Exterior is done!

It was now nearing the end of October and we were feeling the pressure to complete the exterior before settling into cold and wet wintry weather. Before putting the exterior siding on, we first had to install the window trim. This went fairly easy and well, aside from seeing the first signs of issues as the temperature started to drop and the rains became more frequent. We had to switch to using fast drying caulk around the windows and needed to wait for breaks in the weather when there would be less chance of rain. Otherwise, the caulk would never dry and the windows would not be properly sealed. We also were not able to complete touching up the paint on the trim because it couldn’t dry quick enough in the colder temperatures before the next rain spell. So, I decided the touch up painting was going to have to wait until next summer.

Working on the window trim.
Working on the window trim.

 

On my 38th birthday, my order of cedar beveled siding was delivered, so that was exciting!

 

 

Cedar is naturally a weather-resistant wood. Staining cedar is not actually necessary, but it helps maintain its color. If you don’t treat cedar with something, it turns into a silvery-gray color. It’s a nice look, but I wanted to go for a more brownish/golden color. And so began the endless hours of staining. We decided it would be best to do all the staining prior to installing the boards on the house so we didn’t have to worry about the weather. That was a good call.

I went with a Cedar transparent stain.
I went with a Cedar transparent stain.

 

We now had to plan our order of attack. We had all the siding that needed to be installed, but since we decided to build our own door (yes, that’s right), we needed to build the door frame and install the trim around the door before we could install the siding on that wall. And we didn’t even have the materials for that yet. We wanted to get the siding on as quickly as possible, but working on the door frame and trim first would delay the siding installation by at least another week, possibly two. So, after Mike discussed this dilemma with his mom, she gave us the brilliant idea of installing the siding on the other three sides first, then working on the door frame and trim, and then finishing up the siding for that last side. This worked out perfectly and the siding for the three walls was completed in about three days over the course of two weekends.

Nailing in the last board on the third finished side. I love the way this siding came out!
Nailing in the last board on the third finished side. I love the way this siding came out!

 

 

Since the siding on the final wall would be fairly quick to complete and could be done anytime at this point, we decided to start building the door. I think Mike was a little excited about this side project. He had never built one before and had some cool ideas. A few weeks prior, we had gone to Ballard Reuse and found the perfect amount of old oak hardwood flooring for the exterior part of the door. We started by sanding those boards.

We used the combination of a belt sander and an old Sargent hand plane that Mike found at an antique store in Duvall. It was a bit haggard when he picked up, but with a little TLC it cleaned up real nice!
We used the combination of a belt sander and an old Sargent hand plane that Mike found at an antique store in Duvall. It was a bit haggard when he picked up, but with a little TLC it cleaned up real nice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, we worked on the door frame. I don’t know how door frames are normally put together, but Mike used dovetail joints. You basically cut out little trapezoidal shapes in the ends of each board so that they fit together like puzzle pieces, effectively locking them together. There are no additional screws, nails, or glue used. I guess they have tools to create the trapezoidal shapes, but Mike did them all by hand using his dovetail saw and a chisel. A lot of fine detail went into this door frame!

Here, you can see the lines for the shapes drawn in pencil and the two end shapes already cut out.
Here, you can see the lines for the shapes drawn in pencil and the two end shapes already cut out.

 

When you don't have a proper workbench, you improvise.
When you don’t have a proper workbench, you improvise.

 

Two boards done and locked together.
Two boards done and locked together.

 

 

Next, we worked on the internal door structure. This was a bit of work as well. Since we didn’t have a fancy tool to speed up the process, it was done by hand which meant notching out (by hand with a chisel) each location where two boards came together so they would form a uniformly flat surface. This is really hard to describe; let me try to illustrate this…

In the finished photo below, you'll see there was a cross brace that was added that was also notched out at each intersecting point.

 

In the finished photo below, you’ll see there was a cross brace that was added that was also notched out at each intersecting point.

Internal door frame structure done!
Internal door frame structure done!

 

We then began nailing the oak floor boards to the internal frame structure.
We then began nailing the oak floor boards to the internal frame structure.

 

Exterior of door finished.
Exterior of door finished.

 

 

The next step was the fun experimental part. Mike had the idea of using an old Japanese carpentry technique called Shou Sugi Ban which entails charring the surface of wood. Mike’s mini propane torch wasn’t going to cut it, so thanks to my boss and her husband we got to borrow their weed torch for the day! We did a couple test runs on some scrap pieces of oak before we let loose on the door we just spent nearly two days building.

I can assure you there are flames blazing out of that thing.
I can assure you there are flames blazing out of that thing.

 

I had to give the torch a whirl too.
I had to give the torch a whirl too.

 

 

Once the front was all nice and charred we brushed the surface with a wire brush and coated it a couple times with tung oil.

Next, we installed some insulation into the internal door frame.

 

We then installed the paneling for the inside of the door which I chose to be cedar boards. I chose cedar because it’s just pretty without needing to do anything to it. I also wanted something on the inside of the door that was going to be different than my inside paneling/siding, which I knew wasn’t going to be cedar.

 

 

Our next step which turned into a little project of its own was installing the door knob. We picked up a standard door knob and quickly found out our door was too thick for the knob to work properly. So, Mike, being the clever engineer that he is extended the locking mechanism using a small brass tube and some steel. Hopefully, I will never have to replace this door knob!

Our super special door knob.
Our super special door knob.

 

 

You’ll notice in the next picture below that the door is outward swinging. That was certainly a conscious decision. It’s not a very common thing around here but I read somewhere that outward swinging doors were required in Florida because of the frequent occurrences of hurricanes. So, I knew it was possible and completely safe and secure (if you use the right type of hinges).

Absolutely love the cedar!
Absolutely love the cedar!

 

After the door was complete, we installed the exterior siding on this final wall.

That's a fine door if I ever saw one.
That’s a mighty fine door if I ever saw one.

 

 

Nearly five months after we began this project we have the entire exterior complete. Closing the door and locking it with my new house key just in time for the holidays was quite a satisfying feeling.

Author: Debora Schwartz

I am a traveler, a writer, an outdoor enthusiast and a tiny house dweller.

One thought on “Exterior is done!”

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