Tag Archives: rigid foam

Finishing the trailer door

If you’ve been following along, we installed a new door on our trailer back in September. Although the door was fully functional, there were still several details to take care of before it gets too cold. These were finishing and insulating the new interior step and insulating and covering the framing on the outside, both of which have now been accomplished.

Let us begin with the interior work first, as that was completed first.

I laid down some vapour barrier and then cut some pieces of rigid insulation. This time I used some 1.5″ (38mm) rigid insulation I had lying around as left overs from other projects. The rest of the floor in the trailer is only 1″ (25mm) but this was a small space and I had enough of the thicker insulation. Why not, as they say.

After filling in the floor space with the rigid insulation, I wrapped the vapour barrier around the end and covered the top of it. This means we have two layers of vapour barrier in the step. I tuck taped it all down and made sure all of the gaps were covered.

After that, we needed to put a floor on it. We didn’t have any more of the laminate flooring left from doing the rest of the trailer, so we had decided to just buy another box of whatever laminate and not care too much about it matching in colour. Well, as it turns out, some friends of ours had a left-over box of laminate from a previous project so we bought it from them for $20.

And voila! New floor installed.

But wait! That’s not all. We also put in some fancy trim pieces to make it all snazzy looking. This was stage one.

Stage two involved finding something to go over the top corner edge that you can see is still exposed and quite sizeable in the picture above. They have these nice finishing strips at the hardware store that are about 8mm (5/16″) thick and 51mm (2″) wide. I couldn’t get a corner piece of molding to cover it as the gap it needed to cover was too big but I essentially made one by using two pieces of the aforementioned finishing strips.

We also added a metal bullnose cover to the outer edge against the door.

It turned out pretty nice, if we do say so ourselves. There may be some other fiddling around the old door to clean up the look, but that will be further down the line. At least we have a proper step with insulation and flooring now.

Next, it was the outside portion that needed some work. This is what we started with.

There is the basic framing with a plywood cover over it. You can also see that the plywood doesn’t cover the whole thing. That is what I did first: finish covering the top and both sides with plywood.

With the plywood installed, I pulled out the spray foam and made sure that all gaps between the framing and the trailer were filled.

After that, it was vapour barrier time again. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of that stage, but I wrapped both sides and top with 6mil before continuing on to the insulation.

Here is a picture of the insulation going on. The right side and top are complete, but the left still needs to insulated.

I had a full sheet of 25mm (1″) rigid insulation that I cut up for the sides and I found enough pieces to do 51mm (2″) on the top. I taped up all of the seams and it started to look pretty snug.

Over top of the insulation we put more plywood sheathing. We did that so we would have something solid to attach the finishing pieces to.

Because the door is made of cedar, we went with cedar tongue-and-groove to finish the outside. It didn’t take much, just too full bundles to cover all of the exposed parts. I also added some trim around the outside.

Some other stuff that we don’t have pictures of is the weather stripping we installed around the door jam to seal it and we added a rubbery-plastic door nose thingy underneath the bottom of the door so there isn’t a big gaping hole to the outside world there any more.

Overall, we’re really happy with out it turned out. Kat plans to add some varnish on the new wood as well, so that should protect it from the elements. As long as we can get that part finished before it gets too cold.


Work Weekend at Dash and Y.P.’s

Yes, we need to keep up with our Earthshipping so this time we spent some time the past weekend (Sep 23/24) working at Dash and Y.P.’s simple survival model Earthship. We weren’t the only ones helping either. There was a whole gaggle of friends and neighbours who had shown up to lend a hand. As a result, a number of things were accomplished.

Here is what it looked like from the back when I arrived on Saturday morning (Kat arrived a bit later).

So, if you remember from the last time we were here, Dash and I had been doing the fill in at the back between the domes. Since then, the rest of the fill was put in place, all of that was covered with four layers of rigid insulation and then a double layer of vapour barrier put on top of that.

When I got there, I was helping out to finish with the vapour barrier up around the skylights. That’s this area, in case you forgot.

Everything was covered with heavy dew from overnight so we had to try and mop it up as best we could before tacking it down. You don’t want to wait for the sun to dry it as that takes too long and it was stupid hot on the weekend. We got up to 36C with the humidex (97F) which makes it uncomfortable to work in.

Anyway, we split up the teams and others were taking care of the vapour barrier and I was put on rigid insulation carving details until lunch. Dash and Y.P. provided us all with a pizza lunch from the local diner so we were all well fed, but with the heat, it really reduces your appetite.

After lunch, we all gathered together to tackle the EPDM waterproofing layer that was being put over top of the vapour barrier. One of the key things about this layer is that it have no holes and you try to do it in one piece without having to create a seam as that can create a weakness in the seal. Needless to say, the rubber sheet is big, heavy and unruly to deal with if you only had one or two people.

Here is a picture of the group contemplating the roll of EPDM.

