TIPS


Home Renovating Tips

Home Buying Tips

 

 

Store lumber for 2 weeks or more in the area where you plan to use it to help prevent shrinking after installation

Because living trees contain sap, timber contains moisture. After harvesting, lumber is dried to ensure that shrinkage occurs before use. Water is removed either by kiln drying or natural drying.
After you purchase wood building materials, it is important to store them so they don’t get wet or damaged (cover them with a tarp if needed and lie them flat). By letting them adjust for a couple of weeks to the humidity level of the room where you intend to use them, they can adjust to the moisture content they will have after you install them. This will minimize shrinkage and improve long term appearance.

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To ensure quality and value, look for a grade stamp before purchasing lumber

Canadian lumber that has been grade stamped will meet the applicable building code requirements for strength and appearance. The stamp includes the grade, moisture content, species group, mill identification and grading agency.

Slope of grain and location of knots are some of the characteristics used to judge the strength of dimension lumber. For Canadian dimension lumber, No. 1 and No. 2 have the same strength, but No. 1 has a more pleasing appearance. Lumber is usually sold as No. 2 and Better, which means both No. 1 and No. 2 are present.

The grade stamp also indicates the moisture content at the time of manufacture. Lumber stamped S-GRN has a moisture content exceeding 19%, and is the most economical choice where shrinkage can be tolerated.

S-DRY means the lumber has a moisture content of 19% or less, and is recommended where the long-term straightness and dimension of the lumber is important.

Ask your retailer to help you select the wood product that is most suited to your needs. After all, it’s your renovating dollar!

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Store wood panels flat, under cover or inside

All wood products will gain or lose moisture according to the humidity of their environment. This is a natural characteristic of wood.

Wood panels have been manufactured at a low moisture content of about 4%. You can protect your investment by caring for these products during construction.

To maintain quality, wood panels should be protected from getting wet during building. Store bundles indoors or under cover, with enough support to keep them flat.

Better yet, purchase wood panels or have them delivered just before you are ready to use them.

Protect panel edges and corners, especially for tongue and groove panels.

Leave a 1/8″ (3.2mm) gap between panels during installation to allow for expansion. This includes engineered wood panels such as Oriented Strandboard and Waferboard.

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Choosing the right type of stain for your wood deck will add years to the results

On horizontal surfaces such as decks, do not use latex stains. They do not sink in and will wear through quickly under foot traffic. Use a semi-transparent alkyd stain to penetrate the wood and let the beauty of the grain show through.

CCA pressure treated lumber can be painted or stained when dry. Allow two months before coating with alkyd or latex products.

Wood uses little energy to manufacture, and it is the only building material that is renewable. Can we afford to make any other choice?

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Staining your fence protects the wood, and means you’ll never have to scrape off peeling paint!

Stain is superior to paint for wood fences because there is so much exposed end grain which acquires and loses water readily. Stain protects the wood while allowing expansion and contraction to take place, avoiding the peeling that can occur with a painted fence. For vertical surfaces, solid hide latex stain will last longer than solid hide alkyd stain.

CCA pressure treated lumber can be painted or stained when dry. Allow two months before coating with alkyd or latex products.

Wood uses little energy to manufacture, and it is the only building material that is renewable. Can we afford to make any other choice?

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Before you apply varnish or high gloss paint to open grain hardwoods, fill the pores in the wood with a paste filler

If you plan to stain an open grain hardwood, such as oak, chestnut or ash, you can mix the filler with the stain so the colour will match the wood. This way, the filling and staining is done at the same time. If no stain is being applied, a coloured wood filler that matches the wood should be used. Using a brush or plastic spatula, spread the filler diagonally across the grain in each direction, then work it in back and forth with the grain. Let the filler dry for about 10 to 15 minutes, then wipe off the excess with burlap (going across the grain). Let the filler dry overnight, then sand it (going with the grain), and clean it with a tack-cloth.

Fillers differ widely, so read the label carefully before you buy.

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Good building techniques will help your wood deck resist the effects of moisture

To choose which side of the wood planking should be “face-up” when building a deck, look at the cut ends. The wood grain will hump towards one side, called the “bark” side. Nail the boards bark side-up (or convex side-up) to minimize cupping, so that water will easily drain off the wood. Also, leave a quarter inch space between boards for drainage.

