easy to work with and was able to build the table legs based on the sketchup model and sketch I put together. Here is the sketch I sent him:
The wood was purchased from a Cleveland-based small business called Razing Cleveland. They specialize in deconstruction, and occasionally have their products available for sale in their warehouse. They had an open house one day, so I figured I’d go check them out. I met the owners, Holly and Ray, who were very supportive of my efforts to use reclaimed wood (instead of new wood) and gave me a great deal on some wood boards that were previously used for framing a Cleveland home in the late 1800’s. The wood was a mix of maple, oak and cedar. My intention was to keep the dark worn surface and to do minimal sanding in order to keep the character and look of the wood.
Before going to razing Cleveland, I explored different wood suppliers and types of wood. I didn’t always want to use reclaimed wood. At first, I looked at using maple and/or some type of exotic wood. I found a few local suppliers who were willing to work with me. But the process would have taken a little longer in order to dry the wood—approx. 6-10 weeks—and the price was a little more than I was looking for—about $4-6 a board foot. If you are looking for a more finished look, I would recommend going this route. I also looked at butcher block, but that was quoted at being approx.. $2100 for everything—so I crossed that off the list very quickly!
So when I finally settled on the wood I began mapping out the cuts. First, I cut the wood slightly larger than the final length—76” instead of the final 72”. Then I laid out the boards on saw horses according to how I wanted it to appear as a finished product. When the wood was laid out I noticed that most of the boards varied in depth—which was a problem. So to account for the slight difference in size I planed the underside of the wood until all of the boards were about 2” in depth.
Once all of the boards were the same depth I used a biscuit joiner to join the boards together. I cut out notches in the side of the boards every 6” and used wood glue and clamped the boards together 2 at a time. This process took a rather long time because I only had 4 clamps and had to wait 1-2 days for the boards to dry before I moved on to the new boards.
Once all of the boards were joined and dry I made one final cut on each end with a circular saw and did some light sanding with fine grit sand paper until the surface was very smooth. Again, I didn’t want to go too crazy with the sanding because I wanted to maintain the worn, dark look of the wood.
Once the sanding was complete I used a product called Swilleys All-Natural Wood Rub to enhance the beautiful wood grains and add an element of protection against liquids and other food. Once that was complete, I worked on the steel.
The steel legs were shipped to my house without any sort of protection or coating on them, so to preserve the beauty of the raw steel I used a product called Penetrol. It can be used alone as a base coat on bare metal and will fix the rust while preserving the appearance. After I applied several coats, I used a clear polyurethane top coat for added protection and a smooth finish. These two products working together makes the steel look completely natural. It is almost a year later, and I am still satisfied with the results. This table is quite heavy, but I know it will last a long time and is definitely worth all of the work!
Brandon E. Young