The bits and pieces that could drive me crazy

After 3 weeks of non stop big jobs, it’s back to the small ones. After we did the living room, the Irishman told me we’d bang out the kitchen the following weeknend. I was ready to shriek “NO!!” But he saw for himself how many loose ends needed to be tied up. So I worked with my dad Saturday and Sunday, and by myself Monday. Great use of vacation time, no? And now the kitchen is just about ready to be drywalled. So what needed to be done?

The oak flooring in the upstairs hall is now all gone. The gorgeous pine underneath has been de-nailed. But we had a few damaged spots that needed to be removed and patched. And then I rounded up every scrap of plywood in the house to glue patches underneath and make it stop creaking. It was bad right at the top of the stairs, the only section of flooring over the kitchen that stayed in place.

Antique Pine Floors

Original pine floors, now with oak removed

Then we added shear blocking between the joists where two were notched from the old bathroom. That’s those short pieces of old wood running between the joists. That wood is from Philadelphia Salvage, not original to the house. Ironically, I don’t think these are doing anything because after we tore out the old bathroom the joists weren’t even sitting on the beam at this end. But you can’t be too careful. Also, they’ll make it look better. You’ll see why when the drywall goes up.

Shear blocking

Shear blocking kinda in

Then there’s the insulation. I rounded up all the rigid foam left over from the bedrooms and it was enough to finish the walls around the dining room window and the patio door!

Rigid Foam

Back of house with rigid foam

I should talk a little about my strategy here one last time. You see, it’s apparently bad for old fashioned clay and lime based masonry to get cold. Moist air from the inside will travel into the brick, then the water in the air will freeze, expand, and start to break the brick apart from the inside. Insulating the inside of the house makes this worse by leaving the brick colder in the winter. The best way to avoid this from what I read is to use foam insulation instead of batts because it’s airtight, use lots of glue in serpentine beads so no air can circulate behind the insulation, and then use canned spray foam to fill in the gaps between foam boards. My plaster straight on brick walls are ideally suited for this. But where the plaster was missing I could have a weak point. My solution was to stab the rigid foam with a screwdriver every 6 inches or so, stick the wand of the spray foam can through the hole, and pump it till it hurts. Now the foam board feels really solidly attached to the wall. The foam between the joints needs some touchup.

Then there’s the professionally applied spray foam in the stud wall where cabinets are going. They didn’t trim it flush with the studs, so I had to. And I decided I need an outlet out back. In went the box tonight.

Insulation closeup

Electrical box and insulation closeup

And one last odd job. The insulation people blasted the gaps around the front door with spray foam but didn’t coat the wall. I filled in the gap they missed with rigid foam board and more Great Stuff spray foam. Not because the vestibule needs to happen now, but I really want all the insulation finished this week and all the small scraps of foam board out of my house forever.

Vestibule insulation

Rigid foam above front door

So there we are. It looks like the kitchen will be drywalled Saturday! This means that every small bit of insulation, framing, and drywall is on its way to being done, and all the left over materials can get out of my house! My new rule is that trash moves towards the front door, never away.


11 thoughts on “The bits and pieces that could drive me crazy

  1. infinitequery

    Oh Wow I can’t believe how rapidly it all seems to be coming together-I know that it must not seem so to you who are laboring far into the night in a probably cold empty house with only your own frustration and exhaustion to keep you company. But its all going to be more than worth it in the end. Most of us just sign our life away for a house. You my friend have gone above and beyond-possibly into a parallel Universe.



    mmmm, walls, lightly frosted! Once that drywall is up it won’t even look like the same space. Between the insulation and having an attached home you may not even have to turn on your heat (yeah right, but one can dream)….


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Yeah, I’m excited for the exposed beams to be visible. Now while the wires, studs, insulation, pipes, and everything else are hanging loose it doesn’t really count.

      And as for heat, I might keep my radiators off until after the painting and floor finishing are done. I’ll be borrowing electric radiators from my parents… but I might work things out too hook them up next month too, depending on just how cold it gets.


  3. Mary Elizabeth

    Great job cleaning up the little details. I wonder, when it is all enclosed in sheetrock, cabinets in, paint on, furniture in, etc. if you will still have nightmares about all the oddball things that were wrong with the place. Meg, having lived in an attached house, I can tell you that added insulation and double pane windows can save you a bunch of heating fuel, much more than simply having two walls connected to other homes.


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Actually I read that with some new construction townhouses, the end units were more energy efficient than the interior ones because the insulation wasn’t detailed well where the party walls met the roof and there was thermal bridging. I think mine would now be above average for new construction, but wouldn’t compare with the most efficient things being built today.



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