The bottom of the deck joists should be at least 6″ above the ground to prevent moisture being transferred from grass or ground cover. Another option is to cover the ground under the deck with landscape fabric and gravel to prevent moisture from reaching the wood components.

Wood uses little energy to manufacture, and it is the only building material that is renewable. Can we afford to make any other choice?

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Add years of life to your wood deck by attaching the surface planking to your wood deck properly

When nailing planking to the joists on your wood deck, use at least two nails at each joist to help prevent twisting of the planking as it weathers. Stagger the butt joints so they are not all on the same joist. Leave a quarter-inch space between the planks for proper drainage.

Always use galvanized nails, and drive them at a 30 degree angle to increase their holding power. If the nails are splitting the decking, then blunt the tips of the nails before using them, or drill small pilot holes for them.

Wood uses little energy to manufacture, and it is the only building material that is renewable. Can we afford to make any other choice?

Use common sense when handling treated wood

Using common sense and standard safety equipment applies when working with any building products, including treated wood.

As for any material, eye protection, dust mask, and gloves should be used when sawing or machining all treated wood products. Cut wood outside when possible to avoid exposure to sawdust.

It’s a good idea to wash your hands after contact and to launder your work clothes separately. Do not dispose of treated wood by burning – toxic chemicals may be contained in the smoke or ashes.

By using treated wood products, you get long lasting value for your home building dollar.

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Look for the “PWF” Certification Stamp when buying lumber for permanent wood foundations

Lumber and plywood used in Permanent Wood Foundations (PWFs) meets special standards set by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). A higher level of treatment is applied to PWF wood to ensure durability for in-ground use, as compared to regular treated wood that is used above-ground, such as in decks or fences.

Treated wood used for Permanent Wood Foundations looks similar to regular treated wood, so be sure to look for the qualification stamp before buying. The stamp indicates what type of preservative was used, and the letters PWF-FBT let you know this wood is suitable for use in-ground. Treating plants are qualified by recognized inspection agencies, and must pass periodic inspections.

Permanent wood foundations have many advantages over concrete foundations – such as reduced cost, additional living space, and superior performance. So before you pour that cement – consider the benefits of a basement made out of wood!

Wood uses little energy to manufacture, and it is the only building material that is renewable. Why not build your house from the bottom up with wood – and help plant a tree!

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Cove moulding can hide cracks between the ceiling and the wall

If your house has a crack in the drywall between the ceiling and the interior wall, you can cover the crack with attractive cove mouldings.

Fasten the cove moulding through the ceiling into the roof truss. Do not attach the moulding to the partition. If the crack was caused by a wood truss expanding and contracting with the seasons, the cove moulding will move with the truss and the crack will not be noticeable. If possible, attach the moulding when the crack is at its widest, generally during winter.

Wood trusses permit more flexible floor plans, and they are energy efficient. They optimize lumber strength and help conserve timber. Wood trusses are one more reason building with wood is the right choice for the home owner – and the environment.

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Grade stamp on Canadian lumber ensures quality and value

The grade stamp on Canadian lumber certifies the lumber has been graded according to approved rules. By choosing lumber that has been grade stamped, you will be assured of getting quality and value for your building or renovating project.

In Canada the National Lumber Grades Authority (NLGA) writes the grading rules, with the approval of the Canadian Lumber Standards Association Accreditation Board (CLSAB). The strength, appearance and moisture requirements of specific grades are ‘called up’ in North American building codes.

Dimension lumber, used in light-framing such as walls and floors, is generally grade stamped about 2 feet from one end so that the stamp is clearly visible during construction. The stamp includes the grade, moisture content, species group, mill identification and the grading agency.

Lumber is graded visually. The strength of each piece is based on such characteristics as slope of grain and location of knots.

Strength properties and appearance are greatest in the higher grades. Economy and utility grades are suited for temporary construction or applications where strength and appearance are not important.

Dimension lumber may also be graded by mechanical means such as Machine Stress-Rated (MSR) or Machine Evaluated Lumber (MEL). In addition to visual grading, each piece is tested to measure stiffness or density. If you need lumber that meets higher design stress ratings, then look for the MSR or MEL grade mark.

Dimension lumber is also graded for moisture content at the time of manufacture. Lumber stamped S-GRN, meaning surfaced green, has a moisture content exceeding 19%. S-DRY indicates a moisture content of 19% or less.

