Kevin: Today on "This Old House," Charlie saved the old exterior roof boards so we can make a new interior ceiling.
♪♪ Jenn: Winter weather doesn't stop us from hardscaping.
Tom: And today we're dealing with the ups and downs of riser height.
Matt: Feels nice and even Tom: Alright.
♪♪ [ Grunting ] ♪♪ Man: Ahh.
♪♪ ♪♪ Kevin: Hey, there.
I'm Kevin O'Connor.
And welcome back to "This Old House" and to our project here in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where there's still a lot of work going on, but the project is starting to wind down.
We have a lot going on.
Well, and there it is.
It's still standing after 300 years.
And as I said, still a lot of work going on, especially here in the front yard.
Just the other day, we received our second cistern for this property -- 2,500 gallons.
That is to manage the water coming off of the roof.
There's a pipe running out of this, out to the back, because we're going to use the water that is collected.
And then there's a trench and pipe right here.
You can see the head end of it.
For the gutters.
We want to make sure that we pull all this water away from the house and that we get to reuse it.
How are you guys?
Mark: What's up, Kevin?
Kevin: Cold one this morning.
Kevin: So a lot of work went into making this original building from 1720 not only come back to life, but also that all of the other structures behind it were properly woven into it.
We've got the connecting ell with a unifying trim and paint color right there.
And then, well, there's a tent in front of it right now because the landscapers are doing some work on this chilly morning, but past it, a brand-new building, two-bay garage downstairs, primary suite upstairs, properly sized and sited, so it feels like it's a natural extension of this building.
And then even beyond that, a brand-new boathouse that went up in one day, which was a cool assembly.
So, Mark, you and Oshion have got to sort of address our water issue but also make it look like your solution's been here from the very beginning.
So, what we have is a granite veneer.
Mark: It's a water table.
And that's what's gonna protect the wood behind it.
You know we had a problem with that before.
Kevin: We did, and I guess a part of it was caused by the fact that this house sunk into the ground or the road came up over time.
Kevin: I mean, grade here is above the corner.
All of this was rotted underneath.
Kevin: So you're putting it on, it looks like, some sort of a sandy material here.
What's behind it?
Mark: So, this is just a waterproofing membrane.
It sticks to the wood behind it or the concrete behind it.
That's the blue-and-white stuff.
On top of that, we put a waterproofing board, as you can see.
Mark: And on top of that we used two coats of another waterproofing agent.
The second coat, which is the outside coat you see here, has got a gritty sand into it.
That's gonna help us adhere to the back straight here.
Kevin: So you're putting your mortar on top of this and then the granite veneer on top of that?
Mark: That's right.
We'll wiggle the stone in, it'll bond, and we'll be good to go.
Kevin: Someone left you a shelf right there to hold it.
I love it.
Looks like you got a few pieces to go, so I'll leave you to it while I go inside and get warm.
Mark: See you, Kevin.
Kevin: See you, Mark.
The original house from 1720 ends right here.
In fact, this is the old original exterior sheathing.
And, Charlie, homeowners fell in love with it.
We're keeping it, but we're also gonna keep it exposed.
Charlie: They love it.
They don't want to put plaster over it.
As you can see, we have a window opening there.
We don't have the boards to patch it in.
So they had a good idea of putting a plate shelf in there.
We use all the leftover lumber that we have from other parts of the house that we salvaged.
So that's a unique look.
We also saved all of these -- the rafters from upstairs.
Some of the original bark still right there.
All crooked and curved.
I mean, these things are terrific.
Charlie: And we also have 2x6 rafters also that infilled all of these.
And that's because all of these are going to go back in?
Charlie: They are.
Believe it or not, this started back in August.
We're standing up in the attic with Bill and Helen, the homeowners.
And Helen looked up and said, "Geez.
Too bad we couldn't reuse these roof boards and make them part of the trim detail in the new kitchen cathedral ceiling."
Charlie: Thought for a second.
I'm like, "Yeah, we can do that."
So these are the boards I salvaged that were right above us in the old structure.
Kevin: I mean, these things are awesome.
Look how wide some of them are.
And full of patina, right?
So you got the nail holes and you've got the iron sort of leaching through right there.
