Sep 15, 2015

Framing walls and attaching trusses in one day.

Well, today was gonna be a busy day. It’s been raining heavy at night, and was raining on and off in the morning. However, I had made plans a week ago, with my buddy who’s been in construction for a while, that he will come over and help me put up the walls and trusses. No rain will stop us now!

So this is where it gets fuzzy. Because we were rushing to get as much done as possible while I had his help, I missed getting any photos of the work as it progressed. However, I’ll try and do my best to recollect what we did and how.

At first, we nailed the ¾“ pressure treated plywood sheets to the floor over the rigid insulation. I decided not to glue the floor or the insulation. The sheets were placed such that the butt joints are staggered to provide a more solid floor. Also, 2 butt joints met right in the middle of each joist to have enough room to secure both sheets.
How the subfloor sheets are staggered.
How the subfloor sheets are staggered.

The sheets were nailed with galvanized nails with ring shanks. Those rings help hold the plywood from moving up over the years. I also plan to go back and put some screws in for a better hold.

The parts of the plywood hanging over the floor frame get simply marked with a chalk line and cut off using a circular saw.

Subfloor complete.
Subfloor complete.

Staggered subfloor.
Staggered subfloor.

The next step was to go around the perimeter of the floor and using a corner angle to get 90 degree corners, we marked off placeholders for walls’ bottom plates. It was basically a 3” offset from the edge (to accommodate the wall 2x4 bottom plate) around the perimeter marked with a chalk line. We started with the 14 foot wall on the right side of the building. At first, the bottom plate was put on its side against the floor (the 2” side, not the 4”) and the top plate was put right next to it the same way. All the studs were marked at 16” on center on both the top/bottom plates. The window location was marked as well. Then, the top plate was taken away and the bottom plate placed right along the marked chalk line and nailed in 3 places to the subfloor. Again, while laying on its side. These nails would hold it temporary from moving while the wall is assembled. The nails would come out once the wall was tilted up.

So, with the top and bottom plates of the wall separated out, we laid out the studs. Remember, saunas have a 7 foot ceiling, not 8, so cut your studs to 7 feet minus the 3” to accommodate for the bottom and top plate. So a stud should be 7’ x 12”= 84” – 3” = 81”. One thing I learned—the stores sell 7’ studs. I thought 8’ was the shortest- could have saved $.

At this point, without nailing anything, the window rough opening was framed out as well. The windows I bought had both a window size and a rough opening dimensions printed on the packaging. We used the rough opening values to frame the opening. We used the left overs of the 2x10s for headers and regular studs for the rest of the window framing. Study the photo to learn how a window is framed:

Framing a window rough opening.
Framing a window rough opening.

Once everything was cut and laid out, the studs were nailed to first the bottom plate then the top plate by lining up the 16” on center marks we made in the beginning. Once the wall was nailed up, we measured the diagonals to make sure the wall was squared. Once everything was good, we were ready for plywood sheathing.

The sheathing comes in ½” thickness of 4x8 sheets of OSB (cheap $8/sheet) (not pressure treated). We bought 28 sheets.

Starting from one side of the wall and placing the 8’ side of the OSB sheet from top to bottom, the sheets were placed on the wall. The top of the sheet was placed on ½ of the thickness of the top plate and the bottom piece hung below the bottom plate. The sheet was then attached to the wall using special U shaped staples with a special air gun. I later learned they’re called Crown Staples. Seemed like it was stapled every 6” or so on every stud and bottom/top plates. If you look at the OSB sheets, they are marked with black lines on one side—those are guides for nailing. It’s important that that side of the OSB go to the outside of the building. Also, remember to cut the sheets if necessary such that 2 sheets can meet together on a stud.

Crown staples used to attach the sheathing.
 Crown Staples spacing


The rest of the sheets were added to cover the wall with the last piece measured and cut before being attached. We now had one wall framed, with a rough opening for the window, and sheathing attached to the outside. We were now ready to raise the wall. With 3 of us at different corners, we raised up the wall to be vertical. The nails that held the bottom plate temporarily in place came up on their own and the wall automatically stood up right on the chalk line we placed earlier. I was amazed. After making really small adjustments to how the wall set on the chalk line, it was nailed to the floor with 2 nails by every stud. Then, the wall was braced on the outside to the rim joist with left over 2x4s to keep it from falling just in case.

Up next was the opposite wall. Exactly the same framing. Once it was tilted up and secured, the front entrance wall was framed on the 3rd wall. A rough opening for the entrance door was framed with an extra inch on each side and the wall was tilted up and secured to the floor. The back wall was last and easiest to frame because there were no doors or windows.

Entry door rough opening framing.
door rough opening frame

Once all 4 walls were up and secured on the bottom, they were then leveled with a level and secured to each other. We now had 4 walls. 2nd top plates were then nailed to the tops of the walls and the joints were staggered with the initial top plate joints.

Staggered top plate joints, and truss placement.
staggered joints

Before the trusses could come up, we went around and leveled and braced each wall to the floor. A long 2x4 was nailed to the top of each wall in the middle. Then, in the middle of the building floor, 2x4 blocks were nailed to about a foot height. While one person stood with a level against a wall confirming everything was good, the other person nailed the long 2x4 support to the floor blocking securing the top of the wall from going anywhere while the trusses were installed.


Squaring the walls and bracing for roof sheathing.
The photo is from the future-- but shows the bracing I'm talking about

Next were the trusses. With only a 12’ span, they were pretty light—around 30lbs each. Just like studs, the top plates were marked every 24” on center for the locations of the trusses. We had 2 people placing them upside down (the peak facing the floor) on the top of the walls. Once two guys climbed up the ladders on both sides of the building, they tilted the first truss up and nailed it to the top plates at the marks flush with the outside wall. It was toe nailed on both sides through the truss gusset plates along both walls with a regular hammer. Now this part I didn’t see clearly because I was on the bottom and it was dark, but I believe 1 8-10” long nail was also put in to the end of each truss to connect it to the top plate of each wall. Same was done to the rest of the trusses which were placed 24” on center. I plan on adding hurricane ties as well when I have some time.

 Hurricane ties attached to all trusses.
A lesson I learned is make sure the middle of the hurricane tie is above the top plate so it doesn't interfere with the ceiling when it comes later. This particular tie was later re-done. 

Hurricane ties attached correctly this time.
see the difference? :)

Once all the trusses were up and secured on both walls, they were braced through the middle by running a 2x4 through the top of the rafters, marking 24” centers and securing the trusses at the markings with nails. Finally the first and last trusses were leveled vertically with a level and braced.

Bracing the trusses.
Bracing the trusses.

More bracing of the trusses.
More bracing of the trusses.

At this point, it was around 9p, and dark. We used a light to finish our work. Unfortunately, we did not get to sheath the roof, or finish building the eves and soffit or the front and back overhangs. That’s a job for the next weekend. :)

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