S-GRN lumber is suitable where shrinkage can be tolerated. If the desire is for a more stable product in which the lumber appears straight and flat, then S-DRY is a more appropriate choice. S-DRY lumber is becoming more readily available and represents good value for slightly more cost.

Before you buy lumber for your next home building project, the Canadian Wood Council recommends that you look for the grade stamp, and ask your building supply retailer to help you select the wood product that best meets your needs.

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Canadian lumber – understanding grades and uses

Category Grade Common Grade Mix Main Uses
Structural Light Framing, Joists and Planks Select Structural, No.1, No.2, No.3 No.2 and Better Engineering applications such as trusses, lintels, rafters, joists
Light Framing Construction, Standard, Utility Standard and Better General framing where high strength is not required
Studs Stud,
Economy Stud
Stud grade is for weight bearing walls. Economy grade is for temporary applications.

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Tips for finishing exterior wood

At last – the good weather is here. It’s time to stain the deck, paint the trim or build a wood fence. Whatever outdoor woodworking project you are doing, you want to make sure the results of your efforts will last!

Here are some tips for applying coatings to exterior wood:

  • New wood used outdoors should be finished soon after installation. Otherwise, sun, wind and rain can loosen the surface wood fibers, making it difficult for a finish to adhere to the surface.
  • On horizontal surfaces such as decks, do not use latex stains. They do not sink in and will wear through quickly under foot traffic. Use a semi-transparent alkyd stain to penetrate the wood and let the beauty of the grain show through.
  • Stain is superior to paint for fences because there is so much exposed end grain which acquires and loses water readily. Stain protects the wood while allowing expansion and contraction to take place, avoiding the peeling that can occur on painted fences. For vertical surfaces such as fences, opaque latex stain will last longer than opaque alkyd stain.
  • Plywood edges should be sealed with a coat of exterior primer, or aluminum-based paint. Plywood faces should be primed and topcoated with at least one coat of paint. When a stained finish is desired for plywood, apply more than one coat of opaque stain. A recoat should be applied after the first six months of service.
  • Treated Wood is lumber that has been treated with a preservative to help extend it’s service life in conditions favorable to deterioration.

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Hints for applying fillers to wood

Wondering whether or not you need to use a filler before you apply a finish to those maple bookshelves you’re making? Here are some guidelines to help you decide when, and how, to apply filler to wood.

Fillers are generally required for open grain hardwoods such as oak, chestnut and ash, when you want to have a smooth, glossy finish. The wood from these hardwood trees is characterized by large pore sizes. For a smooth, mirror finish it is recommended that you fill the pores with a paste filler before applying a finish such as varnish or high gloss paint.

Closed grain hardwoods, such as beech, cherry and maple, generally do not require a filler, even if you are going to apply varnish. Softwoods, such as aspen, cedar and pine, are all closed grain and do not require a filler.

  • If you plan to stain the wood, you can mix the filler with the stain so the colour will match the wood. This way, the filling and staining is done at the same time. If no stain is being applied, a coloured wood filler that matches the wood should be used. Fillers differ widely, so read the label carefully before you buy.
  • To apply filler, use a brush or plastic spatula to spread the filler diagonally across the grain in each direction, then work it in back and forth with the grain. Let the filler dry until dull and flat but not rock-hard (about 10 to 15 minutes). Wipe off the excess with burlap (going across, not with the grain). Let the filler dry overnight, then sand it (going with the grain) and clean it with a tack-cloth.
  • To fill nail holes, you can mix sawdust from the wood with white glue. To fill nail holes in knotted wood, you can make various shades by mixing dry powder paint with wood putty. Coloured wood putty crayons are also available for this task.

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Choosing wood for the finished look you desire

You want to build a table, but you’re not sure what type of wood to select. Maybe you plan to stain it, or perhaps you’d prefer the natural-look. Knowing which types of finishes work best on various species of wood will help you select the most appropriate type of wood for your project.