So how do you complete the look and make it feel like it's authentic?
Charlie: That's why we painted the plywood black -- so when you're looking through these holes, you know, from down here 10 feet or so, you're gonna look up.
It's gonna look like the old roofing.
So what do you do about something like that?
Charlie: Well, this will show you here.
So this will represent what a rafter will look like, and all of our seams will fall in the center.
Charlie: So if you hold that like that, I'll get another one that'll show you.
Kevin: Got it right there.
So this is what we're going to be looking up at from down here on this floor.
Charlie: That's right.
So let's say another seam was here.
And that's where we could always have a cut.
So we're going to have to do a little bit of piecing this whole thing together.
So you've got material on site, everything you need.
How are you going to do installation?
Charlie: Believe it or not, I have to start out where all the centers of the rafters are going to be, so we're going to snap some lines, and we're going to start with all of these heavy beams here, which will be -- Our hand-hewn beams will line up on those.
And then our 2x6 rafters will infill.
Kevin: I'll give you a hand.
Charlie: Let's go.
Now we start putting this puzzle together.
We have all our chalk lines showing the centers of all of our rafters, which will be all of the break points for all of the edges of our sheathing.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Jenn: It's winter here in New England, but we still have a lot of work to do, so Fred and his crew set up a tent so we could work on the hardscape underneath.
So, this used to be no-man's land.
It just sloped down from the street towards the house, and there was no front entry.
Fred, good call on the tent here.
Fred: Yeah, it's the only way we can work in the winter in New England.
So you have the reclaimed brick.
You have the reclaimed granite.
Jenn: And then one of my most favorite parts is this wall.
Fred: Yeah, this beautiful fieldstone wall that we're building.
Jenn: So this wall has form and function, right?
You catch the drainage from the street.
Fred: Yep, we got a 4-inch pipe behind the wall with stone and fabric around it to catch any surface water.
And then from this side, it's a perfect height for a sitting wall.
Fred: Yeah, it is.
Jenn: Great entry to the house.
Jenn: Now let's check out the anatomy of this wall.
Looks like they're almost done.
Come on down.
I'll show you what's going on.
So, the first thing we did, Jenn, was we -- we dug down and we removed all the organics, and we put down 12 to 18 inches of compacted stone.
And that sets the footing.
Fred: Yep, and our base stones are going to sit in that compacted stone, and we want to be -- Jenn: Which is the larger stones.
Fred: Yeah, this is the larger stones.
They're gonna do the heavy lifting on the wall.
Fred: And then we're gonna make sure that that's a minimum of 6 inches below finished grade.
Fred: So then we're going to put some cement behind the base stone to give this wall a little more integrity.
So one of the first things we do when we get a stone delivery is we pick out our capstones.
In capstones, we're looking for a nice smooth top and a nice face.
Jenn: That's a great idea.
Separate the larger stones for the bottom, nice smooth ones for the top.
And then as we're building the wall, we want to make sure we split our joints, and we want to make sure we got one over two.
Fred: Or you get two over one.
Jenn: Yeah, because from a design perspective, you don't want one long joint going all the way through.
Your eye will just go straight to it.
Fred: Yep, and it makes the wall stronger, too.
So this really takes an amazing artist, amazing mason to put this together.
Fred: Yeah, like I say, it's like having a puzzle, but you don't have the box to look at.
Jenn: [ Chuckles ] That's awesome.
Well, let's watch how it's going to be built.
♪♪ ♪♪ Kevin: Back of the house is really coming together, as well.
You can see that we've got the new building right here, so garage down below, but the primary bedroom up there with the bank of windows that takes in this beautiful view of the Ipswich River laid out here in front of them.
The other thing that's going to take in those river views is a new screened-in porch.
You can see it started right here coming off of the first floor.
A bit covered by the plastic.
And this is here for the same reason it was on the other side, because Fred's crew is working on the masonry down here.
So, we've got a new retaining wall, which is right here.
This is the same stone Fred was using out front -- New England round -- although instead of being solid pieces, this has actually been cut, so that's a veneer applied to that CMU block behind it.
A beautiful look, capped with the granite, and it's gonna be lit up eventually.
And then we've got this, the cistern.
This was uncovered during demolition.
