A Perch on a Porch

I have an EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT to share at the end of this post. So please, read on!

Terry installs joists for the future screen porch, which will anchor the wraparound.

Terry installs joists for the future screen porch, which will anchor the wraparound.

Our wraparound porch is well underway. The framing is all pressure-treated 2x8s, and we blow through the lumber and associated hardware at an astounding clip… Terry can barely keep us supplied. We tackled this project one section at a time, starting with the north side (between the house and driveway), so the sequence of tasks has become second nature.

First, Terry notched the 6×6 support posts to create a shelf for the rim joists. He got the job done in a hurry with the circular saw, followed by a hammer and chisel to square off each notch. Getting the rim joists on was a matter of careful measurement, checking and re-checking levelness and squareness. In at least one instance I needed to nail an extra block on the side of a post to act as a corbel supporting the end of a rim joist.

Terry notches a post. Lots of joist hangers on the ledger behind him.

Terry notches a post. Lots of joist hangers on the ledger behind him.

We also aligned and installed ledgers, the long boards attached to the outside of the house, where we hadn’t already done so. The ledgers and the rim joists together support the floor joists. Carson and I laid out the locations 16 inches on center and installed joist hangers galore to give the joists a place to sit. We could also toe-nail the joists to the ledgers with the nail gun (and in fact we did that too), but nailing alone is a weak connection because it relies on the shear strength of the nail shanks.

Terry cut most of the floor joists himself. He checked each 2×8 for straightness and also specified which edge should point up, a technique called crowning. The breezeway presented a special challenge: since the Barn sits at a 15-degree angle from the house, every floor joist is a different length and needs a miter cut at one end. Joist hangers don’t work on an angle, either, so I cut some blocks to fasten against the ledger and provide an extra nailing surface. We screwed down some plywood temporarily to walk on, since that’s how we get in and out of the house.

The breezeway. Note the 15-degree angle on the right, against the Barn wall.

The breezeway. Note the 15-degree angle on the right, against the Barn wall.

After fitting all the joists into a section, we hammered them up or down to fine-tune the level. In some cases I removed a joist hanger entirely and re-nailed it at a lower level. Finally, we installed blocks at midspan on the longer joists to enable load sharing and stiffen the assembly. The longest joists measure a whopping 14 feet, and support the screened porch in the southwest corner.

Porch sweet porch. Sunset reflected in the windows and Camel's Hump in the distance.

Porch sweet porch. Sunset reflected in the windows and Camel’s Hump in the distance.

The porch support structure as of this writing is missing only the 10-foot northwest corner, which has rim joists and layout marks but no floor joists yet. We’ll need a new supply of 10-foot lumber, joist hangers, and LedgerLock screws to finish the job next week. It still astounds and delights me how fast I can make lumber framing take shape… the visceral joy of creation is precisely what I love about this work.

Which leads nicely into my EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m creating my own company! It’s an engineering business, in which I can apply my professional license to design new houses/remodels and consult on the condition of existing structures. Expect some changes to this website soon, including a new URL. (I assure you the blog will continue and engunplugged.wordpress.com will still work, it’ll just redirect to the new website.) And drop me a comment if you might be interested in my services! The name of the company, by the way, is PERCH.

 

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