Name Hardness Grain Finish
Ash Hard Open Filler recommended
Ash Hard Open Filler recommended
Alder Soft Close Stains well
Aspen Soft Close Paints well
Basswood Soft Close Paints well
Beech Hard Close Poor for paint, takes varnish well
Birch Hard Close Stains and varnishes well
Cedar Soft Close Paints well; finishes well with varnish
Cherry Hard Close Takes all finishes well
Elm Hard Open Filler recommended; not suitable for paint
Fir Soft Close Can be painted, stained or left natural
Hemlock Soft Close Paints fairly well
Hickory Hard Open Filler recommended
Mahogany Hard Open Filler recommended; takes all finishes well
Maple Hard Close Takes any type finish
Oak Hard Open Filler recommended
Pine Soft Close Takes any type finish
Spruce Soft Close Can be painted, stained or left natural
Teak Hard Open Filler recommended
Walnut Hard Open Filler recommended; takes all finishes well

Open grain species of wood have large pore sizes. If a smooth, mirror finish is desired, then a filler should be used before applying a finish. Closed grain species of wood have uniform pore sizes and do not require a filler.

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How to fix cracks in the ceiling – for good!

Do you have a crack in the drywall between the ceiling and the interior wall of your home? Maybe its on your list of home repairs for this winter. With a bit of planning you can make this fix-it job one that you won’t have to do again!

Wood trusses are used in 95% of homes being built today – from bungalows to executive homes. Wood trusses are popular with home buyers because they permit long spans and flexibility in floor plans.

Sometimes, even with good ventilation in the attic, the wood at the top of roof trusses affected by moisture and expands. This can cause the truss to arch and separate the drywall between the interior wall and the ceiling.

Before starting a repair, look in the attic first to be sure this is the cause of the problem. Cracks can also be caused by minor settling or by a floor that is bouncy or sags.

Here are some choices to consider for your repair:

  • Install attractive cove mouldings to cover the crack. Fasten the moulding through the ceiling into the truss. Do not attach the moulding to the partition. If the truss moves again, the cove moulding will move with it and the crack will not be noticeable. If possible, attach the moulding when the crack is at its widest, generally during winter.
  • If the ceiling is sprayed with textured finishing material, scrape around the ceiling perimeter with a flat-bladed tool, making a flat area extending out from the wall toward the centre of the ceiling. This is usually 100 mm (4 inches) wide. Cracks can now be repaired without affecting the textured finish of the ceiling.
  • If fasteners, nails or screws were used on the ceiling closer than the recommended float distance (180 mm or 7 inches from the corner for single nailing or 300 mm or 12 inches for double nailing), a floating corner can be created by driving these fasteners completely through the drywall into the truss. Screws may be removed. Add gypsum clips or install blocking on top of the wall to prevent gypsum movement and repair the crack.

Wood trusses make the most of timber resources, by optimizing lumber strength and helping to conserve timber resources. We all benefit when houses are built using wood trusses.

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It’s easier to remodel a wood-framed house than a steel-framed house

That new house you’re thinking of buying may seem perfect now, but what about in 5 or 10 years?

More and more families are remodeling their homes to suit their changing needs – adding extra bedrooms, converting space for a home office, or adding a sunroom.

Wood is an easily workable material for both contractors and do-it-yourselfers. Building contractors and experienced handymen are skilled in, and equipped for, working with wood frame construction.

Some new home builders are experimenting with steel framing. But few homeowners, or even professional remodelers, have the tools and techniques to alter steel structures. And few have experience performing such tasks.

Before you buy, the Canadian Wood Council recommends you think about your need to remodel in the future – and choose wood.

Why not buy a home that can grow and change with you?

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Wood-framed houses are warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer

Wood has the greatest thermal resistance, or R-value, of common framing materials.

Some builders are experimenting with steel framing. However, steel studs lower the R-value of a wall by as much as 50%. Even with extra insulation on the outside of the steel studs, heat loss occurs at intersections such as windows and doors. Heat also travels through the steel studs to the foundation and the roof, significantly reducing the thermal efficiency of the house.

Before you buy a new home, the Canadian Wood Council recommends you ask the builder what framing materials were used.

After all, you’ll be the one paying the heating bills.

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Wood truss frames give you larger rooms at a lower cost

“Top chord.”   ”Webs.”   ”Clear span.”

Is your home builder discussing modern art, a symphony concert, or the latest Internet site?

The answer is none of the above. These terms refer to some of the components of “wood truss framing”, a modern building system that allows the weight of roofs or floors to be distributed over larger distances.