Homeowners loved it, want to celebrate it.
So it is exposed.
We kind of built this area around it.
They will pass it every time they come into the basement.
Down the granite steps.
We're bringing crushed stone up to the bottom of this step right here.
And this is grade that's gonna come all the way across to line up basically with this doorway entrance right here so you can walk right into the basement.
Kevin: Hey, Brian.
Brian: Hey, Kevin.
Look at this.
Another signature Bilo install.
That is a work of art right there.
Brian: Yes, it is.
Kevin: Let's dig into this thing right here.
First of all, what is it providing for us in terms of systems?
Brian: So, we have domestic cold water that's feeding the boiler.
Brian: And we have domestic hot leaving, going out to all our plumbing fixtures in the house.
Kevin: So the spigots at the sinks, the showers, the tubs.
Brian: That's correct.
Brian: So, then we have our manifold piping with our distribution that's feeding our two air handlers -- one up in the attic and one in the basement.
Kevin: So hydro air.
Brian: Hydro air.
Kevin: Got it.
Brian: And then we have our radiant circulator that's feeding all of our remote manifolds for all the radiant heat that we've put in.
Kevin: It really is a work of art.
I mean, it is beautiful.
And, to me, it almost looks like a commercial job.
And I think it's because of this crazy piping that you guys use, the look there.
Brian: Well, this is PPR, polypropylene random pipe.
The green pipe is domestic, hot and cold water only.
Brian: And then the blue pipe has a higher temperature rating, so we use it for all of the heating-system supply and returns.
And you built this offsite.
Brian: We did, yeah.
So we were limited to a 4x8 sheet of plywood.
So we sent the plywood back to our shop where we're in a controlled environment.
Brian: No open flame, so you don't need a torch to make the connections.
Kevin: That's because you guys are basically melting it together?
So it's fusion.
So it's a 500-degree iron that has a socket which accepts the pipe and the fitting.
You put them together, it melts the fitting to the pipe.
Brian: And it all becomes one at that point.
Kevin: So you like that connection.
You prefer it over copper.
Brian: We do, yes, and we're able to scan all the parts off our shelves, put them on the wall.
We know exactly what we used.
And then ship it back to the job site.
Kevin: Alright, well, I know there's a lot more to this system.
I'm gonna let you and Richard handle that.
But I'm just glad to sort of see the work of art hung on the wall for the first time.
Brian: You're welcome.
Tom: Hey, Matt.
How's it going?
Matt: Hey, Tommy.
How are you doing?
Tom: Good to see you again.
Matt: Good to see you.
Tom: It's been about seven or eight years.
You worked on the Belmont project.
Matt: I know.
That was a great time.
Tom: Yeah, you said you were gonna call me back.
Matt: [ Chuckles ] Yeah, I know.
I went back to college, finished college, ended up getting a desk job, something I thought that I was gonna want to do in my career, quickly realized that that's not kind of what I wanted to do.
And in the back of my mind, I always knew I liked doing carpentry.
I liked that summer with you, that experience, and so I wanted to come back.
Tom: So you enjoyed it.
Enjoyed working with your hands.
Matt: Yeah, and so when the opportunity came, I decided to call you back up, and here I am.
Tom: And we took you back.
It's been almost a year now.
Tom: Yeah, well, that's good.
I'm glad that you're back.
So now we're going to talk about stairs, alright?
Very important that you get stairs right.
They have to be right.
In other words, the step and the riser have to be equal over the run of the stairs, alright?
Building code in Massachusetts says 8-1/4" maximum height.
Now, these don't fall into that category because this is an old house.
The space is narrow.
And we end up with a 9-inch riser here.
And every one of them should be exactly the same.
If they're different, it's a tripping point.
And let me show you what I mean.
So if I take a scrap piece of board and I put it on this step right here, I've just changed the riser height of two.
I've made this one too short and this one too tall.
Without thinking about it, walk up the stair and tell me how it feels.
Matt: Can feel that.
Tom: Feel the difference?
Matt: Feel the difference.
You have to think about it.
Tom: You have to definitely think about it.
And that's a tripping point.
Tom: We have the run of the stairway right here, and we know that all the risers' height are equal.
