Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Parfait Got Layers

"Parfait got layers." And so do roofs. At least properly constructed ones. Most people think shingles are what keeps water out of their houses. That's partly true, but shingles are there to protect the tar paper that's the real moisture barrier.

Today I worked with Edis, and while I started cutting back the roof, I tried to keep him busy with finishing up some things and fixing some others. Cutting through the roof took a while, because there's a lot of layers to it: shingles, tar paper, plywood sheathing, old skip sheathing.

It was gratifying to see that the roof I put on a couple of years ago was working properly. There was plenty of crud stuck between the cementious tiles (they look like wood shakes, but are Class A fire resistant), but beneath them, the tar paper and plywood was dry as a bone. In the picture to the left, you can see the multiple layers of shingles and multiple layers of tar paper (This is near the edge of the roof, so I'd added an extra layer of tarpaper underneath. In colder climates where there's freezing and thawing, that layer is normally a self-adhesive membrane.)

But all those layers take time to cut through, especially when the plan is to cut through them no more than necessary, and to not cut through the roof and ceiling joists until things are properly supported. And more time yet when the shingles are cementious tiles, which require a special blade on the Skilsaw to cut.

I had Edis add the header to a window, including doing the measuring and cutting. In the past, I've done all the measuring and cutting and showed him where to nail things, so this was a step up in responsibility for him. To paraphrase Spiderman, with greater responsibility comes the chance for greater screwups. He didn't do too badly, but he's still not very good with a Skilsaw. I explained to him that it's like driving a car. If you look right in front of the car, you'll swerve a lot making corrections. It's the same with sawing -- you want to look further ahead and make sure you're headed towards your overall goal, and your corrections end up being fewer and smaller.

As with many teenagers, I think Edis has some of the feeling that he's immortal. He's bright, energetic, and friendly. But I've lost track of the number of times I've had to remind him of safety things, like wearing safety glasses when using power tools like saws. I also had the opportunity to remind him of the adage in construction, "measure twice, cut once". I've certainly made my share of mistakes, but that's where some of the real learning comes in for construction. Mistakes will be made, but it's how you deal with them that sets things apart.

Despite that, we made good progress. I cut away the roof overhang, Edis finished the framing on a couple things, and we put the Really Big Beam® on the roof in preparation for the next step.

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