When I first mentioned that our house was all wrapped up, a friend got excited thinking that meant we were finished. Unfortunately, I had to clarify that I was just making a terrible pun. You would think I would have learned not to joke about house wrap. But I’m a dork.
Terrible puns aside, our house is now fully enclosed with both sheathing and house wrap. The process went faster than expected with less face-palming than framing. I’d like to say that’s because we’re getting better at construction. In reality it’s probably because the process is easier.
For our tiny house sheathing we decided to use 1/2 inch plywood instead of OSB. The biggest downfall of plywood is the expense, being roughly twice as much per sheet. The advantages, however, outweigh the costs in our opinion. For one, plywood is lighter. Each sheet of 1/2 inch plywood (15/32 inch in reality) weighs nearly 10 pounds less than equivalent OSB. This translates to between 350 and 400 pounds over our entire build. Also, plywood tends to handle moisture better. While it often absorbs water faster, it also dries out faster. And while we’d like to say that we’ll build a house so perfectly that the sheathing will never contact moisture, we occasionally have to recognize that we have no idea what we’re actually doing, tell the perfectionist in us to shut the hell up and err on the side of caution.
The sheathing itself was relatively simple with a few lessons learned. When you put your sheathing up, you get to see how level and square you’re walls really are. Ours weren’t, or at least not absolutely perfect, a challenge to both of our natural demeanors. The difference wasn’t drastic however and we figured that with careful placement we could keep the sheathing in line. When we started to put the second row of sheathing up however, things were further off than expected. Plywood sheets should be spaced about 1/8th of an inch away from each other. But if we kept the edge of the new sheet close to flush with our framing, then the spacing between the top and bottom sheets expanded the further from the framing they got. At first we were stumped, but luckily Raelynn’s powers of observation far surpass mine in a befuddled stupor.
Apparently, one edge of the first sheet had been placed a little higher than the opposite edge. We weren’t sure how we missed that, as we had been careful to check everything before clamping the sheet against the stud to nail it. But that was the problem. Clamps had been flawless best friends during construction and probably one of our best investments. However, due to the slipperiness of wet construction adhesive between the plywood and the stud, tightening the clamp had actually pulled the sheathing a little out of place. We were already tired at that point, didn’t check the placement after clamping, and simply hadn’t noticed until it was too late.
That moment turned into a productive practice in self-restraint. Instead of turning into a blubbering rage monster, smashing through the shop and pulling my hair out in tufts, we focused on how to resolve the issue. With some careful adjustments of the next few sheets and creative cutting, everything was back in it’s proper place. And from that point on while placing the plywood, we often marked in pencil where we wanted the sheets to line up before clamping so we could see if it moved.
Once the plywood was up, we had to cut out the openings for the windows and door. We decided to purchase a router as we knew we could use it for multiples stages of our build. The router is, thus far, my favorite tool. With a 1/2 inch flush cut bit, cutting through plywood is ridiculously easy. I think Raelynn became concerned for a moment, watching me cackle maniacally as a fountain of sawdust spouted over my head. We took turns (yes I shared) and had the windows cut out in less than an hour.
The next step was house-wrap. We had gotten lucky and found both a full roll of 9 ft tall Tyvek Drainwrap on Craigslist for $75. The 9 feet of Tyvek covered the majority of the structure and we only needed one small layer to finish the top. The only tricky part was that the wrap itself was slippery and the roll liked to move around on itself. Having two people, one to keep it straight while the other tacked it into place was a must for us.
All things considered, the sheathing and house-wrap went fairly smooth. We still have a long ways to go but for the moment we’re going to just enjoy the accomplishment. All wrapped up, our house looks a little like an early Christmas present to ourselves.