Now you've come to a landing.
Now you turn off of that landing, and you have two more risers.
And that run down here can be different than that.
But this has to be equal also to itself.
But now what we need to do -- there's gonna be a new floor put on top of this new subfloor.
So it'll be an old finished floor that will go on there.
So now what we do is we divide 15 and 1/8, making two risers equal, alright?
So there'll be 7 and 9/16" for each riser.
So how do you want to get started?
Matt: Well, first, we're gonna want to save the tread because we've been working hard on the whole original part of the house here to save original flooring, and we're gonna save these treads.
Also I grabbed a little scrap 2x4.
Gonna hold it on the side here and banging it out from the bottom to see if I can get some space under here and slip my flat bar in and slowly pry it up.
Tom: Now, when you put that bar in, you're gonna lift up and then you're gonna push down, but you're also gonna keep your eye on the board to make sure it doesn't have too much of a bend.
Because if it bends too much, you'll split it.
And see if you can get this whole thing to come up like this.
Kind of work your way down.
Push it in.
Push down now.
When you push down, then what happens is the tip of the bar is over here.
So you're pushing here.
If you pull up here, you're pulling up this part.
And where all those nails are, this could split.
So it's down, it's up, it's down.
And this moves in and out as you go.
And, again, keep your eye on the board to see how it bends.
There it goes.
I can hear it.
I'll pull it up, too, so... Beautiful.
So let's get that thread out of the way.
Now we can attack the riser here.
And I can see that if we take the riser right out of here... Alright.
We're not gonna save that riser because, number one, it's broken and it's too short.
♪♪ But you want to make sure that you travel that whole way like that.
You can't go like this and then change it... Matt: Yeah.
Tom: ...because you've just raised the dimension.
♪♪ ♪♪ Just watch where your scribe is hitting the post.
♪♪ Alright, Matt.
Our new riser is in.
And now let's give it a try.
I'll put a piece of flooring down.
You can lay the tread on there.
We'll nail it off in a second.
Lay it on there.
Now, just be careful.
Try it out and tell me how it feels.
Matt: Feels nice.
It feels even?
Matt: It feels nice and even.
We accomplished our task.
Matt: Thank you.
Tom: Nice job, Matt.
Matt: Thank you.
Let's get it nailed off.
♪♪ Kevin: Hey, Tommy.
Tom: Hey, Kevin.
How are you?
I'm doing alright.
What are you working on?
Tom: Well, I'm working on dressing up this little plain door a little bit.
We're gonna put a sash in it.
Kevin: You're adding a window...?
Tom: Well, we want to match all the windows, like, these little windows right here.
So we're gonna add a window into this door.
Tom: I mean, you can get a door with a window in it, but it's not gonna match.
Kevin: So we ordered this window and we ordered all the windows for the house?
Kevin: No kidding.
You know, I'll be honest with you.
I didn't even know we could do that.
Tom: Yeah, you can do it.
I mean, the nice thing about it, it's insulated glass.
It's got a gasket on it, so it'll sit right into the opening tight against the window.
All we have to do is cut a hole and make a trim package for inside.
Kevin: That's all.
Tom: Piece of cake.
Kevin: Let's do it.
[ Laughter ] You just make it sound so easy.
Tom: Well, you just got to make sure the hole's the right size.
The first thing we're gonna do is remove the door, get it over here on the sawhorse.
So we're gonna just put the sash about like that.
And we look at a standard door where the stiles and rails are about 5 1/2 to 6 inches down.
So we get 6 inches down there.
And we'll center the sash.
So I got about 7 and 1/8" here.
Kevin: A little under 7".
So come to me.
That's 6 and 7/8" there.
Kevin: How's that?
Tom: Yeah, that's pretty good there.
I want to have some clearance, about a quarter of an inch, for my rough opening.
Let's just put it on my marks here and see how it is.
Kevin: 6 and 1/4".
Tom: 6 and 1/4".
What we did is we marked for our position for the opening.
We put some tape in there.
This is gonna be a metal door.
I'm gonna ride the saw across it.
I want to make sure we don't scratch the door.
And hopefully it will keep everything from picking up.
And this is actually a metal cutting blade for our circular saw.
