Dwelling on #DesignersBuilding – A DIY Blog Series


This blog series is an account of what happens when an architect, me, pushes past design and single handedly tackles some renovation; from design through demolition and to construction. I look forward to sharing with you my discoveries, the challenges, and the solutions. Please share your stories of renovation and remodeling in the comments, DIY or not.

Looking Back

To review the screened in porch series to date, the Homework – Demolition post took us from the existing enclosed porch, removal of the enclosure and down to the existing cedar posts, beams, and roof. The Homework – Demo to Framing post took us from that open feel state of demolition to the beginning of framing.  I started in on “the secondary framing – 2×4’s to accept the Screen Tight tracks… and leave the columns as a visual element, rather than covering them.” Let’s look at how this phase is coming together in a little more detail.



Again, to review, I used #10 3” exterior screws with a T-25 driver head to install all of the framing.  The columns covered in the last post are toe-screwed with two at the top and bottom, front and back.  I tried to keep these as close to the ends of the columns as I could, without splitting the wood, with the intention that the secondary 2×4 framing would cover that hole.  Why not nails?  I like the way Steve Badanes of Jersey Devil put it in a lecture I recently saw…”Screws have reverse.”  It is easy to remove something with screws if you need to, and re-install it. At the same time, once it is all in place, the threads hold it together better, whereas the smooth shafts of nails can allow pieces to pull apart, unless glue is used.



Looking at the illustrations above, let’s turn our attention to the installation of the secondary framing, in each space between the columns. First, base (sole) plates were installed, spanning the entire opening width.  Next were the top plates, installed on the bottom of the sloping roof beams.  Again the top plates span the entire opening and are cut to length with beveled ends, to make a tight fit where the slope meets the plumb columns. That’s right…a TIGHT fit! I am looking for an end product that reflects way more craft than what I tore out. After installing the top plate, I ran a chalk line around the entire porch with a line level to mark the height of the 2×6 rails.  This was necessary because measuring from the deck to get this height would have resulted in the hand rail following the subtle slopes and cants in the deck, that were either installed to shed water, or caused by settling.  That would have looked funny in a way that wasn’t too obvious, but the eyes know when something in the environment is not on the plumb or level.  This gave me a line to measure to for 2×4 jack studs to support the 2×6 rails. The jack studs were installed all the way around, then the rails.


I cut bevels and miters into the 2×6 rails to meet the columns for a nice detail. 2×4 jack studs on top of the rails were then installed to run all the way up to the top plates, these too were measured and cut on a bevel to match the sloping roof structure.



When I was installing the bottom jack studs I made sure to cut each one out of a new 2×4, and leave the other half for the top jack studs.  I figured this would create less waste by using most of the 8’ piece of lumber for each set of bottom and top jack studs.  Also, to try and keep things moving fast, I paid attention to grouping tasks to get a bunch of measurements, make a bunch of cuts, then installed a bunch of pieces at once.  Also, I pre-drove the screws into the framing, just barely penetrating the other side, so the wood was holding the screws when I went to install the piece.  This was much easier than holding the piece in place and trying to start a screw at the same time.



A couple of studs had bowed a little, which required some elbow grease to bend back before driving the screws in.  If the bow was too much to straighten by hand, I used a clamp to straighten it while I drove the screws in.



With all the framing and rails installed, the open feel is such a welcome change to the stuffy enclosure that we started with.


In future posts, I will get into deck rails, staining, sealing the porch against the insects, installation of the Screen Tight system. Come back to “Homework” to read about the next round of construction challenges and how they were addressed.