EPDM stands for Ethylene-Propylene-Diene-Monomer, in case you were curious. It’s essentially a pond-liner-grade rubber sheet. We unrolled it, cut it to length and then had to haul it into place. Here you can see me helping with the hauling (Kat was taking the picture).

With so many people helping, it didn’t take too long to get up over the lip of the roof and, more or less, into position. It certainly would have been a daunting task without all of the extra help.

EPDM is not the nicest stuff. It off-gasses in the sunlight and it has this fine powder-like coating that comes off so you and your clothes get covered with it. It really makes you want to take a shower.

Being short on showering facilities, and it being ridiculously hot out for the end of September, we all decided to go for a swim. It felt a bit odd with it being so hot out and seeing trees with their autumn colours and you’re swimming, but it was quite welcome.

That was it for Saturday, but I went back on Sunday to help some more. I had managed to pre-cut all of the first layer of insulation pieces on Saturday, so all we had to do was finalize any spots that still needed to be covered with vapour barrier and then start installing it.

Here you can see the first few sheets after they were put in place.

You can’t really see it as the corners are in shadow in the pictures, but there were some wood blocks installed in strategic places that we needed to trim the insulation around so it would fit so it wasn’t just a matter of slapping in the pieces and calling it a day.

There will be four layers of that rigid insulation so it will be well covered. The EPDM will go over that up to the top of the roof peak at the front.

As I mentioned earlier, there were quite a few of us helping out and not all of us were working up on the roof. Some were working out front.

You can go back to my previous post I linked above to really see the differences, but the plywood was put across the angled part and the doors were installed. Both the top and bottom sections had their plywood on, but they removed all of the top pieces so they could be stained and then reinstalled. This is to protect the wood over the winter, as they probably won’t be getting to putting the flashing on before then.

They also covered their fancy doors with cardboard to protect the windows and finish from harm during construction and moving things in and out of the building.

I couldn’t stay as late as we did the previous day on Saturday, as I had some errands to run in town. Y.P. had to head back to Toronto anyway so we quit at 13:00 for some late lunch. Did I mention it was stupid hot that day too? Well, it was.

Dash and Y.P. are now that much closer to having their Earthship fully enclosed. It will be a great day when that happens and I am very happy to have been a small part in making that happen.

Day at Dash and Y.P.’s Earthship

It’s been too long since my last post, and it’s not like things haven’t been happening. Just got busy.

Fortunately, for all of you, I was over at another local Earthship yesterday.

A short 20min drive from our trailer is Dash and Y.P.’s Earthship. It is not complete yet, so I volunteered my time yesterday to help out. Actually, that was the second time this summer that I have been over there helping, but I forgot to take any pictures the first time so I didn’t have much to post. I remedied that this time.

This first picture is the back of the Earthship.

Dash is the guy on the tractor. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the pleasure of meeting his wife Y.P. yet as she is working in the city to support this venture of theirs.

Getting up a little closer and looking over that wall of white Styrofoam insulation you saw above, you get so see the area we were working on.

If all you have ever seen are global model Earthships, this may look a bit odd. This one is built using the simple survival design, which uses domes made of concrete. What you’re seeing in that picture above is the tops of the domes, three of the four in this Earthship.

If we move a bit more towards that far end you see in the picture above, and turn the camera south, you can see the empty gaps between the domes.

Standing on top of the western most dome and looking back you can see the retaining wall that circles the domes. That is what is covered with the Styrofoam insulation. The previous work day I was here, we worked on that concrete bottle retaining wall.

This next picture will give you a good shot of the framing for the greenhouse at the front. Dash used hemlock as his framing material of choice. He said he really like it too, as it made for a really rock solid structure. If you know anything about hemlock, “rock solid” is not just a comment on the framing technique. Hemlock happens to be one of the hardest of the softwoods.

The colouring of the hemlock is due to the stain they used to treat the wood.

I took this picture from above, standing on the western most dome, looking down through the roof framing into the area that will become the greenhouse. That door looking thing is actually just a window. That’s the door frame beside it to the left.

The bottle wall to the right will be finished up to the roof, insulated with more Styrofoam and then covered with the berm.

Next we’re looking down the length of the greenhouse. The greenhouse will eventually have an EPDM liner put in to contain the planters along the windows.

Here is a picture of the front/south face. If you’ve been following me for a while, you might recall we first visited Dash and Y.P. last October.

So, what were we working on yesterday, you may be asking? Remember those big gaps between the domes you saw in the earlier pictures above? We were filling them. Dash worked the tractor and dumped load after load of dirt over the retaining wall and I shoveled it into place, tamping it as we went along. We managed to fill in the first two trenches completely before lunch.

In the afternoon we worked on filling the gap between the two central (and largest) domes. There was a bit of a delay in getting to that stage though, as Dash had to build a dirt ramp up the outside of the wall so he could get the bucket of the tracker over the lip. Once that was completed, we were back to filling in the berm.