And then we'll have to turn the door over, and then we cut it with a saber saw.
[ Tom muttering ] Nice.
Kevin: So...foam core?
Tom: Polyisocyanurate foam.
So it has a good R-value, and it doesn't deplete over time.
Makes a big difference in the door.
Kevin: And, really, nice, crisp, clean hole.
Tom: Yeah, it did a nice job.
No chipping of the steel, either.
What we need to do now is, this is the outside of the door.
We need to flip the door over so we can put the window on the outside but from underneath.
Kevin: I'm going to give you the window while... Tom: Let's take the door.
Kevin: I'll flip the door.
You take this guy here.
Stick it underneath.
Then we're gonna take the door.
I'll take this side.
Now, before we do anything, we got one more thing to do.
We're gonna take that door and slide it down that way so it's out of the way.
The sash has this gasket right here around the exterior so that it'll go against the face of the door.
So all I'm gonna do is run a little bead of sealant right here on the gasket.
Just a little bit.
It's more of a backup.
Gonna run it down each side and across the top, but not the bottom.
Now we'll just drop the door right over it.
Kevin: It's so oddly satisfying.
Now we just want to center it.
Kevin: I'm gonna come to you.
Strong... Tom: Good.
So now what we want to do is we want to fill this gap to seal it so we don't have any drafts.
So to fill that gap, we're going to use minimal expanding foam, and we'll just shoot it in there.
Kevin: Stuff made for windows and doors?
Alright, so what we did was we made up a frame that's gonna be similar to the window trim in the house.
Now what we're gonna do is we're gonna screw it in place.
No sealer under it because it's inside the building, number one, but if you ever have to remove it, you want to be able to get it off.
There you go.
Kevin: Look at that, Tommy.
Looks great from the inside.
Let's have a look at the outside.
Tom: Looks good, huh?
Kevin: Perfect match to the existing sash.
Tom: I think we completed our job correctly.
Kevin: You're gonna get a lot of calls.
People are gonna want this.
Tom: Just a silly little window that makes all the difference in the world.
Kevin: Nothing silly about it at all.
Nice job, Pops.
♪♪ ♪♪ Kevin: How's that look?
Charlie: Yeah, that's good.
Kevin: You're gonna be good.
[ Drill whirring ] ♪♪ It's a good look, guys.
I like it a lot.
Charlie: It does look good.
Kevin: Yeah, it really does.
Charlie: Not bad, huh?
Tom: Looks good.
Helen: This is just amazing.
So, tell me how this all came together.
Charlie: Well, before we started putting the roof boards on, they all had to break on a rafter, so we had to lay out where all the rafters would be.
The big log rafters all went on a tie beam.
And then once we get them all up, we left a space for our beam, which is 10 inches wide, and we started putting it up.
Kevin: And the beam is -- Well, it's fake.
It's a faux beam, right?
I mean, you would never know it from down here, but... Helen: It looks really good.
Charlie: Here it is.
Reclaimed boards from another job.
We mitered them, put them together one piece at a time up top.
It looks solid.
Helen: It looks really good.
Kevin: Thank you.
Helen: Are you happy with it?
Charlie: I am very happy.
Helen: I'm happy.
Charlie: Well, it started with your idea way back, and we just made it come true.
Helen: I feel like I'm in the old attic.
I think it's beautiful.
That's what we want to hear.
Helen: Thank you all.
Kevin: And it's only going to get better.
I'm Kevin O'Connor.
Tom: I'm Tom Silva.
Charlie: I'm Charlie Silva.
Helen: I'm Helen Moore von Oehsen.
Kevin: For "This Old House" here in Ipswich, Mass.
♪♪ Kevin: Next time on "This Old House"...
Normally we would like this cathedral ceiling with recessed cans, but that would take away from the rustic look, so Heath has a clever solution.
Richard: Soapstone goes back to Egyptian times.
We're gonna build a soapstone sink using modern technology.
Beautiful work, guys.
Tom: We're gonna do the backsplash right now.
Helen's out trying to find a piece of wood that she wants to use for that.
Kevin: Oh, cool.
Tom: We'll get it cut in later.
Kevin: Alright, well, maybe I'll give you a hand.
Thank you, Tommy.