In homes built with wood truss frames, fewer interior supporting walls are required. Because the frames are fabricated off-site, the builder saves time, materials and labour — reducing construction costs.

Modern building techniques, such as wood truss framing, help make the most of wood, the only renewable building material — and help you make the most of your home buying dollar.

So be sure to talk to your home builder about the wood trusses that you’d like installed in your new home!

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Get the most for your home building dollar – choose wood

If you’re like most Canadians, your home is the biggest investment you’ll make. You want the most for your money – a house that is well built, minimizes your costs, and gives you maximum resale value.

Chances are though, you’ll spend more time selecting your appliances than you’ll spend looking at how your house is built. Appliances can be replaced – but when it comes to basic building materials, you have to get it right the first time.

For many reasons, building with wood gives you the best value:

  • Homes built with wood cost less to insulate, and use less energy to heat and cool. Due to air pockets locked within wood’s cells, an inch of wood is 15 times as efficient an insulator as concrete, and 400 times as efficient as steel.
  • Home construction combines solid and manufactured wood products. All structural wood products must meet building code requirements for durability and performance. Canada’s 1995 National Building Code has increased the range of applications for wood products in construction.
  • Engineering techniques have created new, ultra-strong wood products, such as wood-I joists, made by gluing wood pieces or fibres together under high pressure so that they resist shrinking, warping or splitting. Natural defects such as knots are dispersed or removed altogether, making the final products stronger than the logs they came from.
  • Real estate agents report that some of the most sought-after features in resale homes are provided by wood: durable hardwood floors; maintenance free treated-wood decks; timeless wood accents.
  • It doesn’t cost more to buy a home that is built with environmentally friendly building materials – all you have to do is choose wood. Wood is the only renewable building material.

To get the most out of your home building dollar, compare the alternatives. Ask your builder what materials were used – and state your preference for wood.

The choice is yours. After all, its your money.

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Are your heating dollars going out the wall?

Have this winter’s heating bills convinced you to move – to a newer house maybe, or to a warmer climate?

Take a look at what your dream house is built of first. Recent Canadian and U.S. laboratory and field tests clearly demonstrate that wood-framed houses are warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer.

Wood has the greatest thermal resistance, or R-value, of framing materials. The unique cellular structure of wood traps air, giving it superior insulating properties. In comparison, steel conducts heat 400 times faster than wood.

The vast majority of houses in Canada are built with wood framing. But a few builders have experimented with steel framing. Recent studies in Canada by the National Research Council’s Institute for Research in Construction, and in the U.S. by the National Home Builders Association Research Centre, have confirmed that steel studs lower the R-value by as much as 50 percent.

So why not just use extra insulation? To increase their R-value, Canada’s National Energy Code requires that steel-framed walls be covered on the outside with extra foam sheathing as insulation. But field testing reveals that heat loss still occurs at intersections where the steel framing is not protected, such as walls, windows or doors. Also, the heat travels down through the steel to the foundation and up to the roof, significantly reducing the overall thermal efficiency of the house.

Foam sheathing has extra costs too. For example, a 1200 square foot steel-framed bungalow will cost an extra $1000 just for the foam sheathing.

If you are considering buying a new home, the Canadian Wood Council recommends you ask what framing materials were used, and consider the impact on your budget before you decide.

Why not make next winter a cozy one!

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Wood truss framing – building modern homes at an affordable price

Do you admire houses with soaring cathedral ceilings? Large open spaces? Few interior walls?

Ever wonder what’s holding it all up?

It’s likely that wood truss framing has been used to support the roofs or floors of homes with these modern designs.

Wood truss framing is a building system popular with today’s architects, engineers and home builders. Wood trusses are designed to carry heavier loads over larger distances than traditional framing methods. This makes them economical to use.

In appearance, wood truss frames look like rows of wood triangles joined with metal connectors. This design allows trusses to support loads over large distances so that, in most cases, no interior supporting walls are required.

Wood trusses are fabricated off-site, according to the requirements of each house. On-site, the roof or floor is quickly erected, protecting the building from the elements. There is less waste material and considerable savings in labour.

Wood truss frames save the builder time, materials and labour — all of which means a cost savings to the home buyer. So you can afford that cathedral ceiling, or that extra large family room you always wanted, after all.

It’s one more reason to build with wood – the only renewable building material.

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