When you first begin, the gap is quite narrow and you’re thinking, “okay, this is going well”. Then you realized that the gap just keeps getting wider and wider as it goes up, needing more and more dirt.

We weren’t able to get it finished by the end of the day, unfortunately. This is as far as we got.

I don’t think we would have been able to fill it completely, even if we had kept going as we were running low on dirt by that point. Still, a pretty decent day’s progress for two people. Yeah, it was a full day of physical labour, but I knew that when I volunteered and I’m not afraid to break a sweat. Yes, you can get expensive machines to do the job quicker and faster, but you really need to pick and choose those carefully, or your costs just start running away.

Besides, I’ve worked with the Earthship Biotecture crew and they are no strangers to physical labour.

If you’re wondering what goes on top of the dirt after it is all filled in, there will be 10″ (25cm) of rigid foam insulation, two layers of 6mil vapour barrier, an EPDM liner covering all of that and then a 3″ (7.5cm) concrete slab will be poured over the thing like buttercream frosting on a cake.

There is a good chance that we will be doing more work over at Dash and Y.P.’s before the snow flies. The goal is to try and get it enclosed completely before winter arrives. With a little bit of help, I think that is quite achievable.

Finishing the kitchen countertop

Previously, here on Sailing the Earth, I was telling you about our adventures with epoxy. It is fascinating stuff, if a bit temperamental.

Well, things have progressed and I can now share with you how it all turned out.

After completing the third and final coat of epoxy, the counter was ready to be installed. It wasn’t super perfect, but it was quite a bit improved from the first coat. There are still two bugs embedded in it that I couldn’t dig out, so they will have to stay in there… forever. Maybe someone will clone bugs from their DNA in a 1000 years.

I let the third coat cure for several days and then while Kat was at work on Sunday (yesterday, July 23rd) I proceeded to install it. First I had to prep the surface. This meant clearing off all of the clutter that was on the base, cleaning it and then applying a generous amount of glue.

Looks a lot like a breakfast pastry, doesn’t it? With the base all prepped, all there was to do was put the newly finished counter into place. I clamped it and screwed it down from underneath. That counter is not going anywhere.

Sorry for that blurry picture, but you can probably see just how shiny the counter is. Here is a close up.

Unfortunately, I discovered the hard way that it scratches pretty easily, or at least the brand that we used for this project. You can see the scratches I put in it in the bottom-left corner of the above picture. I didn’t have a way to clamp the counter down at the back so I used a 20L (5 gallon) jug of water to weigh it down. In positioning it on the counter, I twisted it a bit and the bottom of the jug is knurled plastic, so it left those marks you see above.

Fortunately, this is the trailer and not the house, so learning these things ahead of time is a useful experience.

With the counter locked down, it was time to install the sink.

Unfortunately, I miscalculated just how many pieces I would need to finish the plumbing of the sink drain and I wasn’t able to get it completed in one day. Kat was in town this morning so she stopped at the hardware store and picked up the missing pieces.

Here is a picture of the plumbing for the drain, immediately connected to the bottom of the sink.

I bought a P-trap that included the clean-out, just to make our lives easier if anything needed some maintenance later on. Frankly, I don’t know why they call it a P-trap. A U-bend or an S-trap would be better. I like S-trap actually because you could make it stand for stink-trap, as the whole point of that is to keep some water in the pipe to prevent smells from the sewer or septic from entering your home.

Anyway, that pipe that you see traveling downwards at a 45 degree angle joins up with all of this stuff at the bottom.

I added a clean-out plug, for future maintenance, though it was a bit overkill. There is another one on just the other side of the wall on the right.

The part with the T and the pipe heading out the wall through the blue insulation is the new plumbing vent I put in. The old one had been in the wall inside the small room where the toilet had been, but we removed all of that, so I needed to put the vent back in somewhere. This was a pretty convenient spot, right next to the wall. I just put a 45 degree connector on the T-junction and ran the pipe out the wall, upwards at an angle. There is another 45 just outside the wall and the pipe then runs straight up the wall of the trailer.

After it was all glued together and all of the threaded bits had their sealing tape applied, it was time to try it out.

Yay! No leaks. Now we don’t need to go outside to dump our dish water. In fact, we might even be able to do the dishes in the sink. Woah! Not sure we’re ready for that kind of excitement. It’s been a good two years since we could do our own dishes in a sink.

On a side note, we discovered something interesting about ABS glue and rigid insulation: the former will melt and dissolve the latter. Here you can see the hole underneath the pipe where the glue squished out and dropped onto the insulation.

Something to be aware of if you’re ever gluing ABS pipe near rigid foam insulation.

Despite the small flaws (and scratches… grrr) in the counter-top, this project turned out pretty well. Now if only we can complete the next project in a more timely fashion.