Friday, June 4, 2010

Sheathing: How to Do It Yourself

While working on a construction site you often learn construction tips. At our Fullerton construction site they recently worked on sheathing and some of our volunteers and families got a quick lesson. I hope you have your pen and paper ready because sheathing is your first D-I-Y on my blog.

Most new walls need sheathing to strengthen them, to act as a nailing base for siding, and/or to boost insulation. Existing walls usually do not require sheathing unless you are stripping off the old siding and applying a different type that calls for sheathing.

So how do you do it? Sheathing involves taking 8 foot boards made of structural grade wood (otherwise called “OSB” or Oriented Strand Board) and nailing the boards onto the studs of a freshly-framed house. The OSB is the layer that will provide the foundation for the wall; it’s what underneath the drywall and the waterproof wrapping. Sheathing is also meant to provide strength and structure to the walls of a house to help resist high winds and earthquake vibrations.

The volunteers in Fullerton nailed ‘fire blocks’ in between the studs. For your first D-Y-K (did you know) fire blocks are pieces of wood or foam used between studs to help block fire from spreading through a house. Before fire blocks were required, you could drop something from a hole in an attic wall all the way to the basement. If a fire starts, the channels made by studs act like huge chimneys that allow fire to travel from one floor to all of the others. The fire blocks help block the path of the fire before it can spread. They need to be installed between all of the studs in your home. Longer versions must be installed between each level and in front of the gaps where the flooring is so fire can't travel horizontally across the floor.

By the end of the day the volunteers and families learned how to make fire blocks and use sheathing for the first time. Do you have any questions on this DIY project or have any tips? Please comment and get the conversation started. Thanks!!!

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