Pages Navigation Menu

high desert. small house.

Days 76-88: Installing the Underlayment

Monday 9/28
We exchanged the screws for 1.75″ star-drive, put three more out of the thirteen boards on the ground, separated them with nickels (to maintain the appropriate 1/8″ spacing all around) and screwed in 4 screws in the center of each board to hold them in place.

In order to facilitate a speedy attachment process, we drew blue grids on the boards to indicate the proper placement of each screw (6″ spacing).  Even though this took a little bit of extra time upfront, the hope was that it would reduce time while driving in screws because we wouldn’t need to think or guesstimate where the next screw went.

We then started to attach the first board.  Tricky business.  It was difficult to get the screw to start and we ended up pre-drilling a row of holes with a small bit to allow a penetration point for the screw tip.

We screwed in half a board before the battery on the drill died.  We now had the right screws but were under-equipped for installing them.  Next goal – purchase a counter-sink bit to make shallow pilot holes and reduce the amount of impact driver hammering required to get the screw heads flush with the surface.  Note that our Milwaukee impact driver has three torque/ferocity settings, and we are using the lowest one for this (~15 ft lbs).  Using a higher torque setting will almost guarantee stripped out holes in our Sturd-i-floor subfloor.  15ft lbs seems just right.   These are the screws we used.

Tuesday 9/29
Loads of progress!  With the new counter-sink bit, one of us made holes in the grid intersection points.  The second person came next with the impact driver and drove in screws.  We attached the first four boards, vacuumed them off, placed the next four boards, inserted the nickles, attached the new boards with 4 screws each and called it a night.

New counter-sink bit. Ooh-la-la

New counter-sink bit. Ooh-la-la

This is the caption about this hole.

This is the caption about this hole.

Completed screws in the grid. caption caption

Completed screws in the grid. 

Wednesday 9/30
More of the same – making lines, drilling holes and driving screws.  Six of the eight whole boards are now attached.  We will hopefully cut the smaller pieces tomorrow and finish attaching the two remaining whole boards, if not a few small boards too.

These are our floor guns.

These are our floor guns.

Thursday 10/1
Mas de lo mismo….but also, we started the board cutting.  Of the large boards, 7.5 are attached.  The final board was not finished because the Ryobi drill battery died.  We also cut all of the boards for the long sides of the house and fitted them into place.  The north and south ends have yet to be cut.  Once the south side is in place, we can re-install the door.  Yay!

Friday 10/2
Finished all the cutting except for 2 or 3 spots.  The oddball boards for the threshold are completed and all of the large boards are completely attached.


Grid making made easy with a pre-marked straight edge.

Saturday 10/3
We decided not to use one of the pieces of plywood that had been delivered to the house because it had some water damage and was splitting on the edge.  So after work, Brian headed to the lumber store to get a replacement board and I went home to do dog duty.

We had dinner plans in the evening so we didn’t want to get sawdust-y; therefore no cutting.  I helped Brian remove the ‘door’ and then visited with guests.  He only had about 1.5 hours to work but succeeded in cutting more boards down to size.

Sunday 10/4
With a thunderstorm threat on the horizon and in the forecast, we were a little worried about how our work flow was going to go.  We decided to finish cutting in the morning so we could work in the house during the storm.  We made one cutting mistake on the threshold which cost us – we’ll now need another board to fill in the remaining spot on the floor.

We finished driving in screws on most of the east side and half the west side.  The north and south sides haven’t been done yet.  We had to take a break at one point to buy a replacement counter-sink bit because our first one had been dramatically worn down from use.  We also nearly ran out of screws.  So after work on Monday, we need to purchase one last piece of plywood and another box of screws.

Worn counter-sink bit and new bit (with some use).

Worn counter-sink bit and new bit (with some use). The first one did about 1000 holes.


The screws we used for the flooring were very easy to work with – with self drilling tips and anti-jacking thread layout.  Smooth like butter.

Monday 10/5
We were hoping to send Brian home early to wrap up the underlayment.  Unfortunately, a major rainstorm struck late morning and hung around all day.  The clouds cleared and the sun came out around 5pm, just in time for us to get moving.

We purchased another piece of plywood, another chalk/crayon and another box of screws.  To the house!

We replaced the mistake board near the threshold and cut the piece for the final empty slot.  All board cutting is done!  We then secured the center of all boards that hadn’t been attached. And finally, more hole-making and screw-driving.  The threshold boards are completely attached and the door can now be installed.

Tuesday 10/6
A very stormy day.  While it did let up by the time we closed the shack, the ground was so soggy and muddy that we chose to forgo opening up the house to avoid tracking mud inside.  We are nearly done installing the underlayment and the last thing we want is for mud clods to find their way underneath the boards.  We instead drove to Deming and watched The Martian (very good).

Wednesday 10/7
How does time move so fast?  It’s nearly mid-October.  Build build build, go dog go!

We did a small amount of sanding at the threshold to make it level, set the Jamsill Guard sillpan in place, adjusted the width and then glued it together.  The glue sets fairly quickly but we decided to wait until Thursday to be sure it was tightly connected.  The sillpan goes in first and then we can install the door.

We secured several more boards.  All that remains is 3 partials on the north side.

Thursday 10/8
We installed the door.  Easier said than done to make it plumb.

Checking plumb and level

Checking plumb, square and straight.  Cannot recommend a 6ft level enough.  Do not ever buy a 4ft level.

Door installed and secured temporarily until shimming gets done. Tis a little dusty....

Door installed and secured temporarily until shimming gets done. Tis a little dusty….

Friday 10/9
We left the shack more than an hour later than usual so our work window was shortened.  It was awesome to be able to enter the house without first unlocking the ladder, extending the ladder, unfastening the screws from the board, moving the ladder and then hoisting the board up to carry it away.  Instead, we unlocked the door and voila!  We entered the house!

We talked about shimming and finishing the last few boards but after taking care of dogs, going to retrieve food for the humans and eating food, it was after 7pm.

Saturday 10/10
We finished attaching the last few boards!  Hurray!  Next will be shim the door and cut the rest of the metal beams where they are pressing into the insulation.

Moth? Butterfly? Small tiger?

Moth? Butterfly? Small tiger?

Raven party!

Raven party!

This super-fuzzy beast was spotted climbing up our hill. Excellent color contrast.

This super-fuzzy beast was spotted climbing up our hill. Excellent color contrast.

For a full summary of our experience with Arched Cabins, please read Arched Cabin Summary.

One Comment

  1. Whew! Good job!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *