Where We Re-Side

Almost two years ago, we posted about the state of our home's exterior, and our dreams of what it could someday be. After two years of brainstorming, research, and seeking inspiration from the world of modernists' blogs, our dreams are finally becoming realities.

We have been set on using cedar for a while, and the low profile of tongue and groove siding has a sleek look that appeals to the modern eye. Ultimately, clear cedar (free of knots) gives the cleanest look, however we could not justify the price (3x as much!), so we decided on #2 or STK (select tight knot), which has an acceptable amount of small knots and a slightly more rustic appearance.

As we've documented here ad nauseam, we spent the end of summer and most of the fall working on all the preparations for this project: removing the old siding, replacing rotten framing and sheathing, rebuilding parts of the foundation, and replacing the windows and exterior doors. Oh, and at the last minute we threw in the addition of a larger front entry way. You might think we would finally be ready to put the siding on the house, but of course we had to find a way to prolong the prep stage just a little longer. 

In all our "research" (we just like looking at pictures of cool houses in magazines and on the internet) we encountered the concept of "rainscreen wall construction," which seemed intriguing and made a lot of sense, and it is recommended by the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association.

This type of installation involves using a waterproof housewrap (we used Tyvek), and attaching firring strips to create a cavity between the sheathing and siding. This cavity allows for air flow so that any water that finds its way behind the siding can move down the wall or evaporate, rather than be trapped and cause damage. We used vinyl strips (more water resistant than wood firring strips) and fastened them to the house with stainless steel screws. Also, vinyl screen is folded around the bottom to keep bugs out of the cavity but still allow the space to breathe.

Lastly, each piece of cedar had to be sealed on all four sides prior to installation. We used "Woodscapes" by Sherwin Williams, but didn't love their color selection, so we created our own---a mixture of their colors "Cedar Bark" and "Covered Bridge." This made for a long couple days in the garage, but Matt got through it with the help of too much caffeine and Girl Talk's album "Feed the Animals."

We opted for a simple, modern look with no exterior trim around the windows and doors, but we still needed wood stops to hold the fixed glass units in place. So Matt salvaged some of the cedar boards we had removed from the house (most of the old siding was redwood, but some sections had been replaced with cedar), cut them to size, sealed and installed them.

Finally. The fun part! I came home one night to the first sight of siding:


It is no secret that the facade of the house was lacking in architectural elements. The new roof that extends over the front entry way was a big help, but we also added four sconces over the garage to create more depth. The 12" cylinders shine down only, so as not to contribute to light pollution (check out the International Dark Sky Association).

The siding installation is still a work in progress that we hope to continue over some dry weekends this winter. Thanks to mother nature and global warming for an unusually warm fall that enabled us to get as far as we have. We are excited about the transformations this new year will bring at our home. Thanks for following, and here's to a blissful 2012!


A Welcome Change

In the midst of the re-siding project, Matt got the great idea to enclose the exterior front porch area, to create a larger interior entryway for the house. We knew this would prolong the project, but if we were going to do it at all, we had to do it now.

The old porch was not a horrible exterior space (it still would have required some revitalizing), but it was space we weren't sure how to use well. And the thought of welcoming guests into a bright, spacious entry instead of a dark, cramped, awkward box had us really fired up. So, full speed ahead! (And only slightly sidetracked. Oh yeah, we're supposed to be working on this whole siding thing. Oops.)

Preparing a foundation for these new walls was the first step. This is a crucial load-bearing corner of the house, so Matt started by building another temporary support wall  because the original posts would need to come down during this rebuild. 

The next step was digging, and a lot of it. Matt had to dig a trench in which a concrete footer would be poured before the foundation was built. This runs across the front edge of the old porch, and along the side in line with the original posts. Before digging the front trench, the first section of the concrete porch had to be broken out as well.

You can see that the original posts were made with an unusual construction by bolting together two 2"x4"s with spacing blocks in between. At the base of each post, a steel connector anchored the post to the original concrete footers which had been poured into clay drain pipes. These metal anchors were rusting away, and the corner post was bowing noticeably outward.

Once the digging was done, a gravel base was spread and rebar was added for additional support. Then we were ready for the footer!

After the footer was poured and cured, the old wood posts came down and the rusted metal anchors were sawed off flush with the concrete. Matt had pushed shorter lengths of rebar down into the wet concrete, with about 6" sticking above the surface so that the block foundation could later be tied to them.

With the foundation in place, Matt began building one of the key elements of the entire exterior project. We had alway planned on modifying the facade by adding some sort of architectural structure to break up the "boxiness." This front entry project became the perfect time to flesh out the details of that plan.

One nice aspect of the old entry was the large covered area outside the front door, where visitors could wait under shelter from the northeast Ohio elements. In order to preserve this function after moving the door to the front of the house, we had to add a new roof structure. We chose not to involve any new posts, which left us with only one option: a cantilever. We can't compete with Fallingwater, but every modernist loves a good cantilever.

We thought adding some dimension to the side of this overhang would also create a nice visual.

The inside framing of the cantilever is anchored to the floor joists above and will appear as a "floating box" when the drywall is installed. There will be cove lighting above the box, and recessed lighting within it.

After this, we moved on to the floor. The original concrete porch had to come up so that a vapor barrier and insulation could be placed under the new interior floor. Matt and Tony made quick work of this with a sledgehammer, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow.

Concrete is poured, raked, floated and troweled:

After the new floor was poured, we moved back outside to finish the newly framed overhang. Matt created a slope to direct the water across the front and down the side edge toward the back so that no gutter or downspout would be visible near the front of the house.

Last summer we replaced the roof of the house with a commercial-grade flat roof membrane made of PVC. For this smaller additional roof we used TPO, a similar material that is easier to work with.

Finally, on to the fun part! Doing the detail work, even if slightly premature, is always more exciting because we get a glimpse of what the finished product will be like. Here we have the recessed lighting, front door and new lock set installed.

Moxie and Miles explore the newly enclosed space. Soon they will have a much clearer view of the road and any possible threats to their territory.

If you find yourself at our new front door, we promise they're all bark and no bite!